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By Sable/
Updated Sep 28, 2018 @ 9:30 am
Close up of unrecognizable woman washing her hair under the shower.
Credit: skynesher/Getty Images

Hair color experimentation is a girlhood rite of passage, and having had my fair share of color change this year, I can say that it’s all fun and games until people start asking you what school you go to, and you’re like, “I’m 28. I’m a grown-ass woman!"

No, but really, having colorful hair is fun for a while. Do I want pink hair forever? Nah. I can’t even commit to a hue deeper than pastel.

A couple of weeks after taking the pink plunge my cold feet were practically frostbitten. I could have just, you know, waited for it to fade after a few washes, but considering how infrequently I wash my hair, that would have taken up to a month. I couldn't wait that long; my pink was fading into an indecisive peach that somehow matched my skin tone, which was just weird. I'm all about contrast.

Not wanting to subject my already delicate strands to more bleach, I discovered a gentle method to removing dye from your hair. All you need is VITAMIN C and SHAMPOO. You can tell how impressively small the list of ingredients is by my unabashed capitalization of them.

I should tell you that this removes semi-permanent hair dye; it does not lift your natural color. Sorry to disappoint. I have a bottle of powdered vitamin C, so that made this even easier. If you have tablets, just crush them up into powder. I’ve read that dandruff shampoo or clarifying shampoo gives the mix extra removing power.

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Whatever you do, don’t use toning shampoo. Your hair will spottily turn whatever color it’s supposed to tone. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

DIY Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Remover

H’okay! So I added one part (one tsp.) vitamin C powder to two parts shampoo and mixed it into a paste. Then I wet my hair and got to lathering. The pink started bleeding out immediately. This stuff works FAST.Once your whole head is lathered and covered, put on a shower cap, drape a towel around your neck (to catch any drippage), and chill for about an hour. Go play some video games or clean house.

After your requisite hour is complete, rinse and allow to dry. If your results are anything like mine, you'll see that about 85 percent of your color is gone. I went from pastel pink to Champagne, or a rose-tinged blonde.

Removing Hair Color XOJane Before
Credit: Courtesy

Why does it work? To my understanding, most hair color (or at least the permanent kind) uses oxidative dyeing. The dye penetrates the hair shaft and polymerizes into larger molecular units, wedging itself in between hair cuticles and onto the cortex. This makes the dye chemicals more resistant to removal. You know how ascorbic acid oxidizes quickly? Putting an acid like vitamin C on hair that’s been dyed loosens these molecular units, giving dye the chemical heave-ho.

Removing Hair Color XOJane After
Credit: Courtesy

Post-DIY removal, I applied a conditioning mask. (This mega shampoo session is a bit drying). A few days and one more vitamin C/shampoo concoction later and my hair was pretty much back to its original blonde, if a little warm-toned and circa spring break 1999. Since I wasn't feeling that, I applied a toning treatment--Wella T18 Color Charm Toner and some Color Charm 20 Volume Creme Developer--for 20 minutes.

It’s like nothing pink ever happened to me!