Okay, here’s the thing about hair color removers: The only guaranteed way to safely fix a dye job gone bad is to book an appointment with a professional colorist. Even though there are tons of at-home hair dye removers on the market, they’re typically filled with harsh ingredients that can (A) damage your hair, and/or (B) leave your color looking super orange or brassy says Meri Kate O’Connor, colorist at Tabb & Sparks Salon in Santa Monica. I know, I know—not exactly what you wanted to hear.
That said, if you can’t make it into a salon to get your hair color professionally corrected, at-home removers aren’t totally off the table—so long as you go into the process knowing that they typically can’t get your hair back to its original state. What they can do, though, is lighten semi-permanent and permanent dyes to the point that you can color your hair again. So, keeping all of that in mind, keep scrolling for the nine best hair color removers that’ll lighten your dye job without fully destroying your hair.
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Best Hair Color Remover Shampoo
Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo
Meri Kate’s advice? Skip the hair color remover all together and grab a clarifying, sulfate-filled shampoo (i.e., the formulas you avoid when you’re trying to preserve your hair color). “Washing your fresh dye job a few times with sulfates can help soften dark colors so they’re not quite as harsh or pigmented,” she says. This one from Suave is affordable and gets the job done fast—just remember to swap it for something more gentle after you fix your color, k?
Best Hair Color Remover on Amazon
Color Oops Extra Conditioning Hair Color Remover
There’s a reason this hair color remover is a best seller on Amazon for removing semi-permanent and permanent dye—it’s relatively gentle (you won’t find any bleach or ammonia in the formula), it’s easy to apply, and it’s spiked with hydrating ingredients like soy protein and aloe vera to keep your hair from drying out. The only caveat: The formula doesn’t smell great, so make sure you apply it in a well-ventilated space.
Best Hair Color Remover for Semi-Permanent Dye
Sephora Collection Heat Activated Color Fader
The coolest thing about this semi-permanent hair color remover is that it’s heat activated. You start off by mixing the packet with very warm water until it turns into a lightweight gel that you massage through damp, freshly washed hair. Once you’ve completely saturated your hair, slap on a shower cap and hit your hair with a blow dryer for 15 mins to activate the formula—when you rinse and shampoo, you’ll be left with noticeably lighter hair.
Best Hair Color Remover for Permanent Dye
Colorfix Hair Color Remover
If you need something strong enough for permanent dye, you can’t go wrong with this formula from Colorfix. You’ll get the best results when you apply it like you would apply hair dye, so it’s not a bad idea to grab a plastic applicator bottle to make sure you’re coating each strand evenly.
Best Hair Color Remover Kit
Revolution Pro Hair Colour Remover
Perfect for anyone who switches up their hair color regularly, this remover kit comes with everything you need to strip permanent and semi-perm dye at home. There’s no bleach or ammonia in the formula, and the included conditioner (which has hydrating baobab oil in it) leaves your hair surprisingly soft.
Best Vegan Hair Color Remover
Color Brilliance Color Corrector
This vegan formula is loved for its ability to remove up to three shades of hair dye in one application. You’ll need to activate this remover with heat, so make sure you have a disposable shower cap and a hair dryer handy before you get started. And, as always, make sure you follow the instructions completely to get the best results.
Best Hair Color Remover for Ends
Roux Hair Color Stain Remover
You can actually do two things with this hair color remover: (1) You can rub the creamy formula through your ends to lift dye (FYI your ends are typically more susceptible to dye, so they often look darker than the rest of your hair), and (2) You can dab it on your scalp and hairline to gently—and quickly—pick up any hair color stains.
Best Hair Color Remover Wipes
Colortrak Hair Color Remover Wipes
Speaking of stains—if creamy formulas aren’t really your thing, these easy-to-use wipes are great for removing hair color from your skin. And thanks to the aloe vera in the formula, they won’t dry out or irritate your skin when you use ’em (score).
Best Mask for Post Hair Color Removal
Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
Hot tip: The best way to avoid dryness or damage after using a hair color remover is to load up on a super-hydrating hair mask or deep conditioner. This one from Briogeo is formulated with rosehip oil, algae extract, and B vitamins to help moisturize, strengthen, and smooth your hair.
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