How To Dilute Hair Dye [6 Super Easy Methods]

Just like fashion, hair coloring changes with the seasons.

Whether it’s for a bold, new look, to cover up some grays or go for some playful experimentation, we all have our reasons for wanting a colorful new do.

But what happens when you find a hair dye color your love, but it ends up a bit too dark or intense? Or maybe you’re worried about the harsh chemicals in box dye damaging your hair?

Don’t stress. What you’ll need to do is dilute the hair dye to take the strength down a notch.

Here are six super easy methods to dilute hair dye that you can try out at home.

Why dilute hair dye?

Have you ever been in a situation where you wish that you could turn back the clock, just to undo the damage you did to your hair by using too much hair dye?

Or maybe you’ve ended up with hair color that is much too dark or too vibrant for your liking?

Diluting the hair dye can save the day!

And no, diluting your hair dye doesn’t always mean compromising on the color vibrancy or the richness of the shade.

Here are three reasons you’d want to dilute your hair dye:

Reason #1. Control Over the Color

The most common reason to dilute hair dye is that it offers you more control over the color.

By diluting the hair dye you can control the vibrancy of the shade to achieve a more subtle, natural look.

Reason #2. Reducing Damage to Hair

We all know that hair dye, especially box dye, can damage your hair.

Diluting hair dye can minimize the risk of damage by making it less strong or powerful.

Often, when a high percentage of peroxide is used in the hair dye, it can cause significant damage to the hair, leaving it dry and brittle.

When you dilute the hair dye, it reduces the concentration of peroxide, reducing the risk of damage to your locks. Nice!

#3. Correcting Hair Color Mistakes

Have you ended up using a hair dye that was too vibrant or dark?

Hair dye color correction is not an easy job. But using a diluted hair dye can make it more manageable.

By diluting the hair dye, you can gradually lighten hair or tone down the vibrancy of the shade.

6 easy ways to dilute hair dye at home

Here are 6 super easy methods on how to dilute hair dye to make it more subtle and natural-looking.

These tricks will give you a toned-down version of your overly bright or dark hair color, without having to spend a dime on the salon or risk ruining your hairdo.

Let’s dive in!

Method #1. Use Hair Conditioner

how to dilute hair dye with conditioner infographic

Diluting your hair dye with conditioner is the ultimate hack for softer, more manageable locks.

Not only does this trick protect your hair from damage, but it also allows for greater control over the color intensity.

What to do:

To start, mix your hair dye with conditioner in a 1:1 ratio.

Keep in mind that the more conditioner you add, the lighter the shade will be.

Apply the mixture to your hair, let it sit for the recommended amount of time before rinsing out and enjoy a fresh, new look with minimal damage. 

Method #2. Use Baby Shampoo

how to dilute hair dye with baby shampoo infographic

Baby shampoo is known for its gentle nature, and when mixed with hair dye, it can counteract the strength of the color.

Not only does this method help tone down your color, but it also gives your hair a nice, gentle cleanse. 

What do to:

To dilute your hair dye with baby shampoo, mix one part dye with two parts baby shampoo before applying it to your hair.

Leave for the recommended hair dye developing time and rinse out with cool water.

Method #3. White Vinegar

how to dilute hair dye with white vinegar infographic

White vinegar is an excellent product to use for diluting hair dye because it is safe and natural.

It can also help prevent fading and even combat dandruff!

What to do:

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, add it to your hair dye, and apply it to your hair.

The vinegar will help to lighten the color of the dye.

Method #4. Coconut Oil

how to dilute hair dye with coconut oil infographic

Another natural way to dilute hair dye is by using the nourishing properties of coconut oil.

This method is best for those with thick, coarse or super dry hair.

Coconut oil will also protect your hair from damage and prevent split ends, making it a win-win situation.

The only downside to this method is that it may take longer for the dye to set in.

What to do:

To dilute your hair dye with coconut oil, start by melting a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a microwave or warm water.

Then, mix it with your hair dye until you get the desired consistency.

Apply the mixture to your hair from roots to tips, making sure you fully saturate each strand.

Leave it on for the recommended time, rinse thoroughly, and enjoy your vibrant and hydrated locks!

Method #5. Apple Cider Vinegar

how to dilute hair dye with apple cider vinegar infographic

Apple cider vinegar is a great alternative to regular vinegar.

This vinegar includes vitamins and minerals that can assist in maintaining healthy hair – and will make your hair shiny too!

What to do:

Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and add it to your dye. It will easily dilute the color and give your hair a healthy shine.

Method #6. Water

how to dilute hair dye with water infographic

Adding water to your hair dye is the most simple and easiest method.

What to do:

Add a small amount of water to your hair dye, mix it up in a bowl or squeezy bottle, and apply it to your hair.

This works well if the color is not too intense and you’re not looking for a significant change of hair color.

What and learn: 3 Ways to Dilute Color & Soften Tone Direction

Here’s a great video from Schawartzkopf professional colorist Ian Mayer-Marszalek who guides you through hair dye dilution options step by step like a pro.

How to dilute hair dye FAQs

Can you add conditioner to hair dye to dilute it?

You sure can! Adding a little bit of conditioner to your hair dye can work wonders.

Not only does it dilute the color and give you a more subtle shade, but it also leaves your hair feeling silky smooth and nourished.

If you’re worried about damaging your hair, try using a hydrating conditioner to help preserve the health of your locks.

Can you add hydrogen peroxide to hair dye?

Yes, you can add hydrogen peroxide to hair dye but it’s not always recommended due to the potential damage that this chemical can cause.

We suggest adding only a small amount and testing the color on a few strands of hair before applying it all over to ensure that you get the desired effect.

Can you dilute permanent hair dye with conditioner?

Yes, you can dilute permanent hair dye and semi-permanent hair color with conditioner. It’s the best way we recommend to do it.

Conditioner can help to soften the color and give you a more subtle shade without causing any damage to your hair.

Just be sure to do a strand test first and keep track of how much conditioner you’re adding in order to get the right results.

Can you mix water with hair dye to make more formula?

The short answer is yes, you totally can mix hair dye with water to make more!

BUT know that diluting your hair dye with water means it won’t be as strong.

So, if you’re trying to cover some pesky grays, this might not be the best option for you.

It’s better to play it safe and grab two boxes of hair dye if you want more formula.

This will make sure you have enough to fully saturate your strands with hair dye and get the best coverage.

How can I reduce the intensity of my hair dye?

If you’ve dyed your hair and the color is too intense for your liking, don’t panic!

There are a few ways to reduce the intensity of permanent and semi-permanent hair dye.

One way is by adding conditioner to dilute the color. This will help produce softer shades that won’t come across as too bold or overpowering.

You can also try shampooing with a clarifying shampoo to help reduce the intensity of the dye.

Finally, applying a purple toning shampoo can be an effective way to neutralize any brassiness or brightening effects from your hair color.

Parting words

And just like that, you have the perfect hair color for you!

By using these simple methods to dilute your hair dye, it’s never been easier to find the perfect shade.

Whether you’re looking for something more subtle or stepping out of your comfort zone and trying for something bolder–diluting your hair dye is a must-do.

With so many shades available, there’s no reason to stay with one hue any longer than necessary–because beauty comes in all sizes and colors!

So be sure to have fun by exploring all the options. Have some fun and go wild with it!

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.