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How to Strip Hair Color—and the Products to Help You Do It

Bad dye job, or a color you’re eagerly itching to quit? We’ve all been there, but unfortunately it’s always seemed easier said than done when it comes to removing those pesky pigments. Well, it’s 2021, which means how to strip hair color (safely) is no longer an unthinkable request.

In fact, KEVIN.MURPHY’s COLOR.ME Design Director Kate Reid has mapped it all out for us quite simply. She breaks down the processes by minimal correction and built-up colors. Keep scrolling for the process that fits you best, and bid adieu to the hue(s) holding you back!

Minimal Correction

Reid suggests using a product along the lines of COLOR.ME CLEAR, which removes one level, corrects the wrong tone or brightens and lightens. 

1. Mix and apply COLOR.ME CLEAR on all the areas you would like to correct or remove the color from.

2. Let the product develop for 25 minutes, and then wash it off.

3. Your hair should be in proper condition by this point, but if not, the above process can be repeated.

Built-Up Color Correction

For permanent color buildup, dark hair or anyone wanting to lighten a few levels lighter, Reid suggests a soft lightening mix for freshly colored hair or unwanted tone, with up to two levels of lift. For the “gentle” technique, Reid recommends the COLOR.ME ULTIMATE.LIGHTENER.

Mixing ratio: 1:4 10 G POWDER.LIGHTENER + 40 ML CREAM.ACTIVATOR 3.5 VOL. (1%) or 10 VOL. (3%) (activator depends on how much power is needed). Development Time: 45 minutes.

1. Apply soft lightening mix evenly to dry, previously colored areas, avoiding the uncolored hair. Let it develop for 45 minutes and then rinse when desired lightening has been achieved.

2. Apply Post COLOR.ME finishing regimen to finish. With this type of remover, you would just pick your shade and color to your desired result.

For actual removal, Reid suggests Malibu C DDL Direct Dye Lifter.

1. Pour Malibu C DDL sachets crystals into a bowl. Add 89mL of 10-20 volume developer and mix thoroughly.

2. Apply, then leave on hair for up to 45 minutes. Wash and treat, then recolor with your desired formula.

“You can’t afford to get this one wrong,” Reid emphasizes. “These types of colors need a special remover and cannot handle bleaches, as they can shatter the color pigments and drive them into the hair.” 

Now that you know how to strip hair color, HERE‘s what to do if you hate your freshly colored dye job!

2 minutes

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