5 Natural Ways to Strip Color From Hair

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Whether it’s because you want to try a new look, had a hair color gone wrong, or just grew out of your current color, removing unwanted hair color is considered a lowkey emergency.

Growing out your hair might take too long, while another trip back to the salon is just too expensive. 

Closeup woman hands dyeing hair using a black brush.

So what else can you do? You can try to strip your hair color off yourself.

Several household products can reliably strip hair color from hair at home if you know how to use them.

So get digging into your pantry and storage at home and check out these five natural ways how to strip color from hair at home.

What is Color Stripping?

Hair color stripping removes unwanted color from your hair. It’s as simple as that. 

While stripping hair of color sounds like something you can do almost anytime you need to, the technique and the process might surprise you with how complex it can get.

After all, you want to strip your hair color without damaging your hair. And that takes some finesse.

And your go-to may not be the best way to do it. For example, bleach and hair color remover are probably your first thoughts when it comes to reversing a failed dye job. 

However, the risk of possible further hair damage due to the harsh chemical contents in bleaching and the drying factor of hair color removers is enough to make you stop and think.

Can your hair handle more harsh chemical treatments? Especially if you plan on dyeing it again after stripping it.

If not, there are expert-approved natural alternatives you can try to remove color with less damage.

What to Consider When Stripping Hair Color

The Purpose of The Color Stripping

Now that you know there are several ways to strip color from hair without damage, deciding which one to use depends on several factors. 

The most important factor is why you are removing the color in the first place.

Is it to wash out leftover color from your previous dye job to give way for new colors? Or is it to remove unwanted hair color so you can return to your hair’s natural hue?

If it’s going to be for the latter, the best and most natural way of letting go of your previous color that’s zero to low maintenance and doesn’t cost a cent is growing your hair out;

However, the option above would initially leave you with a distinct boundary between the colors. This can be bothersome, especially when you have two very different colors. 

But once your hair has grown enough, you can chop the colored portions off so you’ll be left with the virgin, new growth.

Another option, if you can’t strip the color, is to reverse the dye job by coloring your hair the same color as your natural hair. This way, the color will look even when the hair grows out.

Your Hair Type

These at-home removal processes may seem like gifts from heaven because of their accessible ingredients and reliable results. However, remember that these aren’t universal treatments for all hair types. 

The natural ways to strip color from hair require some ingredients that aren’t intended for hair use, which is why most of them can still potentially harm your scalp and hair.

For example, if you’ve just recently bleached your hair, you must remember that it’s still very fragile. Knowing this, you may skip using any added chemicals or treatments to avoid further damage.

The same idea applies to fine, curly, and coily hair– they’re naturally drier and more delicate, making them more prone to damage. 

Hair texture is another consideration, 

Hair with 1A to 3A natural textures can carry more oil than 3B-4C coiled hair.  

So if you know your hair doesn’t hold as much oil, you’ll want to avoid exposing it to a color-stripping method that strips the hair of oil.

Your Hair Color History

History determines the future, and recalling previous dye jobs and other hair treatments can give you better insight into the healthiest method to strip your color.

Some hair treatments have effects and ingredients that linger on the hair, making it extra sensitive to other interfering components from DIY color strippers. 

So you should avoid some color-stripping methods if your hair has been subjected to a wide variety of other treatments.

Another benefit of looking back on your hair journey is to help you further assess the condition of your tresses and how you can improve your hair health. 

5 Natural Ways to Strip Color From Hair

Now that you’ve considered all the important factors, you’re ready to try stripping your hair color at home.

Check out these natural ways you can strip hair color:

1. Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying shampoos is one of the pillars of hair care. Aside from giving your hair and scalp the freshest start through a deep cleanse, it can also help give you a color reset.

Clarifying shampoo is your best bet if you are looking for how to strip color from hair without damage.

A woman is washing her hair in the shower.

After all, the same ingredient that scrubs product buildup from your hair is also the same potent compound for removing semi-permanent dyes. 

Because semi-permanent dyes do not contain ammonia, they coat the strand with pigment instead of penetrating the cuticles and altering the natural color. 

Deep cleansing can loosen the grip of these semi-permanent pigments sitting on the surface of your hair through the high levels of pH lathered on the strands.

Also, if you happen to over-tone your hair and it results in hair that’s too ashy or tresses that have turned into lilac, clarifying shampoos, especially mentholated ones, can reverse this for you. 

The process is easy. Just use a clarifying shampoo like you typically use shampoo and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. 

Then after rinsing, remember to deep condition your hair or apply hair masks afterward.

Multiple attempts of this process aren’t ideal because it also strips hair of natural oil, eventually leading to an unhealthy and dry scalp and hair.

Generally, clarifying shampoos are only used moderately when you want to remove product buildup. So don’t use it every day. 

2. Ascorbic Acid Hair Mask

Aside from boosting the immune system, if we look at the effects of vitamin C, you’ll notice that one of them is skin lightening. 

But you probably didn’t know that this vitamin also has the power to strip your hair’s color through its anti-pigmentary benefits.

Vitamin C also generates collagen — the vital protein that enhances the overall hair structure and promotes healthy hair growth. 

But be sure to set your expectations. This process may give a different intensity than bleaching. 

However, because it’s natural, it’s far gentler than your typical store-bought color remover or hair bleach. 

And you can do multiple sessions in a row, with each session toning your hair up to 2 levels.

What You Need:

  • ½ cup powdered Ascorbic Acid/Vitamin C tablet
  • Dye-free clarifying shampoo
  • Shower Cap
  • Mixing Bowl

How to Do It:

Step 1: Take the main ingredients, vitamin C or ascorbic acid tablets, and crush them into fine powder. It should take about 10 to 20 pills.

Step 2: Pour your clarifying shampoo into the mixing bowl. How much shampoo you need depends on your hair’s length and volume. Then mix in the vitamin C powder, and blend to form a paste.

Step 3: Dampen your hair and apply the hair mask you just created.

Step 4: Cover your hair with the shower cap to process. The processing time takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the color you want to erase or the lightning you want to achieve. 

Step 5: Once you’re happy with the progress, rinse with lukewarm water, followed by a hydrating treatment. 

Other renditions of this mixture include adding a tablespoon of baking soda, which also has lightening properties. 

3. Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

Vitamin C isn’t just present in tablets. This vitamin is also present in citrus fruits like lemon!

For this method, we combine two of the strongest and most reliable natural cleaning and bleaching elements, lemon juice and baking soda, not for cleaning but for stripping hair color.

This is the perfect concoction if you have stubborn color buildup on specific portions of your hair or a stained patch on your skin from a semi-permanent dye.

What You Need:

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Washcloth or brush
  • Mixing bowl

How to Do It:

Step 1: Combine equal parts of baking soda and lemon juice in a bowl until you get a spreadable paste consistency.

Step 2: Depending on the areas where you’ll be removing the color, take out a soft washcloth or tint brush and spread your lemon-baking soda paste on the colored parts of your hair or skin. 

Step 3: Leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes, then give it a good rinse. If you use it on your hair, shampoo and condition it afterward.

This process can be done up to three to four times a week, but always check your hair’s condition before doing so. 

4. White Vinegar Wash

Want hassle-free and damage-free hair color stripping? Try checking your pantry! Aside from its cleaning and culinary purposes, white vinegar has a long list of hair benefits too!

Given its naturally acidic properties, white vinegar restores hair health and shine by neutralizing its pH level. Plus, It’s also one of the safest natural ways to strip color from the hair!

White vinegar in bottle on top of the table in a blur background

It works best to remove semi-permanent dyes, but using it on permanent hair colors can also have an effect.

What You Need:

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • Essential fragrant oil
  • Bowl
  • Shower cap

How to Do It:

Step 1: Mix one part white vinegar and two parts hot water into a bowl or container. Once cooled down, you may add a few drops of the fragrance oil of your choice to tone down the vinegar smell. 

Step 2: After your typical shampoo routine, rinse and soak your hair with your white vinegar mixture.

Step 3: Cover hair with a shower cap and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Give your hair a good rinse and condition your hair thoroughly to help remove the lingering smell. 

This natural alternative to clarifying shampoo is the most practical and available solution against stubborn hair dyes, but it often requires multiple sessions.

So, watch out for allergic reactions on your scalp and use strengthening and bonding hair treatments after consecutive usage. 

5. Dish Washing Liquid

Another household product surprisingly has hair color stripping benefits, and it’s sitting on your kitchen counter.

Dishwashing soaps are tough on grease, and like clarifying shampoos, they contain chemical surfactants strong enough to keep the hair and scalp free of product and dirt buildup. These ingredients can also strip color deposited on your hair. 

So, how do you strip hair color with dishwashing liquid?

What you’ll need:

  • Dishwashing Soap
  • Shampoo of your choice

How to do it:

Step 1: There isn’t an exact measurement for this, but you can start by mixing about four o five drops of dishwashing soap with approximately two pumps of shampoo. 

Step 2: Shampoo as usual. Give your hair a good lather and massage it from roots to ends. Then leave the shampoo in your hair for at least 15 minutes before giving it a good rinse.

Step 3: Because you incorporated a detergent that isn’t technically made for hair, you should follow up the shampoo with deep conditioning to ensure you bring moisture back to your locks.

How to Strip Hair Color: The Cheat Sheet

Removing Permanent Hair Color

The Best Solution: Hair bleaching and hair color removers

Removing permanent color is always the hardest because permanent dye goes directly into the hair cuticle and alters the natural pigment. 

It’s not impossible to remove, but you need to go with the most potent means possible, like bleaching and color removers. Natural solutions won’t cut it. 

Removing Semi-Permanent, Demi-Permanent, and Temporary Dyes

The Best Solution: Hair bleaching, hair color remover, clarifying shampoos

These types of hair colors don’t penetrate the hair cuticles. Instead, they deposit color on the exterior of each strand. 

While you can go all-out with the color removal and opt for bleach and hair color removers, clarifying shampoo mixtures can be a great alternative in gradually stripping the color pigments off the hair.

Fading Existing Hair Color

The Best Solution: Hair bleaching, hair color remover, anti-dandruff shampoos, high-sulfate shampoos, dishwashing soap mixture

The at-home solutions included above contain strong surfactants that can gradually eliminate dark and bright hair colors. However, if you want more evident results, you can still resort to bleaching and hair color removers.

Lightening Dyed Hair

The Best Solution: Hair color remover, highly acidic mixtures (lemon juice rinse, white vinegar wash, vitamin C mask)

Lifting colors from dyed or dark hair is like lightening dark pigments on your skin — acidic or pH-neutralizing mixtures are the best way to do it!

Removing Black Hair Dye

The Best Solution: Hair bleaching, hair color remover, baking soda mixtures, dishwashing soap mixture

Aside from permanent dyes, this is probably the second toughest to eliminate. 

But if you find this color too dark for your liking, harsh detergents like dishwashing soap and potent cleaning and exfoliating agents like baking soda can help lighten black dye by a few shades. 

Getting Rid of Excess Toner/Toner Residue

The Best Solution: Color-stripping shampoo, clarifying or anti-dandruff shampoo, dishwashing soap mixture, or lemon juice rinse.

We all think of the iciest white and cool silver-gray hair when we give hair toners ample time to set in. 

But sometimes, we over-tone and get unwanted gray and lilac tones. If this is the case, you can remove excess toner with the abovementioned methods.

When Should You Seek Professional Help?

Stripping your hair color at home can be convenient and practical, especially when we find the tools already available. 

But we have to admit, the level of efficacy and accuracy of results won’t be as reliable and uniform as having it done in a salon by a professional.

It’s also important to know when to seek professional help. Here are a few reasons you should see your stylist: 

  • If you want your hair to be lightened or darkened by two more shades than you currently have.
  • Your previous treatment has badly beaten your hair and left it in awful condition.
  • Your hair color is uneven and patchy.
  • Your hair is starting to get thinner due to hair fall, or you naturally have fine hair.
  • You previously used a dark-colored box dye, especially black ones.
  • You have incredibly light-colored hair and want to return it to your natural dark tones, or vice-versa. 

FAQs

Is color stripping bad for the hair?

There isn’t just one answer to this. It depends on different factors.

Important things to consider are the condition of your hair before the procedure, the intensity of the chemicals you’ll be using, and the frequency of the procedure.

You must know that some treatments aren’t meant to be repeated multiple times in a row, and hair colors that are too complicated to remove on your own require expertise and technique. 

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to get professional advice.

What’s the hardest color to remove from the hair?

Black is notorious for leaving uneven tints, but red also has a vibrancy that’s hard to remove. 

Can I re-dye my hair after a color-stripping session?

After removing the color, you can take the risk and re-dye if your hair is still in good condition. 

Ideally, it’s wise to let it rest before re-coloring. Give it a week or two if possible.

Strip Color From Hair Safely and Effectively 

Although these natural color-stripping methods are gentler than bleaching and color removers, they should still be your last resort for emergency color situations.

It’s still best to consult professionals and let them determine the best and safest procedure to remove your hair color without damaging your locks further.

Beautiful young woman getting a hair wash. Hair salon styling concept.

However, if you want to use home methods, be sure to choose the best one for your current hair condition. You should also research and invest in hair oils and treatments that you can incorporate into your daily hair care routine. 

If you choose a gentle removal method coupled with nourishing treatments, you should be able to successfully remove unwanted hair color and keep your hair safe while doing it.

Let us teach you other ways to remove hair color! Read these articles:

Authors

  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

  • 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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