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5 Ways to Remove Permanent Dye from Gray Hair

Have you dyed your gray hair with permanent hair dye and now dislike the color? Feeling stuck because you don’t know how to remove the permanent dye from your gray hair?

Fortunately, removing permanent hair dye isn’t as challenging as it might seem. If you’re looking to get rid of the dye and return to your natural gray hair, we’re here to help!

We are going to give you all the possible techniques to remove permanent hair dye from your gray hair, so you can rock what nature gave you!

How To Remove Permanent Hair Dye From Gray Hair

1. Let Your Hair Grow Out 

grow long hair to remove permanent dye from gray hair

This one is going to take some patience, but it’s one of the easiest ways to remove permanent hair color from the hair and will most likely give you the best results. All you really need to do is stop coloring your hair and get regular trims. 

If you already have a few inches of growth and are willing to take some length off your ends to speed along the process, this could be a great option! Also, it’s the only way to 100% guarantee no more hair dye is left in the hair!

You can also wait as long as the permanent hair dye lasts on your hair.

2. Use Clarifying Shampoo

using clarifying shampoo to remove permanent dye from gray hair

Normally, we use clarifying shampoos to remove product buildup from our hair, but they can also be used to remove permanent hair dye.

Clarifying shampoos are formulated to be ultra-cleansing because they contain a higher amount of cleansing agents than your everyday shampoo.  

We recommend using a clarifying shampoo 2-3 times a week when removing hair dye. After sudsing up the hair, let the shampoo sit on for 5 minutes before rinsing. Be sure to follow with an ultra-moisturizing conditioner or hair mask!

You can stop using the clarifying shampoo when you’ve removed most of the color and see the gray appear through your mids and ends (this usually takes a month or two, depending on how dark your hair color was). 

Clarifying shampoos are a great option if the permanent hair dye you’ve been using is a lighter shade, like dark blonde or light brown.

These lighter shades are easier to remove from the hair using a clarifying shampoo than the darker shades.

Pro tip: If the permanent hair dye you’ve been using is on the darker side, you may need more than a clarifying shampoo (i.e. a salon appointment to professionally remove the color) but using a clarifying shampoo before going into the salon can help get the ball rolling and allow you to spend less time in the salon chair. 

3. Natural Detoxifiers 

If you love to be all-natural and are interested in hair dye removal methods that involve zero chemicals, you’ve got options!

The best part is that these are probably things you already have at home sitting in your kitchen pantry. If you’re looking to fade or remove the dye naturally, consider these four natural detoxifiers:

Olive Oil Treatment

using olive oil to remove permanent dye from gray hair

Olive oil isn’t just great for cooking; it’s also a miracle worker when it comes to hair treatments. Rich in antioxidants and natural fatty acids, it offers a gentle approach to removing hair dye.

Especially for gray hair that might be more sensitive, this method is both nourishing and effective.


  • Olive oil


  • Warm a generous amount of olive oil.
  • Apply the warm olive oil thoroughly to your dyed gray hair.
  • Wrap your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and let it sit for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a mild shampoo, possibly shampooing twice to ensure all olive oil is removed.

Why It Works:

Olive oil is known to penetrate the hair shaft and can help to break down the dye, causing it to fade. It also nourishes the hair, giving it a smooth and healthy appearance.

Baking Soda and Lemon Juice 

using baking soda and lemon juice to remove permanent dye from gray hair

Both baking soda and lemon juice have the ability to lighten up hair. Mix them together and you’ve got a great way to get permanent hair dye out of those gray locks. 

You’re going to want to mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to form a paste. Apply the paste to damp, clean hair and let it sit on for 5- 10 minutes before rinsing. You may have to repeat this process once a week for a few weeks for optimal results. 

Be sure not to leave the baking soda/lemon juice mixture on the hair for longer than the recommended time as it can leave the hair dry. Make sure to use a moisturizing, reparative conditioner after each use! 


  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice


  • Combine the baking soda and lemon juice to form a paste.
  • Apply the mixture to your dyed gray hair.
  • Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Wash it off thoroughly with lukewarm water and then shampoo and condition as usual.

Why It Works:

Baking soda acts as a mild abrasive that can help to scrub the color from your hair, while lemon juice works due to its acidic nature, which can help to lift the dye.

Vinegar and Warm Water 

White vinegar and warm water can also be used to remove hair dye from gray hair. Vinegar works as a cleansing agent to remove dye from the hair’s cuticle and is also going to be more gentle on the hair than other methods. 

You’ll want to mix one part white vinegar with one part warm water and apply the mixture to clean hair and let sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing. You may have to repeat the process a few times before you achieve your desired result but you should notice the permanent dye fading out of the gray with one application. 


  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water


  • Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water.
  • After shampooing, pour the mixture over your hair.
  • Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly.
  • Follow with a conditioner.

Why It Works:

Apple cider vinegar helps to lift away minerals and oils that can trap the dye in the hair shaft. It also helps restore the natural pH levels of the scalp and hair.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that these natural detoxifiers may not completely remove the hair color from gray hair but they will fade it significantly, making it easier for you to grow out your gray hair more easily and without a harsh line of demarcation! 

Vitamin C Treatment

We often associate Vitamin C with boosting immunity and radiant skin, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to hair care.

Its acidic properties can help gently break down hair dye, making it a safe and effective method for those looking to reverse a color job.


  • Vitamin C tablets (crushed) or powder
  • Mild shampoo


  • Mix the crushed Vitamin C tablets or powder with a small amount of shampoo to form a paste.
  • Wet your hair and apply the mixture, lathering it in.
  • Allow it to sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Rinse thoroughly and condition your hair.

Why It Works:

Vitamin C is an acid that can oxidize the hair dye, helping to remove the color. It also works as an antioxidant which can be beneficial for the scalp and hair health.

4. Professional Color Remover 

salon treatment to remove permanent dye from gray hair

Sometimes it’s time to pull out the big guns (professional hair color remover) and see your stylist to remove permanent hair dye from your gray hair. 

If you’ve been coloring your hair a very dark shade or have pulled the color through your hair’s mids and ends more times than you can count, you’ll need to enlist the help of a trusted hair stylist to lift out the stubborn dye. 

Hairstylists are trained on how to use professional hair color removers which work like bleach by going into the hair and breaking down the permanent hair dye so it can be rinsed out of the hair. 

Instead of using hydrogen peroxide like bleach, hair color removers are usually sulfur-based. They are more gentle on the hair than bleach and do not shift your natural hair color, which is perfect since you’re embracing the gray! 

5. Bleach or Hair Lightener 

using hair bleach to remove permanent dye from gray hair

We’d like to think of bleach to remove hair color from gray hair as a last resort but sometimes it’s necessary, especially if your stylist tried professional hair color remover first and it didn’t get you back to your natural gray. 

Bleach is the strongest color remover but that does come with some risk, like hair breakage or lifting past the hair dye and changing the color of your natural gray. 

There are many stylists who are specifically trained in these types of color corrections, so just make sure you find someone who’s experienced in lifting out permanent hair dye with bleach to go gray.

You can ask your stylist to do a test strand (bleaching a hidden piece of hair in the back of your head) before beginning a color correction to get an idea of what kind of result bleach will give you!

Key Things to Remember  

  • If you’ve been using permanent hair dye to cover gray but want to go back to natural there are many different ways to remove the dye from your hair.
  • The simplest way to remove dye from gray hair is to grow out the permanent color and get regular trims until all the hair dye is cut off.
  • Hair that hasn’t been colored too dark or too often can be treated with at-home hair dye removers such as clarifying shampoo, baking soda and lemon, or vinegar and water which will work to remove the dye and reveal the gray underneath.
  • For darker or more stubborn hair color you will have to see a hair stylist who will use a professional hair dye remover or bleach to get the permanent hair dye out of the hair. 

We think gray hair is beautiful and we’re so glad you’re embracing your natural beauty and letting your true color shine! 

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