Expert Reviewed

How to Lighten Dyed Hair

Maintaining hair color can be tough on a budget. If you’ve recently had your hair dyed but it wound up too dark, there are a few things you can try to save yourself money on another salon trip. Limited lightening is possible, but don’t set your hopes too high—if you find your efforts unsuccessful (and you can’t live with the hair color as-is) you might have to suck it up and head back to the professionals.

Method One of Five:
Intervening Immediately After Your Dye Job

  1. 1
    Rinse your hair with hot water.[1] The heat will open up the cuticles, allowing more of the dye to be stripped out. Thoroughly saturate your hair, in either the shower or over the sink.
  2. 2
    Wash with a non-color-safe clarifying shampoo. The shampoo should be used immediately after you undergo your unsatisfactory coloring, and should strip some of the new color from your hair.[2] Squeeze a dime-sized amount (or as much as is recommended by the product’s instructions) into your palm, and rub it into the dyed, wet hair. While you shouldn’t be rough with it, more effort should be exerted than a usual shampoo session's “gentle massage.”
    • There are myriad, appropriate brands available to purchase wherever you normally get shampoo. Just make sure the clarifying shampoo you select is non-color safe.
  3. 3
    Condition afterward. After scrubbing your hair with the clarifying shampoo, you’ll want to mitigate the harsh cleansing effect on your hair by moisturizing it. Condition liberally: squeeze a quarter-sized amount into your hands, massage it into your hair from root to tip, then rinse it out.
    • When possible, it’s advised that you wait a few days to allow your hair time to recuperate from the chemical processes used to dye it before attempting to scrub out the dye. If it has to come out as soon as possible, though, ensure you offset the damage as much as possible with conditioning.

Method Two of Five:
Mixing Baking Soda and Shampoo

  1. 1
    Combine 2 cups of baking soda and 1/4 cup of clarifying shampoo in a non-metal bowl.[3] The alkalinity of the baking soda works to open your hair up, letting the clarifying shampoo better strip its color.[4] Use a whisk to work the baking soda and shampoo together.
    • You might want to bump the baking soda up to 3 cups if you have longer than shoulder-length hair.
  2. 2
    Wet your hair with hot water. Heat, in conjunction with the baking soda, will greatly open the cuticles of your hair. Do not use cool water, because it will close the cuticle.
  3. 3
    Rub it into damp hair. You can use your hands, or a spatula. Thoroughly cover the dyed hair, so that you don’t end up with mis-matched color.
    • Take care not to get the mixture in your eyes! You might want to use a towel or cloth around your head, to keep the mixture from dripping down toward your face.
  4. 4
    Wash it out after 5-15 minutes. The duration will depend on how much color you’re looking to remove. Leave it in for longer for more drastic results, but no longer than the recommended 15 minutes. Multiple batches is recommended if 15 minutes doesn’t prove sufficient.
  5. 5
    Blow-dry part of your hair to check the color. As you might need to wash it again—and heat will cause undue strain on your hair—you should only dry a small section of your hair. If the color looks good, then great! If not, you’ll want to mix another batch of baking soda and shampoo and get ready for round 2.
  6. 6
    Make another batch, if necessary. If your hair hasn’t sufficiently lightened, you can re-apply for better results. A more powerful mixture can be concocted by adding a tablespoon of hair bleach powder to the original recipe. When handling bleach, be sure to wear gloves.
    • After you’ve finished, avoid any styling that uses heat for a day or two. Both dyeing and “un”dyeing your hair take a toll.

Method Three of Five:
Applying a Soap Cap

  1. 1
    Mix bleach, shampoo, and developer. In a clean bowl, put in equal amounts of bleach, shampoo, and a creme developer. Mix them together.[5]
    • You can get developer at a beauty store, drug store, or wherever you purchased your hair dye.
  2. 2
    Apply the mixture to damp hair. Get your hair wet, and towel dry it lightly before putting on the mixture. Put on gloves before handling the mixture. Starting at the roots, work the mixture down your hair.[6]
  3. 3
    Cover with a shower cap. Leave the mixture on your hair under a shower cap for about ten minutes. Do not leave it on for too long or you may damage your hair.[7]
    • If you don't have a shower cap, you can also cover your hair with plastic wrap.
  4. 4
    Rinse out afterwards. Use cool water to rinse out the soap cap. Condition your hair afterwards to prevent breakage and damage. You may want to apply a deep conditioning hair mask.[8]

Method Four of Five:
Making a Vitamin C Paste

  1. 1
    Crush 15-20 tablets of vitamin C in a bowl.[9] You can use a mortar and pestle, or any blunt instrument which won’t damage your bowl.
  2. 2
    Add some anti-dandruff shampoo to the crushed tablets. A small amount will work, enough to make an effective paste with the powder. Combine the two ingredients with a whisk.
  3. 3
    Dampen your hair with hot water. The heat will open up the pores on your hair, which will let your mixture better sap the unwanted color.
  4. 4
    Spread the mixture into your hair. You can apply it with your hands. Cover the entire affected area; if you fail to apply it evenly, you might wind up with an interesting pattern in your hair.
  5. 5
    Leave it in for an hour. Cover your hair with a shower cap if necessary. After an hour has passed, rinse the paste from your hair with cool water.
    • Moisturize thoroughly with conditioner if your hair feels dry after you’ve washed the paste out.

Method Five of Five:
Spraying with Peroxide

  1. 1
    Pour hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. For best results, you’ll want to be able to apply the peroxide to your hair via spray bottle. Pouring it directly from the bottle over your head will leave you to guess as to how much of your hair has been affected.
    • Peroxide is definitely the least predictable, and likely the least optimal option available to you. It doesn’t work against the dye and chemicals already in your hair, but instead adds another one. Use it with caution.
  2. 2
    Spray the peroxide evenly onto your hair. Use the “mister” setting, if you have the option, as opposed to the “stream” setting. Spray the hair you wish to lighten from a distance of about a foot away, using a hand or cloth to cover your eyes.
    • Peroxide is safe to get on your skin, but can cause burning in your eyes.[10] If you get some in them, flush them with cool water.
    • Going outside in the sun can cause further lightening, but can also dry your hair out. Be aware of the effect sunlight will have if you choose to go outside with the peroxide in your hair.
    • Use pins or clips to arrange your hair, so that you only spray the hair you want to.
  3. 3
    Rinse it out with cold water after 30 minutes.[11] Any longer risks your hair becoming overly dry, or overly bleached. Excessive peroxide use can easily lead to a brassy, orangey hair coloration.
    • A deep conditioning is recommended if your hair feels dry after the peroxide treatment.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • I used a red wine, and it turned out darker than I wanted. How can I lighten it up?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • You can either follow the steps above, purchase a color removal product from your local beauty supply store (such as Sally's), or try a soap cap.
    Thanks! 14 5
  • How do I get blue out of a titanium semi permanent?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • You can use an orange based toner to cancel out blue tones. Typically, you should use the opposite color on the color wheel.
    Thanks! 5 3
  • I dyed my hair a medium brown and would like to add a few blonde highlights. It is super short. How can I accomplish this?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • If your hair is too short to foil for highlights, you can try the shower cap method instead.
    Thanks! 3 6
  • Will lemon juice lighten dyed hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends on the amount that you put in, and how long you are in the sun for. Do some research before trying it out.
    Thanks! 18 1
  • I dyed my hair from dirty blonde to a darker brown color. I want to lighten as much as possible without damaging my hair. What do I do?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Use lightest ash blond you can find but without bleach.
    Thanks! 27 8
  • Will my hair turn orange using any of these methods?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Using the hydrogen-peroxide spraying method may cause your hair to turn orange if you have dyed your hair a dark-brown color or black. It also may cause an orange pigment to show up if you leave it in for too long.
    Thanks! 8 2
  • I used a semi permanent black dye about 8 weeks ago. Is it safe to lighten it now?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It should be fine, seeing as most hair dye brands recommend recoloring after only 4-6 weeks. Just always be careful when bleaching/lightening your hair. Remember to deep condition, go easy on heat tools, and only lighten a little at a time or as much as your hair can stand it.
    Thanks! 11 4
  • Will my hair turn orange using the baking soda method if I used hair color 8G?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No it wouldn't, since the baking soda and the peroxide have different chemicals. The baking soda has a different reaction, so it'll be perfectly safe to leave it a little longer.
    Thanks! 24 15
  • Is it safe to put the baking soda method on all of my hair? My hair has been growing out for a couple months and I want to speed up the process, but I don't want to mess up my natural color.
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Baking soda won't change the natural hair color, it will only very subtly change the dyed.
    Thanks! 6 5
  • Today I dyed my black hair with medium matte blonde, but it doesn't seem to be show very much. I want to lighten up. How do I lighten up my hair color?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You will need to see a professional colorist for this, someone who specializes in color and has experience in lifting out black. This is not an easy thing to do yourself.
    Thanks! 9 13
Show more answers
  • How do I lighten my dark red *dyed* hair without using bleach or buying another product. It is semi permanent and I might use it another time so how do I make it lighter without adding bleach ?
  • What should I do if some parts of my hair stay too dark?
  • How do I lighten my grey hair that has blue undertones without making it green?
  • I just dyed my hair bluish and it appears darker than what I had expected. What should I do?
  • How can I get my hair to match the roots if I dyed it and the dye only worked right on the roots?
Show more unanswered questions
Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.


  • Seek the advice of a hair stylist if your hair is severely damaged from coloring.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Some stores sell hair-removing shampoo or other products to help remove color.
    0 Helpful?  0

Expert Review By:

Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Lighten Dyed Hair was reviewed by Ashley Adams on June 30, 2017.

55 votes - 73%
Co-authors: 16
Views: 920,402
Categories: Coloring Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • KR

    Karla Robinett

    Nov 25, 2017

    "I'm surprised this worked so well! My hair had not been freshly-dyed and it still worked. I had a medium to dark brown because my hair was overprocessed and grabbed too much dye. It lightened a couple shades! A bit drying, but I used conditioner."..." more
  • DD

    Denise Dale

    Feb 2, 2017

    "I am so grateful. I'm 70 years old, so I have a lot of grey hair. This treatment worked great. Thank you very much. "..." more
  • SS

    Sharon Smith

    Jun 26, 2017

    "I appreciated having options when dealing with a question I asked, thank you."
    Rated this article:
Share your story

Did this article help you?