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How to Bleach Out Permanent Hair Dye Like A Pro

So, you have a permanent hair color and you wish to bleach it out? Or lighten it?

To be honest, with the right peroxide level it is actually not that hard to remove permanent hair dyes. The tricky bit is to actually remove it evenly, this is definitely the hardest part to achieve!


How to Bleach Out Permanent Hair Dye

As a hairdresser who has 27 years of industry experience, the evenest way to bleach out permanent hair dye is definitely to use foils if the desired color is lightening the overall look of the hair color.


What Level of Bleach Should Be Used to Remove Permanent Hair Color?

First and foremost you need to assess what color is currently in your hair. Hair is industrially described as a level one to ten. One is black and ten is white blonde. You then need to assess what color level you want to achieve. From this information, you can decide what level of bleach you will need to achieve the desired results.

1. If you only need to lift your hair one level and you are not in a hurry, it can actually be done with cheap shampoo. Shampoo twice before conditioning every second day for two weeks and you would be amazed what you can achieve easily and without chemicals.

using shampoo to lighten hair color

Or, it can easily be done with a bleach bath. This is a 1:1:1 ratio of bleach, clarifying shampoo and semi-activator or the lowest level peroxide you can get, preferably 1.5% peroxide, mix this into a shampoo-like paste and shampoo it onto your hair quickly and evenly. It lightens very quickly, like within minutes.

However, you need to be aware that for 1 shade of lightening this is fantastic, for more than that leaving the bleach bath on will make the hair blotchy, and it will lift unevenly. And if you put another hair color or toner over that, it’ll be uneven too. So, if you try and lift more than one shade, the outcome will not be good!


2. If you need to lift 2/3 shades, the best way to do this is with a gentle bleach. Foils will even out hair color and lifting with a 10 vol peroxide and bleach will easily give you the outcome you desire while retaining the integrity of your hair. The foils need to be applied quickly and evenly for the best outcome.

bleach hair


3. If you desire to lift your color 3/4 shades the best bet is to use 20 vol and a good quality bleach and peroxide to ensure the best and safest outcome for your hair.

bleach hair with foil

Retaining the integrity and getting the levels of lift you require, foiling is a must to avoid a blotchy uneven outcome. Foils need to be applied quickly and evenly to ensure the best outcome and have even coloring results.


4. If your desire is to lift more than 4 shades or lift out box colors it becomes a lot more difficult, you can use 30 vol peroxide, in foils, to lift the color or box color. However, you are opening the cuticle and stripping the pigment out of the hair very quickly and can cause a lot of damage very quickly.

This degree of lift requires a professional opinion whether the hair is in good enough condition to support using 30 vol peroxide, whether it needs to be done in multiple-gentler applications and whether this level of peroxide may actually just actually jellify the hair (Turn the hair into Gel- which is the point of no return).

Whatever the amount of lift you desire to achieve, bleaching strips back the hair and reveals the underlying natural reflects off the hair. The natural underlying reflection of a person’s color is nice clean color, that is free from red, orange or yellow pigment.



hair toner

The outcome of bleaching is rarely a good color to leave in your hair without toning. Toning neutralizes the unwanted tones to leave a beautiful outcome.

Pro-tip: The correct level of the lightened hair needs to be chosen for toning, toning will only work on the correct level or a darker level than the lightened hair.


So, now you have lightened the hair to the desired level, it is time to tone the hair – the final step to a beautiful hair color. Once you have highlighted your hair, and the hair is on the correct level that you wish to achieve, you can shampoo out the bleach.

Pro tip: Do not condition the hair because it closes the cuticle.


Once the hair is shampooed, you need to towel dry the hair. It is now the best time to reanalyze the actual level of the highlighted hair and ensure you are toning on the correct level. If you try to tone your new color on the wrong level(too light), it will not do anything. 

If you tone your hair on the wrong level (too dark ), you will overtone the highlights and they will become darker and potentially blend in with the remaining hair. If the lightening was by only 2/3 shades, the outcome will become a very minimal difference between the remaining color and the highlights.


Pro tip: It takes quite some time to lift out permanent color and retain the integrity of the hair. However, to overtone and loose your highlights happens very quickly and easily with the wrong choice of toners.


Professional Hair Colors Vs. Box Colors

Professional Hair Colors Vs. Box Colors

Permanent hair salon colors are not hard to remove, they can be put in and removed quite easily and quickly while retaining the integrity of the hair.

However, box colors are the complete opposite. They actually work very differently to professional colors and are easy to put in, and lots of people put one over the other, over the other, each time they color their hair and do the regrowth – which causes a massive build-up and staining and difficult to remove color.

Sometimes you are trying to remove up to 20 applications of box color staining if you are trying to lighten long hair. Whereas professional colors do not build up. Professional colors put the color pigment in the cuticles, then stop processing, the difference makes the removal or lightening process very different.

The other thing to consider is Box color has a “one size fits all” approach to the level of peroxide that is used within the color. Box colors require 9% peroxide to offer grey coverage, then people typically just run them through their hair. This amount of peroxide absolutely destroys the mid-lengths and ends of the hair every time.

Professional hair dyes are only applied with 1.5% peroxide to care for and protect the hair. With this in mind, hair that has been professionally colored is always in a lot better condition and able to withstand a lot more highlighting and recover a lot quicker.


So, you now have achieved your desired hair color! Something worth considering is what your hair has been through and needs to recover from.

It usually takes 2/3 weeks for your hair to recover (with good products) from a lightening like removing permanent color. The best products to use are a salon shampoo and a protein or keratin mask to help heal your hair.