How to remove hair dye from skin

Act as fast as possible when removing hair dye from skin - the quicker you work, the better the results.


person with long hair coloured with bright red, pink and purple hair dye spread out on the floor

Key steps:

  • The sooner you can clean hair dye off your skin, the easier it will be
  • Baking soda and hand soap can be effective at getting dye off skin
  • Before dyeing, adding an oil based product to the areas of skin that your hair comes into the most contact with can prevent hair dye from staining there

Even if you’re a dab hand at using a home hair-colouring kit, there may be times when a blob of dye ends up in the wrong place. So what do you do? Is there a fail-safe way to remove hair dye from skin or will you end up walking around with an interesting new beauty spot on your forehead? Here are our top solutions for removing hair dye from skin – if all else fails you’ll end up with an interesting talking point, or get to pick out a new hat!

Petroleum jelly isn’t just great for your lips – it’s also a handy substance to prep your skin with before dying your hair. It can act as a protective barrier to prevent the hair dye from staining your skin!

How to Remove Hair Dye from Skin

Always be careful treating the area around your eyes and consult a health care professional first if you have any doubts about using any of these solutions to remove hair dye from your skin. If you experience any discomfort during the process, it is important to consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

  • Solution 1: Lightning speed reaction time

If you’ve already got dye on your skin and you’re now using the Internet to find out how to get it off, you’re already too late for the most effective of our solutions. If you use warm water and a cotton wool ball to wipe the dye off as soon as it touches your skin, there’s a very good chance it won’t have had time to sink in. Most dyes take a few minutes to activate, so the best idea is to remove the dye before it has time to change the colour of your skin.

  • Solution 2: Rub in olive oil, baby oil, oil-based moisturiser, or petroleum jelly like Vaseline

Depending on the nature of the dye, oil-based products may work to break down the dye’s active ingredients and free the colour from your skin. Use a cotton wool ball or pad to gently rub the area for a few minutes, then, rinse with warm water. If a first application doesn’t seem to work, you could reapply and let the oil soak in for a period of time, before trying to wipe it off again. Or go for one of the alternatives

  • Solution 3: Baking soda and hand-soap or toothpaste containing baking soda

Both of these substances are mildly abrasive, just like a face scrub, which could also be a good alternative! Be careful using this method on sensitive skin. If the area becomes red or feels uncomfortable, discontinue and try one of the alternative methods below.

  • Solution 4: Nail varnish remover containing acetate

You should only really use this method on your hands or other areas of the body – nail varnish remover is too abrasive to use on the delicate skin of the face. It is also important not to use this if you have sensitive skin. Avoid contact with eyes and consult a health care professional in the case of an accident. Test on a small area first, and then apply and rub into the area with a cotton ball. Rinse with warm water to remove excess solution.

  • Solution 5: Commercial hair dye remover

Unsurprisingly, hair studios are often equipped for this type of emergency! You can buy specially formulated products for removing hair dye from some hair salons and pharmacies. Follow the instructions on the bottle.

If you’ve got hair dye on your clothes or upholstery, you’ll need to try some different methods. Read our guide here.

How to Avoid Getting Hair Dye on your Skin

It’s probably a bit too late to give you this piece of advice, but next time you feel like changing your hair colour or freshening up your roots, keep the following in mind:

Applying a thin barrier layer of an oil based lubricant – like lip balm, or Vaseline’s petroleum jelly – to the ‘danger areas’, like your forehead, ears, or nape of the neck will stop any errant dye from soaking into your skin. It will wipe right off without leaving a mark!

Originally published