Dye planning

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Fading Your Colour

Published on 21st March 2006

Are you getting sick of your current colour and want to try something new? We’ve collected some tips for fading semi-permanent dyes like Special Effects and Directions.


If you’re trying to fade your colour the first place to start is with your shampoo. Use a clarifying shampoo (usually the ones that come out of the bottle clear) to strip back any hair product that might be sitting on your hair preventing the colour from washing out. Toni & Guy make a good build up remover. Once that’s done condition as normal. Try to wash your hair every day if your scalp is ok with that. If you have time, allow the shampoo to sit on your hair for a couple of minutes before rinsing to help the dye seep out. This is going to make your hair squeaky clean (literally) so have a nice conditioner on hand to make your hair a bit more manageable. You should notice a significant difference in colour in about a week.

You may also find that putting the shampoo on before you wet your hair can really help draw the colour out.


One of the best ways of fading your colour is to spend some time in sunlight. Sunlight really lightens vegetable based dyes and you may find it will lift a colour several shades in one day. Blues and violets seem especially susceptible and that’s why sun protection gels and sprays are really useful if you want to keep your hair looking fresh.
Needless to say be careful in the sun, don’t go getting burnt or heat stroke or dehydration. If the sun is strong don’t try this because you really should be wearing a hat. Also remember to look after your scalp and do not let it get burnt. Don’t stay out in the sun for long periods of time.

Bicarbonate of Soda

A small amount of baking soda in water may help to open up your hair in preparation for washing it. Sodium Bicarbonate is alkaline which helps to open up the hair cuticle. If the cuticle is open the dye will be more easily washed out. You only need a teaspoonful of this in a couple of pints of warm water. Mix until the soda is dissolved and pour over the hair avoiding your eyes. Work into the hair gently (don’t scrub as bicarb is abrasive) for a couple of minutes and rinse. Follow with shampoo and conditioner.


Many people find swimming fades their hair colour. A couple of times a week should be enough to make a significant difference. Avoid swimming if you’ve just dyed your hair and wait a few shampoos after bleaching before going near the pool.

Bleach & Shampoo

Ever noticed how when you bleach your roots the run-off fades the rest of your colour? This method uses bleach diluted with shampoo. Simply mix up a small batch of your usual bleach and developer and add the same amount again with shampoo. Wearing gloves apply to the hair keeping away from your face. Work the mixture into your hair and leave for 5 minutes or so before rinsing, shampooing and conditioning. Be careful as this may damage your hair and is technically a light bleaching. Also be aware that some hair colours go strange colours when you do this, for example dark blues can go pink and some purples may go green. If you have any problems using bleach don’t try this method.

Colour Removers

There are many of these on the market in professional hair care shops. The problem is that most of them are for permanent or semi-permanent chemical based dyes and not for the direct dyes often used for unnatural colours so their effectiveness is limited. With these it’s really a matter of trial and error as so far we haven’t found one that consistently works well on unnatural colours. If you find one that works please let us know!

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  • Always do a sensitivity test before using a new product
  • Keep shampoo, bleach, bicarb etc. away from your eyes
  • Be careful in the sun.