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Using Vitamin C to Remove Hair Dye – The Ultimate Guide

Sporting a new hair color is a load of fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s a subdued brown or all colors of the rainbow- new hair color is always a pleasant change that makes you look and feel fresh and new. Or… is it?

What if you end up hating your new hair color? Maybe the coloring process went wrong somewhere along the way, and you ended up with brassy hair instead of platinum blonde. Maybe the vivid blue has already faded into a dull green. Or maybe you just changed your mind about that bright, vampire red.

The question is, what now?

Sure, there are lots of hair removal treatments available on the market, but even the best ones risk damaging your already fragile hair further. Don’t you worry. There’s a safe and effective way to remove hair dye while also pampering your strands and invigorating it with some much-needed nourishment.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use vitamin C to remove hair dye.

Can you remove hair dye without using bleach?

Yes! While bleach can definitely strip off hair color, natural or dyed, there are plenty of other ways that are just as effective in removing permanent, semi-permanent, temporary, and henna dyes, all without damaging or frying your hair.

Among these natural remedies, vitamin C is at the top of the list, and here’s why:

How vitamin C works in removing hair color


To understand how vitamin C works in removing hair dye, you must first understand the hair coloring process. Now, most hair dyes work through an oxidative dyeing process, where the dye penetrates the hair shaft, then transforms into bigger molecular structures. These molecules then find their place in between the hair cuticles in order to lock in your new hair color.

This all means that those molecules are extremely difficult to remove, and this is where vitamin C comes in. Since it’s an acid, vitamin C has the scouring strength needed to power through to where the dye molecules are in order to loosen their hold on your cuticles.

The main component of vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid, interacts with these molecules and breaks all the chemical bonds enabling the dye to stick to your hair shaft. Then, the citric acid in the vitamin C helps break down the dye molecules so they are easier to wash out.

Simply put, vitamin C is an effective remedy in removing any type of new or old hair dye without damaging your hair or harming your natural hair color’s vitality.

Added benefits of vitamin C

Aside from being able to remove hair color, vitamin C also offers a lot of benefits for your hair.

For one thing, vitamin C helps the regeneration of a certain protein called collagen, which is important in supporting the shape, structure, and flexibility of your hair strands. This is what makes your hair strong and healthy. Furthermore, vitamin C also enhances your iron absorption abilities so you can grow stronger hair that’s easier to style without risking breakage.

How to use vitamin C to remove hair dye

How to use vitamin C to remove hair dyeIf you want to use vitamin C to remove hair dye, just grab some vitamin C tablets in your medicine cabinet, along with a few other things, and you can get started immediately.

Do make sure that the vitamin C is ascorbic acid-based; otherwise, it’s best to buy ascorbic acid powder from your local pharmacy. This will also let you enjoy better quality results, plus it’s easier to work with. How many milligrams of vitamin C isn’t really important, as long as it’s primarily ascorbic acid.

What you need:

  • ¼ to ½ cup ascorbic acid powder, or 15 to 25 tablets of vitamin C
  • ¼ to ½ cup shampoo (for best results, use clarifying shampoo)
  • 1 tablespoon conditioner (optional for added hydration)
  • Plastic mixing bowl (use a disposable one to avoid cross-contamination)
  • Plastic shower cap

Follow these steps:

  1. Measure the ascorbic acid powder and pour the recommended amount into your plastic mixing bowl. For example, if you have short hair, ¼ cup should be enough, but for longer hair, you will need more powder. If you are using vitamin C tablets, crush them into a fine powder by putting the tablets in a ziplock bag and pounding with a hammer or rolling pin.
  2. Add the shampoo (and conditioner, if you want) to the bowl and mix the ingredients until it creates a thick and creamy texture with a paste-like consistency. If it’s too watery, add a small amount of vitamin C and mix well until you get the desired consistency.
  3. Apply the mixture to dry hair, making sure that all your strands are saturated with the vitamin C mask. Do this by massaging the mixture throughout your hair in order to maximize its potency. Then, cover your hair with the shower cap and let sit for an hour.
  4. Wash and rinse your hair thoroughly with warm or hot water for at least 5 minutes to get rid of all the dye molecules and prevent them from reattaching to your hair cuticles. You want to make sure that your hair won’t return to that unwanted hair color.
  5. Condition and dry as usual. Your hair will likely feel too dry, in which case you may use a deep conditioning treatment to bring back your hair’s softness and luster.

Other methods to remove hair dye

Looking for other solutions to remove that awful hair color on your hair? Here are a few more solutions you can try:

Anti-dandruff shampoo

An anti-dandruff shampoo is one of the many ways you can use to strip off the hair dye on your hair, if you are willing to wait for some time to get the results you want, since it will take a few shampoos to fully remove all the dye molecules.

It’s not too damaging on the hair, but like most other color removal treatments, it will make your hair dry so you need to use a deep conditioning treatment in between shampoos, and leave the treatment on your hair for a few hours to really restore your hair’s health.

Dish soap

Surprisingly enough, you can also use dish soap to fade out your dyed hair, and it makes sense since dish soap breaks down oil and similar molecular structures like that of hair dye. Like anti-dandruff shampoo, you will need to undergo several washes to get the results you want, especially if your hair is long and thick.

You can also add baking soda to increase the dish soap’ effects. Unfortunately, both dish soap and baking soda are also drying on the hair, even more so than shampoo, so you will definitely need the most potent deep conditioner to restore your hair’s moisture and lushness.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice

Since lemon juice is a great source of vitamin C, it goes to say that you can also use it to remove hair dye, right? Technically, this is true, and it might work if you use lots of lemon juice and your hair dye isn’t particularly drastic (such as going from blonde to black).

However, the vitamin C in lemon juice is not as concentrated as in a tablet or powder, so it won’t be as effective, and will require lots of effort, and perhaps multiple tries to get the results you want.

Color strippers

If you want the quickest and most effective solution, you can buy a color stripper to remove permanent hair color. This will also remove semi-permanent and temporary hair dyes, but since it’s a damaging chemical process unless your hair color is permanent, it’s better to wait for the dye to fade on its own or use other removal alternatives.

Moreover, a color stripper will make your hair look newly bleached, not to mention it also smells like rotten eggs.

Bleach baths

If (and only if) you’ve tried all the other solutions listed above, and there’s still a lot of stubborn dye that just won’t wash off, you can attempt using a bleach bath. This is done by mixing bleach powder with either developer or shampoo (or both), applying it on the hair, and leaving it on for a few minutes before washing with water and more shampoo.

It works like magic, and will get rid of your hair color ASAP, but it’s the most damaging treatment you could ever apply on your hair, so you need to be sure if you want to go this route, and if you choose to proceed, be very careful with the process.

Final thoughts

Using vitamin C to remove hair dye is one of the easiest and safest ways you can bring back your hair’s natural color. It will even leave your hair energized and enriched, albeit a little dry.

Keep in mind that when using any hair product, its effects greatly vary depending on your hair type, condition, thickness, length, color, and various other factors. You may also have to do more than one treatment to achieve your desired results. If you do this, make sure to let your hair rest and breathe at least one day in between treatments.

And, don’t forget to deeply condition your hair afterward!

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