How to Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Dye at Home? 4 Methods

Semi-permanent dyes are gentle alternatives to permanent colors. These non-damaging dyes only coat the outside of the hair shaft with pigments and wash out gradually with every shampooing. The fading process can last anywhere from 6 to 10 shampoos depending on the coloring product you are using, your hair porosity, and your washing habits.

Although semi-permanent dyes fade much faster than permanent hair color, bright semi-permanent colors are not always easy to remove from the hair. If your hair is overprocessed with bleach, the pigment can get absorbed into your strands and hang in there for a while. Over time, you can expect to have an uneven color as some areas with healthy hair fade faster than those with over-bleached hair. The stubborn semi-permanent dye that has reached the cortex fades slowly and may be very difficult to remove. 

If you are not thrilled with your actual color, the safest way to get rid of it is to leave color removal to a color specialist. A skilled colorist and professional color stripping products make results more predictable.

Cute girl with fashion hair color

How to Strip Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

1. Semi-Permanent Hair Color Removers

If you opt to remove your color at home, use products that will not damage your hair. You can use gentle, peroxide-free color strippers that lift the semi-permanent color, without harming your hair or skin.

Other safe ways to remove unwanted color at home include using the color-lifting properties of baking soda and vitamin C and washing hair with a deep-cleansing shampoo.

Cute girl with semi-permanent hair color

The Gentlest Color Stripper: Color X-Change Phase-Out Gentle Dye Decolorizer

Why this product?

  1. It removes the color without damage.
  2. Doesn’t contain bleach
  3. Free of cruelty
  4. Made in the USA

This vitamin C-based color-fading treatment comes in two small pockets. The first of them is a dye decolorizer, while the second one is a conditioning mask that is formulated to restore hydration after color removal.

For medium-length hair of average density, one packet will do. You should mix the content with warm water until the mixture turns into a gel. Apply the gel to freshly washed towel-dried hair (no conditioner). Cover your head with a shower cap, and leave the treatment overnight. Wash in the morning and much of the color will come out with shampoo.

The product doesn’t contain bleach and wouldn’t hurt your hair at all but you may have to use it a couple of times to lift the stubborn semi-permanent color.

The drawback is the smell which is unpleasant but not overpowering. Some people may experience slight itching on the scalp, so if you have a sensitive scalp, try to work it through the length of the hair and don’t rub it into your scalp.

girl with blue-semi-permanent hair color

2. How to Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Dye with Baking Soda

Thanks to its alkaline properties, baking soda can lift the cuticle and remove semi-permanent dyes or slightly fade permanent dyes.

The ingredients you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon OF apple cider vinegar


  1. Mix baking soda and other ingredients in water to form a paste.
  2. Wash your hair with warm water to open the cuticle and then apply the paste.
  3. Apply the paste and let it sit in your hair for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse off the paste with water.

It may take a few washes to see the noticeable results.

Baking soda doesn’t contain moisturizing ingredients you’ll find in shampoos and conditioners and using it multiple times may leave your hair feeling dry. Use the paste sparingly and do deep conditioning treatments to restore lost moisture.

3. How To Use Vitamin C and Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Hair Dye?

Clarifying shampoos contain more cleansing agents and less nourishing ingredients than regular shampoos. Sulfate-based clarifying shampoos are known for their capability to strip natural oils and color from the hair. Make sure not to use a color-safe formula for color-removing purposes.

To boost the color-stripping potential of clarifying shampoos, use warm water to saturate your hair. The heat will raise the cuticle and trapped color pigments will wash out easier. Apply shampoo to create leather and put on a shower cap. Wait for about 10 minutes to let the shampoo work. Then thoroughly rinse your hair until the water becomes clear.

You may need to repeat clarifying process until your current color fades to a softer shade that can be easily recolored. To avoid over-drying your hair, deep condition it and clarify no more than necessary.

4. Vitamin C Hair Color Remover

Hair colorists know about the hair-lightening properties of vitamin C and often use it in their color-stripping mixtures. Since vitamin C is a natural substance, you can safely add it to your shampoo and use it for color lightening and color fading purposes.

The simplest method is to use vitamin C in powder form and mix it with your clarifying shampoo. Wrap the hair with a plastic cap and leave the mixture to work for 30-60 minutes.

If you don’t have vitamin C powder, you can crash vitamin C tablets and mix the powder with the shampoo you will apply. Vitamin C helps to break down pigments, so you can wash them out of your hair.

Although the methods we mention are natural, make sure to do lots of conditioning to restore lost moisture and make your hair ready for a new color adventure.

Beautiful girl with fashionable hair color

8 Tricks to Make Semi-Permanent Dye Last

beautiful red hair girl listening music

Permanent dyes are the most effective types of hair coloring: they offer even and long-lasting coverage, and efficiently hide gray hair. However, the chemicals that enable such dye molecules to penetrate the hair shaft can damage your hair in the long run. This is one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of semi-permanent hair dyes.

Semi-permanent dyes don’t require ammonia and don’t contain peroxide. Plus, they provide conditioning benefits, making your hair look fuller and shinier. Semi-permanent dyes work great for experimenting with new shades. The thing is, if your current hair color is dark, you will probably need to use bleach if you want your hair to take on a new color with a semi-permanent dye. This is usually the case, although some semi-permanent dyes are advertised as able to provide subtle color changes to brunette hair (Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color for Brunettes from L’Oréal Paris and Color Crave Semi-Permanent Hair Dye from Clairol).

joyful caucasian woman with pink hair

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Color Last?

Another potential downside of semi-permanent hair dyes is their shorter lifespan compared to permanent colors. These dyes only adhere to the cuticle, depositing their color onto the outside of the hair shaft. Since they don’t fully penetrate the cuticle, they wash out faster than permanent colors. Depending on the product and the condition of your hair, the color will last between 6 and 12 shampoo cycles. For the best results, you should always aim to purchase a quality product. Some of the longer-lasting semi-permanent dyes come from brands like Arctic Fox, Pulp Riot, and Adore.

Even so, the color will wash out little by little each time you wash your hair until it’s completely gone. Some fashion colors fade gracefully to more pastel colors that still look beautiful, but if your goal is a vivid color that lasts longer, there are plenty of tricks to prevent premature fading. Let’s have a look at eight of them.

lovely young woman with long hairstyle sitting on stairs

Suggestions for Longer Lasting Color

1. Prep Your Tresses Properly Before Coloring

If you are a brunette, make sure to have your hair pre-lightened by a professional. Properly bleached hair experiences less damage. This is important because overly processed hair grabs the color but doesn’t maintain it over a long time. Your colorist will use an appropriate bond-repairing product to minimize the damage sustained during the bleaching process.

It is also essential that your hair is completely clean before you apply the color. Any grease, dirt, or product build-up may prevent the pigments from adhering or cause them to quickly wash off. To eliminate stubborn build-up, use a chelating shampoo a day or two before coloring. Immediately before the coloring process, you should wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo but without conditioner, as conditioning tends to smooth the cuticle and prevent the color from adhering tightly to your hair.

2. Follow the Instructions

Each brand has its own development time, so make sure you leave the product in your hair for as long as directed. Leaving it in for less time than recommended may result in uneven coverage and faster color fading. If you leave it in for longer than directed, you may get a more intense color, but be warned that “the longer the better” doesn’t apply to all products. Sometimes prolonged use may instead result in a darker color than is shown on the package.

All being said, although semi-permanent dyes are convenient for home use, the safest way to ensure that the job is done well is to leave it to a professional.

3. Wait at Least Three Days Before Shampooing

We’d also recommend not washing your hair immediately after coloring. Instead, wait a few days to let the color settle in. After dyeing, the cuticles need some time to fully close, and shampooing so soon can wash away the pigments trapped in the scales. It’s best to wait at least three days before even wetting your hair.

However, if your hair looks greasy, try using mild dry shampoo to refresh it. Powder shampoos are a great choice here, both for your locks and the environment. The Apple Cider Vinegar Dry Shampoo Powder from dpHUE is one example: it’s designed to refresh your hair and enhance its shine without stripping the color.

4. Stretch Out the Time Between Washings

Since semi-permanent color dyes only adhere to the outside of your hair, they will wash out gradually with each shampoo. For those who wash their hair daily, this means that the color will fade quickly.

To slow down this fading process, reduce the frequency of washing and protect your hair from water in the shower. Only use shampoo when necessary—not more than twice a week—and when you do, focus on your scalp and don’t forcefully massage your hair.

If you feel that your hair is getting greasy or you’ve been sweating, we again recommend that you use a dry shampoo to refresh your locks and protect them from over-washing.

5. Use Color-Safe Shampoos

The type of shampoo you use will have a big impact on your color. Sulfate-based shampoos, clarifying shampoos, and some anti-dandruff shampoos can speed up the color fade process. To avoid this, stick to sulfate-free shampoos that are designed for color-treated hair. These are usually pH-balanced or slightly acidic, which keeps the cuticles sealed and prevents the trapped color dye particles from escaping.

Your rinse-out conditioner should also be formulated with colored hair in mind. Again, the pH value of color-friendly conditioners is adjusted to keep your cuticles aligned, adding shine to your locks.

6. Reduce Exposure to Heat

Using flat-iron over semi-permanently colored hair

When drying and styling your hair, keep in mind that high temperatures can cause damage and fade your color. To minimize these negative effects, set your styling tools to a lower temperature and only use them in moderation. Make sure to also use a quality heat protection spray—it’ll create a protective barrier around your hair.

Another trick is to use the “cool shot” button at the end of your blow-drying sessions to cool your hair down and seal your cuticles for extra shiny hair.

You should also use lukewarm water when rinsing out your shampoo or conditioner. Hot water tends to open the cuticles further, sending color molecules straight down the drain, but cool water helps seal the cuticles.

7. Protect Your Hair from Chlorine, Hard Water, and Sunlight

The chlorine found in swimming pools tends to bond to hair, so going swimming may fade your color. To minimize these unwanted effects, soak your hair with clean water before swimming or saturate it with a pre-swim protector. Also, make sure to rinse your hair with clean water immediately after leaving the pool.

If you’ve got hard water at home, be aware that it contains minerals that can affect the appearance of your hair and dull its color. A good idea to avoid this is to invest in a shower filter—it will minimize the amount of minerals reaching your hair through your shower head.

Finally, keep in mind that the sun can also act like bleach, causing hair color to fade faster. You can reduce this fading effect and prevent UV damage by using a sun protection spray when you go out in the sun.

cute woman with tanned skin looking over shoulder

8. Use Color-Depositing Shampoos and Conditioners

Color-depositing products are real game changers for colored hair—they add a little bit of color every time you wash your hair with them. They can be used to color pre-lightened hair temporarily, but they also work great for refreshing your color. Color-depositing shampoos and conditioners help to keep your color bright and prolong its lifespan.

Some great choices for colored hair include Keracolor’s Clenditioner color-depositing conditioner and Celeb Luxury’s Intense Color Depositing Colorwash shampoo and conditioner. You can even try making them yourself by just adding a bit of semi-permanent dye to your regular shampoo or conditioner.

Final Words

If you are not happy with your new color, rest assured that nothing is lost because semi-permanent dyes won’t damage your hair. You can always try out a new color without it being a long-lasting commitment.

If you do not want to invest so much time and effort in maintaining your fashion color, opt for a quality color that fades nicely. Some colors go from vivid and bright to a beautiful pastel shade that you can wear proudly until your next coloring. Remember, semi-permanent dyes are just a way to have fun and add more color to your everyday life. Enjoy!

beautiful woman with pink hair on brick wall background

Direct Hair Dye Removers for Easier Switching Between Fashion Colors

Fashion hair colors are an easy and creative way to add glamour to your look and express your individuality. However, when it’s time to switch to another fun color, the old color in your hair can be a problem. So, what’s the easiest way to remove a semi-permanent color from your hair? 

The best method of color removal depends on the type of hair dye that you’re trying to take out. When it comes to permanent colors, standard color removers can get the job done, providing a good base for starting with a new color. However, most color strippers formulated to take out permanent colors are not effective at removing direct dyes.

Direct dyes rest on the outside of the cuticle layer and wash out a little bit with each shampoo. You can speed up the fading process by using a clarifying shampoo.

A woman with hair colored with direct dyes

In some cases, these intense dyes can be highly resistant to removal. Some highly porous sections of your hair can get permanently stained, especially if the pigment has been there for a long time. In such cases, you will need help from a hair professional to get rid of the remaining color. It may take multiple sessions to completely remove a direct dye from the hair.

Color Removers for Semi-Permanent Hair Colors

Luckily, there is a growing number of products on the market formulated to remove direct dyes from the hair. This makes the process of removing semi-permanent colors easier and more effective. This also enables hair dye addicts to switch between fashion colors more frequently.

By treating the hair with direct dye removers, most dyes can be removed in just 30 minutes, leaving the hair in its bleached state. Even if the stubborn direct dye has not completely gone, your hair will be lightened enough to be dyed easily. The desired color shade can be applied immediately after the removal step.

Some direct dye removers are enriched with keratin, amino acids, hair oils, and other nourishing ingredients to condition hair and minimize the damaging effects of the color removal process.

Direct Dye Hair Color Remover by Guy Tang

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1. Blank Canvas Color Remover by Pulp Riot

Blank Canvas is a professional color remover formulated to remove different brands of direct dyes and semi-permanent colors from hair. Aloe vera, quinoa, and argan oil are added to the formula to help maintain the integrity of the hair and to prevent your strands from drying out. It doesn’t smell terrible either, unlike most other color removers.

This powerful color remover is very effective in eliminating vivid colors without being harsh on the hair. It works faster than bleach and effortlessly pulls out even the most stubborn vivid colors.

To create a mixture, your stylist will use a 6, 10, or 20-volume developer, depending on the condition of the hair. The color-removal process takes up to 30 minutes at room temperature.

The downside is that it can lighten virgin hair if you are not careful. If you don’t want your virgin roots lightened, apply the product only to the hair that has been treated with a direct dye. It is also not highly effective at removing Splat colors.

2. Joico Color Intensity ERASER (Walmart)

Color Intensity Eraser is designed to remove semi-permanent and direct colors from pre-lightened hair. When removing vibrant shades, may not erase all residual color, but your hair will be light enough to apply a new shade. Works well for removing blue and purple fashion colors.

You need to separately purchase a developer cream to mix with the product. To take out vivid, rich shades use a 20-volume developer. To remove pastel shades, use a 10-volume developer for gentler dye removal.

Color Removed in 30 Seconds- video

This is a harsh product that can dry out or even damage your hair. Do not use it on over-processed hair. Make sure to apply it quickly, as it strips the color very fast. Wash it out as soon as a color has disappeared. Add some Olaplex no. 1 into the mixture to prevent damage to the hair.

Apply only to hair that has been bleached and treated with direct dyes. It will bleach your natural color, so be careful with roots if you don’t want to lighten them. The smell is very intense, so make sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

3. Malibu DDL Direct Dye Lifter (Walmart)

This direct dye lifter is formulated without ammonia, parabens, gluten, and fragrances. The product comes in crystallized form and can be activated either by mixing it with water or with a developer. When mixed with water, it provides gentler lifting and helps minimize damage to your hair. Mixing with a developer helps to achieve more significant lifting.

4. Urban Shock Dye Remover by Scruples

This direct dye remover uses water to gently remove the color from the hair. The formula is enriched with Protective Barrier Complex (PBX) and avocado oil to improve hair’s inner strength and prevent damage. It will not lighten permanent dye or your natural hair color.

This color remover is a good choice if you need something that will not lift color from your roots. 

5. Back to Base Remover by Crazy Color

This powdered formula is advertised to remove the existing semi-permanent color in just 30 minutes or less, bringing the hair back to its bleached blonde base.

It contains Kaolin clay, which is the earth’s natural cleanser. Argan and kernel oils are included in the formula to protect the hair from over-drying.

The powder needs to be mixed with either 5, 10, or 20-volume developer, depending on the hair condition and your expectations.

It acts like bleach and will lighten your virgin roots when applied over them. One 45g sachet would be enough for shoulder-length hair.

Beautiful woman with blue colored hair and closed eyes

Tips for Using Direct Dye Removers

Your hair should be squeaky clean before application, so use a clarifying shampoo to deeply cleanse your hair and completely remove residues and buildups.

Once activated, these products act fast, so you need to apply one quickly to get an even base. Having another pair of hands is extremely helpful.

To get even results, also make sure to section your hair before application.

If your hair has been chemically processed, consider using Olaplex or another bond-repairing product.

Don’t leave these products in your hail longer than needed. Once the lightening effect is achieved, shampoo your hair and make sure to rinse thoroughly.

Always use a deep conditioner afterward to combat dryness and maintain softness and shine.

a young woman with multicolored hair

How to Use Semi-Permanent Hair Dyes and What Results Should You Expect?

Semi-permanent hair dyes are a gentle alternative to permanent hair colors. Unlike most permanent formulas, these dyes are free from ammonia and most of them don’t require a developer. Semi-permanent dyes simply stain the hair, without chemically altering the hair structure.

Semi-permanent hair dyes provide you with longer-lasting color than temporary dyes, but they fade out faster than permanent colors. Depending on the brand, base color, and porosity of the hair the color can last between 4-6 weeks and tends to fade gradually.

This low-commitment color is a good option for people who prefer colors that are easy to change. If you want to experiment with a new shade but are not ready to make a permanent commitment, a semi-permanent color is the best choice.

smiling girl with pastel pink hair

How do Semi-Permanent Dyes Work?

These hair dyes are not capable of lightening hair as most don’t contain peroxide. These highly pigmented dyes work by depositing pigments on the hair shaft without opening the cuticle and penetrating the hair.

When used on unbleached hair, they condition your strands and restore color vibrancy. To achieve vibrant colors and long-lasting results, you need to pre-lighten the hair.

This type of hair dye is easy to use, and in most cases, you can apply the color straight from the applicator. You can easily do it yourself as long as you follow the directions.

What Results to Expect?

The results may vary depending on your natural hair color and the porosity of your hair. Semi-permanent dyes are only capable of darkening existing hair colors. If a vivid color is your goal, you have to bleach your hair first.

You can skip bleaching only if you have very light hair or you just want to add a subtle tint to your dark locks. The lighter the hair, the darker the color outcome.

If you are a natural blonde, your hair will look richer and shinier after semi-permanent coloring because the pigments give your hair a boost of shine.

Charming girl with pink colored hair

Benefits of Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Semi-permanent hair colors have many benefits, especially if your hair is dry and porous:

  1. They are harmless: These dyes are free of ammonia, peroxide, and other harsh additives, so they are gentler on fragile hair than permanent dyes. Semi-permanent hair colors condition the hair and smooth the cuticle, leaving your hair smoother and softer than before coloring.
  2. Fade gracefully: When the color starts to wash out, it still looks beautiful. These colors gradually fade into a gorgeous pastel that is just as beautiful as freshly applied color.
  3. Boost shine: Semi-permanent hair dyes are often used to remove brassy tones from hair and to add instant shine to lackluster, dull hair.
  4. No noticeable regrowth: Semi-permanent colors fade nicely and evenly without the harsh demarcation line of grown-out roots.
  5. Low commitment: You can switch up the color without a long-term commitment. The color gently fades between services, so you can simply choose another color to experiment with.
  6. More volume: Fine and thin hair looks thicker and denser because the pigments instantly provide more volume.
  7. Easy to use: They are easy to apply, so you can easily do it yourself! You don’t have to mix anything and can apply the color straight from the bottle.

Can you Cover Gray Hair with a Semi-Permanent Color?

If you’re looking to cover a small percentage of gray, most of the semi-permanent dyes will do the job, blending gray hair nicely. The color fades without showing a harsh root line. Make sure to leave the coloring product to process for longer because gray strands can be stubborn about taking color.

If you have a lot of gray hair, a permanent hair dye will give you better coverage.

Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent Hair Dye is advertised to provide 100% gray coverage but this brand contains hydrogen peroxide in its formula.

young woman with fashion hair color using smartphone in bed

Will Fashion Colors Show up on Dark Hair?

The semi-permanent color will coat all of your strands, but the resulting color depends on the underlying color and the color you choose to apply.

If your hair is dark and you want a bright color, you have to bleach your hair until it is almost white to get an appropriate base for the desired color. Otherwise, vivid semi-permanent dyes will just slightly tint unbleached dark hair and the color only shows as a hidden tone in the sunlight.

If you have darker hair with highlights, the color will show up very vibrant on the highlighted strands while giving a nice tint to the rest of your hair.

Another problem with using funky colors on unbleached hair is that the color will fade quickly.

Although you typically have to pre-bleach your hair to play around with fashion colors, there are some exceptions. Splat Midnight Semi-Permanent Hair Dye and Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Dye for Dark Hair are formulated to give you fun hair color without having to pre-bleach your locks.

Young woman with mint color

How Long Does Semi-Permanent Color Last?

Semi-permanent colors will typically start to fade after 4-8 weeks, depending on the porosity of your hair, underlying color, and how often you wash your hair. The color loses brightness gradually with each wash. Use lukewarm water to minimize color fading.

Virgin hair is more resistant than processed hair, so the color pigments will not stick to the surface, and may wash out quickly.

High porosity hair grabs color pigments easily and holds them for longer than virgin or healthy hair. However, overly porous hair may fade unevenly.

beautiful young girl with pastel pink hair

How to Dye Your Hair with Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Semi-permanent color products come ready to use. The application is simple and can be easily done at home. Follow the instructions carefully.

  1. Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo and repeat if needed. Don’t use conditioner!
  2. Dry your hair completely before starting the color application.
  3. Apply protective cream around your hairline and on your ears to prevent the color from staining your skin.
  4. Put on latex gloves, then apply the color onto desired areas and massage it in to coat the strands well.
  5. Leave the product in your hair according to the instructions on the bottle. For a more intense, longer-lasting color, leave the product in for longer than directed.
  6. Rinse the hair away from your face using cool to lukewarm water. Rinse until the water runs clear. Do not shampoo.

If you like your color to appear more pastel, dilute the dye with your conditioner.

To replenish the color, mix some of the dye with your regular hair conditioner and use the mixture for 10 minutes once a week or bi-weekly.

If you are using the same color, you can redo it once a month or more often if you like. But, if you are going to change your color, you might want to wait a few weeks after the previous color treatment.

How to Make Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer

  • Shampoo your hair less often as the color fades with each shampoo.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoos formulated for color-treated hair.
  • Wash your hair with relatively cold water and avoid using very hot water for that purpose.
  • Always follow with a conditioner!
  • Wait a week or two before going to swim in a chlorinated pool.
  • To keep your color looking fresh, periodically add a few drops of the color to your conditioner and use the mixture after shampooing.

The drawback:

These dyes can stain anything they come into contact with during color processing. The pigments may continue staining your hands, your clothes, your towels, and your pillowcase for another week.

To minimize the mess, use latex gloves, wear an old shirt, and cover all your bathroom surfaces with “throw-away” towels. Also, use old towels to cover your pillows and wear dark clothing for the first couple of days. Use a bathroom cleaner with bleach to clean the surfaces.

Popular Brands: Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color Dye (very gentle and fades out gracefully), Special Effects SFX Hair Color Hair Dye, Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids, Iroiro Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Color, Joico Intensity Semi-Permanent Hair Color, Splat Hair Color Kit,  Semi-Permanent Conditioning Hair Color by Punky, L’Oreal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color, and Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Semi-Permanent Hair Dye. 

young girl with blue colored hair