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If you want lighter hair but it’s already dyed a dark colour, please don’t try to strip out the dye with bleach first. It isn’t necessary and won’t work properly anyway. Remove the dye out of your hair by following this tutorial, and then proceed with lightening/bleaching if necessary.
This article is not intended to give instruction on how to fade or remove the semi-permanent/vegetable-based dyes like Manic Panic, Special Effects, etc. There are other tutorials for that. While using a colour corrector MAY fade your non-developer/peroxide based dyes some, this is different chemistry at work. This guide is specifically for removing permanent or semi-permanent hair dye that gave you a darker colour than your previous colour by using developer/peroxide. This process will not lighten your hair beyond the lightest you ever had your hair.
I have used this technique for removing very dark/black dye from my hair which is naturally dark brown. Prior to putting the black dye in, my hair had been lightened a couple levels above my natural dark brown to a reddish brown colour or even lighter colour. (So from the dyed level 1 to about a level 8 – have not tried it with higher levels.) This method will help you return to the lightest colour that it was before going dark. If you have untreated regrowth, it will do nothing to the regrowth.
The results may vary depending on your starting colour prior to the permanent colour application, your natural hair colour, whether you have bleached or not, and what colour and type of dye you have in your hair, and what volume of peroxide you used when you coloured it. The better quality of hair dye you used, the easier it will come out – which is why I will not use box hair colour. Cheaper colours and darker colours may need multiple applications, as they “gum up” your hair more intensely than professional quality. Even products bought at beauty supply stores will not remove as well as true professional colour.
The colour corrector that I have experience with and recommend is called Vanish. You will have to do a search online to buy it. It is a product for professionals only and is not sold in beauty supply stores. You will also need 10 volume developer. There are other colour correctors sold at beauty supply stores as well, but they may not do the job as well as Vanish – especially if you are removing black.
It would be a rare thing that one application is enough to remove the hair dye, particularly if there was a big colour change or if you used black. Black is very stubborn, which is why many professionals really advise against it. Your hair might have appeared lighter, and then went dark again after applying the 10 volume. Don’t be fooled that it will stay that colour and skip the 10 volume step – it will go back to the old colour next time you try to dye it or lighten it with bleach. The molecules are still hidden in there, and you will be shocked to see them reappear when you are trying to bleach your hair. For black hair, I have had to do 3 applications before my hair did not turn dark again. Don’t give up it WILL work. It is an expensive process.
Vanish costs between $15-$30 depending on the source you find. Do a search online for “Vanish Colour Corrector.” But the cost is worth it to avoid damage to your hair.
Vanish smells like the old permanent solutions, very bad. You will want to wash all of the towels and clothes you were wearing during the procedure or the smell will stick around your bathroom!