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How do I Choose a Hair Color Remover?

By T. Webster
Updated: May 17, 2024

When choosing a hair color remover, you should base your choice on how the unwanted color happened and why you are not pleased with it. If your hair turned out too dark, you will need to act quickly to remove the color. Generally, it is easier to correct hair that turned out too light by slightly darkening it than it is to correct hair that turned out too dark or discolored.

First, assess how much of a color change you want. If your new hair color is a true disaster, you might want to seek the help of a hair stylist. Trying to fix it on your own can lead to further problems or hair damage. A professional stylist can change the color, remove it or recommend a good hair color remover that you can buy.

Sometimes, color mistakes happen at the salon. In these cases, the hair stylist likely will go out of his or her way to fix the mistake. This often will be done free of charge. Always ask about the cost, however, in order to avoid any surprise charges.

If you colored your hair several days ago, it will be difficult to entirely remove the color simply by washing your hair repeatedly. Color usually seeps into the hair cuticle and takes hold within a couple of days. For this reason, it is best to get the unwanted color out of your hair as soon as possible.

Resist the temptation to try to dye your hair a lighter color if it turned out too dark. This usually will not work. Applying additional dye over a dark dye usually makes the hair darker.

Before rushing to the drug store or specialty store to buy a hair color remover, make sure that you understand how these products work. Some are designed to remove the dye and turn your hair back to its natural color. Others will strip or bleach your hair to make it a lighter color.

In some cases, you will not need a chemical hair color remover. This often is the case when the color is not desired but is not bad enough to warrant drastic measures. Over time, repeated washing with hot water or using a hot olive oil soak can help remove unwanted color from your hair.

The best color remover will strip away unwanted color without damaging your hair. Always carefully read and follow all instructions to avoid damaging your hair or getting a result that you do not want. Then, make sure to do a hair strand test when trying a new hair color at home. This often is the best way to avoid an unwanted color.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jan 07, 2015

I used a hair color remover today. It was a long process with a lot of shampooing and rinsing but I'm happy with the result. My hair is a few shades lighter which is what I wanted. I recommend doing a test on a strip of hair first. The only thing I'm worried about is that there is a chemical type smell in my hair. I hope it goes away after a few days.

By discographer — On Jan 06, 2015

The color removing products sold at beauty stores and pharmacies seem to be a hit or miss. I've been reading about them as I've made a few color mistakes recently. They seem to work very well for some people and not so well for others. Some say that the color returned to their original color after use, others say that it didn't work at all. I've also read that they work better when used as soon as possible and they also work for hair that is too dark (not too light).

I think if hair color has turned out so bad that one wouldn't even want to leave the house like that, a hair color remover is probably worth a try. Otherwise, I'd leave it alone. Because considering the chances that it might not work and that it might damage hair, it's not worth the risk unless the outcome is very, very bad.

By fify — On Jan 06, 2015

Dark brown hair dyes can turn out a bit too dark at first. But after several weeks, the hair lightens slightly from washing and the issue resolves itself. This has happened may times with me. It's only when I dyed my hair black that the dye did not lighten even after months. I was going to have the color removed but I couldn't afford to have a salon fix it and I was worried about damaging my hair with a home color removing kit. I ended up leaving it that way for a few years until my hair grew out and lightened.

I will never repeat the same mistake though. If ever in doubt about a hair color, it's always best to choose the lighter colored one. Like the article said, it's easier to darken hair later, but making it lighter is far more difficult.

By Spotiche5 — On Jan 06, 2015

I learned the hard way that stripping your hair with a hair color remover is not a good idea. I did this once, and my hair was dry and damaged for months.

I think the advice in the article about washing your hair frequently with warm water and using olive oil soaks to gradually remove the color over time is the idea. Though it will take a little time to make a difference, this method is much better for your hair than removing the hair color or trying to apply color over top of one that you don't like.

By Raynbow — On Jan 05, 2015

I have a friend who colored her hair black for a Halloween costume a few years ago. She didn't realize that the hair color was permanent, so she panicked and tried to lighten it with a blond hair color. Her hair turned a strange shade of dark reddish brown, though it looked surprisingly good on her.

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