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Most people focus on how to hide grey hair using hair dye. On some occasions, people will be looking at how to remove permanent hair dye from grey hair.

Although it may not seem so conventional, the pressure to hide our age is slowly becoming less and less. Beauty standards are changing and people are learning to embrace their natural selves – as we all should!

Turning grey is something that none of us can prevent from happening. Thus, more and more people are learning to embrace the grey hair. 

Many people, particularly during pandemic lockdown, turned to permanently dyeing their hair themselves. On the back of this, many people ended up with a hair color they no longer desired.

So, maybe you have decided you want to embrace grey, or maybe you have ended up a color you dislike. Or maybe you are simply sick of hair maintenance and investing in getting it colored. Then this is the article for you.

Grey hair can be particularly tougher to remove color from. So today I am going to talk you through the best ways to get back to that basic grey color without causing too much damage. Before you know it you will be back to that sparkling silver!

woman with long gray hair

How Does Hair Dye Work?

In order to understand how to remove hair dye from your hair, it would firstly be important to have a brief understanding about how hair dye actually works to color the hair.

Hair dye can change your hair depending on a number of factors. First of all, it depends on whether you have dyed your hair lighter or darker. It also depends on whether you have used a permanent hair dye or a semi-permanent

Removing color from your hair can be particularly difficult if the dye contains bleach, or if you have gone lighter in color. This is because the bleaching agent puts your hair through a process called oxidations. This means the hair cuticle is opened up which allows the bleach in. But once the bleach kills the color pigment from your hair, it is impossible to get that color pigment back. 

However, covering up your natural color with a darker color means that no bleaching is present and so the color molecules sit on the outside of the hair, making them a lot easier to tackle. 

Some dyes include no developing agent – these are typically semi-permanent dyes. Sometimes it is a good idea to start off with one of these incase you decide that your desired color doesn’t actually suit you. Semi-permanent dyes will naturally fade over time, but are also a lot easier to strip than other colorings or bleaches.

How To Remove Permanent Hair Dye From Grey Hair

As mentioned, removing bleach is a lot harder. In order to do this you should firstly go to a professional. But you will most likely need to use a filler and add some of the undertones back to your hair. This will depend on how dark your natural grey is.

The easiest way to get back to grey from bleach is to dye your hair as close as you can to your natural color. You will need to care for and maintain this color until the grey slowly transitions from the dyed color to your natural color growing in.

To remove darker dye from your hair can also be tough, but is a lot more manageable. There are a few various methods, but below is the most successful.

Step 1: Prep Your Hair

When it comes to stripping color from your hair, the most important thing is maintaining the health of your hair as much as possible.

Stripping color from your hair can really dry out the hair and cause breakage and leave it feeling rough.

For best results, you should avoid washing your hair for a few days before color removal. This will allow your natural oils to hydrate your scalp and hair and this will help strengthen and protect the hair before the process.

Lifting color is also a lot more effective on unwashed, dry hair, meaning the process will not have to be repeated as much, if at all. 

Similarly, holding off on using heat on your hair will help to prep it before color removal. Getting your hair into the best condition before stripping it will be the best way to maintain its health. Steering clear of heat and over-washing, but also using hair masks or deep conditioners can help to moisturize and hydrate the hair in preparation. 

Step 2: Shampooing

Once your hair is prepped, the most successful way to remove darker color from your hair is to use a clarifying shampoo. Alternative, you can use an anti dandruff shampoo, as these can have a similar effect.

Clarifying shampoos work best if they are used as soon after dyeing as possible. If you have had the color in your hair for a long time, it may be more stubborn to remove and you may need to seek a professional. 

Clarifying shampoo may need a few attempts to work, but after the first wash you should be able to start seeing a slight difference in color. 

You can also combine 1 part baking soda to 1 part shampoo and the abrasiveness from the baking helps to loosen the color molecules from your hair and so this can speed up the process.

Alternatively, you can use strippers to remove the color from your hair. Again, these work best if used as soon as possible and it is not guaranteed they will completely remove the color. 

There are certain products available to specifically help you remove the hair dye from your hair. Having looked through many, I have narrowed them down for you:

Step 3: Hydration

Once you have stripped the color from your hair, the hair is probably going to be slightly damaged and dry. It is important to follow up any stripping method with plenty of conditioner.

Using a hair mask and leaving it on for a while can be a great way to regain some of the moisture.

Similarly, ensuring you stay hydrated and drink lots of water is a great way to naturally feed your hair some hydration as well. Staying hydrated helps to keep your skin healthy, which also means keeping your scalp healthy.

Finally, you can use certain oils to help massage your skin. Using coconut oil on your scalp can help to spread moisture. You can add some drops of rosemary or lavender oil to your coconut oil as well and this will help to regain some extra moisture.

woman in brown and white floral long-sleeved shirt

Step 4: Maintenance

Once you have achieved that desired grey color again it is important to look after and maintain it. You can do this by continuing to use a silver shampoo. These are shampoos with purple or blue tones and tints, which help keep your color vibrant.

You can also use a bonding agent such as Olaplex. This will help to close your hair cuticles and prevent the color from altering but to also prevent further damage. 

How to Remove Bleach from Grey Hair

How to remove blonde hair dye from grey hair is a lot more difficult than removing darker colors. As mentioned, this is because of the way bleach alters your hair. 

Instead of stripping the color, you will need to slowly transition the color out.

If you have used darker colors over the top of a bleach, color strippers will get you down to the bleach level but in most cases the bleach will go a very brassy orange color and this is what you will be left with, as opposed to your natural color. 

This means that even if it is no longer visible, if you have any bleach present on your hair then it is best to avoid strippers.

You should dye your hair as close to your natural grey as possible and continue to maintain this color until it grows out and eventually your natural color replaces the dyed hair. 

This can be very difficult to do, so if possible, you will seek the best results if you go to a salon and get a professional to assist you. 

How Do You Transition from Dyed Hair to Natural Grey?

If you do decide to transition from bleached hair back to your natural grey, there are some ways in which you can do this in a less noticeable way. 

If you have bleached your hair, or parts of your hair, you can go through this process again to ensure all of the pigment from your hair is dissolved. From here, you can use a toner to mute the yellow tones and dye your hair to a natural grey, similar to your own.

This means that your hair will be an even color. As your natural grey starts to go through it will be subtle and blend in well.

For the bleach part of this process, it is definitely recommended to use a professional. Bleaching your own hair can go orange or yellow, depending on how dark it currently is. Definitely avoid using a box kit and stick to using a powder bleach and developer mix.

It is important to always do a strand test. This allows you to not only check the color, but also avoid any overall damage or bad reactions when applied to the whole head of hair. 

For an even color, section your hair and apply all of the hair, from the back to the front, bottom to the top. 

Your scalp gives off heat which helps to speed up the bleaching process. So never start from the roots as this will go a lot lighter than the rest of your hair.

Once you have achieved an even bleach, you can move onto the toning part of it all. This is an easy and subtle way to alter the color of your bleached hair. The result will be much more even than if you dye it. 

If you do wish to dye it from here, the bleached base will help to provide a blank and even canvas. This will give you the best results.

Once you have bleached and dyed your hair, it will need a lot of help to get it back to a healthy condition. Hair masks, deep conditioners, and a lot of oil and moisture will help you with this. You should also avoid using heat on your hair as much as possible and be sure not to over-wash it. 

How to Remove Permanent Hair Dye Naturally

If using any of the above products don’t particularly appeal to you, there are a couple of more natural methods that you can use to try and return your hair to its natural grey.

White Vinegar

Mixing 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water can work to help remove the color molecules from the hair.

Brush this diluted mixture through your hair and ensure the hair is entirely coated. Cover the hair using a plastic bag or a shower cap. Then let this sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

The acidity from the vinegar helps to break down the dye particles. After a few treatments your hair will begin to lighten and the color will fade.

Lucy's Family Owned - Natural Distilled White Vinegar, 32 oz. bottle (Pack of 2) - 5% Acidity

Vitamin C

How does vitamin C remove permanent hair dye from grey hair? I know, I thought this sounded very unlikely too. However, many people have vouched for this.

Although this only works if it is extremely soon after you have dyed your hair, many people say that crushing up vitamin C tablets and combining them with hot water to create a paste-like consistency can work to remove color. 

Once you have created this paste, coat your hair with it. Afterwards, cover your hair with a plastic bag or shower cap. You will need to leave this on for around an hour and then rinse it out using hot water.

vitamin c

Can You Use Household Products to Remove Hair Dye from Grey Hair?

Whilst this may seem odd, many household products have the reputation to tackle stubborn stains and grease. So their chemical construction can also help to remove hair dye.

Using dish soap to remove color can be a great method if done soon after you have dyed your hair. If you immediately hate your hair color then this can be a very quick and effective way to remove it.

Of course, dish soap is not designed for hair. So once used on your locks, you should use a deep conditioner to help get your hair back to hydration. 

Similar to using white vinegar to deep clean, dish soap does the same job. This is why both products can work when trying to remove stubborn color from your hair and restore it back to its original color. 

How to Permanent Remove Hair Dye From Grey Hair – Embrace the Grey!

Removing color from any hair can be difficult, but particularly grey hair.

If you have recently dyed your hair, there are a number of natural methods you can use to help strip the color. Alternatively you can use a box stripper which will help to bring you back to your natural color.

However, if you have used bleach on your hair, it is important not to try and strip this. Instead try to work with it.

Ensuring you have an even bleach across your entire head of hair will work as a great base. Either tone your hair to the correct grey, or dye it to a grey that is as close to your natural color as possible. This will work as a wonderful transition, but can be slightly harder to maintain.

Like any intense hair treatments, both methods of color correction will dry out your hair. So prepping the hair in advance to create a healthy base, and using as much moisture and oil to regain your hair’s health is the best idea if you want to protect it.

If you are ready to embrace that gorgeous grey, follow the simple steps for how to remove permanent hair dye from grey hair in this article. You will never have to look back at another box of hair dye again!

Check out more of our dye-related posts on the blog:


Can color be stripped from gray hair?

Color can be stripped from gray hair following the necessary step and using the correct products. However, if bleach has been used then stripping the hair will not work and you will need to follow a different method.

How do I get old permanent hair dye out of my hair?

Removing permanent dye out of your hair can be done using various methods and products. For best results, you should start working on stripping the color as soon after dyeing it as possible.