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The Best and Safest Way To Get Hair Dye Off Skin

Follow these tips the next time you're using at-home dye.


So, you box-dyed your hair, and it stained your skin. I’ve been there. When it comes to touching up roots and eliminating stingy gray hairs, nothing beats a $10 at-home dye. Unfortunately, DIY hair coloring can land on more than your head. Thankfully, there are simple and safe solutions for removing hair dye from skin (and we’ve listed them all below).

Removing Hair Dye from Your Face and Hairline

The safest strategy for hair dye removal depends on the area of your skin that’s been stained. For the face and hairline, you’ll want to stick to gentle cleansers than you would use on, say, your hands. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin — using abrasive cleansers could be harmful to your skin’s (and your overall) health.

A Gentle Wash

Your first line of defense is warm water and soap. If the dye is still damp, it will likely be relatively easy to (gently) remove with your normal face cleanser. Try using a soft rag for exfoliating support. If you’re still stained after a bit of scrubbing, try the below tactics. 

Olive Oil

Research has shown that olive oil is a safe natural cleanser, and using it to remove hair dye can be surprisingly effective. With your fingers or a cotton ball, rub the oil into the stained area of your skin, leaving it for a significant amount of time — up to eight hours — before rinsing it off with warm water. 

Makeup Remover 

You can also try removing the dye with makeup remover. Apply it to the stained area and massage it into your skin before letting it sit for up to five minutes. Rinse off with warm water. If stain remains at your hairline after trying soap and water, makeup remover, and olive oil, dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and gently dab it onto the stained area. Rubbing alcohol tends to be very harsh and drying, so I wouldn’t recommend this option until you’ve exhausted all other options. Be careful to avoid dripping into your eyes and mouth, and thoroughly rinse the area when finished.


As a last resort, toothpaste might solve the problem of stained skin. After all, toothpaste is formulated to remove stains. Massage a small amount of toothpaste into the stain and leave it on for up to ten minutes before gently rinsing off. This should be enough to get rid of even the most stubborn dye job. If it isn’t, you may have to wait for the passage of time to do its work and for the stain to naturally fade as your skin cells turn over.

Removing Hair Dye From Your Hands

It’s okay to use more abrasive cleansers on your hands than your face, so if your DIY root touch-up has left your hands looking less than stellar, you have a few more options to choose from. Start by dampening a cotton pad with nail polish remover and gently rubbing it into the stained area. (It might be tempting to do this with face and neck stains, but remember, nail polish remover is not safe to use in these areas.) Be sure to thoroughly (and gently) wash your hands with warm soap and water afterward.

Dish soap is another way to remove hair dye from your hands, but it’s most effective when combined with an exfoliating element like baking soda. (When combined with dish soap, it forms an exfoliating paste). Rub the paste across your hands to carefully scrub out the stains before rinsing with warm water. 

You could also give liquid laundry detergent a try. Laundry detergent is particularly good at removing stubborn stains around your nail beds and between your fingers. Choose a fragrance-free detergent to avoid further irritating your skin, and rub it gently in a circular motion. 

Your Safest Option: Seeing a Professional

Using a home remedy to get hair dye off your skin is definitely the cheapest option, but it might not always be the most effective or safest (especially if you have sensitive skin). If you just can’t get the color out and can’t afford to wait for it to fade on its own, you can always head to a hair salon to get help from the pros. Hair stylists have specially formulated products for removing stubborn stains. Though they’ll probably charge you for the stain removal, it might be worth it.

Hair Dye and Clothes

Anytime I’m doing a DIY dye job, I make sure to wear clothes I don’t really care about. (I also cover the top half of my body with a trash bag.) Getting hair color stains out of clothing can be significantly more difficult than getting them out of the skin, since stained skin will naturally fade over time as your skin cells turn over. However, there are a few solutions that might work.

First and foremost, treat clothing stains as quickly as possible. As with your skin, it’s much easier to remove wet than dry dye. Next, rinse the stained fabric with warm water. If still stained, throw it in the wash with a heavy-duty laundry detergent and stain remover. If the fabric remains stained after washing, try soaking it in warm water with powdered bleach. (But only if it’s bleach-safe.) Be sure to read your garment’s care instructions before attempting this. If the stain still hasn’t come out after fifteen minutes of soaking bleach, you may be stuck with it forever.

How To Prevent Hair Dye Stains

The easiest way to deal with hair dye on the skin is to avoid staining your skin in the first place. (That’s obvious, of course.) The question is how to do that. There are a number of effective strategies you can use to prevent hair dye stains the next time you want to erase those grays or try out a new hair color.

First, wear gloves when applying hair dye — specifically, rubber cleaning gloves that you can easily rinse off. Wearing gloves prevents dyed skin by covering the most vulnerable areas… your hands. You should also create a barrier along your hairline to prevent color from drifting onto your face and neck. To do this, apply moisturizer, baby oil, Vaseline, or petroleum jelly along your hairline before you start using hair color. These products moisturize and condition your skin, which is especially helpful for sensitive skin types or those with dry skin. Be sure to clean up spills or stains as you go — it’s always easier to remove dye from the affected area when it’s still wet. 

Stand in the bathtub or spread out newspaper on the bathroom sink in front of you so that you don’t stain the area. DIY’ing your hair color is only a quick solution if you don’t have to spend hours getting the dye out of your tile floor or furniture.

No Need To Fear the DIY Dye Job

Seeing a professional colorist or going to the salon can be expensive, which is why so many of us turn to at-home hair dyes. Thankfully, there are several high-quality box dyes available, and so long as you take anti-stain precautions and have this list of stain removal solutions in your back pocket, DIY’ing your dye job shouldn’t be a problem. There’s no reason you should have to break the bank in order to look and feel your best. And mistakes — in life and in hair color — can always be corrected. With this simple list, you’ll be able to remove hair dye stains like a pro. 

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