According To A Celebrity Stylist, Here's How To Remove Hair Color At Home — Plus 4 Products To Try

by Masha Vapnitchnaia
Woman applying coloring shampoo on her hair. Female having purple washing product. Toning blonde col...

Stripping out hair color is typically best left to the professionals. The process is tricky and may cause damage to your hair. But if you're set on doing it at home, choosing the right hair color remover is going to be important in order to get effective results while causing the least amount of damage. The key to finding the best hair color remover for your hair comes down to the type of dye you used (semi-permanent or permanent) and the depth of color. To better understand how these products work, I connected with Sharon Dorram, a celebrity hair colorist and co-founder of the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon.

Type Of Dye

Hair color removers are categorized by the type of dye — semi-permanent or permanent — they will remove. Contrary to what you may think, buying one for permanent color will not work better and faster on your temporary hue as that could cause unnecessary damage (some of them contain harsh ingredients like bleach). In fact, Dorram points out that some people may want to simply tone down their color instead of erasing it, and they should first try an inexpensive sulfate shampoo.

Depth Of Color

Generally, to erase "regular oxidative hair color," which basically describes most of the traditional hair dyes on the market (browns, and blondes, and blacks), the more gentle you can go with a remover. On the flip side, vibrant, bright colors (reds, blues, and violets) are more challenging to undo because the pigments are so intense. For those, you'll need the support of chemicals (like ammonia) to be successful.

Pre- And Post-Care

Before you begin, Dorram urges that you do a strand test to preview the final results. "Color may lift off quicker than expected and then be even more compromised afterwards," she explains. Also, note that these formulas remove artificial pigment and will not restore your natural hair color. If desired, you can re-dye your hair afterward. (Pssst, here's a list of some of the best at-home hair dyes.)

Below, you'll find a list of the very best hair color removers to correct your dye job at home.

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The Most Gentle Hair Color Remover

  • Removal type: permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes

This Color Oops color remover gets a big thumbs up from Dorram who says she often recommends it those who are new to at-home color correction because of how gentle it is. It's free of ammonium and bleach, and per the manufacturer, it works by "shrinking the dye molecules" so that you can "simply wash them away."

Just note while it's the only pick on this list that claims it can be used on both permanent and semi-permanent color, it still has its limitations. It's designed to work to remove more natural hair colors (browns, blondes, and blacks). For undoing "direct" dyes (pinks, blues, greens, and purples), you'll want to use one of the other picks below.

Once you mix the formula, it will process in 20 minutes. Just note that when it's time to reveal your final results, if you had colored your hair lighter, don't be surprised if your strands now have an orange tint— this product will not replace your natural pigment, so you may end up in a much more lifted state. Per the manufacture, you are safe to re-dye hair the same day.

Fan praise: "LOVE LOVE LOVE this product! I totally hated a dye job that was way to dark. I’m a natural strawberry blonde. Made a horrible mistake with jet black dye. One application of Oops took my hair back to natural. Totally recommend it!"


The Best For Removing Permanent Red Dyes

  • Removal type: permanent hair dyes

According to Dorram, "Red dye is the most difficult to remove," but this L’Oréal formula will help you jumpstart the process. It's intended for permanent color only, which is why you'll spot strong chemicals like ammonium chloride on the ingredient list.

Application can take as little as five minutes (for light shades) and as long as 60 minutes (for darker ones), and you'll rinse out like you regularly would with a shampoo and conditioner afterward.

Note: Per L’Oréal's guide using this product, you should be aware that "it will not restore your hair to its original, natural shade." For that reason, the brand suggests having your next hair color ready to go to use the same day.

Fan praise: "It worked great for me, and I have very long hair. I had to get a ghastly shade of orange out. I worked perfectly!"


The Best For Removing Permanent Bright Pigments

  • Removal type: permanent hair dyes

A professional-grade formula that contains ammonia and other strong sulfates, the Effasol color remover will strip the most intense colored permanent dyes from your hair — from vibrant purples to indigo blues — but it requires the most careful attention of any on our list because, according to Dorram, "it's aggressive." Besides doing an initial strand test, she also advises that you watch as it develops and doing check-ins so that you stop as soon as your hair is ready and it "doesn't ruin the texture and color of the hair."

Depending on the saturation of the color you're hoping to erase, you'll need to make one additional purchase to activate the powder properly. To target lighters shades, you'll need to mix the product with deionized water as the minerals in regular water could leave you with a greenish tinge to your locks. For darker dyes, look for a creme developer like this one to mix in instead of the water.

The total wait time will also vary depending on the shade, from as little as five minutes to as much as one hour. From there, you'll rinse out as you normally would. Keep in mind that getting bright colors completely out is challenging to do in one go-round, so you may still end up with some pastel remnants, but they will fade eventually. Also, like this picks above, this will not restore your hair to its natural color, but rather leave it in its lifted state, and you can re-color your hair immediately after using it.

Fan praise: "I've had purple hair for a long while now and did a lot of research on how to remove it. THIS WORKED LIKE MAGIC! It worked within minutes and didn't damage my hair (I used distilled water instead of developer as instructed for wash out color). Stripped right to my honey blond with highlights I had before. I couldn't believe my eyes!"


The Easiest Way To Tone Down Color

  • Removal type: tone down semi-permanent hair dyes

If you're not ready to go full throttle into color correcting at home with one of the removers above, consider trying out a sulfate-laden shampoo, like this Prell one to help strip color from the hair follicle and tone down its intensity at the same time. Since sulfates are "harsh," as Dorram describes them, start with one wash and only continue until your hair has toned down enough to your liking.

For an even quicker way expedite the process, Dorram offers this insider tip: Mix this shampoo with about ten crushed up vitamin C tablets because the vitamin C "may gently lighten the color, taking out some of the intensity."

Fan praise: "I was recently the victim of a bad hair color job, so I went on a quest to find a bottle of Prell because I heard it fades semi-permanent hair color quickly. Not only did it do that (whew!) but it also gave me the bounciest, cleanest hair I've ever had."


Sharon Dorram, celebrity hair colorist and co-founder of the Sharon Dirham Color at Sally Hershberger salon