How To Remove Rainbow Hair Dye

Rainbow hair colors are supposed to be temporary. Most people look for tricks to make rainbow hair last longer but sometimes you just need the opposite. Maybe the color you choose doesn’t suit you, or it’s just time to try something new. There are many reasons you may want to remove rainbow hair, but getting rid of Manic Panic and other semi-permanent dyes can be a struggle. Keep reading if you are ready to leave your unicorn hair behind (or just want to change to a mermaid inspired do, for that matter!).

Change To A Different Shade

If you are happy to keep your hair rainbow and just want to change vivid semi permanent colors, you may be able to just apply the new dye over the faded out version of the old one. For example, if you have pastel green hair and want to go to a stronger green or turquoise you should be able to do that without a problem. However, keep in mind your color wheel as opposite colors will end up looking a brownish shade of mud. For example, going from a warm red to a cool green will most likely end up in something brownish with weird reflections. But orange from yellow, red from orange or green from blue? They usually turn out well.

Let Rainbow Hair Fade

Sometimes, all you need to do to remove rainbow hair is let it fade but it doesn’t hurt to lend the process a helpful hand. If you have been avoiding washing your hair to keep your rainbow hair for longer, start washing it daily (always with moisturising shampoo and conditioner for those parched bleached strands). Forget about color conserving, sulphate free shampoos and cold water rinses, and go at it like you had never colored your hair at all. This can be helpful if you prefer having pastel tones to a fire engine red. However some colors such as purple, blue and green have a tendency to stain the hair and be stubborn. Even if you intend to bleach or color over it, making rainbow dye fade out is always a good start.

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Kenra Clarifying Shampoo, 10.1-Ounce
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Try Non-bleach Methods To Fade Rainbow Hair

People all over the internet have had success using mixtures of Vitamin C pills, anti-dandruff shampoo, baking soda, or dishwashing liquid, to fade their unnatural hair dyes. However, this sort of methods tend to damage your hair and won’t work for all colors and brands. So do a strand test first, and be conservative about it. For a recipe that mixes many commonly used fading agents, check this one out.

Another alternative is Johnsons Baby oil, or similar products by other brands. It works a treat to remove semi-permanent colors from skin, but it also helps fade rainbow hair much quicker if you apply it as a hot oil treatment. Just apply it generously on your hair, wrap it with kitchen plastic wrap or a shower cap and apply heat with your hair dryer until it feels warm. Then leave it on for a couple of hours and wash it off with a clarifying shampoo. This will get rid of a lot of rainbow hair dyes.

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Johnson's Baby Oil - Fresh Scent - 3 oz
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Cover Up With A Brunette Shade

It happens, you got a new job and feel that your rainbow color is too much for the office, or just got tired of the upkeep. Since your hair below all that beautiful orange and purple is bleached to platinum, a brown dye will most likely not stick as well as you’d expect. In fact, you can end up with a muddy color that is not what you expected. If you want to cover your rainbow hair with a darker hue, either go to a hairdresser or do a double process, first with a colour that is half-way between platinum and your desired shade. Afterwards use a color that sits a shade above your end goal. Keep in mind that your hair has been damaged already, so you probably want to use a color depositing dye (semi-permanent) instead of a permanent one. And remember, Olaplex is your friend as there will be some damage.

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Rainbow Dye Color Remover

Yes, there are similar products to Color Oops that work on rainbow dyes, but they are specific products for semi-permanent unicorn hair dyes, so don’t be surprised if the regular versions designed for permanent hair dye doesn’t do anything but frizz up your hair. Semi permanent hair dye doesn’t go inside your hair cuticle, it stains the outside of the hair itself. So you will need specific products to remove it, and in some cases the staining may be permanent. For example, red has a tendency to stain very bleached, damaged hair, so you may find your hair still looks pastel pink after removal. They are very strong hair clarifiers, so your hair will feel dry and too squeaky clean afterwards, but sometimes they work. Always do a strand test to see the end result before you cover your entire head on the stuff.

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L'Oréal Paris Colorista Color Eraser, Haircolor Remover
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Arctic Fox Bundle with Tint Brush and Bowl, 100% Vegan Semi Permanent Hair Color Dye, 4 Oz or 8 Oz (4oz, Purple Rain)
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Joico Color Intensity Eraser 1.5oz
  • Removes direct dyes/ semi permanent color in 1 step.
  • Conditions and protects.
  • Endless creative uses.

If you are using Pravana or the mythic Atomic Pink you may need to apply more extreme measures, which brings us down to…


Sometimes you must remove all hints of your existing direct hair dye and go back to platinum blonde. This is necessary, for example, if you want to dye your hair metallic colors in a totally different color family than the original. Depending on how much rainbow color is left on your hair, you may be able to remove it using a bleach bath instead of a full on bleach.

Bleaching your hair can be really damaging to hair, and most colorists will try their best to avoid getting to this point. If you must, make sure your colorist uses Olaplex or a similar dye additive and assume that you may need to cut some damaged ends to keep your hair looking healthy.

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