View Full Version : Any way to lighten chemically dyed black hair without bleach...?

November 16th, 2010, 03:27 PM

I've had black hair for years, and although I love it, I'm really interested to see my natural medium brown again. Are there any ways I can lighten chemically dyed black hair, after years of dying, without any extreme damage or breaking? Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks :)

November 16th, 2010, 03:31 PM
There are some dye-removal products like "Color Oops" out there. They might help you, though depending on what you used to dye your hair, you might have some weird colors going on beneath the dye. (Lots of dyes, even black ones for reasons I don't comprehend, contain peroxide. So your hair might be lighter after removing the dye than the hair that grows from your follicles.)

A lot of these have a bottle with some sort of peroxide in it, as a final step I think. I've been told you can completely skip that step. It may take a few days to a week for your hair to reach whatever final shade it's going to be if you skip that, but I think avoiding the damage makes a week of oxidation worth it.

In any case, strand test!

November 16th, 2010, 03:33 PM
Just a note, you wont be able to go back to your original colour without first growing all your hair out and starting anew

November 16th, 2010, 03:35 PM
It's a salon trip or many and it will damage your hair. But it can be done. I bleached streaks in. If you don't go to white and do it only to naturalish with the right over will be best.

November 16th, 2010, 04:02 PM
I would do as Anje suggested and try the Color Oops, and AFAIK, coconut oil soaks also remove excess dye- not that it would necessarily lighten your hair, but might not make it look so monotone. You can always end up doing highlights to make the difference not seem so stark as it grows out, as well, but you may end up getting more color out than you think.

November 16th, 2010, 04:24 PM
maybe you could dye your hair darkest brown for starters so it doesn't clash with ur natural roots, and then have highlights the same/similar to your roots once they grow out to an inch. a matter of blending in so growing out doesn't look so stark obvious against the black.

November 16th, 2010, 04:28 PM
I used to dye my hair black and products like Color Oops wouldn't even make it budge.

It was bleach for me. Luckily my hair survived it just fine, but we all know that isn't always the case.

Whatever you do, consult a pro.

November 16th, 2010, 04:34 PM
I&#180;ve had chemically dyed black hair and what I did was throw a brown dye over it. This lightened it a shade or 2. Then I had highlights added everywhere, so that my hair looked lighter overall. I came back to a medium brown then. But because my hair is actually darkblonde/lightbrown I later had it bleached by a hairdresser. He had to cut off tons of my hair because it was like straw after that. I still regret that decision. Patience pays off, let me tell you. Blending in and growing out like <3OnHerSleeve said is the best way to preserve your hair. And don't forget to pamper it!

Don't bother with anti dandruff or clarifying shampoos because they won't lighten years of chemicals.

November 16th, 2010, 05:19 PM
I used to have layers and layers of black dye on my hair. And I mean probably almost ten layers of dark dye. (Reason being because I thought putting brown hair dye over my black hair color would turn it brown. Nope, just made it darker each time). I also wanted to return back to my natural medium brown hair color. (Or at least a color that wouldn't have such a strong line of demarcation while growing out my natural hair). I tried using Color Oops extra conditioning. Didn't work. A few months later I tried Color Oops extra strength. Didn't work. The next day (I know, not good) I picked up Color Zap by L'oreal from my local Sallie's Beauty supply. It removed the dye! My hair was left a reddish color. Here's the results.

I then dyed over that color with a light ash brown (remember, your hair will be porous after using the color remover. So if you are going to redye it again, make sure it is much lighter then the color you want!) It was still a bit too red for my liking, so I dyed a medium ash brown over it again the next day and it came out waay too dark. I shampooed it about five times, and my hair is now extremely close to my natural color. My hair is still a bit patchy, but you can only tell in direct sunlight and you cannot see a line of demarcation at all. Color Zap worked wonders for me, without creating too much damage. (The reason why my hair is damaged is from doing nonstop chemical processes without any breaks in between). Good luck!

If you're curious, this is my current hair color (I went through the removal process in March of this year!) I have not touched it with chemicals since.
Scribbled face because this is not a flattering picture, LOL.

November 16th, 2010, 09:38 PM
I dont think its possible to do this naturally. Dark brown hair in my experience can be lightened and blonde also, but black doesn't really lighten to more, but more of a soft black colour.

You could try henna. I have naturally jet black hair that won't budge but henna gave me lighter tones throughout. It looks dark brown with a little red.

November 17th, 2010, 03:35 AM
Rosieex3 , your post was so much help, thanks for the photo's too! I think I may try that. I've bleached my hair to death in the past, to the point where it has been snapping off and stretching.... eugh. I'm too scared to even touch it now!

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone :D

November 17th, 2010, 04:19 AM
You can try honey lightening, http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/showpost.php?p=457007&postcount=3341.

November 17th, 2010, 01:39 PM
For what it's worth, stretching hair indicates you need protein treatments. My hair doesn't tend to like them, but I've heard Joico makes a good one.

November 17th, 2010, 01:44 PM
haha... Ktani beat me. I was going to direct you to her honey lightening thread. No damage!

ETA: Saw the link she had only really had the result pics. Here is the thread with ALL the details!


November 17th, 2010, 01:48 PM
I dyed my blonde hair red once, colour oops and lots of honey lightening may work. You may get patchy hair though as damaged dyed hair is more pourous and will hold onto that dye.

You will have to put up with many months of faded hair but it will be worth it in the end!

November 17th, 2010, 02:01 PM
color oops worked on a friends hair and my hair but i suggest you heavily condition both before and after as it made my hair feel horrible for a week after; i was removing red and my friend was removing black, so it works on lots of colors.

November 17th, 2010, 02:20 PM
olive oil soaks may help or the honey suggestion. black is unfortunately one of the worst colours to get rid of.

November 17th, 2010, 02:31 PM
Hey, I had the exact same problem and I have found a miracle product called 'colour B4' it lifts hair dye off of the cuticles without damaging it.It brings your hair back to its lightest natural shade in ten mins. If you live in Ireland or the UK you can pick it up in boots. I bought two boxes as I have long hair and was shocked when I was washing it out of my hair and seen my natural colour after all those years of putting permanent black into it :O seriously amazing. I bought the extra strength as there was a huge build up of permanent black! http://www.boots.com/en/Colour-B4.-Hair-colour-remover-extra-strength-by-Scott-Cornwall-hair-expert._1000976/

November 17th, 2010, 03:15 PM
Well, this is where the stylist comes in with info that may be inconsistent with what others have said. In my experience, and with all the chemistry I had to learn specifically for this job, I can tell you that there is a huge chance the "Colour Oops", "colorB4" and similar brands will not remove as much colour as you would like. These products are designed to remove colour within 72 hours of a colour job, before the cortex has had a chance to settle from the chemical process.

Yes these products will remove some colour, but it will likely leave your hair with a strong red tint, and leave it much darker than you're going for. That said, they are less damaging than bleach, so you could give it a try, but honestly, I wouldn't expect the results you're looking for.

If you really want your natural medium brown back, you'll have to resort to a long, and rather expensive, salon process that will achieve the result you're looking for. In a salon, if they're doing right, they will bleach out the colour over a period of time to ensure the least damage to the hair. This will require several salon visits. Then, as it is very likely that your hair will go through the orange stage, they will have to re-colour, and tone, your hair for the desired result.

I am not one for pushing salon service, and even refuse to work for others because of that business side, but this is the most likely outcome in this case. You can negotiate a set price for this whole treatment, and of course if you're going to go this route, shop around for someone who is going to give the best price, and the recommended treatment.

I am not trying to disprove anyone else's claims of success, but I think, in those cases, hair type, the specific colour, and brand used, and previous hair history, as well as how long the person was colouring their hair factors in. In your case with the previous history you've given I don't recommend trying any colour removing products. You could try things such as lemon or honey lightening, but they will leave a red tint for sure. You will get some lift over time though.

Nothing is going to get your hair back to its natural colour, especially in light of the fact that you stated you've bleached previously. The ONLY way, and this is fact, to get you natural colour back will be to grow it out. That said if you really want to give it a go, my professional opinion would be to do the salon process, then have them re-colour your hair as close to your natural shade as possible so that root regrowth will be little issue.

Good luck in your journey.

(much of this post was copied from another post of mine, on a similar question, and edited to suit this particular case.)

November 17th, 2010, 05:05 PM
haha... Ktani beat me. I was going to direct you to her honey lightening thread. No damage!

ETA: Saw the link she had only really had the result pics. Here is the thread with ALL the details!


The result pics are in links with recipes, lol.

November 19th, 2010, 03:19 PM
About a year and a half ago I dyed my hair jet black and lightened it naturally with lemon and honey and chamomile... it just took a few months and a spritz of this solution in my hair everyday but eventually it went to a medium brown:

Chamomile tea (strong), the juice of 2 lemons, 3 spoons of dark honey and some olive oil so that my hair wouldn't become dry with all the lemon juice

I put it in a spray bottle and squirted a small amount in my hair each day... moreso if I went into the sun. And every once in a while I would do a full-on lemon and honey treatment for a few hours (applying heat sometimes). After about 3-5 months most of my hair was a heavily highlighted medium brown.

However, I had only dyed my hair black once though, if you have many layers of colour it might be more difficult for you.

I hope I helped. From my experience this gradual but effective :)