As for gear you should have on hand? Gloves and Vaseline. Slip the gloves on and thinly coat your hairline and ears with the jelly, which will prevent staining. Next, “follow the manufacturer’s instructions diligently,” Johnson says. “Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to help reach areas that may be difficult [to get to] on your own to ensure the hair-color remover is applied as evenly as possible.”
When it’s time to rinse, rinse thoroughly. “If you don’t fully rinse a color remover, there’s the risk that the hair-color molecule you originally shrank will swell again and appear in your hair,” says Johnson. Keep in mind: “There is no such thing as over-rinsing the product.”
Finally, Johnson recommends following up with a “protein-based, deep conditioning treatment.” Ingredients she recommends looking for include jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, and rosemary oil “to instill moisture back into the hair.”
The risks of using hair-color remover
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: You should make adjustments to your hair color with the help of a hairstylist, but if you plan to do it at home, a word of caution…
- It can still cause breakage. “Because color removers contain chemicals that lift the hair cuticles, it can [still] be damaging,” says Koestline. “It’s important to follow the directions on the packaging and rinse the remover completely. Otherwise, it can weaken the hair shaft, leading to frizz, unruly hair, and even breakage.”
- It may not yield the results you’re after. One of the biggest risks of using a hair-color remover is that you may not see the exact results you’re looking for. Yes, it gets rid of your unwanted color, but that doesn’t mean it will leave you with a glossy brunette color with no grays (unless that’s what you started with). As Kevin Kelly, a hairstylist and founder of Kevin Kelly Salon in Keyport, New Jersey, puts it, hair-color remover leaves you with a “very unfinished canvas” since it’s just stripping your hair of artificial dye. Not a big deal if that’s what you expect, just know that it’ll probably need some color touch-ups.
- You might experience an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can happen with any and all beauty products. For that reason, Johnson recommends a patch test beforehand.
Expert-approved hair-color removers
The experts recommended for this article recommend professional hair color removers (no major surprise, given that’s what they know). However, there are consumer-friendly options available, several of which are available at your local beauty supply store.
Hair-color removers: the TL;DR
While the pros agree that visiting an experienced colorist is the safest and most reliable way to remove unwanted color from your strands, at-home hair-color remover can be used in a pinch. Just make sure to follow the directions on your product packaging very, very carefully.