hair color tutorials Here’s What You Need to Know About Stripping Hair Color

Expert tips for when it’s time to get back to your roots 一 literally.

August 10, 2022
How To Get Back To Your Natural Hair Color

Coloring your hair is an exciting new change but it also means taking on a new routine to care for and maintain your newly colored strands. Immediately, you have to stock up on a system of hair care products formulated for color-treated hair and then there’s the fact that you may need toning and root touch-ups every few weeks. 

It can all become very overwhelming pretty quickly. At some point, you or your lifestyle might require that you simplify things and switch back to your natural hair color or, you may grow tired of your new hue. Of course, that raises the question of how to strip hair color so you can reclaim your natural shade. 

We turned to Jonathan Colombini, celebrity hairstylist and L’Oréal Paris Creative Director of Style and Color, for his expertise on stripping hair color and how to do it without damaging your hair. Take notes as we share how to strip hair color and get reacquainted with your natural hue once again.

How to Strip Hair Color 

We’ll be the first ones to say that stripping hair color isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve used a hair dye that’s meant to last (we’re looking at you boxed black hair dye). With temporary hair color, you can easily wash it out or wait for it to fade, but with permanent hair color, it’s not so simple. Here’s what you need to know about removing artificial color from hair.

How to Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Color 

If you colored your hair with semi-permanent hair color, like the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color, there are at-home hair color removers you can use but you might be better off just letting it fade on its own. Semi-permanent hair color typically only lasts for a few weeks and the Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color fades in four to ten shampoos. You’ll save yourself the hassle of trying to strip hair color, plus, you’ll avoid unnecessary damage to your strands.

A clarifying shampoo is a treatment used to cleanse the scalp and remove buildup from hair. It’s a little harsher than your average shampoo hence why it’s used as a treatment but it’s also a good option to help fade semi-permanent hair color. If you want to speed up the fading process, increase the usage of your clarifying shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo. This does not mean to use it every time you shampoo your hair, rather if you use clarifying shampoo every other week, opt for once a week and adjust accordingly.  

If you do choose to use a hair color remover, be sure to follow the instructions included with the product and keep in mind that your color may not completely return to its original hue immediately. You may be left with a slight tint and the best way to correct that is with a semi-permanent hair color that matches your intended shade. 

“I would recommend using semi-permanent [hair color] after color stripping,” says Colombini. “Most semi-permanent colors work on more of the acidic side which will benefit the hair's integrity after an aggressive process like stripping.”

How to Remove Permanent Hair Color 

When it comes to removing permanent hair color, while there are at-home hair color remover options, it carries a much greater risk. “[It’s] 100 percent better to do at the salon with a professional colorist,” Colombini advises.

Your best bet is to head to the salon so a professional colorist can strip your hair color with minimal damage. The color you're trying to strip really dictates the process so it’s important to have their expertise. “It really varies on the existing hair color and where the color result needs to be,” he says. “There are ammonia-free processes that work to remove loose pigment and there are also chemically driven products that get into the cortex of the hair removing the strongest pigments.”  

Stripping permanent hair color is a harsh and damaging process. If you’re worried about potential damage and hair breakage, ask your colorist to do a test strand. “When using a heavier chemical for removal, I would suggest doing a hair strand test on the nape of the hair to ensure hair integrity and prevent breakage,” Colombini continues. 

Ultimately, a professional colorist will be able to strip your hair color and adjust accordingly while preserving your strands and making sure you leave with an even color. If you dabble with permanent hair dye, it’s the safest bet.

 3 Additional Ways to Get Back to Your Natural Hair Color

If stripping your hair color isn’t the route you want to take, we’re sharing a few more ways to get back to your natural shade. 

1. Grow Out Your Hair 

It may seem obvious, but another way to get back to your natural hair color is by growing your hair out. It can be a useful and low-maintenance strategy if you do it right and it can save your hair from a lot of damage. Depending on the shade you’ve been coloring your hair, there may be a harsh line of demarcation between your new growth and the dyed portion of your hair. You can always use a wash-out hair color spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray or the L’Oréal Magic Root Cover Up, to cover and blend the demarcation line until your hair is grown out and you’re ready for a cut. 

2. Go Back to Your Natural Hue 

This is the easiest and quickest fix when it comes to returning to your natural hair color. You’ll essentially be faking it ‘til you make it and as the color grows out, it’ll be replaced by new growth that matches your dye job.  

If you aren’t making too major of a change, you may be able to cover up your color with an at-home hair color kit like the L’Oréal Paris Excellence Créme Permanent Triple Protection Hair Color. On the flip side, for more dramatic color changes, it’s a good idea to seek out a professional colorist who can manage your expectations. Depending on the change you’re making, you may need to lighten your hair with bleach and that could take multiple sessions, something a pro can definitely help you plan. 

3. Opt for a Short Hairstyle 

If you find yourself feeling impatient as you wait for your dye job to grow out, consider taking short hair for a spin to help speed up the process. The shorter your hair, the less growing out you’ll have to do. The good news is, there are plenty of gorgeous short hairstyles to choose from, ranging from chic buzz cuts to pixie styles.

Next: How to Add a Toning Shampoo to Your Hair Care Routine

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn