Can You Remove Hair Dye with Vitamin C?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The latest trend in reversing the effect of hair dye is to use powdered ascorbic acid — otherwise known as vitamin C.

Vitamin C may work to lighten your hair post-dye, removing pigments that are a bit too dramatic for your liking.

ishonest No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

Recommended
No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

But whether vitamin C can strip dye out hair completely is a little more complicated. Let’s cover what vitamin C does to your hair and whether it’s worth trying this at-home dye job fix.

Can vitamin C remove hair color?

Ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, is used in some over-the-counter products that claim to lighten or bleach your hair without damaging it.

For years, people have used lemon juice, which is rich in vitamin C, as a natural hair lightener that activates when it is warmed by heat or the sun. It’s this line of thinking that leads some people to conclude that vitamin C can work to “erase” or remove hair color that you don’t like.

The truth is that vitamin C can’t turn back time to before you dyed your hair. Hair color works by breaking open the hair follicle and adding pigment to your natural colors (dyeing) or by stripping the natural color out (lightening and bleaching).

Anti-Aging treatment everyone is talking about

Learn more

Once the color of your hair has been modified, there’s no replacing or restoring the natural pigment.

What vitamin C can sometimes do is make hair a shade or two less dark after you’ve dyed it darker than your natural color. This is due to its antipigmentary properties.

Of course, every hair type is different, and there’s no guarantee that your hair will respond the way you hope when you use this method.

There’s a chance your hair could cooperate with a vitamin C treatment and look similar to how it looked before, especially if the dye you used was semipermanent.

Ripple effect: Jumpstart your ritual with this treatment for deeply rejuvenating powers

Learn more

But hair that’s been damaged from dye, heat, or bleach or hair that’s textured or naturally curly may not react well to a vitamin C infusion.

Additionally, there’s no peer-reviewed research that indicates vitamin C is a good solution to a dye job gone awry.

How to remove hair dye using vitamin C

You can try to remove hair dye using vitamin C by creating an ascorbic acid hair mask. This type of hair mask may also come in handy when chlorine or salt water has affected your hair color.

Keep in mind that your results may vary. You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup ascorbic acid powder or 15–30 white, powder-based vitamin C tablets, crushed (liquid-based capsules won’t dissolve as well, and colored tablets could leach food coloring into your hair)
  • dye-free clarifying shampoo
  • shower cap
  • mixing bowl
  1. In your mixing bowl, mix together the powdered vitamin C with the dye-free clarifying shampoo. Remember that any food coloring or product dyes will interfere with the finished hair color, so steer clear of any artificial colors in your hair mask.
  2. Once the ingredients are well-blended, apply the mask to your hair. Give extra care to roots and ends.
  3. Pop on your shower cap and leave the hair mask on for 30 to 60 minutes.
  4. Rinse well with lukewarm water. If desired, follow up with a hydrating conditioner to prevent dryness after using this treatment.

Side effects and risks of using vitamin C to remove hair dye

ishonest No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

Recommended
No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

Vitamin C occurs naturally in your skin. That’s why using vitamin C as a topical home remedy for removing hair dye is safe for most people. There are some potential side effects that you should be aware of before you try it. These include:

  • redness or inflammation on your scalp
  • scalp dryness
  • hair that’s dry and prone to breakage
  • hair strands that appear yellowed or orange-tinted
  • hair that’s inconsistently colored or tinted

Other proven methods to remove artificial coloring from your hair

There are other ways that you can try to remove hair dye after coloring. Because of variables like your hair type, hair damage you may have, and what kind of dye you used, it’s hard to predict which of these methods, if any, would be effective.

Color-correcting products

There are color-correcting products, such as shampoos, toners, and hair masks, that are sold specifically to remove or lighten colors you have added to your hair.

You should shop with your hair type in mind. Products that “strip” or bleach your hair may cause more damage in the long run.

White vinegar rinse
For strong and hydrated hair

Learn more

White vinegar can bond to hair pigment and rinse out some types of semipermanent dye.

  1. Combine three parts dye-free shampoo and one part vinegar and create a mixture the consistency of a hair mask.
  2. Apply evenly throughout your hair and cover with a shower cap.
  3. After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the shower cap and rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Baking soda paste

Baking soda has a high pH and may be able to penetrate your hair follicle to remove some pigments.

  1. Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and warm water, dissolving the baking soda fully.
  2. Apply it evenly to your hair, avoiding your scalp. Use a wide- toothed comb to ensure it’s evenly spread.
  3. Leave the mixture on your hair for 20 to 30 minutes, rinsing well and conditioning afterward.

Takeaway

There isn’t any clinical research to support using vitamin C for removing hair color. But since vitamin C is already occurring in your body naturally, it’s safe for most people to try this home remedy.

Keep in mind that results may vary, and the only sure way to switch up your hair color is to enlist the help of a professional cosmetologist.

Read this next
Volume and structure for your hair

Learn more

Vitamin C has many roles in your body and has been linked to impressive health benefits. Here are the top 7 benefits of vitamin C supplements, all…

Healthy hair is a sign of beauty and good overall health. Here are the top 5 best vitamins to grow your hair, along with 3 other nutrients.

If you’ve ever tried dyeing your hair at home, chances are you’ve ended up with some hair dye stains on your skin. Here are six methods you can use to…

Baking soda is a great option for removing semipermanent hair dye and lightening hair. It can be used alone or combined with other ingredients. Learn…

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Recommended
No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Hydrogen peroxide and dyes containing it are a generally safe way to lighten your hair. However, it’s best used in a salon to minimize hair damage and…

Spend too much time under the blow dryer? Decide to go from deep black to dirty blonde without the help of your stylist? Here's how to repair damaged…

There are plenty of people who claim that putting toothpaste in your hair is safe and effective for a variety of purposes.

Vitamin C is touted as one of the best anti-aging ingredients on the market and the key to maintaining a smooth, even, and glowy complexion. But does…

Taking a collagen supplement can be an easy and effective way to help support better skin. Here are the 8 best collagen supplements for better skin.

Read more on: hair, vitamin, vitamin c


Learn about unknown needs of your skin for free