How to Lighten Hair If Hairdresser Dyed It Too Dark? (2023)

With the burgeoning popularity of hair coloring and with so many people trying it hair dye mishaps are not so surprising. If your hairdresser dyed your hair, but it wound up being too dark for your liking, there are ways you can lighten up the hair.

Can I Lighten Dyed Hair That Is Too Dark?

Yes, you can lighten dyed hair that is too dark by washing the hair with a sulfate shampoo, using a color remover, or using a hair lightener.

However, manage your expectation, as you can only lighten up the hair a level or two unless you bleach it with lemon juice. If the dyed hair is too dark, lightening may not have a significant impact.

Other alternatives include waiting for the dye to fade over time, applying a lighter dye color, or cutting your hair and nurturing new growth.

4 Ways to Lighten Dyed Hair That Is Too Dark

#1. Color Remover

How to Lighten Hair If Hairdresser Dyed It Too Dark? (1)

Color remover is also known as hair dye remover, hair color stripper, or artificial hair color extractor. These may be your best option for removing dark colors from your hair.

They are most effective for removing artificial dyes but do not alter the structure of your hair. Therefore, they are less damaging to the hair than ammonia and sodium-peroxide-based toners.

However, you need to rinse your hair severally with warm water to wash out the color remover. This can strip the hair of essential oils, leaving it dry. As such, you need to deeply condition the hair after using a color remover to restore moisture, shine, and softness.

There are different types of color extractors. Some contain bleach, while others do not.

You can use a color extractor to remove an undesirable color to create a base for a new color. It can also remove the buildup of previous dyes, preparing your hair for recoloring. However, it does not work if you have dyed your hair with henna dye, semi-permanent dye, or permanent hair color.

It works by penetrating the hair shaft and breaking down color molecules deposited on the shaft by the dyes. The color molecules are broken down into small sizes and are easily washed out. Those that contain bleach also lighten the dark color.

The application process varies from one brand of the color extractor to the other. Generally, the color remover is applied to dry, unwashed hair. Ensure your hair is fully saturated with the mixture. Comb with a wide-toothed comb to ensure even distribution of the mixture, then wear a shower cap.

Some manufacturers recommend applying heat to the hair to accelerate the breakdown of color molecules. You may briefly sit under a hooded dryer or use a blow dryer to blow warm air into your hair.

Rinse the hair and then wash it with shampoo. Rinse several times to remove any residual broken-down color molecules and color remover. Apply conditioner, leave it on the hair for a few minutes, comb the hair to detangle it, and then rinse one more time. Dry the hair and style it as desired.

#2. Wash Your Hair With Sulfate Shampoo

Typically, hair dye sets in the first 72-96 hours. During this time, the hair fiber expels any excess color pigment. Therefore, you may notice that your hair becomes lighter after the first 3-4 days.

Washing your hair within this window period washes out the expelled color molecules making the dark dye lighter. The water can also interfere with the setting process helping the hair to shed most of the dark dye.

Sulfate shampoos are particularly discouraged in regard to proper hair care after dyeing. If your hair turns darker than you prefer after dyeing, washing it with a sulfate shampoo helps degrade the dye and lighten it.

Start by rinsing out any loose color molecules with hot water. Hot water opens the cuticles enabling more color to be stripped from the hair. Then, apply a generous amount of sulfate shampoo on the wet hair and massage the hair and the scalp. Once again, rinse with hot water.

Follow up the wash cycle with deep conditioning using a hair mask or hydrating conditioner. Sulfate shampoos dry up the hair, and deep conditioning restores the moisture to the deepest part of the hair fiber.

Consider washing your hair and using a hydrating mask at least once weekly to lighten the hair color further and keep the hair moisturized.

#3. Hair Lightener

How to Lighten Hair If Hairdresser Dyed It Too Dark? (2)

There is a wide range of hair lighteners that you can use to lighten dark-dyed hair. They include drug store hair lightener products as well as homemade hair lighteners.

Home Made Hair Lighteners

Below are some options for homemade hair lighteners to use on your dark-dyed hair.

Baking Soda

The high alkalinity level in baking powder opens up the hair cuticles enabling water or shampoo to enter the hair fibers and wash out the color molecules. Make a thick baking soda paste and apply a generous amount on wet hair.

Leave it on the hair for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Do not use cold water to wash the hair, as it will close the cuticles before the color molecules have been washed out.

If your dark dye has not lightened enough, make another batch of baking soda paste and repeat the cleaning cycle for another round. For better results, consider mixing up the baking soda with bleach.

Soap Cap With Bleach and Developer

A soap cap combines shampoo, bleach, and a developer such as a hydrogen peroxide. The mixture balances hair color and serves as a bleach bath to lighten the dye color. It removes most semi-permanent hair color dyes without damaging your hair. You can use it to lift dark hair colors before applying new colors.

Mix equal parts shampoo, bleach, and a developer. Apply the mixture to damp hair, cover it with a shower cap, and let it sit for 5-10minutes. Wear gloves when handling the mixture and start the application process from the roots to the ends. Then rinse and condition your hair. You can also make the soap cap without the developer.

Vitamin C or Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is highly acidic and strips the hair of dark dyes. You can use it on its own or mix it with baking soda. Then wet your hair and apply generously. Let it sit for about 45 minutes, then rinse. The hair should be 30-50% lighter. Lemon juice also contains high levels of Vitamin C, which benefits your hair health.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another hair lightener you can use at home is hydrogen peroxide. It is cheap and readily available at drug stores. Simply put it in a spray bottle and apply it to your hair.

Let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing it out. Note that although effective, hydrogen peroxide dries out hair. Therefore, follow up with a conditioner and apply oil to your hair.

#4. Apply a Lighter Dye

How to Lighten Hair If Hairdresser Dyed It Too Dark? (3)

Dye is harsh on the hair. Therefore, you do not want to reapply dye to the hair too soon. Wait for at least 6 weeks before dying your hair again with a lighter color. It is advisable to use a color remover about a week before to remove some of the colors and create a base for the new color.


If your hairdresser dyes your hair too dark, the best thing to do is to intervene immediately before it sets in completely. Wash it within the first 72 hours with hot water to wash out any loose color particles and dislodge some of the others before they set. Then, condition the hair to prevent damage to the strands.

You can also use a color remover or lightener to further lighten the hair. Ultimately, the color lightens and fades over time, becoming lighter. But, if the above methods do not work and you really do not like how your hair looks, the only other option is to cut it and wait for new growth.


How to Lighten Hair If Hairdresser Dyed It Too Dark? ›

Bleeding the color out is the optimal solution providing that you have the right product on hand. A regular or clarifying shampoo would be the best product in this situation, and ideally, you should keep washing it until enough dark dye has bled out of your hair that you're happy with the resulting hue.

What do I do if my hairdresser dyed my hair too dark? ›

Bleed the Color Out

One professional technique to lighten hair dyed too dark is to "bleed" the color out. This method is perfect if your hair has been dyed with semi-permanent dye. Wet your hair and apply a dandruff shampoo or a clarifying shampoo.

How do hairdressers lighten dark dyed hair? ›

The process of lightening and lifting hair colour is a chemical process, which can be executed in a few different techniques depending on the result you are striving for and the history of your hair. This can be for example highlights, balayage, all over bleach or a deep colour cleansing (colour removal).

Can you put lighter hair color over dark hair color? ›

To dye over a dark hair dye, you can choose a simple method, such as adding highlights or color sprays to your hair. You can also lift the color using special shampoos or color removers — this method will work for lightening your hair color just a few shades.

How do you fix a bad dye job? ›

Clarifying shampoo will be your best friend. Use it on any areas that are darker, or you aren't necessarily happy with by scrubbing it into your hair to reduce the pigment load and lessen the appearance of an uneven color application.

Can you lighten salon dyed hair? ›

To achieve a lighter shade on previously-colored hair, we recommend you do one of two options. The first option is to use a strong lifter—treatments that have a volume of ingredients like ammonia, peroxide, bleach, or alternative chemicals that clear the hair molecules of color.

Will Dawn dish soap lighten dyed hair? ›

Licensed cosmetologist Laura Dale says, “Dawn dish soap has a high pH level so it opens the hair cuticle, allowing color molecules to be washed away and can, therefore, be used to remove or lighten hair color on your hair.

Can a hairdresser lighten dark hair without bleach? ›

Box or professional color can lighten your hair 1-2 levels without the need for bleach. This is because you often use a developer along with these colors, which can lighten your hair even without the interaction with bleach. Keep in mind that color matters even when using box dye or professional color, however.

How long does it take to lighten hair in the hairdressers? ›

How long do you need to leave bleach on hair to color it?
Hair color and textureHow long to leave on
blonde hair15 to 20 minutes
dark hair30 minutes; it's recommended you split the process into several sessions
fine hair10 to 15 minutes; this type of hair will process faster since it has a thinner cuticle layer
1 more row
Sep 21, 2020

Is there a shampoo that lightens hair? ›

The Go Blonder hair-lightening shampoo and hair-lightening conditioner, when used together as directed, do change the colour of your hair.

Will apple cider vinegar lighten dyed hair? ›

Being only slightly acidic, it isn't effective in removing the dye. But since apple cider vinegar won't strip your salon color and is safe for color-treated/dyed hair, it should be used for other benefits, such as reducing fading, locking in moisture, eliminating build-up and excessive grime, and enhancing hair shine.

What fades dark hair dye? ›

“A gloss or demi-permanent [color] that has gone too dark can usually be lightened a little with a clarifying shampoo, or by mixing baking soda with shampoo or conditioner,” Dickson says.

What if I don't like my hair color from the salon? ›

Tell Your Colorist ASAP

You don't want to play the waiting game if you're not thrilled with your color. “Let your stylist know as soon as possible, ideally before you leave their chair,” says Shelley, noting that your stylist wouldn't want you going out in the world with hair you don't like.

How soon can you fix a bad dye job? ›

It may be hard to hear, but you should put down that box dye because re-dyeing your hair too soon can actually make the problem worse. In most situations, you're going to need to wait two weeks before you can book an appointment to re-dye your hair.

How can I lift my hair color at home? ›

Here are seven ways to quickly and easily remove hair color.
  1. Use a clarifying shampoo. If you need to remove hair dye fast, reach for a clarifying or anti-dandruff shampoo. ...
  2. Make a paste with baking soda. ...
  3. Vinegar rinse. ...
  4. Lemon juice rinse. ...
  5. Hydrogen peroxide. ...
  6. Vitamin C tablets. ...
  7. Professional help.
Oct 27, 2022

How long does it take for dyed dark hair to fade? ›

Permanent black hair dye also lasts around 6 to 8 weeks before fading. Permanent hair dyes works similarly to demi-permanent dye, except for the presence of an alkalizing agent. The alkalizing agent opens the cuticle and swells the cortex, leaving the hair's natural pigment vulnerable to the peroxide.

Can you undo dark hair dye? ›

Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo.

Wash your hair like you normally would, scrubbing the shampoo into your locks and then rinsing with hot water. Clarifying shampoo probably won't pull out all your color, but it will help fade it a little bit. Hot water helps open up your hair follicles and strip out more dye.

Can you strip dark hair dye? ›

If your color turned out to be too dark or bright, you can try and fade it a bit with the help of your regular/anti-dandruff shampoo or even soap. Choose a product that is higher in sulfates and wash out the hair color with hot water.

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