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Want to Lighten Up? Here’s How to Remove Dark Hair Color

Just as it is easy to overbleach hair and end up with something more akin to “winter white” than actual blonde, we can also overdo it when it comes to going dark. If you have just done that, don’t worry. You can strip the dark hair color at home.

Many a “make-believe” stylist has shuddered over the bathroom sink as they rinsed and rinsed, only to find that the dye had done its job too well.

Even clients in high-end salons have experienced buyer’s remorse at the end of an appointment after begging and pleading with a stylist to “go dark,” and he did just that.

Sometimes (often), what we envisioned in our heads does not stare back at us in the mirror.

Hair that has been dyed too dark can send us into panic mode, but the good news is that some corrective steps can be taken to minimize the damage and remove the dark color. If you transformed your long and honey-hued locks with the hope of looking like a Kardashian and the results were anything but that, read on to learn more about how to remove dark hair color.

Different Ways to Remove Dark Hair Color

When it comes to removing dark hair color, some of the tried-and-true remedies involve common items in your pantry. In a pinch, these everyday essentials can be a lifesaver when your mane needs desperate help.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

The alkaline in baking soda forces hair cuticles to open, which could allow you to rinse more of the color out. Mix a small amount of baking soda with your shampoo to form a paste and lather your hair. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the alkaline to work, then rinse thoroughly.

Follow the wash with conditioner mixed with apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. The apple cider vinegar or white vinegar neutralizes the baking soda, which is important as open hair cuticles can make your hair rough or frizzy.

While the smell of vinegar can be unsettling to some, rest assured that it will disappear after your hair dries. However, you must keep in mind that vinegar of any kind can result in dry hair.

Also, the high alkalinity of baking soda, which is also not pH balanced with the acidity of apple cider vinegar for the color removal process can cause damage to your hair if you are not careful.

Dish Soap

The blue, bubbly bottle next to your sink can be used for more than just cleaning dishes: just ask anyone who swears by a few drops of dish soap on grease-stained clothes before throwing them in the washer. It works like a charm every time!

Dish soap can be used in a pinch to remove dark hair color, though it should be stated here that it can be incredibly drying to the hair. If you try washing your hair out with dish soap, be sure you condition after and even use a deep-conditioning hair mask if needed.

How to Remove Dark Hair Color: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

While shampoo seems too obvious a suggestion at first for dyed hair, it is your best defense for quick removal of hair color, provided it is a clarifying shampoo.

Clarifying shampoos are specifically designed to remove unwanted buildup from hair, and in this case, that can mean removing hair dye. However, some clarifying shampoos are designated “color-safe,” so you should not use those for the specific purpose of removing dark hair color.

In general, even when you are not frantically trying to correct color gone wrong, a clarifying shampoo is a great product to keep your locks looking healthy, and a hair mask should be used once or twice a week for extra conditioning.

Dark Hair Color Removers and Bleach

When you have tried everything from baking soda paste to three different clarifying shampoos, and your hair remains as dark as the night sky, you have a choice to either learn to live with it (until it grows out to your natural color) or cut it all off.

We are only kidding! There are more options (but a pixie cut might not be a bad idea if you are willing to try it). For those who need the “big guns” to correct a color mistake on dyed hair, you will want to look at a hair color remover and/or bleach.

Whenever possible, it is always best to work with a professional stylist to remove semi-permanent color using products, as they will have the right training and know the best ways to minimize damage.

However, if a salon visit is too costly and you insist on doing the work at home, be sure to read the instructions carefully and work on a strand or two before trying the product on your whole head.

Hair Dye Removers: How They Work

A dye remover will include two solutions that must be mixed to form a chemical reaction. That reaction is what breaks down the hair dye molecules from the artificial color you applied.

The remover is applied either by hand or with a hairbrush and usually works within 20 minutes.

The challenge with hair color removal products is that they can be extremely drying, so you want to be sure you have a really good conditioner or hair mask on hand, too.

Bleach to Remove Dark Color: How it Works

Bleach to Remove Dark Color
Source: Instagram

Sometimes overly dark color is removed by what is known as a bleach bath or a bleach wash.

The bleach powder is mixed with a developer and shampoo, spread through the hair, and then left for 20 minutes. When you use this method, you shouldn’t scrub your scalp like you would with regular shampoo. Doing so could make your scalp irritated.

If the artificial color was not fully removed, you could try another bleach wash a few days later, but your hair will inevitably end up dried out, so you will want to space out these treatments and keep a good conditioner on hand.

The most important thing to remember is that the problem is temporary; hair color mishap can be devastating, but it will not last forever! And if you can work with a stylist, they may be able to create a transitional look for you by simply adding a few highlights or taking other corrective measures to tone down your dark hair.