How to strip hair of old permanent colour

Updated February 21, 2017

Many people colour their hair using at-home permanent hair dye found in beauty supply stores or drugstores. Stripping your hair of unwanted permanent hair dye is not as impossible as it sounds. Although "permanent" insinuates that the colour cannot be removed, there are actually ways to strip colour from your hair. Whether you think the hair colour turned out too dark, too red or just plain hideous, you have a few different options to choose from.

Using hair colour remover

Mix the ingredients of the hair colour remover together according to the manufacturer's directions. Put on the gloves provided in the kit.

Apply the hair colour remover to dry hair until you reach about 2 inches from the roots.

Allow the remover to set in your hair for about 5 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. When your hair begins to lighten, apply the remainder of the remover to your roots, being careful to avoid the scalp.

Let the remover set in your hair for the remaining recommended time. Regularly check your hair to see progress. When your hair reaches the desired colour, rinse the hair colour remover out with cool water.

Wash your hair with moisturising shampoo, rinse and coat your strands with a deep conditioner. Hair colour remover often leaves your hair feeling very dry. Let the conditioner sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Style as usual or apply a temporary hair colour to your hair once it has dried.

Making a soap cap

Mix together the powdered bleach and developer according to the manufacturer's directions. Make sure to wear gloves while using hair bleach.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Pour in equal parts shampoo and conditioner. Although not an exact science, try to keep the amounts of shampoo and conditioner the same as the bleach mixture. Mix well.

Apply the mixture evenly over your hair with your hands, creating a soapy lather. Place a shower cap over your head.

Let the mixture sit in your hair for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Check the progress frequently. When your hair reaches the desired colour, rinse the mixture out of your hair with cool water. No shampooing is necessary.

Fading permanent dye

Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, rinse and repeat.

Smooth conditioner over your hair and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. Rinse your hair with cool water.

Repeat the process every day until you begin to see noticeable fading. Although this process takes longer, it is much less damaging to hair than colour remover or bleach.

Go to a salon and get your hair colour corrected if fading does not work for you. This is a sure-fire way of getting the colour you want.


The best way to remove or strip your hair of old permanent colour is to visit a professional colourist. Hair colour remover works best when the permanent colour has been applied within 48 hours; however, it can be used when hair colour is relatively old as well. Only use hair bleach as a last resort or if the colour has been in your hair for more than one week.


Make sure to carefully follow the manufacturer's directions when using hair colour remover. Bleach and hair colour removers cause damage to your hair. If you are unsure about using these products, visit a professional colourist. Hair colour removers do not bring hair to its natural colour. After using a remover, your hair will be slightly damaged. Do not use permanent colour over recently stripped hair. Instead, use ammonia-free temporary colours until your hair becomes healthier.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair colour remover kit
  • Moisturising shampoo
  • Deep conditioner
  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair bleach
  • Bowl
  • Mixing stick or tint brush
  • Shower cap
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author