Removing Temporary Color Buildup on Hair

Washing hair repeatedly may help remove dye.

Photo: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Dyeing your hair a vibrant shade of red to alleviate natural hair color boredom may give you a quick pick-me-up. However, if your temporary or semi-permanent dye job is stubbornly clinging to your hair long after it was supposed to wash out, you may be thinking that shaving your head is the only solution for reclaiming your natural color. However, there are ways you can remove temporary dye buildup, so you can return to your natural color and stop getting glances at your two-toned hair from random strangers.

Temporary Dye

Temporary hair dyes coat the outer portion of your hair and normally wash out the next time you shampoo your hair after application. Washing your hair multiple times in one day should completely remove temporary hair dye. If you still see traces of that neon temporary shade after two shampoos, you may want to pick up a clarifying shampoo to help remove stubborn color deposits. Clarifying shampoos are designed to remove hair product buildup, too, so you may end up with glossier locks in the process of removing temporary hair dye.

Semi-Permanent Dye

Removing color build up from semi-permanent dye is a bit trickier than getting rid of a temporary shade. Semi-permanent dyes contain peroxide, which helps your hair absorb the dye. These types of dyes can last through at least 10 shampoos. If you want to totally remove the semi-permanent hair color immediately, look into purchasing a hair dye remover from a drugstore. These formulas contain chemicals that help strip dye from your hair. Once you’ve returned to your natural shade, think twice and enlist a supportive friend to deter you from coloring your hair for awhile.

Additional Removal Methods

Mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap in with your normal shampoo may help remove temporary dye buildup quicker than using regular shampoo alone. If you have a box of hot oil treatment gathering dust in your medicine cabinet, breaking it out may help temporary dye buildup fade faster. If after several attempts to remove dye buildup you still see portions of hair still sporting unwanted color, call your stylist, pronto.


If previous dye attempts indicate that your hair tends to hold fiercely onto temporary color, choose your shade wisely. Blond hair may show color buildup easier than brunette hair, so stick with a temporary color that isn’t too drastic. If you decide to use a chemical dye remover or dish soap on your hair, apply a deep conditioner after, to avoid having your hair feel rough and dry.

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