By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club Editor

If you’ve decided to ditch the dye and embrace your natural hair color, you have several options for removing hair color to go natural grey. Maybe you’re finally fed up of having to First, you could just let the dye grow out, but this is usually the least popular option! The Covid-19 pandemic forced many women to do that during the lockdown, but it’s far from ideal!

Secondly, you could cut your hair short so growing out the dye phase is that much quicker. Third, if you can get to a hair salon and can be bothered, you could work with your colorist to bring in more of your natural hair color gently over time using highlights for example. Finally, you could try stripping permanent hair color either in a salon or even at home. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to try for color removal, without causing hair damage.

removing hair color

‘Natural’ ways for removing hair color at home

We’ll start with some of the most natural methods, but be aware these may have limited impact if your dye has been in place for a while.

1.   Vitamin C Method

  • Mix Vitamin C powder (you could mix up some Vitamin C tablets in a blender or put about 12 large pills in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer!) with an anti-dandruff shampoo. (Suggested ratio: 10 teaspoons of Vitamin C powder in 40ml of shampoo.)
  • Shampoo your hair using the mixture. Make sure to rub the strands between your fingers.
  • Cover your hair and leave it for half an hour to two hours.
  • Rinse.
  • Use hair moisturizer/ treatment.
Removing Hair Color To Go Grey
Vitamin C tablets

*This method works best if you do it within a few days of dying your hair. You will still see results after this timeframe, but the results may be minimal.

2. Baking Soda and Shampoo

  • Use a 1:1 ratio of baking soda and shampoo (preferably dandruff shampoo.)
  • Lather the mixture into your hair and leave it on for a few minutes.
  • Rinse with hot water.

*You can do this for a few days or until the dye completely fades.

3. Vinegar

  • Mix equal parts of plain white vinegar and water
  • Massage the mixture into your hair and cover it with a shower cap.
  • Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing.

4. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice (citric acid)

Mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice. Leave the mixture on your hair for just a few minutes. Lemon can really dry and damage your hair, so remember not to leave it on for too long.

5. Epsom Salt and Baking Soda

Fill a bath with warm water, epsom salt, and baking soda, and let your hair soak in it. This only works for semi-permanent dye.

Removing Hair Colour To Go Grey
Epsom salt

Less ‘natural’ ways of stripping hair color at home

A recommended anti-dandruff shampoo for fading hair dye is the Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo, Green Apple scent (it also smells nice). (Slightly worrying what it does to non-colored hair potentially!) Unfortunately, this method is also drying on the hair, so deep conditioning your hair after washing with this is important if you want to properly restore your hair back to health.

Try using your deepest deep conditioner and leaving it in for a few hours between treatments with the anti-dandruff shampoo. On its own, it will also take multiple rounds that will gradually fade your hair bit by bit. To speed up this process, use the Vitamin C Method outlined above.

Hair dye strippers exist for permanent hair colors. You can use them on semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair dyes, but they are chemical processes that will be damaging to your hair. They can also smell like rotten eggs but one to maybe two rounds of this will have your hair looking like it’s just been bleached.

Here are the most regularly recommended color removers and shade-tweaking toners we found (NB not personally tested):

  1. Revolution Pro Hair Colour Remover – free from ammonia or bleach
  2. L’Oreal Paris Colorista Hair Colour and Dye Remover
  3. Bleach London Washing Out Liquid
  4. Superdrug Colour Rewind Hair Colour Remover – free from ammonia and bleach
  5. Colourless Hair Lightener Go Blonde
  6. Colour B4 Frequent Use Hair Colour Remover
  7. Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Iced Platinum – for toning down yellow or brassy tones
  8. IGK Hair Mixed Feelings Leave-In Cooling Blonde Toning Drops – for erasing unwanted yellow or golden hues

NB These methods may be extremely drying and cause damage depending on the current health of your hair. If you have thin, fragile hair or a sensitive scalp, use these with caution and speak to a professional. Doing a strand test is a very sensible idea. Follow up with deep conditioning treatments or hair masks to counteract these chemical treatments.

Alternative methods for stripping hair color at home

Some people swear by the following methods, but depending on your hair type and how long you’ve had the dye on, they are not usually as effective as those listed above. If nothing works for you, you can give some of these methods a try.

1. Dishwashing Soap: This works for semi-permanent hair dye, but it can be really drying.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide: To lighten hair color that is too dark, spray your hair with a mixture of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then rinse.

5. Bleach and Shampoo: If you feel particularly daring, try mixing a little bleach in with your shampoo. This method lightens the artificial dye, but may also affect your natural color, so proceed at your own risk. You should test this mixture on a strand of hair first before doing your entire head. The bleach may be too strong and may cause permanent damage. Be careful if you decide to try this.

6. Bleach Powder and Water: Mix equal parts bleach powder and water. Pour through your hair and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse it out, and then shampoo and condition as normal.

Touching up your roots while growing out the dye

If you’d prefer to continue touching up your roots without using permanent dye, a temporary root touch-up product could be the way to go, such as: Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder from Clairol.

Depending on your level of grey and hair color, you might be able to blend in your roots for five to six weeks, or longer. Otherwise consider a shorter haircut (think pixie), and get regular trims until it grows out. Keep in mind, that any at-home color that’s not temporary will set back your growing out phase. You could also consider using gray hair dye to ease the transition. 

The whole process may take a while, if you don’t remove the hair dye in one go, but at the end of it, you won’t have to touch up grey roots every couple of weeks any more. You’ll be liberated!

Caring for older hair

  1. Grey hair is more porous, thicker and not as shiny, so more care is needed and less aggressive, more natural products are recommended for your grey locks
  2. Use moisturizing products to maintain the moisture levels of grey hair and get better results from your healthy hair
  3. If you choose not to color grey or white hair, use purple shampoo or a product like Aveda’s Blue Malva shampoo and conditioner which won’t turn your hair blue (!) but will make the grey or white brighter

Click here for more tips for caring for older hair.

Check here for more inspiration from our Silver Ladies and ideas for gorgeous grey hair styles.

We hope you found this guide helpful in embracing your natural hair color. It can be so liberating!

**Check out these recommended hair products

Why not explore more

Best Natural Gray Hairstyles

There are many hairstyle options for natural gray hair, from short and sassy to long and flowing. Here’s some inspiration!

How To Rock Silver Hair And Look Gorgeous

Top tips from colour and style consultant Fiona Ingham on how to rock silver hair (or white), looking fabulous all the way!

Top Tips On Caring For Aging Hair

Top tips on caring for your aging hair – with a little extra care and attention you can keep your crowning glory in tip top condition. 

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Removing Hair Colour To Go Grey
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