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How to remove hair colour from skin

Even colour-at-home pros can’t be perfect all the time. So what do you do if you’ve accidentally applied hair colour where it wasn’t intended — like on your skin? Here are a few cheap and pain-free ways to remove hair colour from where it doesn’t belong.

Woman dying her hair |

Photo credit: coloroftime / iStock / 360 / Getty Images

There are plenty of old wives’ tales on how to treat the common problem of stained skin as a result from dyeing hair. If you can act quickly, your best bet is to lightly wet a cotton ball with some warm water and gently wipe the slipped hue away before it can set into the skin (it usually takes several minutes before the colour has a chance to truly permeate).

The other foolproof method lies in preventing hair colour skin stains before they start. Before you put on your colourist gloves, apply a dab of conditioner, Vaseline or lip balm around the hairline and other areas you know are subject to dripping colour (like earlobes, eyebrows, the jawline and your nape). Adding moisture to sit on the skin will provide a barrier that colour can’t attach to or stain. Further, having a visual cue of your “danger zones” can help to mentally manage your colour application.

Removing hair colour stains

If you’re past the point of creating a colour boundary and you’ve now got a full-blown stain to contend with, Kari Hill, senior hair colourist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in Los Angeles, advises clients that when stains are faint, patience might just be the best policy. “If there is a shadow, I tell my clients to go home and wait a bit until some of their natural oils have returned to their skin. Then I have them use an oil-based eye makeup remover with a cotton ball,” shares Hill.

There are loads of other old wives’ tales out there when it comes to removing hair colour from the skin. Though many of these will depend on how much colour has seeped, how permanent the blend is and where it is located, one of these home-tested methods might just do the trick for you:

  • Dab a cotton ball or Q-tip in olive oil, and gently rub the stained area until the colour fades.
  • Spray a bit of hairspray onto a cotton ball. Before the colour has time to dye, rub the cotton ball onto the stained area of skin to break the bond of colour to the skin.
  • Mix together some baby oil and facial cleanser, and apply it to the stained area with a washcloth. Apply in a gentle, circular motion to exfoliate.
  • If your skin is not sensitive, you might even try a bit of nail polish remover on a cotton ball. Apply to the stained colour to remove.

Quick tip: If at-home methods fail when trying to remove hair colour stains, then turn to the pros. Professional beauty supply stores sell inexpensive hair colour stain removal blends that should do the trick.

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