How to remove hair color from gray hair

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you've made a mistake attempting to cover greys with hair colour or simply had a change of heart and want to go back to your original shade, waiting for the colour to fade or for hair to grow out naturally takes a considerable amount of time. If you're unhappy with your hair colour results, however, there is a much quicker solution that will return your grey hair to its natural state. Try an at-home colour remover, which can be found with hair colour products at most drug stores or beauty supply stores.

Ensure the colour remover you have purchased will provide the desired effect by first performing a strand test. Cut a small section of hair from an inconspicuous area, ideally about 1/2-inch wide.

Tape one end of the hair to hold it together, leaving the other end of the strands free.

Place small equal parts of the included ingredients in your plastic bowl and stir with the spoon to form a sample amount of the colour remover. Follow the included instructions to aid you in mixing. You will need about a teaspoon-sized amount.

Apply the sample mixture to your taped section of hair and set aside for the same amount of time that is recommended in the manufacturer's instructions. After the time has lapsed, rinse the strands with water and add a dime-sized amount of shampoo. Lather and rinse thoroughly, then allow the strands to dry. If you are pleased with the result, proceed to Section 2.

Ensure your hair is dry and free of tangles for best results. Drape an old towel or similar item over your clothing to avoid stains, as the hair colour removal product can drip. Put on the plastic gloves that were included with your colour removing kit.

Mix together the remaining product (most of it should be left over from your strand test) according the the manufacturer's directions.

Apply the mixture to your hair, making sure to cover all strands. Use your gloved hands to work the mixture through your hair. Some brands include a plastic cap to put over your hair after the mixture has been applied, while others do not. Review individual product instructions for details.

Leave the mixture on your hair for the recommended amount of time. Take this time to wipe any excess product off your skin if necessary.

Rinse the mixture completely from your hair with warm water. Shampoo and re-rinse hair. Some products recommend two or three shampoos as part of the rinsing process, so follow directions accordingly.

Apply the conditioner that was included with your colour remover kit and leave on your hair for several minutes. Rinse completely from hair.


Color removers will restore your grey hair back to its original shade if you dyed it a darker colour. If you bleached your grey hair or lightened it, a colour remover product cannot restore the colour completely as it has been chemically removed. It will remove only the artificial pigment added by the lightener. You may first remove the hair colour, then use a grey shade of hair colour in this situation.


Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions included with your product. Perform an allergy test according to the directions to ensure you do not have an allergic reaction to the product you are using.

Things You'll Need

  • Color remover
  • Shampoo
  • Water
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Plastic bowl
  • Plastic spoon
  • Clock or timer
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About the Author

Amy McClain has worked as both a feature writer and a copy editor for a prestigious daily newspaper. She also enjoys writing as a hobby and takes creative writing courses in her free time. She has worked in sales and marketing for a wireless company for over seven years.