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How to Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Dye: 5 Methods

Trying out a new hair color can be a hit or miss. You might end up really loving your edgy new look or really hating it. If you don’t like it, the question then becomes: how do you remove semi-permanent hair dye and revert to your hair’s natural color?

Before you head out to the drug store to purchase a box of hair dye remover, there are safer, less expensive alternatives worth exploring.

We’re not saying color remover won’t work – because it will. We’re simply saying that some brands have a lethal mix of harsh chemicals that will strip color from your hair, damaging it in the process.


How to Strip Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

This article explores 5 ways to remove semi-permanent hair color:

Method 1: Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo to remove semi permanent hair color

If you’re trying to get rid of semi-permanent hair color, a clarifying shampoo is a great place to start. Keep in mind that the differentiating factor between semi-permanent and permanent hair color is how deeply the pigment penetrates the hair cuticle and cortex.

Semi-permanent dye only gets to the hair cuticle but not all the way into the hair cortex (the core of the hair shaft). Permanent hair color gets all the way past those two layers through an oxidative process.

Every time you wash your hair, the shampoo you use washes out some of the dye’s color molecules. A clarifying shampoo speeds up this process. In addition, it is designed to get rid of product and mineral buildup that conventional shampoos cannot.

For best results, do a first round of shampooing with a clarifying cleanser. This will get rid of any product buildup that may already be present on your hair. Then, rinse it out and apply more of the shampoo. Lather it up and cover with a cap for 30 minutes before rinsing it out again.

Repeat this every day for a week until the dye fades completely. If it doesn’t get rid of it, you might need to use something stronger.

Keep in mind that clarifying shampoo is drying on the hair. Ensure you deep-condition hair after every wash to nourish it.


Method 2: Baking Soda and Anti-dandruff Shampoo

baking soda and shampoo

Baking soda and anti-dandruff shampoo solutions are just as effective as clarifying cleansers when it comes to removing semi-permanent hair color. Anti-dandruff shampoos contain selenium sulfide, an active ingredient that is known to strip semi-permanent hair dye.

Mix your shampoo with baking soda in a 1:1 ratio, and then apply the solution to your hair. Work it in for about 3 minutes, ensuring every section of your mane from the root is covered in the lather.

Next, cover with a cap and let it soak for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Repeat this process daily for a week until you see the results you want. Once again, be sure to deep-condition your hair after.


Method 3: Vitamin C

vitamin c ascorbic acid powder

Yes, you read right. Vitamin C is not only great for boosting immunity; you can use vitamin C to get rid of hair color. It is a safer, less abrasive option compared to the other two techniques we’ve looked at so far.

Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. When you apply it to colored hair, it oxidizes the dye, breaking up the molecules within the hair strands. This is what fades the color.

Mix Vitamin C and warm water in a 1:1 ratio and apply it to your hair. Work it in, cover with a cap for 30 minutes or so, and then wash the paste off before deep-conditioning. Repeat the process every day for a week until you see visible results.

Quick disclaimer, though. Like the other methods, this is a gradual process, so don’t expect instant miracle results. Patience is the name of the game.


Method 4: Vinegar

using vinegar to remove semi permanent hair color

Vinegar, which also happens to be acidic, works the same way Vitamin C does to strip dye from hair without damaging it in the process. While any vinegar will do, for best results, we recommend using distilled white vinegar.

Mix warm water and vinegar in the ratio of 2:1; shampoo your hair with a clarifying cleanser or a baking-soda-anti dandruff-shampoo mixture; rinse your hair with warm water; give it one final rinse with the water-vinegar solution; cover your hair with a cap and let the mixture soak for about 20 minutes.

Repeat this process 3-4 times a week until you see noticeable results. Apple cider vinegar works just as well if you don’t have white vinegar available.


Method 5: Call In the Big Guns

salon treatment to remove semi permanent hair color

You’ve tried using a clarifying shampoo, baking soda and anti-dandruff shampoo solution, Vitamin C, and even vinegar, but the color doesn’t appear to be fading fast enough. Alternatively, it could be that you just don’t have the time or patience to employ these techniques every day.

Whatever the case may be, at that point, the only available option would be to phone a friend for help. That friend is your hairdresser.

Salon professionals are trained to correct hair color along with all sorts of hair mishaps. Removing semi-permanent hair color is likely something they often do. They know which color remover to use that’s both gentle and effective on your hair.

Worst case scenario: They are unable to get rid of the hair dye. They can still come up with creative ways to camouflage unwanted pigment using techniques like balayage or ombre, or foil highlights. They may even use bleach to lift the unwanted color off and give you a whole new look.

Either way, you’re in good hands.


Test Before You Commit

A simple strand test might save you from having to remove semi-permanent hair color if you end up not liking it.

This is especially important if you’re going for a bold, vibrant hair color that you’ve never had before. That single dyed strand might be just what you need to realize that your chosen shade of purple might not work for you.

Have you ever had a bad dye job? We’d love to read about it in the comments section below. In the meantime, check out these top hair color trends in 2024. Number 5 might surprise you!