At-home hair colour used to be a scary DIY recipe for disaster. The colours not turning out like they promised on the box; the damaging effects the low-quality formulas had on your hair; the tricky application method; and the risk of redness and severe stinging whenever the harsh chemicals came in contact with your skin. Thank goodness that era is over. Now, home hair colours actually deliver results that rival that of a professional salon job. It’s easier to apply, the colours are spot on (and varied), and sometimes your hair is left in even better condition than when you started thanks to the nourishing and gentle formulas that are readily available.
But it’s not all fun and games. There’s still the risk of staining your skin, especially for those using a DIY hair colour for the first few times.
The good news is there is no shortage of homemade remedies or DIY hacks floating around the Internet on how to get hair dye off skin. But since not all of them are great advice (please, don’t put nail polish on your skin), we’ve rounded up our favourite (safe) tips to ditch the dye stains, stat.
Use a stain-removing product
Yep, there are actual products for this very issue - see, you’re not the first person to ever wonder how to remove hair dye from your face! Two to try are 1000 Hour Hair Colour Stain Remover and Colortrak Wipe Off Hair Colour Remover. The 1000 Hour Stain Remover has a gentle formula that works fast to remove hair dye from the forehead, hairline and scalp. The Colortrak wipes are so easy to use and have an aloe-enriched formula that won’t irritate sensitive skin.
In many instances, a simple swipe with a makeup remover will do the trick. Where possible, do this before the stain sets. You can just use your regular makeup remover (such as Bioré Baking Soda Cleansing Micellar Water), or you could try this Redditor’s product pick: “Typically when I dye my hair, I’ll use Clearasil Acne Pads to remove dye from skin while I’m waiting the 20 min before rinsing. Makeup removing wipe works well too. The trick is to not let it sit,” shared Redditor SuperSailorSaturn on a Reddit thread.
Well, you can add another nifty use to the list for this pantry staple. Just dab a little olive oil onto the stained area. It works to break down the colour and is extra gentle, as well as nourishing, on skin. Leave the oil to sit for up to an hour for really stubborn stains.
Ok, bear with us because this sounds far-fetched, but as one Redditor will attest, this genius hack actually works. “As a hairstylist using professional colors, we use color to remove color from the skin. Sounds crazy right? Take a paper towel, dab a little bit of the wet color from the bowl, rub on the skin and then wash it off. Comes right off,” shared LasciviousLlama. Another Redditor had this analogy of how the process works, which actually makes SO much sense: “Like dry erase markers. If you have a whiteboard with old dried marks on it, take a working marker and scribble over the dried stuff and it will come right off with a normal eraser. I assume it's the same principle.” From our understanding, applying hair dye over the stained dye reactivates the colour to essentially unset it, so it’s able to be easily wiped away.
After experiencing a red hair dye disaster, Redditor LifeProTips found that applying “non gel toothpaste to a toothbrush, slightly wetting it with warm water, then gently applying it to the skin works wonders!” The reason this works is because the mildly abrasive toothpaste formula helps with scrubbing away the leftover dye, and if you pick a formula with baking soda in it (try Red Seal Baking Soda Toothpaste), it works to fade the stain (we all know what a multitasking clean machine baking soda is).
Dab a cotton pad with vinegar and rub it onto the stain. The naturally exfoliating properties of vinegar will help scrub away the stain.
How to remove hair dye from scalp but not hair
It may sound like mission impossible, but all you have to do is use one of the above methods on how to remove hair dye from skin around the hairline or face (although if using vinegar, dilute it with water first). None of these previous steps will fade hair dye from your actual hair, only your skin. Our tip: Start by washing your hair (once your hair dye has processed) to see if the colour on your scalp simply washes off in the shower. Try an exfoliating scalp treatment like Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub to help things along.
How to prevent hair dye from staining skin
Since it’s always better to prevent a problem than find a solution, before you go to dye your hair, make sure you put on those gloves provided - yes, they don’t look cool but you know what’s worse? Stained hands! - and apply a petroleum jelly like Vaseline around your hairline (including under your hair at your neckline) to stop colour from staining the area.
GOOD TO KNOW: If you need to know how to get dye out of hair for those times when the colour doesn’t turn out how you wanted or you’ve had a change of heart, washing it more regularly - especially with a clarifying shampoo, which provides a deeper clean - can help speed up the process. You can also try L’Oréal Paris Colorista Fader Shampoo, which is specifically formulated to fade semi-permanent hair colours faster.
Need some advice on nailing your hair colour application? Follow these DIY hair colour commandments.
Have you ever gotten hair dye on your skin? What did you do to remove it?
Main image credit: @shaymitchell
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.