Unexpected Ways to Use Leftover Hair Dye

Written by Emilie Branch

There’s certainly no shortage of hair dye in any given salon. Bleach and colors ready for the mixing are stockpiled for what seems like ages. However, we know from experience that every drop of dye doesn’t always get used, which made us wonder—what happens to excess hair dye? And more importantly, is there a fun way to use it? We got our creative juices flowing and asked some of the top professionals what to do with leftover hair dye. The unexpected ways they use it may surprise you!

Toss It

This one isn’t unexpected, so much as practical. And likely not all that shocking. Celebrity colorist and Olaplex ambassador Chad Kenyon shares that he throws away leftover hair dye. Can’t argue with that!

Practice Your Color Correction Technique

Guy Tang, brand founder and colorist, puts extra color to work on swatches. “A great way to use leftover hair color is to use it on hair swatches to test a color scenario,” he explains. “An example would be if you have leftover red hair color, test it on green ash swatches of hair to experiment with balancing out the tone to a neutral shade. Red cancels out green which will then give you a neutral brown color. Experimenting with color on swatches like this makes you more comfortable with your color line so that you are prepared when a client that needs a color correction lands in your chair.”

Use It to Cancel Out Color

Amanda Lee, celeb colorist and Mane Addicts Artist, notes that (like nail polish) color cancels color. “Something I learned early in my color career, which still blows my mind, is that color removes color! I always like to hang on to the leftover bowl of hair dye. Right before I rinse my client, I will rub a small amount of the color around the hairline and massage it in with my fingertips. This works better than any color remover I’ve used,” she shares.

Keep It for a Cleansing Shampoo

Color aficionado—and our forever mane muse—Shelley Gregory has master plans for her leftover hair dye. “Some ways I use leftover color in my color bowl after I finish up the application on my clients are, with bleach, I keep in mind it will be oxidized and therefore way weaker than when it was first mixed,” she begins. “Added to a shampoo service, it’s called a ‘French Fluff’ or a ‘cleansing shampoo.’ You add your lightener to your shampoo, around one part shampoo to four parts bleach, and emulsify on the client’s blonde ends for five to 10 minutes (take extra caution the client’s ends are not dry, damaged, or overly porous). This will get out any mineral buildup, dullness, or unwanted yellow tones.”

Spruce Up Highlights

“For demi-permanent color, after I highlight and lowlight a client, sometimes I will use their lowlight to gloss their highlights at the shampoo bowl,” Gregory says. “I will make the formula I used for their lowlight sheerer by adding some clear to it but also putting the color on wet hair gives it softness.”

Tint the Eyebrows

For permanent color, Gregory suggests you use “that client’s same retouch formula leftovers to tint the client’s eyebrows.” Heck, you can even use it on your brows for an extra bit of experimentation.

Clean the Salon Floor With It

Gregory shares that she has another solution for cleaning your floors. Rather than using bleach, the “leftover dye can clean any color stains that have dropped around the salon floor.” The more you know!

Add Some Ketchup

Hungry for another unexpected hair dye tip? Jon Carlos Delacruz, Cosmo Prof Artistic Team Member, tells us how to color correct with ketchup. “If your client’s blonde somehow turns a light greenish tone from an ash color or chlorine from a pool, you can put ketchup and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and it will neutralize the green tones in the hair.”

Now, are you curious to know how to remove dye from your skin? Stylists share the ways they get dye off their hands HERE!