Removing Hair Dye from Skin

There are many commercial and household products available which may help remove these nasty stains from your skin, alcohol is one widely used product which frequently works when rubbing in a circular motion but unfortunately is not cheap. Removal may not seem easy, but the common problem has been solved with plenty of remedies.

The recommended method of removing hair dye from skin by far is to actually use hair dye, this technique is used by many hair stylists & professionals. The theory behind it is that when dye has dried, it becomes much harder to remove even when rubbed with alcohol. Rubbing more hair dye onto the stains will trigger a chemical reaction which loosens up the previous coat allowing you to easily wipe the now wet dye off with a towel, be sure to quickly wash off what is left with alcohol, dish washing detergent or baking soda.

Protecting your skin

The best and easiest way of preventing the spread of dye on the skin is to use Petroleum Jelly, Vaseline or Soft Paraffin, which acts as repellent when applied to skin. Before attempting to dye hair, using your fingers rub a little jelly on your hands, neck, ears, forehead, pretty much your entire hairline or any area which may be prone to staining so there’s no need to remove dye from your skin later. Petroleum washes off very easily.

These may help

When trying these products, be sure to let them soak into the dye for a minute or two before trying to remove by running hot water over it or by wiping it off with a damp cloth.

  • Toothpaste – Works well removing dyes, use a brush, fades away
  • Alcohol – Works quickly and should also be wiped quickly
  • Baking Soda – Best when mixed with something else
  • Dish washing liquid – Preferably with lemon
  • Laundry powder – Heats up when wet
  • Acetone – Dries skin badly (not recommended)
  • Shampoo & Hot water – Takes a few rinses

* Never risk going to extremes trying to remove hair dye from your skin, don’t try to remove these stains by force. In case you are having difficulty removing dark stains or they slowly won’t fade after trying all the products listed above, seek help from a professional. Do not use products you may be allergic to or which may damage skin.

Why is it so hard?

All commercial coloring methods, whether they are rinses, temporary dyes, semi-permanent or permanent dyes use chemicals to achieve the desired pigment and shading. The skin is made of the same structural protein as hair, called Keratin. This is why dyeing substances react with skin and hair alike.

Rinses need to be made with the right properties to enable the effect to last until the next shampoo. They need to be resistant to dissolving in the rain or with sweat. Consequently, rinses are often hard to remove from the skin and even discolor the scalp (which may appeal to persons with thin hair by concealing the natural skin on the scalp).

Semi-permanent methods are applied while the hair is wet, making it more difficult to first protect the skin with the repellents mentioned above.

Permanent applications are the most complex, giving the absorption a stubborn hold, making removal from the skin challenging.  Permanent dyes work by firstly combining an oxidizer (ie: hydrogen peroxide) and ammonia (an alkaline chemical) with a color agent.  The ammonia opens up the cuticle, enabling the developer and new color to reach the inner part of the hair. If the mixture comes into contact with skin, the ammonia being the catalyst ensures rapid if not immediate blending into the skin.

Lightening agents on the other hand usually do not leave stains on skin. Chemicals such as bleach and hydrogen peroxide are used for lightening. They work in the opposite manner by removing rather than adding color.

Whatever coloring method you use, make sure to remove the mixture from your skin immediately.