How to Safely Strip Unwanted Color From Your Hair

Read this before you try it at home.

model with hand on her cheek

Unsplash / Design by Camden Dechert

For people who love expert-based stories or advice, it's odd that we will do anything to avoid visiting professionals IRL when we have a problem. We know we're not alone. (There's a reason we now have to be warned against taking WebMD so seriously). When doing a quick Google search on how to strip hair dye in the safest way possible, we've read at-home tips that include showering with baking soda and crushed vitamin C. Will these at-home remedies actually work? Hate to burst your bubble, but the short answer is no. 

"Don't do anything at home," says Ryan Pearl. "Find a colorist you trust to handle the situation to get you back on the right track. Do your research." 

Meet the Expert

  • Ryan Pearl is a colorist at IGK Salons, and a brand ambassador for Redken and by L’Oréal.
  • Ariel Hauck is a colorist based in NYC.

"I suggest seeing a colorist who uses 'baby lights' to gently break up the previous color. Strands taken in the foil are so small and, if used with a low volume, can prevent your hair from breaking," says Ariel Hauck.

If you're truly unhappy with how a dye treatment went or you're sick of your new color, Pearl says you can go back to the salon immediately to get it fixed. "It all depends on the hair's current condition and what was done the prior visit," he says. "It can be done the next day if the hair is in good shape, but you don't want to jeopardize the feeling of the hair, so it's best to take it in stages."

If you must do something at home, Hauck suggests washing your hair with a Palmolive dish soap or a clarifying shampoo. While it won't strip the color from your hair completely, it can help quicken the natural washout period. "[It] takes a long time [to naturally wash out your colored hair], but there are ways of making it faster. Use a Palmolive dish soap once a week in the shower; it'll soften the dye," she says.

Best Sustainable Shampoo:

Solu Clarifying Shampoo
Davines Solu Shampoo $30.00

Davines Solu Shampoo ($30) is gentle enough for anyone to use, no matter your hair texture or density.

The Valtellina buckwheat extract found in this formula contains amino acids and proteins meant to help keep your hair healthy. Davines is also a sustainable haircare brand (recyclable packaging and ingredients were gathered with clean energy), an added perk for anyone looking to offset their environmental impact. 

Best for Naturalistas:

Clarifying Shampoo
Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo $10.00

Whether you have 4C coils or 3B ringlets, you can incorporate clarifying shampoo into your hair care routine, especially when you want to help strip an unfortunate dye job. 

The Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo ($10) is free of pesky ingredients naturalistas may want to stay away from, including petroleum, mineral oil, and sulfates. Just be sure to follow-up with a conditioner after to try to help rebalance your hair's moisture. 

Best Conditioner:

Oribe Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair
Oribe Conditioner for Beautiful Color $17.00

Show your over processed hair some love with Oribe's Conditioner for Beautiful Color ($17). Watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower are the brand's signature ingredients meant to hydrate hair and protect strands from the elements, including UV rays. Once you rinse out your conditioner, your hair will not only look and feel silky, it'll smell delicious after too.

And for times when your hair unexpectedly turns green, you can use this popular condiment. "Believe it or not, if your hair turns green, you can use ketchup for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by shampoo and conditioner," says Pearl. "That could pull out the green hue, but that's a last resort."

While mixing baking soda and vitamin C sounds like an enticing affordable option to fix your hair on the cheap, you're better off avoiding the old wive's tale. Instead, stick with the pro tips from Pearl and Hauck. If you still feel a tad bit uncomfortable with taking a DIY approach to fixing your less than ideal dye job, then save yourself the headache and call one of the pros in your town to fix the color ASAP. 

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