Color Remover vs Bleach: Which One is Better for Your Hair?

Color correction can be one of the most essential yet time-consuming and expensive services. There are costly steps to take when something has gone awry with your hair color.

But we’ve all been there. Maybe the advertising for that new black hair dye caught your attention “want perfect hair? Try the new black silk color line and leave of legacy of envy behind you …” Black silk? Envy? Sounds perfect, except in the end you’re crying in your colorist’s chair. 

Is Color Remover Better Than Bleach?

salon hair coloring service

In this situation and many more like it, one of the first steps to correct color is to remove what was put on that caused the problem i.e. the infamous “black silk.”

You might be wondering how do you remove hair dye? The two most common ways are either color remover or bleach.

So, what’s better, bleach or color remover? One reason many professionals turn to color remover instead of bleach for dye removal is that color remover is good at just binding to the dye molecules to remove them while leaving your natural color pigments alone in the hair.

Bleach on the other hand strips everything out of your hair, even the naturally occurring color pigments and not just the dye molecules.

Consequently, color removal is a gentler approach than bleaching. You should opt for a color stripper whenever it could provide you with the base for a new, desired color. You will get a kind of pre-bleached look which you then can re-color. Keep in mind that color removers can’t reverse the effects of bleaching process.  

If you want to go lighter than your natural color, color removers won’t do the job. Since color removers can’t lighten the natural color, fake blondes still need bleach to lighten regrown roots and maintain their blonde shade.

What Kinds of Color Removers are There?

Some color strippers are supposed to remove permanent/oxidative hair dyes, while others work for removing direct dyes which just stain the outermost layer of your hair.

One of the most popular permanent dye removers is the Malibu CPR Color Pigment Remover. It’s a professional-grade color remover that contains ingredients that use natural properties to remove unwanted color pigments. It removes mineral buildup and permanent dye from hair while preserving the integrity of your hair. Generally speaking, this brand is trusted for its ability to do the job.

Another permanent dye stripper is the Color Oops Extra Strength Remover. It’s specifically designed to target permanent hair color removing dye molecules from your hair shaft, although it’s not the best option for removing vivid colors. This bleach-free formula leaves hair ready to immediately take a new color. Most other removers ask you to wait to reapply.

Some color removers are formulated to strip semi-permanent colors. Color X-Change Phase-Out Gentle Dye Decolorizer is a mild vitamin C-based decolorizer that is supposed to be left in your hair overnight. You may need several applications until you reach a good base for your desired new color shade.  

smiling girl after using color remover for semi-permanent dyes

How Bleach Removes Hair Color?

The way bleach works is by entering the hair cuticle with the help of another ingredient (the developer). Once it’s inside, it can attach to the natural hair pigments and change them, making them colorless.

The result of this process means dark hair can get lighter. Or medium hair can get lighter. Or light hair can get lighter until a certain point called “platinum,” where there are no more natural pigments to change.

But with the change in those natural pigments, you also deplete the integrity and strength of the hair. This is why bleach is a more drastic measure to take when considering color removal.

hairdresser using bleach to lighten hair regrowth

How Does Color Remover Work?

Color removers are definitely a gentler way to get rid of unwanted color. Most color removers don’t contain peroxide and won’t damage your hair in any way. Color strippers dissolve artificial color pigments, allowing you to wash them away.

Some mild color lifters are more like hair masks and need multiple applications to get the results you are aiming for. If your natural hair doesn’t need lightening a color remover is a safer way to go. They are generally safe for use at home, although a hair color specialist will easier get you back to your natural hue.

Unlike a color remover, bleach is a strong chemical that should be only used by hair professionals. Applying bleach improperly can damage the hair cuticles and leave your strands dry and overly porous. If you decide to remove unwanted color yourself, a color stripper is a safer option.

hair after using color remover

Can You Use Bleach After Color Removal?

Since color removers only reverse the effects of hair coloring, the integrity of your hair won’t be compromised due color removal process. However, it is not recommended to bleach hair immediately after color removal. Wait at least one week and do deep conditioning treatment to restore lost moisture. If your hair is generally in good condition, it will be ready for bleaching service after a week. To stay on the safe side, let a professional colorist lighten your hair.

Hair bleaching at a salon

How to Moisturize Dry Hair After Bleaching or Color Removal

Moisture is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your hair after a more intense service like bleaching. Here are some ways to increase and/or maintain a healthy amount of moisture after using bleach:

  1. Don’t use shampoos that contain sulfates, parabens, sodium chloride, or drying alcohol.
  2. Invest in quality conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and hair masks. Be sure to use them regularly.
  3. Always use a quality heat protectant after shampoo and conditioner.
  4. Use Olaplex or other bond repairing products to revitalize and strengthen hair and minimize the chances of breakage.

Although milder than bleach, color removers can also leave your hair dry. Use a hydrating hair mask to restore lost moisture and make the new color shade look more glamorous.

beautiful woman with healthy moisturized hair

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on July 19, 2022 by Gaga

About the author

gaga@softerhair.com | Website | + posts

Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing. Her pets are her coworkers, and she replaced the town crowd with a quiet neighborhood outside the city.

 

Leave a Comment