Direct Hair Dye Removers for Easier Switching Between Fashion Colors

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Gaga

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

About the author

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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.


3 thoughts on “Direct Hair Dye Removers for Easier Switching Between Fashion Colors”

  1. I’ve been using semipermanent color for years and only have trouble when the product is ‘updated’. This time my light brown hair greying hair turned black with green and blue hues. I used Color Oops and it turned orange/red. When I reapplied the color it went right back to the black. I need to know how to get back to my light brown and graying hair?? The salon I begged to rescue me gave me dark brown hair with black ends and a few highlights on the back of my head!?

  2. I don’t know what kind of color they used in the salon. If it was permanent color, you cannot get your original color back, and you may need to transition to get your light brown graying hair again. Anyway, go for a consultation with an experienced colorist. Don’t be desperate, please. Our hair color is something we can fix, just don’t give up and be well.

  3. It sounds like you didn’t rinse the color remover long enough to wash all the dye molecules out. Then the dye that was still in your hair turned back black when the molecules oxidized again.

    Permanent dye molecules start small to fit into the cortex of the hair when they attach to oxygen in the developer, it oxidizes & gets big, too big to easily get back out the way it came in, hence the “permanent” classification. (Even though it still tends to fade and reduce overtime) What color oops & other oxidative dye removers do is go in and take that oxygen molecule off causing the dye to shrink back to it’s the original size and then it fit back out & can be washed away. That’s why rinsing is the most important part of a color remover.

    We’re so used to the magic happening while dye/bleach/toner/etc. processes on the head, so I totally understand why people skimp on the rinsing, not realizing that’s the most important part. Plus it’s so tedious rinsing hair for 30 mins, I always do an hour for greatest effect and clarify wash at least 10 times. I use Aussie miracle detox plum & white charcoal clarifying shampoo because it’s the most conditioning & least drying clarifying shampoo I’ve ever used. It’s amazing and cheap!

    You can test if you’ve rinsed enough yet by taking a tiny strand test by dipping it into a developer or even just hydrogen peroxide. If it reverts to the color you want gone, more rinsing is needed. Hope this helps someone.

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