Stripping Hair Color

Dyed hair
Photo: DC Studio/Shutterstock
Q: I want to go back to my natural hair color which is dark brown mixed with lots of gray. Can my dyed color be stripped off, or do I have to do it the hard way and let it grow out (which I do not want to do as the dyed color is much lighter)? Help.
A: Okay. This is a common misconception about hair color and the way it works. In order to give the hair a lighter color when the natural color is darker, the color molecules inside the hair must be dispersed until the hair is sufficiently light to allow the new color to appear accurately.
Many people think of lighter hair color as being an opaque application which can be stripped off, much like stripping paint off of a surface. The only hair color formulas that rest entirely on the surface of the hair shaft are temporary colors, and those will never provide any lightening effect in darker hair.
Because of the way hair color works, you cannot simply "strip off your hair color" and get to the natural color. What you will likely end up with is a very pale, ashen-looking beige color.
One option you have is to use semi-permanent hair color that is as close in shade to your natural color as possible to cover up your new hair growth while your natural color grows in. The semi-permanent color usually lasts for 8-12 shampoos and fades gradually, which will allow you to monitor your hair's progress in growing out the permanent hair color.
See also:
How to color hair
How fast hair grows
The different types of hair color
How to get back to your natural hair color