Hair Color Removal

Techniques for Removing Artificial Pigment

Hair color removal is sometimes necessary. Whether there’s been an *oops* or you’re trying to achieve a much lighter shade than what you’ve currently got.

This is a challenging process which requires the right products, good information and realistic expectations.

Methods of Hair Color Removal

Oxidative Hair Color Removers

These specialty products remove artificial pigments without bleach. They work by shrinking the color molecule so that it washes out of the hair.

They are formulated to remove oxidative dyes, which are present in permanent hair color. Semi permanent hair color is a mixture of oxidative and direct dyes, so these products won’t be as effective for semi-permanent hair color removal.

Because these products target oxidative dyes, they won’t remove the natural pigment from your hair if you have regrowth.

Shampoo Cap

You can lift the artificial pigment out a bit with a “shampoo cap”, a gentler form of hair bleaching.

Mix bleach, peroxide, and shampoo together into a loose paste. Squeeze into the ends of the hair where the color is the darkest and work through, carefully avoiding the natural colored hair.

Bleach doesn’t distinguish between natural and artificial pigment, and it lightens natural pigment more quickly than hair color which can make it difficult to get an even tone throughout. Tricky?…Yep. I recommend you see a professional if you’re not very experienced with hair bleaching.

This is not a process to undergo if you value the health of your hair. Although it’s not as damaging as all-over blonding with bleach, and the lightening agents aren’t on the hair nearly as long, your hair will need protein/moisture treatments after this process and may absorb color pigments more voraciously with a tendency towards grabbing the ash tones. Keep this in mind if you decide to try this process.

For success when removing artificial pigments, whichever method you choose, it’s critical to have a basic understanding of hair coloring chemistry.

Successful Hair Color Removal

Three important facts about existing artificial color on the hair

Bright red hair color.

1) Permanent hair color does not lift out existing artificial hair color.

2) Hair bleaching will lighten artificial pigments (especially very dark colors) more slowly than natural pigments in regrowth.

3) Some inexpensive (drugstore brand) hair colors contain metallic salts which can turn your hair to mush if they’re processed with bleach, perm solutions, or chemical straighteners.

Check the ingredients if you’ve used a drugstore brand hair color to make sure it doesn’t contain any metallic dye components.

Darker colors contain more of this ingredient (in those particular brands), and the more you’ve used it, the more metallic salts will have been deposited on/in your hair.


Light removal
Use this color Quick Fix by Malibu for lightening a level or two if you’re finding a fresh color just a bit too dark, or to strip out some pigment before recoloring if you’re trying to achieve a lighter finished color.

Heavy removal
For deeper pigment removal, use Vanish Color Corrector. This will shrink down the pigment molecules so they can slip out of the hair shaft. It will not restore your hair to its natural color.


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