So, you’ve gone and done it, you’ve colored your hair BLACK, and you hate it! Don’t panic just yet, help IS available! For this article’s sake, I’m going to assume you colored your hair yourself at home using a black box dye from Sally’s or the drugstore (only because a hairdresser would have probably successfully talked you out of it), and now struggle to remove permanent dye from your locks. Without any further frowns or judgments, let me just tell you your do’s and don’ts.
There are many common ways to remove hair dye from your locks, but the task is the most difficult if you deal with black hair color (and definitely not for the faint-hearted). Here is why.
Black is the deepest, darkest color we have on our color chart, and the shades go up from there: through darkest brown, medium brown, darkest blonde, medium blonde up to blonde and then light blonde. When you color your hair black, you are filling the cortex of the hair with color molecules that bond to the inside of the hair, and then expand, causing them to lock in place.
If you went to a professional salon to have your hair colored black from blonde (ouch!), your colorist would have first filled the hair with an orange/yellow filler, to give the black color molecules something to anchor to, and then colored the black on top of it. If you did it yourself, you probably skipped all of that and might have a good chance of getting the color that’s dull and lifeless and far from the goal like this.
To map out the right way to remove dye from your hair or at least lighten it, it’s vital to consider what color your hair was prior to you coloring it black. If you were a highlighted blonde and you just applied a permanent black hair dye over it, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to get the color out without causing damage. However, if you started with dark brown hair or even medium blonde natural color (no previous bleaching), lightening hair will be not that difficult. So, here are the options.
For this portion, let’s assume you simply colored your natural brown hair black at home with a permanent hair dye and now want to remove the nasty dark color. As the first step, try a color remover. Color Oops Hair Color Remover is a good one for people to try at home, as well as Pulp Riot Blank Canvas or Malibu CPR Color Pigment Remover. These are designed to adhere to the unwanted artificial color pigments and pull them out of the hair.
I always recommend going in first with a color remover, as these tend to damage the hair far less than going in directly with bleach. Unlike bleach, the color removers don’t begin to break down the bonds of the hair the way bleach does, which is why, in my opinion, color removers should always be used first.
Other ways to lighten hair like using a clarifying shampoo or anti-dandruff shampoo are good to try, but they are not likely to make any real impact.
If, for some reason, the color removers aren’t removing enough of the pigment, it might be time to give the bleach a try, but this should be done as a last resort because of the damage it can cause. Here is a detailed guide on how to bleach hair at home with the thorough aftercare mentioned. However, having severe damage in mind, there are some other factors that might stop you from giving the method a try.
A note of caution when using bleach powder and color removers, you won’t be left with “what’s underneath.” Do not expect that removing the dye will get you back to your natural hair color (or the one you actually started with)! Instead, you will be left with an orangey/reddish color depending on how much black dye it’s lifting through.
Once you have successfully lifted the hair to either a red or orange color, you will have to either tone or color the hair with another shade that neutralizes the orange/red tone that you see. Sounds complicated? That’s because IT IS! Coloring or DE-coloring is risky and involves a lot of knowledge about the hair structure and the color wheel, and I haven’t even gotten started on acidic colors (that sit on the cuticle of the hair) or alkaline colors (that sit within the cortex of the hair)! With all that being said, you can probably guess, my next piece of advice is that you go online and find a salon that specializes in color corrections, and more specifically, removing black hair dye.
What can a stylist do to get dark hair dye out of your lock? They would first talk you through the process, ask questions about your original pre-black starting hair color, what exact product was used to color the hair black, whether the hair was filled first or not. Then, they will either start to strip out all the black color and then tone or color it a nice neutral brown color. Or, they could suggest highlights or a balayage technique to start to lighten the hair gradually. This will kick start the process that will rely on hair’s natural oxidation process (fade) to slowly get you to a lighter shade over time.
Typically speaking, you can get a good result in a professional hair salon, removing some black hair dye, in about 4-6 hour appointment. It might not get exactly the way you envisioned, but it’s a start, and typically colorists like to suggest this kind of job be done in 3- 4 appointments for maximum results and maintaining the overall integrity of the hair.
If you haven’t colored your hair black (YET!) and are reading this article to try and do research first, well, good for you! And if I haven’t persuaded you NOT to do it yourself, at least do the least risky option and use a demi or semi-permanent hair color. These sit on the cuticle of the hair, they aren’t embedded deep within the cortex of the hair and would be the safest bet for trying to remove it later, if you decided you didn’t like the result.
Thanks for reading, this is a topic I cover almost weekly in the salon, head over to my IG account to see some before and after’s of my work at @hairshionista.