How To Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Dye – 6 Easy Methods That Work

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and liven up your look with semi-permanent hair dye – good for you!

But, if it’s not quite the color you had in mind for yourself or if you’re just ready to switch things up again, don’t worry. Removing semi permanent hair dye isn’t as hard as it seems.

There are plenty of effective methods out there that can help make sure you get back to having beautiful locks without damaging your scalp or making a huge dent in your wallet.

We’e here to tell you six easy ways on how to remove semi permanent hair dye from home using items you probably already have in your kitchen cupboards!

How to remove semi permanent hair dye.

Semi permanent hair dye is designed to fade away over time, but the process can be sped up if you want those rainbow colored locks gone faster.

Here we share six simple tips for ditching that stubborn hue as quickly as possible and getting back to feeling fabulous about your mane again!

how to remove semi permanent hair dye infographic detailing 6 methods and instructions on what to do

Method #1: Use a clarifying shampoo.

lady using clarifying shampoo to remove semi permanent hair dye

If you want to get temporary hair color or semi permanent hair dye out of hair quickly and easily – without any harsh chemicals – then your best bet is to use a clarifying shampoo.

Clarifying shampoos are designed to remove build-up from your hair, which means that they’ll also strip away any unwanted hair color.

What to do:

Wash your hair with the shampoo 2-3 times to get the best results.

Just make sure to follow up with a conditioner, as clarifying shampoos can be quite drying.

Anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders also works wonders, just use as above.

“If it is truly semi permanent, expect it to gradually shampoo out in about 12 shampoos. You can speed it up by using a clarifying shampoo. Not a pro tip but I bet dish soap would do it except it is harsh on the hair and scalp.”

Jo Welch, Director and Educator for licensed cosm

Method #2: Use baking soda.

baking soda image

Baking soda is another common household ingredient that can be used to remove semi permanent hair dye from dyed hair.

What to do:

To use it, just make a paste with equal parts baking soda and warm water and apply the mixture to your wet hair.

Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to get all the color out.

(You can also try apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or vitamin C tablets with this method).

Method #3: Use Vitamin C

image of vitamin C tablet next to an orange

Vitamin C treatment can also be used to remove semi permanent hair dye. This method can also help improve the texture and shine of your hair.

What to do:

Crush 5 to 6 vitamin C tablets into a fine powder and mix them with a small amount of shampoo.

Apply this mixture to your hair and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes before washing it off.

Be sure to use a good hair conditioner afterward, as this method can strip the hair of its natural oils.

Method #4 Use dish soap

bottle of dish soap

Dish soap is a natural and gentle cleanser that’s able to break down the dye molecules. So, all you need to do is mix some dish soap with shampoo and apply it to your hair.

What to do:

To get started, mix some dish soap with warm water and massage it into your hair.

Be sure to really lather it up and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.

Rinse thoroughly with warm water and follow up with a nourishing, hydrating hair mask to replenish any lost moisture. Dish soap is pretty drying!

Method #5: Use a hair color remover.

lady applying hair color remover

If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty, you can try using a hair color remover.

Hair dye remover works by breaking down the molecules of the hair dye so that they can be washed away.

What to do:

Step 1: Choose the right hair color remover.

Different brands of hair color removers work differently, so it’s important to choose the right one for you. Make sure to choose a remover that’s suited for your hair type (fine, coarse, curly, dyed, etc.).

Step 2. Read the instructions carefully.

Before you start, read the instructions carefully and make sure you understand everything. This will ensure that you use the product correctly and get the best results.

Step 3.Apply the hair color remover

Before you start applying the hair color remover, make sure your hair is dry and free of any products.

This stuff stinks of rotten eggs! So make sure you’re in a well ventilated room!

Use gloves to protect your hands and apply the product evenly throughout your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up.

Massage the product in gently with your fingers and then leave it on for the recommended amount of time (usually between 20-60 minutes).

Step 4. Rinse and condition your hair

After you’ve left the hair color remover on for the recommended amount of time, rinse rinse rinse it out thoroughly with warm water. And then rinse some more.

Follow up with a good quality conditioner to restore moisture to your hair.

You may notice that your hair feels a bit dry after using the hair color remover, so it’s important to use a hydrating conditioner to bring your poor strands back to life.

Some hair color removers only work on permanent hair dyes. So be sure to use a semi permanent hair color remover that’s made for removing semi permanent hair dye colors.

“Many semi permanent brands have their own removers. That would be the best way to remove it. Other brands also have removers you could try: Malibu DDL, Color Oops, Joico Color Eraser, Pulp Riot Blank Canvas.”

Stephanie Johnson, Cosmetologist

Method #6: Do a bleach wash.

bleach being prepared in a bowl

A bleach bath or wash is probably the most effective way to remove semi permanent hair dye, but it’s also the most harsh.

What to do:

If you decide to go this route, make sure you use a bleach kit made specifically for at-home and a gentle shampoo and follow the instructions carefully.

Although it can be a bit intimidating, you can easily remove hair color with bleach, here’s how.

Step 1. Preparation

Before you start the process, it is essential to prepare your hair and the work area.

Wear old clothes that you do not mind getting damaged or dirty, and put on gloves to protect your hands.

Next, section your hair into four parts and use clips to hold them in place. Then, mix the bleach powder and developer according to the instructions on the package.

For a bleach wash, it’s better to use a lower volume developer, as it’s less likely to cause damage. A 10-vol developer should be enough.

Once your mixture is ready, add an equal amount of shampoo and mix well.

Step 2. Applying the bleach

Once the bleach is ready, apply it to your hair using a dye brush.

Begin with the ends, then the mid-lengths, and finally the roots.

Make sure to apply the bleach evenly, avoiding any missed spots or double application on any single spot.

Step 3. Development Time

After you have applied the bleach, let it develop for several minutes.

The development time will depend on how light you want the hair to become, the shade of the dye, and the type of bleach you use.

Usually, bleach development time ranges from 10-45 minutes. Make sure you check the color as you go to avoid any yellow or orange hair dramas.

Monitor it every 5 or 10 minutes, and when you see that the dye has gone, you’re ready for the next step.

Step 4. Rinse and Shampoo

Gently rinse your hair with lukewarm water, and make sure to remove all the bleach, especially from the roots.

Over time, any remaining bleach can irritate your scalp or cause hair breakage. Once all the bleach has been washed out, shampoo your hair well to remove any residue.

Step 5. The After Care

After removing hair color with bleach, it’s crucial to take care of your hair to keep it healthy and shiny.

Using chemicals like bleach and hydrogen peroxide are also very drying for your hair, so be sure to follow it up with a deep conditioning hair mask to soothe and nourish your hair bonds and hair cuticles.

Avoid picking up heat styling tools to protect your hair. Don’t bleach your hair too often since it can weaken it and cause breakage.

It’s also important to note that bleaching your hair will strip away all of the natural pigment, so if you have dark hair, you’ll end up with warm light blonde or even orange hair after bleaching it.

You can counteract any brassy hair using a purple toning shampoo.

Once you’ve removed the semi permanent dye with bleach, you can then dye your hair whatever color you want!

If in any doubt, see your colorist or stylist at your local salon who can help you work out what’s best for you depending on your hair color and texture.

“Use clarification shampoos, baking soda or dish soaps. In the salons we use what is called a soap cap. (Very not recommended at home) which is equal parts hair bleach, clarifing shampoo and developer. This will lighten the color but then we have to tone the hair after to get the correct color back into your hair.”

Lori Hartz, Salon Owner and Stylist

How to remove semi permanent hair dye FAQs

What is Semi permanent hair dye?

Semi-permanent, or direct hair dye, is a type of hair dye like Manic Panic or Arctic Fox that dyes your hair without using any peroxide or ammonia.

This means that, unlike permanent hair dye, semi permanent color coats the surface of your hair shaft rather than penetrating or altering it.

This makes it more gentle and less damaging or drying for your hair.

But it also means that it’s not as effective at covering greys as demi-permanent or permanent color that penetrates deep into your hair to alter its color.

It also means that semi-permanent hair dye won’t last as long – around 6-12 washes.

That said, it’s an excellent choice for enhancing your natural color. And you won’t get unsightly roots growing out like you will with permanent dyes.

It’s still pretty stubborn at being removed but we know of a few ways that work to get that color out and back to your original base hair color.

How long does semi permanent hair dye last?

The great thing about semi permanent hair dye is that it usually lasts anywhere from six weeks up to eight weeks on average.

This makes it perfect for those who want some flexibility when changing their hair color or experimenting with new looks.

How long it will last on your hair depends on several factors, such as your original hair color, the quality of the dye itself, and how often you wash your hair.

For example, if you have very light colored or bleached hair, then the dye will not last as long because the color molecules won’t be able to penetrate as deeply into the strands. Red and orange hair dyes are also quick to fade fast.

Of course, depending on your lifestyle and habits—like swimming frequently, washing your hair a lot or spending lots of time outdoors—your semi-permanent color can fade sooner than expected.

Additionally, if you have light blonde or gray hairs that weren’t colored with the same shade as the rest of your head, those will become more noticeable as time goes on.

Can you wash out semi permanent hair dye?

Semi permanent hair dyes are designed to last between 6 and 12 shampoos, which means they should be washed off eventually if you want your natural color back.

However, it may take some experimenting before you find the right shampoo or combination of products that work best for you.

A lot depends on things like the condition of your hair, how much dye product there is to wash out, how often you wash your hair. You can’t expect to get semi permanent hair dye out in one day.

If you want to speed up the results, you can use dandruff shampoo, a clarifying shampoo or dish soap that will help to strip your color.

What is the easiest way to remove semi permanent hair dye?

The easiest way to remove semi permanent hair dye is by using a clarifying shampoo.

That trusty bottle of shampoo you use to get rid of product buildup can also help fade that stubborn dye.

Simply wet your hair, lather up with the clarifying shampoo, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. If stubborn pigment remains, you may need to repeat the process.

Follow up with a deep conditioner and voila! Your hair will be back to its natural shade in no time.

What is the hardest hair color to remove?

The general consensus among industry professionals is that red and black hair dyes are among the toughest to remove.

Red hair dye and black hair dye tends to penetrate the hair shaft deeper than other colors, making them super difficult to lift.

Blue is also a stubborn color that fades to green and often stays there!

But don’t worry, if you’re looking to go from jet black or fire engine red to platinum blonde, a skilled stylist can help make that transition as smooth as possible with the right products and techniques.

Will a bleach bath remove semi permanent hair dye?

Bleach baths are great for removing hair color. But will it work on semi-permanent hair dye? The answer is yes!

To do this, mix a few tablespoons of bleach into the water, add shampoo and then soak your head in that solution for about 10 minutes.

Rinse your hair afterwards with cool water to close up the cuticle layer and get ready to wash out any leftover residue.

However, this is a pretty harsh process on your hair and we know a few other, more natural ways you can try first.

Ask the professionals: Which is the best way to remove semi permanent hair dye?

Here’ a great video that gives you even more hair color removal tips straight from the pros.

Will removing hair dye damage your hair?

Unfortunately for hair color lovers, the short answer is yes. Removing hair dye, like any chemical process, can weaken your hair and leave it prone to breakage.

But the good news is, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage.

For starters, make sure you’re using a gentle and hydrating shampoo formulated for color-treated hair. These don’t contain any nasties like sulfates or parabens that can frazzle your already damaged hair.

Use a deep conditioning treatment once a week to help repair any damage and keep your strands looking healthy and shiny.

And if you’re really committed to maintaining your hair health, try spacing out your dye jobs by a few weeks, or opt for a semi permanent color that won’t require as much upkeep.

With a few simple tweaks to your routine, you can keep your hair looking vibrant and healthy, no matter how often you switch up the shade.

Is semi permanent hair dye right for me?

If you want a subtle change of color or you’re ready to experiment with something different, it’s right for you. You can also have fun with bright colors and on-trend pastel colors.

How can I remove permanent hair dye?

Permanent hair dye is a lot more stubborn to remove.

So while some of these methods above might help to fade the color, you’ll need to strip your hair color to fully remove all the permanent pigments from your cuticles.

Parting words

Semi-permanent dye is a great way to experiment with different shades without having to commit – but if it doesn’t work out how you wanted, don’t worry!

We’ve got the perfect tips on how to remove this type of hair dye from your locks so that they’re safe and healthy again. Good luck!

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.