7 Actually Genius Hacks for Getting Hair-Dye Stains Off Your Face


Anyone else come out of quarantine feeling like an amateur hairstylist? I mean, not to brag, but thanks to my newfound free time, I’ve basically learned how to cut, style, and yup, even color my hair all in the comfort of my teeny-tiny, NYC apartment bathroom. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made a few mistakes along the way, though—like when I say “amateur,” I really do mean amateur. Exhibit A: The cute little hair-dye stains along my scalp and hairline that I’m always left with when I box-dye my hair.

So after many a frantic Google searches for “how to get hair dye off skin,” I decided it was finally time to tap the help of a few professionals (aka not me or your mom or your BFF who’s, like, super good at dyeing her hair tho). Ahead, four hairstylist and colorists weigh in on the very best ways to remove hair-dye stains from your skin—and, nope, not one of them involves dousing your skin in sketchy DIY concoctions (which, lol, guilty).

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1. Prevent hair-dye stains by prepping your skin

Okay, fine—this step is kinda unhelpful if your skin is already stained, but I promise this easy hack is worth the extra two minutes of prep work. Here’s what you’ll do: Before you slather on your hair dye, smooth a thin layer of Vaseline or a thick oil (like olive or coconut oil) around your hairline and ears—it’ll help create a barrier between the hair dye and your skin. Even though it might feel a little heavy and slick, it’ll wash right out with your hair dye.

One more thing: Try applying your hair dye to second-day, “dirty” hair rather than freshly washed hair. Your natural scalp oils will actually help add a little layer of protection against hairline stains.


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2. Avoid harsh DIY removers

K, this one is extra important. Even though you might be tempted to try those DIYs and YouTube tutorials that require harsh ingredients like nail polish remover (yes, this is a thing people do), baking soda, rubbing alcohol, or anything else you’d used to clean your house, you absolutely should not, under any circumstances, put that shit on your face. A little hair-dye stain is nothing compared to a red, angry rash and burned-off skin, right? Right.

Instead, try using a store-bought hair-dye remover. There are actually a ton on Amazon (I’m personally a fan of Colortrak Wipe Off Hair Color Remover and Dyzoff Hair Color Stain Remover Pads, both of which have soothing aloe vera in their formulas). BTW: This is the same strategy that some professional colorists use, too. Meri Kate O’Connor, colorist at Tabb & Sparks Salon in Santa Monica, says she’ll dab her client’s skin with a gentle treatment, like Wella Professionals Stain Remover, to quickly treat any stains.


3. Gently exfoliate your skin

Listen, I’ll be the first person to tell you that you should never use a harsh, gritty exfoliant on your face—chemical exfoliants are way safer, since they won’t create tiny micro-tears in your skin—but hair-dye removal is the one exception. A little bit of grit is okay if you’re trying to clean up stains on your hairline (or even your hands), so long as you use a formula with gentle, non-drying ingredients. Once every three days (or until your stain has disappeared), gently massage the scrub over the stain for 30 seconds, rinse, and follow with a hydrating cleanser and moisturizer.


4. Remove hair dye with makeup remover

Not having any luck? Try enlisting the help of your favorite waterproof makeup remover. Not only is it actually made for your face (score), but it’s way more gentle than a harsh DIY. If straight-up remover on a cotton round doesn’t do the job, try some wipes instead. “Most wipes contain oils that are good at breaking down dye without irritating the skin,” says James Corbett, Clairol color director and owner of James Corbett Studio. Gently buff out the stain with a wipe, then wait five minutes before rinsing it off.


5. Treat stains with *more* hair dye

This might sound a little unhinged, but apparently, smoothing a little leftover hair dye on your stain can actually help lift it. “The rule is that color ‘removes’ color, and water ‘sets’ color,” says David Stanko, vice president of technical design and education at Madison Reed. “So when your hair color is done processing, take a pump of shampoo and emulsify it all around the hairline, slightly pushing a tiny amount of color from your hair onto the color on your skin,” he explains.

Or, just do what hairstylist Chris Appleton does: “Rub some of the extra color you have left in the bowl around the stain before you wash it away,” he says.


6. Brush hair-dye stains with toothpaste

Presenting, a pretty simple concept: Grab a clean toothbrush and a non-gel toothpaste (very important detail), and gently buff away the stain. Repeat the process once a day until the marks are fully gone. Stanko does warn that this solve leans more toward the aggressive side, though. “When it comes to toothpaste, the formula is really removing a layer of skin, not just dye,” he says. “The stripped skin just happens to take the dye along with it.” Ouch. So make sure to rinse well and use sparingly, k?


7. Be patient—your hair-dye stains aren’t forever

Sure, it might suck to finish off your at-home dye job only to notice a few stains on your scalp, but the best news is that it will 100 percent go away. Even if you (carefully) try all of these hacks and you still aren’t seeing progress, just give your stain a few patient days and the color will definitely start to lift. And, hey, when all else fails, may I suggest investing in a really awesome hat? The ’90s are, after all, coming back.

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