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How to Remove Dye with a Vitamin C Treatment.

11 February 2011

So, you’ve dyed your hair and its come out too dark? Or you’re bored of pink and fancy going lilac?
This should be your first step before soap caps or bleaching!
You’ll need:

  • A few vitamin C tablets. (around 500mg is a good start, but as different brands put different amounts in each tablet you might have to work it out.) Because I do this quite a lot, I use vitamin c powder, which is available in Holland and Barrat’s for around £6.
  • A good shampoo, preferably one which leaves your hair nice and soft.
  • Something to crush up your tablets- a teaspoon works well.
  • Something to mix up your concoction in.

I use a tint bowl, but an old yoghurt pot will do the trick.
  • A shower cap or some cling-film.

This is a really easy process:
First mash up your vitamin C tablets into a powder using the bottom of your tea spoon. Its best if you do this inside your mixing bowl.
Next, add a good squirt of shampoo. I generally use more than usual so I can really lather up my hair nicely. Mix the two and make sure there’s no lumpy bits!
Apply to wet hair, just like ordinary shampoo. Take 5 minutes or so to really work it through your hair. Massage it into your lengths as well as your scalp and make sure you’ve got it all nice and bubbly.
Next, pop a shower cap on your head, or wrap up your hair in cling-film, or use an old plastic bag. This is important! Your hair will more than likely drip down onto your shoulders, and dye can stain clothes. You might want to put an old towel on your shoulders just in case.
Leave the mixture on your hair for around 45 minutes, then rinse and apply a good conditioner.

As I said, I do this a fair bit, if I want to change colours or if I want to lighten a shade. I found this method on the internet; I’m not a professional hair dresser so I’m not entirely sure how this works. It does its job well though and doesn’t damage your hair like bleach can.
This will work for both permanent dyes and semi-permanent vegetable based dyes. It may dry your hair out a little bit so make sure you condition afterwards.
This won’t lighten natural hair, but will help remove or lighten hair dye.
The results depend on the condition of your hair, the dye used, and how much vitamin c you use. It will vary for different people and different colours and hair types.


  • Hey, thanks! This is one I hadn't heard of before. I wonder if you could strengthen the lightening action by using a dandruff shampoo with it? I'll give that a shot next time I switch colors. Report Comment
  • Yeah, dandruff shampoo works really well with this! It tends to leave my hair feeling a bit dry compared to regular shampoo though. Report Comment
  • @Farrow- Unless you're immediately using dye over your lightened hair, maybe a hot oil treatment could help. Report Comment
  • Thanks for sharing this article! I tried it and it works fine! Report Comment
  • Didn't work out very well on my turqouise dyr :/ I guess it's just a hard color to get rid of, since I've bleached it two times before this treatment. Report Comment
  • this also gets rid of a green tint in blonde hair..i just bleached my hair today and some streaks turned green *arghghghh*! i put some ascorbic acid in a bowl with carbonated water and soaked my hair in it for about 15 minutes. Report Comment
  • This might sound stupid but could you use the effervescent vit C tablets? Just not use the usual amount of water you would add to drink it of course :) Report Comment
  • GASP! I must try this! Thank you so much! Report Comment
  • Ö...That sounds awesome, I've got to try it! -Thanx for posting :'3. Report Comment
  • can i use this technique to remove black permanent color? Report Comment
  • and,does nyone knows wether this treatment really NOT destroying the hair's structure? Report Comment
  • @BrauneLaune Vitamin C is considered an anti-oxidant for the body, which is very good for hair and skin health. It helps prevent hair loss and give hair that healthy and shiny look. There should be no damage done by it being applied directly to hair! Report Comment
  • This worked AMAZING on my manic panic after midnight blue amplified, that has been evil to get rid of (annoyingly only on the lengths of my hair, top was a delightful seaweed green) with just two i have shifted loads of colour, i cant believe i havent heard of this before! i used it with washing up liquid for ultimate fade and left it on for about 2 hours. Thanks for posting! Report Comment
  • I tried this a couple of days ago (whenever it was!) to help get rid of some artificial black dye in my hair, and I was really disappointed in the results. Although, since being out in the sun, just driving, nothing more than usual, it's really lightened it to a brown a lot, I don't know what that reaction is but it's taking a little while. Not all that bad so far. Report Comment
  • I used this on Shocking Blue Manic Panic hair that had previoulsy been dyed with Directions Atlantic Blue. Faded both blues to a nice Green-ish Yellow. :/ But did work to fade a HUGE amount of the Blue. I had added the Shocking Blue the day before doing the Vitamin C Treatment. I used 15 Vitamin C Chewables and Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo. Report Comment
  • awesome! i have been annoying myself for weeks tryin to lighten my dark purple, it just wont fade! thanks so much will try this tomoz :) Report Comment
  • Yeah i had a little accident and got ripped of by a color from schwartz kopf that was called mysric violet that i put on top of manic panic ultra violet and purple haze and it came outa very dark brown-red. So i will try this method so i don't have to bleach so much. Report Comment
  • Just gave this a try with 1200mg of vitamin C. It was weird, it turned the shampoo into a gel! The results were pretty good though. I'll have to repeat this over the next few weeks and see how much dye I can get out but it's definitely done the equivalent of about 10 days shampooing. It seems to have a chelating effect. I wonder if it would work for hair turned green by chlorine. Report Comment
  • i just did it again & my hair is dry now. i noticed i strips silicone buildup too , so if you have problems with that ( from conditione rand other products for helathy hair) this is just perfect :) too Report Comment
  • I LOVE this method! Thanks Farrow! in less than a week I was able to go from freshly died usually stubborn pink to green. I personally didn't notice any dryness until my fourth treatment (over the span of 2 days), but that was also when I added baking soda to the mix . However after a hot oil treatment my hair was back to normal. I did another treatment after that and it didn't dry out at all. Report Comment
  • I'm trying this method right now! I was just wondering how many vitamin c tablets do I need to crush?? Report Comment
  • I crushed up 3 500mg tablets and mixed it into my shampoo. I let it sit in my hair, thoroughly saturated and bubbly, and put a shower cap over my head. I waited about an hour, rinsed and looked in the mirror. Nothing looked any different. I was trying to further fade some punky colour turquoise, pink and purple that was already almost a month old. Time to go for the bleach I suppose! Report Comment
  • I tried this to wash out 3/4 week old Manic Panic and Raw Color, which had originally been applied to freshly bleached hair. Started with 3 500mg tablets in Fructis shampoo/conditioner, let it sit for an hour. Didn't do much. Tried again with Prell shampoo and twice as much Vitamin C. This lifted the turquoise Manic Panic out beautifully but the Ultraviolet MP and the orange and red Raw Colors were pretty stubborn. Very little change there. Eventually I gave up and dyed my entire head Raw Color Flamingo Pink, which is really more of a red. I'm actually still waiting for the dye to set now. I figure the bits where the blue didn't come out will look purpley, and that's OK. Report Comment
  • I heard lemone juic or acidity things work well too. Do you think possibly adding that or hydrogen peroxide would help it more? Report Comment
  • as a cosmetology student I can tell you this is alot less damaging than bleach but I can also a good clarifying shampoo like Paul Mitchel shampoo three will have the same effect. It is like said above extremely drying however so extra conditioning is a must to retain proper ph balance of hair! Report Comment
  • I've got one sitting on my head right now! I used a treatment yesterday and it lifted about three shades of MP's Hot Hot Pink out of my hair. Now I even have blondish bits in places! I've used these for a while and think that they work great! I found out about them on this site, by the way :) Report Comment
  • Worked FIRST SHHOT for me. Got all the black out and the red under is still lookin good, but the red won't budge!!! Been red away too long. And my hairs softer then ever!! Used Aussie 3 min miracle after Report Comment
  • But I used like 10 capsules. And soaked for about 40 mins. Report Comment
  • This really works! My try with Crazy Color Cyclamen turned out to be way too dark, but with just 2 times doing this it lightened up a little, thanks :)! Report Comment
  • Thank you! I've been looking for a way to get the blur ouy of my hair before i go auburn for a wedding i'm in:) Report Comment
  • Wow, I might've gone a little crazy with this, but it does work. I finely crushed around 30 1000mg tablets and used it to fade my permanent brown color, which came out black. It lightened my ends to blonde (as they were previously bleached) and the rest was no longer black. My sister used it to get rid of freshly dyed red hair, but she used a purple shampoo with the vitamin c and it actually deposited color while removing it the red. It gave her instantaneous pastel hair. Report Comment
  • Interesting. Purple shampoo with Vitamin C would tone it at the same time. Especially if it's bleached under the color. I might try this today on my faded Pink hair. Report Comment
  • Do chewable tablets work for this, too? I feel like they wouldn't, but it would save me $6 on them... Report Comment
  • I will definitely try this out. I have some dark bits left at the back of my hair and they are driving me crazy! Just one more question though - If you're using the vit C powder, how much of it should be added to shampoo? Report Comment
  • yeah, would be interested in how much powder to use, too :) Report Comment
  • It did absolutely nothing to my hair. I guess red pigment is the hardest one to get rid off ;/ Report Comment
  • This worked wonderfully on my blue hair. I used it once and let it sit on my hair for only 5 minutes and it lightened it right up! Turned to a lighter turquoise like I wanted which made re-dying much easier. Thank you so much :) Report Comment
  • I tried this twice last night using 3000mg of vitamin C and 100ml of head and shoulders shampoo and it had absolutely no effect on my hair! I have Directions apple green and neon blue in my hair which has faded to a torqouisish colour. Ive had this colour for around 6/7 weeks and it is showing no signs of washing out. I'm currently redoing this treatment with 5000mg of vitamin c and 100ml of treseme in hopes that it will lift. Report Comment
  • I used 8 tablets (4000mg total) with Johnson's baby shampoo for about an hour. It definitely lifted a bit of it of my blue dye. Although I had a layering of 3 different blues ( ion aqua/sky blue & Splatt blue envy) that had faded over about 7 weeks. This vitamin c solution faded the light blue/green to more of a consistent turquoise, which I will go over again with special effects midnight blue tomorrow. I'm hoping this will even my ombré the way I'd like and give more blue than green. Overall it worked as suspected. I will definitely keep doing this! Report Comment
  • I did this yesterday, and a lot of colour came out! I have Directions Fire on my entire head with Directions Poppy Red underneath (I've had red for 7 months so I'm kinda tired of it and decided to remove it to go purple) I used about 2.5 gr of powder and a big squirt of Head and Shoulders, while I was applying this to my hair, the foam on my hands was pink! I washed it out after 20 minutes, and when my hair dried it was not exactly bright anymore, it worked! I'm doing it again today with some other ingredients, hopefully I will get out even more dye. (I have a lot of build-up) Report Comment
  • Ok so this was great. I fried my hair last year going platinum. As a result I trimmed it a lot and washed it very little with gentle stuff and no sulphites and it has slowly come back to life again. Lots of coconut oil treatments too. So then I finally decided to try a much dreamed of copper penny colour. It was gorgeous. But after a few months the colour was holding to tightly to the still damaged mid lengths and ends. It made it so dark that it looked black in some lights. I realised even leaving colour in the ends for as little as 5 minutes was too much. So anyway, long story short I needed to avoid bleaching. Read everything here and gave it a shot. I used 10 chewable 500mg vit C tablets. Crushed them to in a bag, added about 3 table spoons of bicarb soda, shook the bag then added about 2 table spoons of selsun gold anti dandruff shampoo and 1 table spoon of peroxide 5%. Mixee Mixee . Popped it all in towel dried hair and mashed it all around for about 5 min and popped a shower cap on it all. Left it in. Had a coffee. Made a paper aeroplane. Ate an apple. Read a chapter of my book. Tempe Brennan has so far identified the remains found in the basement of the house fire. It was an old woman that could have been a trying to pass herself off as a man and behaving like a drug mule or possibly a cult leader. Then I washed it all out under pretty hot water. Colour ran. I put in my usual conditioner. Organics colour protect. The result. Gorgeous. All the colour buildup is gone. It's glossy. And a lovely light copper penny. Yay. Report Comment
  • I've done this in the past with some success on warmer colors, going to try it tonight on my stubborn Punky green/teal mess. Previously I've had this method lift warm brown permanent dye 1-2 shades, we'll see how it does on the cooler semis! Report Comment
  • Gave it a shot last night, used 1500 mg vitamin C (3 tablets) crushed into about 1/4 cup of half shampoo, half dish soap. Lathered, worked into my blue & green mess for about 5 minutes, then let sit about half an hour. It lifted my blue about 1-2 shades, the green about 1. I followed with a leave-in conditioner and my hair feels amazing today! Going to alternate doing this with conditioning treatments until I'm light enough to go purple (: Report Comment
  • I tried this method starting with faded deep turquoise from directions midnight blue (really dark shade). I had done a bleach wash and a bleaching prior to that, but still had tons of deep green and blue strands that didn't wanted to lighten. Instead of vitamin C, I used fruit salts (citric acid and baking soda being its main ingredients) mixed with anti dandruff. Worked as a marvel, lifted almost two tones (even better than bleach wash) and after two times left my hair pale blonde with just a bit of turquoise and green (looks like chorine effect, you can't tell it was blue dye at all) ready to go pink already. My scalp is a bit dry cause of the anti dendruff, but my hair feels ok after contitioning. Whatever mix you're using, I find out this work best if you comb out excess foam and dye during the process, specially in those rebel strands. Work it through you hair, let it sit for 10 mins and comb out the shampoo untill the foam comes out not-so stained, then cover it up again and comb after another 10 mins (the foam will be very stained again!). I soaked the comb in water a bit to keep the effervescence going. Doing this I was able to even the parts that had most color left in them, and lifted a bit more color than the first time n___n Report Comment
  • Oh maghrd this helped so much had to do emergency treatment. Thnks giving tommorow. Report Comment
  • I'm impressed with the results, i was very skeptical about it, but it worked on my red hair.... I still need to remove more, how often do u guys think i can do it? Report Comment
  • Definitely going to do this later. Trying to fade Directions Pillarbox Red to something more like Directions Fire. Thanks for the post! Will report back on progress. Report Comment
  • I've used this treatment for the first time, and after having a disaster with directions plum going multi tonal and green, and fading horribly green and having a massive purple section at the back of my head and the rest green and blue/ it worked amazingly! It completely stripped to purple section and now my hair is all the same colour which is like a baby blue/ mermaid colour with like a green tip ombre. I love it! Definitely needed to use the Aussie Miracle Reconstruction 3 Minute Treatment for like an hour after though. Report Comment
  • works like a dream and doesn't ruin your hair the way bleach does. Report Comment
  • I am really shocked! I'm 100% grey (mid 40s) and was light blonde for a long time to help cover the grey. I didn't need to bleach, just toned the grey with blonde and was almost platinum. About 6 months ago I went dark brown, which was my natural hair color before the grey. It was pretty dark, with some auburn. Probably a level 4. I recently decided to let the grey take over, to have a long mane of grey hair. So I have to lighten and tone but do not want to use bleach. The other day I used Color Oops, which worked ok, maybe lightened it a level or so. Well today I used your method and at first my hair looked the same. I was bummed! But as it dries, it's getting so light. It's maybe 60% dry and looks like a caramel/dark blonde/light copper. Plus it's so shiny and curly, in much better shape than after the Color Oops! For the conditioner, I used protein plus honey, which made a difference. I'll be doing this again in a day or two, and again, and am really hoping to get light enough so that I can just tone. I do not want to bleach, would love to get back down to the blonde in my hair. Fingers crossed. But so far this is working great and smells nice and no chemicals (I used the crushed vitamin c with head and shoulders shampoo). Thanks so much! Report Comment
  • I was just wondering - could I leave this on my head for more than 45 minutes? it doesn't damage hair, does it? so technically I could leave it on for an hour and a half or so? Report Comment
  • I have currently done 2 treatments ( first with 3000 mg vitamin C and a double size amount of head and shoulders anti dandruff shampoo for 2 hours, second 6000 mg vitamin C, same amount of head and shoulders shampoo for 4.5 hours [fell asleep].)and am undergoing the third as i type this. Currently with 6000 mg vitamin c and same amount of head and shoulders shampoo for 2 hours. I let my hair rest overnight after the second treatment and put deep conditioner in it for a few minutes. It was dry after the second time but after conditioning it, it felt better than before i'd started. After this current one(3rd), I will assess the situation, and possibly do another round of 6000 mg vitamin c and head and shoulders shampoo for 2 hours. I am lightening my 2.5 years worth on Ion Color Brilliance Aqua blue (refreshing it every 6-8 weeks) I have already gotten well over half the colour out with just 2 washes. I am thrilled with the results but not satisfied until my hair is blonde again. Far too many of you told me I could not achieve my goal, and I am going to prove you wrong! Report Comment

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