Whether you’re ready to embrace your gray locks to the fullest or are just looking to make a change to your current color, understanding how to remove hair color from gray strands will give you a better shot at achieving the look you long for. Using either natural, household ingredients or chemical solutions designed specifically for lifting color from the hair, you can witness results with just a little time, prep and know-how.
The Natural Way
First, start skipping use of color preserving shampoos as soon as possible to make color removal easier over time. A clarifying shampoo used regularly over a few weeks or months, depending on the texture and porosity of your strands, can lead to lifted color. Because achieving results through use of clarifying shampoo will require excessive washing over quite a bit of time, be sure to follow up with a conditioner to prevent breakage or dryness.
If you’ve been hiding your grays with semi-permanent or temporary hair dye, you might be able to restore your natural color with an everyday product found in most households: baking soda. The exfoliating properties of baking soda can strip some hair of color over time, especially when mixed into a paste with heavy cleansing agents or other abrasive items like dish soap, apple cider vinegar or Epsom salts, to name a few.
Using Chemical Products
To remove applied dark hue, you'll likely need to resort to something stronger than natural exfoliants to rid your strands of the product. Color removers, which are known to be safe and effective at removing unwanted color from the hair, are available in most drugstores and beauty supply retailers. Most varieties instruct that the easy-to-use formula be applied to the affected areas and removed after not longer than 20 to 25 minutes, taking care to rinse very well before conditioning and drying. Hair that has either undergone a single treatment or been dyed with a light color may be restored after one treatment, though some may require more than one round, which should be spaced out over the span of several days to avoid splitting or breakage.
While color remover is known for being safe to use on most hair types, the chemical reaction the hair will undergo during the process will open up the pores found on each strand, making it very susceptible to drying out. If you use a color remover, especially in multiple treatments, be sure to follow all directions, rinse thoroughly and follow up with a conditioner or moisturizing treatment to prevent unwanted damage or weakness.
Things to Keep in Mind
While removing hair color from gray hair is something that most can do from home, there may be some cases in which it’s better left in the hands of a pro, just to make sure it’s done right. Anyone who has used a variety of shades, even slight variations in at-home box dyes, may want to consider scheduling an appointment with a hair stylist to prevent possible breakage or other damage as a result of overprocessing. Those with long locks may want to do the same to ensure even pigmentation from root to tip.
Krissy Howard is a NY-based freelance writer who specializes in creating content regarding skin care, pet care, and original humor. Her work has been featured on Reader's Digest, Hello Giggles, Reductress, and The Hard Times.