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What is Hair Dye Stripping?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hair dye stripping is a process which is used to remove unwanted hair color. It only works when hair has been dyed darker than its original base color, and it is usually used as a prelude to color correction, which means that the hair will be dyed again after it has been stripped to achieve the desired color. As you might imagine, stripping hair dye can be very hard on your hair, so it should be avoided, if possible, and you may want to consider going to a salon for this service. After the process has been performed, it is very important to regularly deep condition the hair for several months.

Unwanted hair color happens, and sometimes people can't wait for it to fade or grow out. Sometimes someone makes a radical color change and doesn't like it, or a dye turns out much darker than expected. At other times, someone uses a radical and unnatural color in their hair and needs to quickly correct it to satisfy the terms of a job or employment interview. Stripping hair dye uses chemicals to make the hair more porous so the dye can be pulled out of the hair with other chemicals.

Because hair becomes more porous as a result of hair dye stripping, a new color can be overlaid after the stripping is finished. However, this needs to be done with care, as hair dye stripping can remove the base color for the hair, leading a new dye to turn a funny color. For example, dark hair colors often have a base color of red; if hair is ash blonde after stripping, a brown hair dye might turn green. Therefore, two dye jobs are needed; one to replace the base color, and another to create the desired color and tone.

The increased porousness of the hair also makes it more fragile. After hair dry stripping, hair can feel brittle and coarse. Deep conditioning is required to smooth the hair, and you may want to trim your hair to remove old hair and split ends which could end up looking unpleasant as a result of the stripping process. A salon can often offer special products to moisturize and condition the hair after hair dye stripping.

The chemicals used in hair dye stripping are more caustic than those used to bleach or lighten hair. They should be handled carefully and in accordance with the directions of the manufacturer; if you feel hesitant about working with them, talk to a hair professional. If you need to strip your hair as a result of a salon dye job, you should go back to the salon; most salons offer free color correction if you are not satisfied with your hair color.

BeautyAnswered 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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon284203 — On Aug 08, 2012

I stripped my hair and it left an awful smell. Do you know how I could get the smell out? I've tried everything.

By anon283360 — On Aug 03, 2012

I naturally am a redhead, but lately I have been using brown box dyes. I wanted to go back to my original color so I got it stripped. It turned out fine and I went right back to my color. My advice would be to go to a professional.

How your hair turns out after it's stripped all depends on how long you've been using other dyes and what your natural hair color is.

By anon274193 — On Jun 10, 2012

To anyone saying they want to get their hair stripped, don't! I got mine stripped three years ago and it went orange. Every time I've dyed it, the orange has ended up showing back through.

I've used Colour before to remove all dye and I'm still left with gingery brown hair and my natural roots which I hate! So at all costs, avoid stripping hair! It's a disaster! I now don't know what to do to fix my hair, short of having to dye it all my life.

By anon268255 — On May 13, 2012

I was born with bright blonde hair, and it stayed that way all the way through my early years. Everyone loved my hair, but I wanted to have something different. Mum thought I would learn by having it dyed, so at the age of 10, I dyed it a light brown color. Since then, I've used box colours to go from light to dark brown, and once had it dyed purple at the salon, but again, have had a dark brown box put over it.

I'm redying my hair every four to six weeks because my roots are coming through with a slight tint of red/ginger, and I get teased about it. I'm getting tired of spending £15 a go as I have to buy two boxes, and I'm thinking about having my hair stripped and then a few foils to make it look more natural. Has anyone ever been in this situation and could tell me what the results are likely to turn out like? I know that obviously everyone's hair is different but I want a rough idea.

By anon228849 — On Nov 10, 2011

After a hair bleaching fiasco, my hair was dry, dry, dry. It felt like a brillo pad. My sister-in-law told I would need some intensive hair conditioning to get it back near normal.I had wanted to use the Hydrate Conditioner from Shielo Hair before I destroyed my hair. So

I decided to buy the Shielo Hydrate Conditioner and give it a try. After one application my dry, brillo bleached hair, was shiny, soft and smelled great. My hair looked better than it did ever before. I do this once a week and my hair looks great, the color has been preserved, and I am never trying anything else. Ever.

By anon174866 — On May 11, 2011

I need some advice. My hair was XXL cosmic purple for a while but i decided i wanted a change so bought the color b4 at home solution (which really works). My hair ended up blonde with quite a bit of ginger but with the help of an ash brown my hair turned out a lovely shade of light brown. I then decided to go to the salon to get some blonde highlights for summer (i waited six weeks after doing the above) and it didn't turn out like i wanted so i put a light brown over my hair and it went bright ginger!

i then put over Loreal Brasilia brown and it has now turned black. I need help to get my hair to lighten without the ginger breaking through. I work with all men so am getting jokes all the time. Please help if you can.

By anon167745 — On Apr 13, 2011

Try using Tea Tree Shampoo and UltraSwim Shampoo. Alternate shampoos. This should be done two or three times a week. This always works for me.

By anon166479 — On Apr 08, 2011

My hair color is a dirty blonde and three or so years ago i started dying it dark, and everything was awesome but now i have to dye it continually to keep my roots looking dark.

Now that times are tight, i want to just get rid of the dark and go back to my blonde. i had done so once before and i don't know if i will be able to again, not to mention i had bright colors put on the bottom of my hair so i had to bleach it, which wasn't smart. any suggestions?

By anon162434 — On Mar 23, 2011

I dyed my hair black for three years. i visited a salon to have it stripped as I wanted to regain my natural auburn color, they told me they wouldn't strip it as it would destroy my hair. My only option was to grow it out, so i had my long hair cut into a bob and waited.

I found the best result was to use Fairy Liquid, however it is classed as a 'stripper'. It only took me nine months and now i have my natural color and a bit of length too! Someone once told me once you go black you never go back and I'm afraid this is most definitely the case in hair color! Think very wisely before you dye your hair black.

By lkay84 — On Mar 18, 2011

my hair color was a light/medium brown. i dyed it mahogany, but now i want to go back to the color it was. what is the best way to do that as i want to do it myself?

By anon148682 — On Feb 02, 2011

36: Your hair is that color as you have died it once and it has grown out and your hair changes color as you grow older, my advise would be to put a hair die close to your natural color on top of all of your other colours!

By anon146873 — On Jan 27, 2011

i went to the hairdressers and asked for some advice on growing out my color but a quicker way and they said washing up liquid is really good for getting color out of your hair and also they said that vosene shampoo is good. i bought it from boots and it works. from the first use it works really well but it does smell. i would advise you to use vosene then your normal shampoo then conditioner. i hope i have helped you.

By anon146867 — On Jan 27, 2011

i personally dyed my hair darkest brown five months ago, and it has came out from the roots a lot and looks grey but it is ash brown (my base color) and the rest of my hair is different colours. some bits are a little bit red and some light brown, but it looks OK except the roots.

I want to dye my hair red, a bit lighter than rihanna and i am scared it will turn out wrong. And i don't want to bleach or strip my hair. What should i do?

By stephmason27 — On Jan 16, 2011

okay so here's the problem. i semi permanently dyed my hair mahogany red and it was really nice until i decided to get it cut like frankie sandford and it looked horrible red and the cut, so i semi permanently dyed it chocolate brown because my fringe was going ginger. it turned out to dark and now my dark blonde roots are coming through bad and they look grey.

I really want my normal hair color back so i can have blonde highlights in it.

i was going to use this color before, but i tested it and my hair went ginger so i don't want to use that and i want to get the hair color removed professionally. but how much will it cost in the uk seeing as my hair is quite short and its non permanent dye I've used? Help, please!

By anon142661 — On Jan 13, 2011

My hair is dyed dark brown, but it's been about a month and a half since I dyed it, and I want to get blonde highlights, but not for another month or so. do I need to get the color stripped to put blonde in it?

By anon142258 — On Jan 12, 2011

i once had highlights at a very young age, then those blond highlights then made most of my hair ginger so i dyed it.

but now my bottom half of my hair is ginger/blond and the middle is medium brown, and the very top is very dark brown/black. i really don't like it. what can i do?

By anon140355 — On Jan 07, 2011

My natural hair color is dirty blonde, and about two years ago, i dyed it light blonde. recently i dyed it dark brown and i don't like it. how can i dye it back without ruining my hair?

By anon138161 — On Dec 30, 2010

My hair is a natural light blonde. I have been dyeing it a medium brown for the past year. My roots are showing and I want to dye it back to blonde. Do I use the color stripper or something else like bleach or a prelightener?

By anon134382 — On Dec 14, 2010

i have naturally dishwater blonde hair with red and light blonde high light. i dyed my hair idea a couple of years ago because i was tired of being a blonde and i went red for while then to a brunette, and i like being a brunette but would like to go to my natural hair color again.

How could i do this without completely messing up my hair?

By anon133693 — On Dec 11, 2010

I recently went to a "salon", my natural hair color is dirty blonde. When i went to this salon the back of my hair was my natural color and the top was highlighted blonde, but it had grown out and was looking kind of brassy.

I told the "stylist i just wanted to put caramel highlights. She said she had to strip my hair, then put on the caramel color then do the trim of my hair. Suffice it to say the caramel color looked the same at the stripped color! I don't know what to do! This happened about two weeks ago! Can i go darker, like a darker blonde?

By anon127968 — On Nov 18, 2010

My name is Hannah. I dyed my hair black months ago and I'm waiting for it to grow out because I want to go red. My roots are showing and underneath has gone brown, my natural color, but on top it's still holding on to the black. Is there any way I can get the black out of my hair without having to result to stripping?

By anon124566 — On Nov 06, 2010

To the post about Feria red hair dye. I to once used the same product. My natural color is also dirty blonde. I went to the salon and it was a very timely process but if done correctly will strip down. you will need to also have it toned down. My hairdresser warned me to never use that product again. hope this helps.

By anon117183 — On Oct 09, 2010

I have grey hair but have been dying it blonde for 10 years. i would now like to have my natural grey, but it is taking forever to grow out. any suggestions please.

By anon113504 — On Sep 24, 2010

my hair is dyed red but it was originally black. I want to go to a light brown. what should i do?

By anon113488 — On Sep 24, 2010

I have jet black hair and went to the salon to get red highlights. She stripped the color and put a low ammonia red dye. I hated it because it looked orange. so i looked like a pumpkin (orange and black). Went out that night and bought a box to go back to my original black color. Now I'm thinking I want to go soft brown. Can i use the loreal blonde color on my hair now to get a soft brown result? Please help.

By anon109007 — On Sep 05, 2010

My name is danni. my natural color is light brown but i have dyed it many times over a period of time, and I'm now a red/brown color and want to strip my hair. What color will it turn if i strip it and will it go back to my original color? please help!

By disaster911 — On Sep 01, 2010

i have natural light brown hair. then my mum attempted to highlight it by turning it all blonde so i looked on some websites that told me to dye it permanent red and then brown so it didn't turn green, but instead of going brown it kept going back to red/ginger. i just want to go back to my natural color but how?

By anon105196 — On Aug 19, 2010

Reply to Amypollick: Thanks for your reply. I usually use a shampoo for color treated hair and often use conditioning masks/serum etc.

My hair is actually in great condition and I started to use the Head & Shoulders as I was told that it is supposed to be a way of stripping out the color but to no avail!

I'm wondering if my stylist can just color the one-fourth of my hair to match the rest and maybe one day it will catch up, although I'm no hair expert!

I'm hopeful that something can be done as my roots are coming through and I have tri-coloured hair and not the good kind. lol!

By amypollick — On Aug 18, 2010

@Anon104653: I understand your problem, since I am in a constant war against gray hair. LOL. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend a dandruff shampoo unless you really do have a dandruff problem. They tend to be a little harsh.

Try the Loreal EverPure shampoo and conditioner. These are especially for color treated hair and don't contain salts and sulfates that can fade your color. I think they work pretty well. John Freida also makes a hair care line you purchase according to your hair color, and I've liked those products for keeping my hair color longer, too. Go gentle and always use conditioner! Good luck.

By haltsha — On Aug 18, 2010

Well, my hair is kind of black, or it's dark brown, really dark. Anyway, i want to dye it red or ginger. Is that possible?

By anon104653 — On Aug 17, 2010

I have dyed my long, naturally medium brown hair the same color (dark chocolate by Loreal) for quite some time as I love the depth and tone it gives to my boring color, although years of build-up means three-fourths of my hair is now always a shade or so darker than my newly coloured roots-it becomes quite obvious after several washes.

I have used the same hairstylist for a while and went to her for help, thinking she could sort it out. She matched the color beautifully and for a couple of weeks my hair color looked fabulous but after six weeks, the stark contrast between the top and bottom half of my hair is glaringly obvious- What do I do? Help!

I have tried using Head and Shoulders Anti-Dandruff but that seems to have no effect. X

By anon102035 — On Aug 06, 2010

in the last four years my hair has been white/blonde, brown, red, brown, purple, brown, black, (natural color is brown).

When i got bored of black i wanted to go brown again. i know that you can't get rid of black or red to a lighter color without stripping/color correction. i bought a home color correction kit for £20 and after this process your hair goes bright orange, not ginger, not 'light blonde auburn' but *bright* orange. It is impossible to bleach over this color. It makes no difference but darker dyes will change it.

The problem is that the dark brown dyes I've been using only stay that color for a week before it fades back to a dark gingery brown color which isn't too bad but it's not what i want.

No matter how expensive the dye i use is it doesn't last. this one of the most annoying things to me in the world as i like changing different hair colours but it keeps going back to this boring ginger!

if anyone has successfully dealt with the same problem please tell me how you got it to stay!

By anon90207 — On Jun 15, 2010

My hair is salt and pepper. I went to liven it up. The dresser said she'd put blond in my hair. Now the frame of my face is mostly white. I really don't like it. Is there anything I can do?

By anon88823 — On Jun 07, 2010

i dyed my blond hair brown about nine months ago and then i attempted to dye it red about five months ago but my roots were my natural color and the rest of my hair was brown so now i have horrid orangish roots and brown hair. No matter how much i dye over the roots, it doesn't help!

I'm considering getting my hair stripped but i don't want to damage my hair as i get really pretty natural highlights and lowlights in the summer that usually last almost all year round. Help me!

By anon84311 — On May 14, 2010

My hair is naturally red. I have put some black in it, but I'm tired of the black and I don't want to wait for it to grow out. Because people can see the black on the top part of my hair and will see it growing out. If I get my hair stripped, will it be my natural red underneath? And I don't want to dye it again, will that make a difference as well?

By anon83716 — On May 12, 2010

I'm getting my dark brown/red hair stripped, dyed, styled and cut for 55 pounds.

However they said it my not strip all my hair color out and i might need it done two or three times, and they can only strip hair every four weeks, eeekk.

By anon80384 — On Apr 27, 2010

I have dyed my hair hundreds of times and at the moment it's black, but i want to put red and blonde panels in it then dye the remainder black again.

To make my hair fade so that the blonde and red will take, i am going to wash my hair thoroughly with head and shoulders anti dandruff shampoo. it does work and doesn't turn your hair a funny color. hope this helps some of you.

By anon76599 — On Apr 11, 2010

i dyed my hair red and black from my normal sandy-ish dirty-blonde hair. if i strip it will it go something towards my natural color? and if not is there anything that will take me back to my natural hair color?

By anon75466 — On Apr 06, 2010

i had my hair blonde but then could not afford to get it done again, so i dyed it red which actually looked nice but faded quite quickly.

I then got sick of having to keep re-doing it so i then dyed it black to get rid of the red.

I now want it back blonde as I am getting married in December. so i don't want to leave it too late.

I was told i needed to let it grow out (i have no patience for that). Since then it has faded quite a bit so i should be able to get it stripped out now. hopefully. looks bloody horrid.

By anon74453 — On Apr 02, 2010

Dandruff shampoos and hot oil treatments can strip hair color that is a few shades darker than your desired result. They may not give great results, but it's best to start with something easy on your hair instead of going for something harsh.

If you had a really bad color slip up, try a hair color remover instead of bleach. You can find it at beauty supply stores and some super stores. It won't turn your hair back to the previous or natural color. You may find yourself with a red, orange or yellow shade. This is only because your hair has been stripped of the pigment leaving the underlying shade behind. After this, you may recolor.

Pick a color a shade or two lighter than your desired result because your hair will absorb the hair color more than normal from the stripping process. Afterwards, you should use a deep conditioning treatment to repair the damage.

By anon73528 — On Mar 27, 2010

I had my hair dyed black more than a month ago, then today i decided to dye it red with no result. Can I strip the color and re-dye it the same red without frying it?

By anon68156 — On Mar 01, 2010

how do you fade your hair from black back to brown?

By anon60383 — On Jan 13, 2010

I need help, so I dyed my hair about 4 months ago, from blonde to brown, then dyed it reddish, then a few months later, tried dying it blond, did nothing, so went to a salon, they said that they couldn't do anything. i need help from going red back to blonde!

By anon57772 — On Dec 27, 2009

salon jumping is the worst thing to do - I hope you now understand that even professional cosmetologists cannot guarantee what your hair is going to do --especially after all the other colors have been put on.

I have been a cosmetologist for 11 years and this kind of thing burns me up. Find one hairdresser, go to that person and stop blaming others for your own foolishness and lack of patience.

By anon57074 — On Dec 19, 2009

I've dyed my dirty blonde hair at home using Feria reds and it will not bleach out at all. I've heard this is a metallic dye and that stripping can totally fry my hair-- is this the case? Has anyone had any success at removing Feria dye?

By anon55252 — On Dec 06, 2009

I am in the same position. what have you done? I feel like screaming.

By anon46742 — On Sep 28, 2009

I also colored my hair auburn trying to get it to match a color that was previously used on my hair. Well it's pretty red. It doesn't look the worst on me but I was thinking of stripping the color. I've been reading about some at home treatments like using prell shampoo or a shampoo with sulfate in it. I also have read that dawn dish soap and tide powder detergent or extra virgin olive oil can help to lighten the color without being too harsh on you hair. I'm afraid that if I lighten mine though that it will turn orange. Anyone have suggestions on this or advice?

By anon44916 — On Sep 11, 2009

I am trying to let the color grow off to white or grey. It is taking a long time and wondered if stripping would work?

By anon37378 — On Jul 19, 2009

How much will it cost to get this treatement done at a UK hair dressers?

By anon17038 — On Aug 20, 2008

bleach your hair and choose hair dye desired.

By monica202 — On Apr 20, 2008

Hi, my friend is a 3rd year hair student, she dyed my hair from my natural light brown color with subtle blond highlights, to an auburn ginger color. so i went to a salon to try and get it fixed, however they then dyed it really dark brown verging on black, i decided to go to a different salon, they said they could fix it, but all they did was dye the whole of my hair the same dark brown and put bleach blond highlights in it!!! to try and lighten it (they said!!) now the color is stupidly dark and the highlights look grey amongst the rest of my color as they are too light, please somebody help, i now have a fear of salons, don't know what to do???

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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