How to get hair dye off nails – 7 easy ways.

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Picture this: you’ve just finished dyeing your hair, and you’re feeling fabulous. But then you look down at your nails and realize that the hair dye has left its mark—literally.

You don’t have to panic; getting hair dye off of nails is easier than it looks! We have seven easy ways to get the job done with minimal mess and minimal fuss and using ingredients you already have at home.

Let’s get scrubbing! 

How to get hair dye off nails

1. Nail Varnish Remover

2. Dish Soap

3. Baking Soda Paste

4. Lemon Juice

5. Toothpaste

6. Baby Oil/Olive Oil

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

7 Easy Ways to Get Hair Dye Off Nails 

Method #1 Nail Varnish Remover

nail varnish remover

The classic nail varnish remover can help remove both regular nail polish and stubborn stains from hair dye.

Use this method if you haven’t got any nail polish on your nails!

Soak a cotton pad or cotton ball with nail varnish remover, press it against the stained area for a few moments, then wipe away the stain in one quick motion.

It may take a few tries depending on how stubborn the stain is, but it will get the job done!

Method #2 Dish Soap

dish soap

This tried-and-true method is as simple as it sounds.

Mix some dish soap with warm water until it forms a soapy foam, dip your nails into the solution for 10 minutes and then rub them gently with an old toothbrush or soft cloth.

Then rinse them off with warm water and pat dry.

Method #3 Baking Soda Paste

baking soda

If you still have stubborn stains, try creating a paste out of baking soda and water to work into the stained areas of your nails.

Make a thick paste out of baking soda and warm water, apply it directly to your nails, let it sit for 5 minutes or so before scrubbing off with an old toothbrush or soft cloth.

Method #4 Lemon Juice

lemon juice

Lemon juice can also be used to help dissolve those hair dye stains.

Create a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil (or baby oil), place your fingers in the mixture for 5 minutes, then scrub away with an old toothbrush or soft cloth.

Method #5 Toothpaste


This method works best when used right after dyeing.

Apply a dab of toothpaste onto each nail and scrub vigorously for about 5 minutes before rinsing off with warm water (you can also use an old toothbrush).

Toothpaste works wonders at removing stubborn stains like hair dye from nails, but beware—it can be quite abrasive if used too often!

Method #6 Baby Oil/Olive Oil

olive oil

Rub some oil onto each nail using an old cloth or cotton pad until the stains start to fade away (make sure you don’t use too much oil!).

Rinse off with warm water afterwards. If you don’t have any baby/olive oil on hand, coconut oil will work just as well!  

Method #7 Apple Cider Vinegar

does vinegar set hair dye

Dip a cotton ball into some apple cider vinegarr and lightly rub it over each nail until the stain disappears (you may need to do this twice).

Once done, rinse off with warm water and moisturize your hands afterwards with some lotion or cream. 

No matter which method you choose to remove hair dye from nails, make sure you use gentle motions when scrubbing and always end by massaging moisturizing lotion onto each finger!

Watch and learn: How to Get Hair Dye off Your Skin, Nail & Hands When Dried

Here’s a great video that shows you how to get hair dye off your hands, skin and nails step by step.

Can hair dye stain your nails?

Yes, unfortunately, there is a chance that hair dye will stain your nails after dyeing your hair.

It’s most common when using permanent dyes since they contain more pigment than semi-permanent dyes.

This means that when using permanent dyes, like bleach or high lift tints, it is essential to take extra precautions to make sure that the nail beds are protected. 

What causes nail stains? 

When you apply hair dye, it can seep through your skin and stain your nails if you don’t take proper precautions.

This is especially true when using dark or bright colors because they are more likely to leave behind a stain on nails than lighter colors.

Some gloves that come in off-the-shelf box dyes can be very thin and break or tear so that hair dye seeps through.

So don’t dig your nails into your scalp when massaging hair dye in.

To avoid staining, always wear good quality disposable gloves and use cotton balls to rub petroleum jelly around your cuticles before applying hair dye.

This will create a barrier between your skin and the dye so that it won’t seep through and leave behind a stain.

How to get hair dye off nails infographic - Permanent hair dye has the ability to penetrate into the cortex of your hair, so it's more likely to stain your nails during application.

Semi-permanent dyes sit on top of the hair’s cuticle and don't necessarily penetrate as deep, so there’s less of a chance for staining your nails.

How to get hair dye off nails step-by-step.

What you’ll need:

  • Warm water
  • Baking soda
  • Old toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Small bowl
  • Cotton ball
  • Nail polish remover (non-acetone)
  • Olive oil
  • Soap

Step 1. Start by soaking your nails in warm water for five minutes.

This will help lift the color from the base of your fingernails and make it easier to remove later on. 

Step 2. Next, take an old toothbrush with soft bristles

Dip it into a small bowl of baking soda, making sure the bristles are completely coated.

Then, gently scrub your nails until some of the color begins to come off. Don’t apply too much pressure as this could cause damage and irritation to your skin!  

Step 3. After about 5 minutes of scrubbing,

rinse off the baking soda with lukewarm water – If necessary, repeat steps 2 & 3 until most of the color has come off. 

Step 4. To target any remaining stubborn stains,

use a cotton ball dipped in nail polish remover – Make sure it is non-acetone and that you test it on a small area before applying it all over your fingernails (just in case!).

Gently rub each nail with the cotton ball until all traces of dye are gone, then rinse off with lukewarm water once more.  

Step 5. To restore moisture and hydration back into your hands

after using nail polish remover, soak them in olive oil for five minutes – This will leave them feeling smooth and nourished again (and smelling delicious!).  

Step 6. Finally, finish up by washing your hands thoroughly with soap – This will remove any excess residue from both the nail polish remover and olive oil! 

how to get hair dye off acrylic nails infographic

Does hair dye stain acrylic or gel nails?

If you’re rocking a bold hair color and just got a fresh set of acrylic or gel nails, you might be wondering if those vibrant shades can stain your tips.

The answer is yes—but don’t worry!

Hair dye stains on acrylic nails are easily removable with some simple materials that are probably already in your bathroom.

A gentle hairspray can help break down the color and make it easy to wipe away.

Or try a few alcohol wipes if that’s not turning out to be successful—just know that it may take a few tries before all the dye is gone.

How do you get hair dye off acrylic or gel nails?

If you have acrylic or gel nails, there are plenty of ways to get that pesky dye off without damaging your manicure.

Here are top two methods that are tried and tested!

Hairspray is your friend 

Hairspray is not just for taming flyaways anymore!

Believe it or not, hairspray can also be used to remove hair dye from acrylic and gel nails.

You might think that using hairspray would damage your nails, but surprisingly enough it won’t—as long as you use it correctly.

Start by spraying a bit of hairspray onto a cotton pad, then gently press the pad against your nail and hold for about 5 seconds.

Afterward, wipe away any remaining residue with a damp cloth and voila—the hair dye should be gone! Just make sure to use an unscented spray so as not to overpower your mani with fragrance. 

Alcohol wipes to the rescue 

If you don’t have any hairspray on hand (or if the hairspray method fails!), alcohol wipes are another great option for removing hair dye from acrylic and gel nails.

Again, start by pressing one wipe against each nail for about 5 seconds before wiping away any remaining residue with a soft cloth.

The alcohol in the wipes will dissolve the dye without damaging your manicure in the process.

Bonus points if you opt for scented wipes—it’ll help mask any unpleasant odors left behind by the dye! 

How do I dye my hair without staining my nails?

It seems simple, but the easiest way to avoid staining your nails with hair dye is to wear gloves when applying it!

When wearing gloves, be sure to secure them tightly around the wrist so no dye seeps through and touches exposed skin.

If possible, try not to touch any part of your skin while applying the product or during development time as well; this will help minimize any potential staining on your skin or nails.

You can also apply a barrier cream (or petroleum jelly like Vaseline) around the cuticles before beginning the application process can help protect them from staining as well. 

Parting words

Hair dye can be an excellent way to add color and vibrancy to any look – but only if done correctly!

Taking steps like wearing gloves and applying petroleum jelly around cuticles before application can help avoid staining altogether.

And if stains do occur, there are several methods outlined above that should help eliminate them quickly and easily. 

You can also use some of these methods to get hair dye off your skincarpets, clothes, bathroom counter and even your walls!

Good luck!

This article was written 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!