How To Fade Your Hair Color (And Why You Might Want To Do That)

How To Fade Your Hair Color (and why you might want to do that). Good tips from a professional hairstylist!

Update 4/21/15: In this post I recommend several products by Paul Mitchell, my favorite brand as a professional hairstylist. Until recently, you could only purchase these products from a salon or hairstylist, but you can now purchase them online at Loxa Beauty via this, or any of the other partner links in this post! Loxa Beauty is the only website approved to sell authentic PM products.

It’s been requested that I do a blog post on how to fade semi-permanent hair colors without using harsh chemicals. So for those of you who are rockin’ rainbow colors but are ready to try out something new, here are a few tips on how to fade that old color! And if you’re thinking “What? That’s crazy! I want to make my color last longer!” You might want to check out my blog post, 5 Tips To Make Your Hair Color Last. These tips also work for demi-permanent and permanent hair color, though the results will be more subtle and take more time.

1. For non-pourous hair (hair that wasn’t lightened before it was colored), you can remove most of it by shampooing your hair with a mixture of Baking Soda and Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two (available online here). Usually with semi-permanent colors, the hair is pre-lightened before applying the color so that it will be extra bright, so this probably won’t get rid of all of it for most of you.

2. Wash your hair with hot water. It doesn’t have to be scalding, just as warm as you are comfortable with. The hot water will open up the cuticle of your hair, allowing color pigment to come out. Make sure you finish your wash with cooler water to close the cuticle back down and make your hair feel shiny and healthy.

3. Use a “clarifying” or “chelating” shampoo, like Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three (available here). This is what swimmers use to get the chlorine out of their hair. It deep cleans the hair to help remove minerals and chemicals, including hair color.

4. Wash more often. I don’t recommend shampooing your hair more than once, twice at the most in one day or you are going to start damaging it. However, if you are used to washing your hair every other day, or every third day (which I hope you are!), you can definitely knock a day off your in-between time while you are working on fading your color. Make sure that you are loving your hair with some professional quality conditioner, or deep conditioning treatments like Paul Mitchell Super Strong Treatment (available here) during this process too!

5. Depending on your starting color and the brand that you are using, your color should be pretty well faded after doing this for a few days. If you are wanting to go platinum blonde, or to some color that is drastically different, then you’re probably still going to need to bleach it a little bit with a low volume developer. I don’t recommend lightening your own hair at home, I’ve had to fix too many bad bleaching jobs to feel comfortable telling you that you can just go for it. It’s best to leave this part to a professional!

I hope this helps you to mix it up a little bit! If you try out these tips, let me know how it works out for you and post pictures of your new hair color! If you’d like to purchase any of the products mentioned in this post, you can get them and many other professional products at Loxa Beauty! Loxa is the only website approved by Paul Mitchell to sell their products.

P.S. You might also like these posts:
The Color Wheel And How It Applies To Hair Color
How To Make Pastel Hair Color
How To Trim Your Own Bangs

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By Kelsi Eldredge


  1. Lexi Bee! says

    I loves it, darling! :) I’m definitely going to run up & get some of that shampoo! I’m guessing they would have it at Sally’s? :) Thanks so much for the post heehee, you really are too sweet! ♥

    • says

      Aw thanks! The Paul Mitchell shampoos can only be bought at a salon or from a licensed hair stylist (the stuff you might see at the grocery store is black market, counterfeit, etc.) but you should be able to find something along the same lines at Sally’s. Just ask for their recommendation of a clarifying shampoo. And you’re very welcome, hon! <3

  2. Jaehne says

    will the same work for black?
    right now my hair is pretty faded, some spots have faded so much that it’s almost to my natural color. (this is just from taking hot showers though)
    my natural color is like, a medium ash brown & i want to get it back to a color around there so that way bleaching it won’t be such a pain.

    • says

      Steps 2-4 will help fade any color, even black. Black is definitely the hardest to get rid of though, especially if it is box color from the store, it tends to stain. If you want it back to your natural (or lighter) you’ll eventually need to get a color removal service at a salon, but the tips for fading that I have will definitely help :)

    • says

      Color remover can be harsh, yes. Usually not as harsh as bleaching, but it’s still not great for your hair. I recommend getting this done at a salon, not at home, and it would be great to get a reconstructive treatment afterward. If you find a Paul Mitchell Focus or Signature salon, they should have the new Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratriplex Intensive Treatment, which is an in-salon treatment, takes about 20 minutes and it makes your hair feel wonderful! My hair is really haggard because i bleach it, and my hair felt super soft after using it :)

  3. says

    these tips are so great! i gotta forward this to my friend who’s been stuck with this muted bluish brown on the underside of her mane for a couple of months now.

  4. Nikki says

    i have highlights for about 3 months its a caramel color and i want it to fade is there any way i can fade it faster without damaging it or coloring it?

    • says

      I’m guessing that you mean you toned the highlights with a caramel color and want to fade the toner out? Pretty much all of the information to do that is in the above post :)

  5. Nicola says

    I bleached my hair and put a pink over the top but it came
    Out really bright pink! I need it to tone down and make it a pale pink ? How do I do it ? X

  6. ashleebain says

    I bleached my roots at home! No my roots are platinum blonde and the rest of my hair is dirty blondr! What should i do?

    • kelsismellsi says

      Eep! That’s really easy to do, and why I always recommend getting your hair lightened professionally. You’re going to either need to lighten the rest of your hair to match your roots, or go over your roots (and possibly the rest of your hair) with a color that’s similar to the rest of your hair – depending on your desired results. It can be a bit tricky, again, I recommend going to a professional hair stylist.

  7. Miranda says

    So i dyed my hair blonde and it went orangey so in the same day i went to my hair dresser to get it as a light brown and it came out almost black. will these steps work for me? Thanks

    • kelsismellsi says

      They should help, yes, but it might take a while to lighten it to your desired color. If these tips don’t help, you may have to go in and have your hair stylist use a color remover. I’d recommend going with the gentler methods first, since you recently bleached it.

  8. says

    Please could u help me ? I am still in school and my hairdresser bleached the tips of my short hair ! Blonde but I am naturally brown will theses tips fade and how can I possibly speed up the proses ?

  9. says

    Have you ever heard of vitamin C treatments for removing color? I actually have some in my hair now. You mix smashed vitamin tablets (or just buy a bottle of Viramin C powder; it’s easier) with dandruff shampoo and apply it to damp hair and leave it in for at least 30 minutes. When you rinse, you will see tons of color going down the drain!
    Last night I applied it to my still vibrant pink hair for 40 minutes and it took quite a bit of color out. My hair was a light vibrant pink with some blonde spots.
    I’m going to leave the batch I have in my hair right now in for an hour and we’ll see how that works. I plan on going red, so I’m trying to fade the rest of my manic panic hot hot pink, which still was very pink after 50 washes!

    Also, a tip: wrap the edges of your hair with cling wrap before you put on your shower cap or plastic shopping bags, since the color leaks down your face pretty badly.

  10. Mariell says

    Hi :) I’m wondering if you have any tips to a person who has naturally dark hair, but wants to lighten it? Is there something I can do before I go to a professional and lighten it, that will help it become as light as possible? Would your fading technique be of any help in my case?

    • Kelsi says

      Leave it to a professional – if your hair is naturally dark and you have “virgin hair” – meaning it is free from hair color and other chemicals such as perms or relaxers, then it should be pretty easy for your stylist to lighten it! The above tips are only for hair that has artificial color in it.

  11. says

    Stellar blog btw. Im about to dye my hair purple and debating on doing a dip of teal on the ends. Not certain im gonna go for it simply because i have shoulder length hair rn and im not sure about how that will work with outlining my face. just feel like it wont be cute (but ya never know)

    So i was considering just to put teal underneath and purple on top. however i dyed my hair purple a few months back. its now faded to a silvery blondish grey. my hair was platinum. do you feel that it is necessary to do a bleach wash first or do you think my color is faded enough to avoid more bleach (which im trying to move away from)
    Thanks for all your advice! :)

    • Kelsi says

      Thanks! If it’s faded to a silvery color, then it sounds like it’s faded enough to go ahead and put color over it, especially if you are doing purple. Just give it a good, thorough shampoo and dry it well before applying the color.

  12. Becca says

    I dyed my hair today at a salon, however, the color is too light. Is there a way where the dyed color could fade so that the hair color would be darker?

    • Kelsi says

      You can just ask your stylist to go over it with a darker color – no need to “fade” the lighter color out beforehand.

  13. says

    Hello. I had a semi perm brown put on my bleached hair a couple of months back and it has faded to a bright gingery colour. Anyone know what the best way to go back to a blond would be – any tone bright to dark (im natrually dark blond). I’d rather not bleach it if poss as it’s a bit straw like already! Tried the violet tone shampoos but they haven’t faded the orange tones. Would the bicarb work or is my only resort bleach?? Many thanks for any tips :-)

    • Kelsi says

      Try the tips in this post, they should help! If you’ve done steps 1-4 and it still isn’t light enough to put a blonde color on, then you may need to see your hairstylist and have them bleach it. You could ask them about doing a “color balance”, sometimes called a “french shampoo” or a “soap cap” – it’s a mixture of shampoo, developer and bleach used to lift hair color with as little damage as possible – I do NOT recommend doing this at home!


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