How to Get Hair Dye Off Nails: 8 Easy + Effective Ways

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So you’ve found the perfect hair color and covered your head in dye from root to tip. 

Now you’re ready to rock your new style and flaunt your colored locks — only to look down and find dye stains all over your nails. 

A closeup of a woman's nude manicure with gold decor nails on a black background

To most hair dye fanatics, this isn’t unfamiliar territory. Dyeing your hair at home has loads of perks, but one mistake or misstep and it’s all chaos from there.

Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. Even veteran DIYers aren’t spared from the brunt of messy dye jobs! 

Luckily, there are plenty of quick and effective ways to solve this problem! Read on as we discuss how to get hair dye off your nails and how to prevent the issue from popping up in the future. 

How to Remove Hair Dye From Nails: 8 Methods

An infographic featuring how to get hair dye off nails with eight different methods and instructions

Hair dye is built to last for around four to eight weeks, surviving daily showers and frequent washing sessions. 

While this is great news for your fab new ’do, it also means that dye stains on your skin won’t fade quickly or come out with water. 

Thankfully, there are products that can get the job done — most of which can be found in your kitchen cupboards and bathroom drawers!  

Find out how to take off hair dye from your nails by taking a look at these eight tried-and-tested methods:

Soap and Water

Caught the dye blotches quickly? You may be able to remove them from your nails with a good ol’ soap and water combo.

How to use: 

  1. Run your hands through some warm water, and rub soap all over your nails until the stains fade. 
  2. You can also soak your nails in soapy water for a few minutes. For best results, use a nail brush or toothbrush to scrub the stains out.  

Rubbing Alcohol

If the hair dye stains have already set in, you may have to reach for a strong, time-honored stain remover like rubbing alcohol. 

How to use: 

  1. Apply a few drops of isopropyl alcohol onto a cotton ball or pad. 
  2. Spread it all over the stained areas until the spots fade. 
  3. Once they do, rinse your hands thoroughly to prevent the alcohol from drying out your nails. 

Nail Polish Remover 

Not sure how to remove dye from your nails? Go with a no-brainer and use nail polish remover! 

How to use: 

  1. Grab a cotton ball or rag and soak it in a tablespoon of nail polish remover. 
  2. Rub the rag or ball over your nails. 
  3. Rinse with water and soap. Make sure to wash thoroughly to remove all traces of the liquid. 

If you have both an acetone-based and an acetone-free polish remover, the former may be more potent in hair dye removal. 

Proceed with caution, though. Prolonged acetone exposure can dry out your nails, nail beds, and cuticles. This can lead to cracking, peeling, and bleeding. 

A few drops of acetone likely won’t hurt. Still, you can play it safe and tone down its drying effects by using a moisturizing oil after application. 

Our favorite is the Cuccio Naturale Revitalizing Cuticle Oil, which provides deep hydration for healthier nails!

Baking Soda

In the race for the most versatile household staple, baking soda is the uncontested winner. This miracle product cleans tiles, deodorizes carpets, and even removes hair dye from nails! 

Close-up of baking soda in a glass jar and spoon isolated on a wooden background

Its abrasive properties help break down dye residue without causing damage to your nails. Gentle yet effective, it’s the ideal dye-removing solution for those with dry or sensitive skin. 

How to use: 

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water. You can also add dish soap to the mixture to enhance its effectiveness. 
  2. Apply the baking soda paste onto your nails and let it sit for at least five minutes. 
  3. Rinse it off with water and soap.  

Lemon Juice 

Did you know that lemon juice has lightening properties? As a mild bleaching agent, it can help remove hair dye from your fingernails quickly. 

How to use: 

  1. Squeeze the juice out of as many lemons as needed to fill a small bowl. 
  2. Soak your nails in lemon juice for at least 10 minutes. 
  3. Rinse with soap and water. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Like lemons, apple cider vinegar has natural lightening effects. Some folks take advantage of this feature to get hair dye off their fingernails, skin, and even their hair! 

How to use:

  1. Apply a few drops of apple cider vinegar to your nail brush or loofah.
  2. Gently scrub the brush over your nails in a circular motion.
  3. Rinse well using soap and water. 

Alternatively, you can follow the steps above for lemon juice and swap it out with apple cider vinegar. 

Just fill a small bowl with apple cider vinegar and soak your nails in the liquid for a few minutes to help you remove the stain with ease. 

There’s a minor catch, though. Doing this may dry out and leave a nasty acidic smell on your skin. So wash with soap and water and use a moisturizer after soaking. 

Toothpaste

Toothpaste brightens your pearly whites, and it can do the same for your stained nails! See to it that you choose a whitening toothpaste for maximum potency. 

How to use:

  1. Place a small blob of whitening toothpaste on your nails. Make sure you provide adequate coverage.  
  2. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Rinse it off with soap and water. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Fun fact: hydrogen peroxide is used as an oxidizer in hair bleach and hair dye products! 

But don’t worry; it won’t stain your fingers further. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a lightener, which can help lift splotches of dye off your nails.

In fact, it may be more potent than the other items we’ve mentioned above. 

So if you’re not sure how to remove black hair dye from your nails or get rid of more stubborn stains, reaching for hydrogen peroxide may be the best fix for you. 

How to use: 

  1. Apply a few drops of hydrogen peroxide onto a ball of cotton or a cotton pad. 
  2. Rub the ball or pad over the stained areas of your nails. 
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water to get the product off your nails

Take note that a small amount of hydrogen peroxide can irritate your skin and cause blisters. 

As much as possible, avoid getting drops of it on your skin and opt for a lower concentration (such as 3%) as well. You can also use water to dilute it. 

If you experience side effects like hives, rashes, itching, and facial swelling after getting hydrogen peroxide on your skin, you may be allergic to it. Consult your doctor right away if this occurs. 

Cigarette Ash

This may sound unconventional, but it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the hairstyling world! 

No one is sure why this trick works so well, but the consensus is that it contains chemical substances that can loosen and break down stains. 

Additionally, tobacco ash contains unburned carbon, which is highly absorbent. This means it can also lift off and absorb pigments found in hair dye.

When all else fails, you can try this technique as long as you tread carefully. 

How to use: 

  1. Mix one tablespoon of cigarette ash with water.  
  2. Apply it onto a cloth or rag and rub it across your nails slowly and evenly.
  3. Use a stronger cleanser with warm water to remove all traces of it from your skin and nails.  

Beware: cigarette ash poses countless risks to your health, so use this method as a last resort. 

How to Remove Hair Dye From Gel Nails & Acrylic Nails: 4 Methods

Matching your nails to your hair color is a confidence booster like no other! But getting dye all over a freshly done manicure? Not quite the same.

Unfortunately, using some of the bleaching agents above to get hair dye off acrylic nails, gel nails, and other types of fake nails can result in chipping, cracking, and peeling. 

The same goes for polished nails. Items with lightening effects like hydrogen peroxide and or even baking soda can make your nail polish fade quicker. 

What you can do is opt for gentler hair dye removal methods like the ones below:

Petroleum Jelly 

Besides soothing minor cuts and burns and giving you softer lips, petroleum jelly can also get rid of hair dye splotches on your gel or acrylic nails!

Top view of women hand using petroleum jelly

This trusty product works by absorbing the dye to lift it off the surface. Designed with a gentle formula, it won’t compromise the integrity of your false nails or tips. 

How to use:

  1. Coat your nails with petroleum jelly and let it sit for a few minutes. 
  2. Use a cotton pad or cotton ball to rub it onto the skin gently with a low to moderate amount of pressure. 
  3. Add more jelly and repeat the process as needed. 

Baby Oil

Oils like baby oil can help break down the pigments in hair dye, making it an effective solution for dye-stained nails.

Don’t have baby oil around the house? You can also try olive oil or coconut oil! 

How to use:

  1. Apply a few drops of baby oil onto a cotton ball or pad and spread it all over your nails in a circular motion. 
  2. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. 
  3. Wipe the oil off with a new cotton ball or pad. 

Keep in mind that this method works better on fresh stains. For stubborn spots, you may need to give the oil a little more time to work its magic and leave it on your nails for a few hours.

Hair Spray

Most hair sprays contain small to moderate amounts of ethanol alcohol due to its solvent and quick-drying effects. 

So for set-in stains or those with darker pigments, hair spray may be a more potent solution!

How to use:

  1. Get a small cloth or a cotton pad and give it a few spritzes of your hair spray. 
  2. Rub the affected areas of your nails. Avoid rubbing too hard to prevent damage or discoloration. 
  3. Wipe the product off with a paper towel.  

Alcohol Wipes

For a milder alternative to rubbing alcohol, you can try using alcohol wipes to break down stains that are difficult to remove. 

How to use: 

  1. Start with one wipe and rub it gently over your nails with a moderate amount of pressure. 
  2. Use more wipes as needed. 

Helpful Tips for Removing Hair Dye From Fingernails

Now that you have the right items for the job, follow these tips and tricks on how to get hair dye off your fingernails successfully:

Act fast

Wash fresh blotches of dye off your nails with soap and water as soon as you spot them! This will keep them from setting in and staining your bare, polished, gel, or acrylic nails.

Start gentle 

It’s best to start with more gentle methods like using petroleum jelly or baby oil to keep your nails healthy as well as prevent irritating or damaging your skin. 

However, if multiple applications don’t work, you can take it a step further and move on to products like alcohol and baking soda. 

Trim nails

For bare nails with spots of dye at the free edge, you can simply reach for a clipper and trim those tips away.  

How to Prevent Hair Dye From Getting on Nails 

Now that you know how to get hair dye out of your fingernails, it’s crucial to learn how to prevent this all-too-common mishap in the first place.

Here are the best ways to prevent getting hair dye on your nails:

Wear gloves

Some hair dye enthusiasts tend to skip this step because gloves can be a little uncomfortable to wear. 

A hairstylist with blue gloves is dyeing the hair of a woman with blue hair dye

But in this case, the pros outweigh the cons. No matter how careful you are, hair dye can drip all over your skin and nails if you don’t wear gloves. 

Aside from preventing stains, they also protect your hands against irritation from the strong chemicals found in hair color products.

Remember to wash your latex gloves after use before putting them away so you don’t get dye residue on your hands and nails. 

Use a stain guard

A stain guard acts as a barrier that prevents the dye from absorbing into the skin, stopping the stain before it starts. 

Petroleum jelly is a cheap and readily available stain guard, which can help dye streaks slip off your skin and nails. 

Before dyeing your hair, rub a generous amount of Vaseline on your hairline, eyebrows, ears, neck, hands, and nails. 

For folks who dye their hair frequently, it may be best to go for a salon-quality stain guard like the Colortrak Repelle Stain Shield.   

FAQs About Getting Hair Dye Off Nails

Does Permanent Hair Dye Come Off Your Hands and Nails?

Hair dye stains fade from the skin and nails in a few days to a week by themselves. In some cases, they may take longer to come off the nails.

How Do You Get Dye Off White Nails?

White acrylics or white gel nails show stains easily, whether it’s from food, ink, or hair dye. 

Using hydrogen peroxide or whitening toothpaste can help lift these stains and keep your nails looking bright and fresh longer. 

How Do You Remove Dried Hair Dye?

You can use stronger lightening agents like rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide to remove dried stains from your nails. 

To remove dried stains from your skin, it’s best to stick with baking soda to prevent dryness and irritation.

As for dried dye stains on your bathroom sink or any other surface, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. 

Getting Hair Dye Off Your Nails: Difficult But Not Impossible

Dye-stained nails can be pretty embarrassing. Reaching out to shake a new friend’s hand or giving a presentation at work with purplish, smudged nails can make anyone blush.

The good news is you can follow our tips and tricks on how to get hair color off your nails above to conquer dye stains! 

Some spots may be extra difficult to tackle, but you can always go for stronger methods as long as you follow them up with proper moisturization. 

Keep in mind as well that prevention is key when it comes to this predicament. 

This way, you can have the best of both worlds: gorgeous hair and clean, stain-free nails! 

Want more hair dye facts and hacks? 

Check out these related articles: 

Authors

  • Nicole Serrano

    Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature and four years of experience as a freelance writer and editor. Since her college days, she’s been obsessed with all things makeup, fashion, and hair care with a particular fondness for ’70s and ’90s trends.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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