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What Removes Permanent Hair Dye From Skin?

Tough stains are hard to remove no matter where they land, and they’re a literal pain if you don’t use the right solutions to get them off your skin. So, if you want to know what removes permanent hair dye from skin, read on.

How to Get Hair Dye Off Skin

You made a mistake, an easy blunder, and now you’re paying for it with blue fingers or a brown forehead. It happens to the best of us.

But now you need to know how to get that unsightly hair dye stain off your skin in a hurry. Here are the best solutions for removing permanent hair dye stains from skin.

8 Ways to Remove Hair Dye Stains

Dirty hands that will have to figure out how to remove permanent hair dye from skin

Katya Havok/Shutterstock

Try any of these methods to safely remove permanent dyes that have gotten on your skin.

1. Good Old Soap and Water

It may sound redundant considering you were probably just in the shower washing out your hair after dying it, but regular soap and water can be a good method for removing dye from your skin.

Lather up the affected areas and use a washcloth to scrub as you rinse the soap off. Since permanent dye is made to stick to hair, it will usually wash off of skin fairly easily. Obviously, this depends on the brand’s formula.

2. Olive Oil or Tea Tree Oil

Oil is a fairly effective solution for getting any type of permanent dye off of your skin. Depending on the size of the stain, you can use a cotton swab or cotton pad to spread the oil around.

Leave it as-is for as long as you can; a few hours should do the trick. When you are ready to remove it, scrub gently with a washcloth and warm water.

3. Makeup Remover

Makeup remover is an especially good option if the staining is on your face or near your eyes. Most makeup removers are gentle enough to not irritate your skin but strong enough to tackle permanent dye.

Simply use the makeup remover on the stain as you would if it were makeup. A cotton pad or cotton swab can make the job easier.

4. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is ideal if the stains are just on your hands or if you don’t have sensitive skin. It can dry your skin out, so be sure to moisturize after. Use a washcloth or cotton pad to scrub at the stains with rubbing alcohol.

You may need to scrub vigorously, but it should take the stain off quickly. After the stain is off, wash your skin with soap and water and apply a moisturizer if your skin is red or dry.

5. Toothpaste

If you don’t mind a stickier solution, toothpaste may be your go-to. Make sure you are using paste and not gel. Dab a bit on the stain and use your finger to spread it around. Leave it for about ten minutes, and then wash it off with a washcloth.

6. Baking Soda and Dish Soap

If water and soap aren’t strong enough, but you don’t have or want to use the other solutions, baking soda and dish soap are convenient alternatives. Combine one part baking soda with one part dish soap and apply to the stained skin.

Use a cotton pad to rub it in like makeup remover. Think of it as an exfoliating cleanser. The baking soda adds a slight abrasiveness, and the dish soap washes it all away. Rinse the solution off when finished and apply a moisturizer if your skin is red or dry.

7. Nail Polish Remover

Only use nail polish remover if the stains are on your hands. Don’t put it on your face. Using a cotton pad, rub the stain with nail polish remover until it comes off. Like rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover can have a drying effect, so use moisturizer after.

8. Time

The nice thing about getting hair dye on your skin is that it will come off by itself. The hair dye has only stained the top layer of skin, so it will come off in a few days when the skin does.

You can expedite the process by washing the stains more often or using exfoliating cleansers. Since the stains are likely on your hands and face, you probably already wash these areas often enough to effectively remove the stains.

Avoiding Having to Remove Hair Dye From Skin

Woman wearing gloves so she doesn't have to learn what removes permanent hair dye from skin

Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

The best way to deal with permanent hair dye stains is to avoid them altogether. The easiest way to avoid staining is to wear gloves when applying dye. If you’re using box dye, there should be a pair of gloves in the box, usually folded into the instructions.

Otherwise, you can buy a box of plastic gloves anywhere. If you bought your hair dye from a pharmacy or department store, they likely carry gloves as well.

The second step to prevention is to use petroleum jelly-based products like Vaseline. Spread a liberal amount around your entire hairline before you start dying. Don’t forget to coat your ears too.

If you are dying your hair topless, you may want to smear your shoulders and the back of your neck too. Alternatively, you can wear a shirt with a high neckline that you don’t mind getting dye on. A towel works too but is harder to maneuver in.

Things to Consider

Before you dive for any of the forenamed solutions, take a moment to ask yourself these questions.

  • Is your skin easily irritated or dried out?
  • What products do you have on hand?
  • Are the stains on your hands, face, or both?
  • How severe is the staining?
  • How much time do you have to get the stains off?

Frequently Asked Questions

Image for a piece on what removes permanent hair dye from skin featuring a woman in a salon chair getting pink hair


If you still have questions, keep reading the FAQs below.

Does vinegar remove dye?

Yes and no. While vinegar will get the stain off, it is not removing the dye so much as the top layer of skin. It is not the most effective solution, may be irritating to your skin, and should not be used on your face, especially around your eyes, but it may work.

Does hydrogen peroxide remove dye?

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective dye-removing solution that works a lot like rubbing alcohol. The reason it is not on the list of solutions is that it is quite a harsh chemical.

If you bleached your hair before dying it, chances are there was hydrogen peroxide in the bleach. Do not use hydrogen peroxide on your face, and don’t be alarmed if your skin gets paler after contact with it. As long as you wash it off after, your skin should regain color in about 20 minutes.

How long does dye stay on the skin if left alone?

Assuming you don’t wash the stained area very frequently, permanent dye can stain skin for up to a couple of weeks. If you wash regularly and exfoliate, it may only stick around for a few days.

How do you get hair dye out of clothes?

Assuming your clothes aren’t white and you can’t just bleach them, then the solution may depend on the color of the dye. Remove the stain as quickly as possible. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to get out.

A dishwashing detergent, water, and vinegar solution is effective against brown and black dyes. Dishwashing detergent and ammonia is effective for removing red dyes.

So, What Removes Permanent Hair Dye From Skin?

Soap and water, olive oil, makeup remover, rubbing alcohol, toothpaste, baking soda and dish soap, nail polish remover, and time are some of the most effective solutions to removing permanent hair dye stains from skin.

Just be careful of what you put where and wash and moisturize your skin after, if it gets irritated.

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