How NOT to get rid of turquoise, blue and green hair dye.

Oh, wow, did I ever mess up. If you’re here, I’m guessing you did, too. Let’s commiserate together and talk about how not to get rid of unwanted turquoise, blue and green hair dye.

Some of them may say “semi-permanent” on the box, but as I found out, and you probably have, too, there is no such thing as a semi-permanent blue, green or turquoise dye. That stuff never leaves your hair. And now there’s a lockdown and the hairdressers can’t fit you in, and even if they could, you’ve lost work hours and can’t afford to pay a stylist to do a colour correction. Life really throws lemons sometimes, doesn’t it?

I’m assuming here that the reason you need to get rid of this blue or green dye is because your employer or school has a dress code that specifically says you’ll be in some kind of trouble if you show up with green, blue or turquoise hair. The goal of this article is to get your hair looking like a natural colour again so you don’t get a disciplinary or suspended or something like that.

Unfortunately, from a chemistry point of view, these blue and green dyes actually are semi-permanent. But any hair dye with a blue base (so, blue, green and turquoise, also some purples) generally causes a lot of cuticle staining, especially if you put it on bleached hair, so getting rid of blue hair is nigh on impossible.

It’s worth noting that colour remover doesn’t work for semi-permanent dyes, if you want to know more about why this is, check out this article about how colour remover works).

To diagnose how bad your problem is, wash your hair two or three times in the space of a day, drying it between washes (condition loads in between and maybe add coconut oil so your hair doesn’t dry out from shampoo).

Ideally, use some anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head and Shoulders, because there’s something in the anti-dandruff part of it that makes hair dye fade.

If the green, blue or turquoise is fading, you might be able to get it to disappear enough that most people won’t notice it. If it’s not fading much, keep reading to find out what to do.

My experience with two blue-based hair dye disasters and what I learned

I have made the mistake of using semi-permanent blue and green twice in the past 18 months. Once was on purpose, the other was a tragic accident.

First, I used the L’Oreal Colorista Teal semi-permanent dye when I was in California. I put it on bleached hair. I thought it was a fun colour when I first used it. Then it faded to a Halloween witch colour. It said it would be gone in 6 washes and I believed it. When I discovered I was stuck with this green colour, I Googled straight away and found an article on a mom blog from someone who said her son had used the exact same dye and she’d found an amazing homemade remedy to fix his hair (tl;dr she hadn’t).

It said to mix baking powder with dish soap (washing up liquid), make a big paste, put it on my hair, cover it with a bag and leave it for about 15 minutes.

Almost immediately, where the mixture touched my neck, it irritated my skin. Stupidly, I left it the full 15 minutes on my hair. Bad plan. Such a bad plan.

…Yeah, so, long story short, that shit burnt my hair so bad it was permanently frazzled and STILL BLUE-GREEN! I had to cut the ends off. I was so glad I’d only done a teal ombre. Dawn is GREAT on dishes but it wasn’t designed for hair dye removal.

how to fix blue hair how to get rid of green hair dye
Don’t use this on your hair!

DO NOT USE BAKING POWDER WITH DISH SOAP ON YOUR HAIR! I guess I’m putting it in shouty capitals for all the people who aren’t on this page yet in the hope they hear me before it’s too late.

This is what my hair looked like after I dried it (you can see how frazzled and damaged it is, and it still has that green tinge. I was so upset I had been such a beautiful silver a few days earlier):

Anyway, 12 months later, I was in New York for a crucial work conference and I’d picked up some violet Crazy Color, so I put it on the ends of my hair.

Violet Crazy Color is a lie. When I started applying it, it turned out it’s bright blue. I stopped applying it and washed it off immediately but it had already stuck, as you’ll see in the next photo. Horrendous if you were expecting a delicate pale purple tint like the bottle implies. I’m starting to wonder if whoever names/labels the bottles at Renbow Crazy Color is a sadist who purposely mis-names the colours so people have hair disasters.

Seriously, I should have suspected after the Crazy Color Silver was a platinum blonde and Crazy Color Platinum was a beautiful silver shade. I forgot. I was beyond upset. But really it was partly my own fault because I should have strand tested and I was in such a hurry I didn’t.

Anyway, during that disaster, I knew better than to try the baking powder again, and I didn’t have time to fix it any other way so I put L’Oreal Colorista Lilac on the blonde bits which made a nice effect that at least looked intentional but didn’t hide the blue.

When the conference was over, I tried bleaching it out instead.

That didn’t work either. So I put a silver dye over it all. That sort of worked but it faded in a few weeks to a sort of very very pale pastel blue staining that was patchy, and every time I tried toning it out with the Crazy Colour Platinum (yeah, I keep going back to them… I have a problem haha), it made the blue (which by this point had washed out to a nasty seaweed green shade) more obvious. So I eventually coloured over it with a medium brown and left it alone.

Basically what had happened is called “cuticle staining”. This is more common with semi-permanent, bright colours, but can also happen with permanent hair dyes, especially red hair dyes. Cuticle staining is where the outside of the hair shaft has been permanently stained with a colour. At that point, normal bleach for hair will only lift the underlying shade, not the staining, and, even worse news, colour remover can’t get at it, either.

Okay, so from my story you now know you probably can’t take the blue dye, turquoise dye or green dye out of your hair because they have caused cuticle staining. Take a deep breath.

We can still fix this. Just maybe not the way you wanted to. You can still get your hair to a point where you can go to school or work again, but you will need to be flexible about what colour your hair ends up because it can’t be blonde now until the stained parts grow out again.

At that point, cuticle staining needs to be cut out of the hair before you can bleach, and in the meantime, you need to take care not to accidentally use another product that might cause cuticle staining further up the hair shaft. This is especially important if you intend to go blonde at any point in the next two years, if that’s you, avoid bright red hair dyes while trying to fix the unwanted green or blue colour.

When trying to get rid of blue dyes (ones with a blue base), you have three options, and three things that don’t work.

What doesn’t work to get rid of blue or green hair dye:

Bleach

Baking powder and washing up liquid

Color remover

What works to get your hair looking natural again:

Dying your hair red (avoid bright or deep shades of red if you want to be white blonde in the next year or two)

Dying your hair ginger

Dying your hair brown (avoid dark brown or black as it seems like a great idea, but it’s a nightmare to get back out of your hair and you’ll be left with the green again. Also some black dyes use a green base which will make your cuticle staining even worse if you ever bleach it)

My suggestion (actually this is similar to the answer to what you should do if you’ve wrecked your hair with bleach) is to choose a box dye in one of the three colours above, either red, brown or ginger, and put that over the blue, green or turquoise. If your hair is bleached, remember you need to add some red to your hair before you can get a brown permanent dye to take.

Your only other option, if you can get away with it is to completely own this shade of green/blue (or put a nice bright colour like purple or turquoise on top) and learn to live with it until it grows out. I hear washed-out mermaid is pretty big in some places.

Other hair colouring articles you might like: 

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

Hair bleaching 101: How to bleach your hair

What do I use between the silver shampoos?

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A

Hair Dye 101: Bleaching your hair to white or silver blonde

How to get silver blonde, white blonde, platinum blonde and silver hair.

“It started as a sudden fancy…” Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment

I believe that we are inspired to take our hair to its blonding limits. It sometimes feels like a labour of love – certainly, the frustrations and disappointments that can be felt if it all goes wrong is akin to losing a sporting event or getting an unexpectedly low mark in an exam, compounded by people’s negativity and their failure to understand that a slight mistake isn’t proof this was a bad idea, it’s an opportunity to learn.

The triumphs and successes are commented on by far more people than any other colour. There’s something very special about a good blonde dye result, it has the power to delight, uplift and inspire awe and wonder like no other hair colour. I can wax lyrical all day, white blonde, silver and platinum blonde are my favourite colour range. They are where science and art meet to create perfect harmonics with beauty and perfection in a delectable barbershop quartet. Okay I’m done with the poetics.

To start blonding, you need to think like a hairdresser. A highly imaginative and intelligent colourist. Think you’re up for it? If not, go to an actual hairdresser (not an average one; just because they did Sheryl up the road’s highlights does NOT mean they know how to take your hair to within an inch of it’s physical limits. If you want above average hair, you will need to either get an above average hairdresser, or do it yourself).

It’s not arrogant to think you can colour your own hair, and here’s why – you have lived with this hair for how many years? You know what you’ve done to it, you can’t lie to yourself, you know where you chopped that fringe when you were twelve, which bits still have henna on them (get these cut before you start colouring, henna and bleach don’t mix), how often you comb your hair when it’s wet or overheat the straighteners when you’re in a hurry.

You know what shampoo and conditioner you use, and how often you REALLY use that protein spray you bought.

Most hairdressers take a history of your hair, but they don’t have the time or memory to go very in-depth. And here’s the thing. You can tell them you colour your hair every 6 weeks, and they’ll say “it’s in good condition, let’s bleach it with SUPER STRENGTH” and they’re not the ones who have to go home with ruined hair. You do.

I get my hair cut by hairdressers (although I’ve done that myself in the past). I don’t let them colour. I used to, but they just crapped on my trust and took my money anyway and left me to go home with awful hair several times, from several different hairdressers, in different parts of the UK, so I just don’t trust them to colour.

The hairdresser who cuts my hair even got in on the action this year. She tried to tell me I could bleach my hair more, that it could take another round of maximum strength 40 vol peroxide. I could see signs that she couldn’t, that told me this was a terrible idea. I did a test strand when I got home, and lo and behold, it burnt clean in half.

What she didn’t see was the red wasn’t my hair colour, it was cuticle staining from the last time I let a hairdresser colour my hair, 2 years ago (this was a trainee who needed to do it to qualify so I have never told them how badly they wrecked my hair). Or perhaps my hair-cutter was hoping I’d come for another cut or a colour correction once it was ruined.

There are two ways you can bleach your hair:

1. None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

2. You have coloured it, even if only an inch of colour is left.

Method 1: None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

Do not follow this method if someone else coloured it for you, if you have got highlights, ombre or any other sort of colour, even if it’s the same colour dye as your natural colour. I’ve got another method for you, why follow the wrong one?

Firstly, you will need the following items:

1. A box of hair colour. I would use a pre-lightener such as Belle Blonde or Born Blonde on fresh hair as they are easy to use and work well enough.

When I box dye, it takes 3 boxes to cover my hair. Mine is waist length and very thick. Make sure you buy enough.

2. Something to cover yourself with, such as a bin bag (sexy!) especially if your hair is long. Hair dye can burn your nipples. Just saying.

3. Something to cover the floor with. Another bin bag or some sheets of newspaper will do.

4. A clock, watch, or VERY accurate sundial. I sometimes use my laptop so I can listen to music during the development time.

Your natural haircolour will determine how long you need to leave the dye on for. I would do a strand test if possible, following the instructions on the packet. Here’s why: people are often shocked by the range of colours hair goes through before it finishes at blonde. If you see your hair turning orange, would you panic and wash the bleach off? If you’ve seen it all on the strand test, then when your whole head of hair starts going through a series of colours you’ll not even worry.

Note: Wash the pre-lightener off at the maximum time, even if your hair isn’t as light as you want it. While most of the product will become inactive before the development time is over (meaning that if you leave it too long it’ll start to go patchy), there’s still enough active product on your scalp to cause damage. Wash it all off, let your scalp recover (I recommend at least a week, and two if you can wait that long) then pre-lighten again if you need to. While your hair won’t “heal” itself, your scalp will, and that can make the difference between being a healthy blonde and being plagued with hair loss and permanent scalp damage.

Once your hair is as light as you want (for platinum and silver, you need your hair to be a very pale yellow before toning), move on to toning your blonde hair.

Method 2: You’ve got some other colour on your hair:

If your hair has a COLOUR (e.g. red, black, brown) on it, you need to use a colour remover before bleaching, then wait two weeks before bleaching (because the bleach will re-oxidize any remaining colour molecules in your hair and it’ll go very dark and possibly greenish, see how colour remover works for details).

The reason to use colour remover is that there’s only a certain amount of bleaching a hair can take before it melts. Colour remover stinks and washing it out is tedious and it leaves your hair so dry but its an important step, particularly for darker dyed hair. It doesn’t bring your natural colour back, it just gets rid of dye colour, so once that’s done, you’re ready to bleach.

You have two options, I prefer to pre-lighten then blue-bleach because pre-lightener is idiot proof and takes it to just enough blonde that if there are patches of brown it’s less conspicuous until you fix it, which is always good on your first step. If your hair is light, you’re probably done after pre-lightener and ready to tone, but this is unlikely.

After pre-lightening, get some powder bleach, in the UK, Jerome Russell’s B*Blonde Maximum Lift Powder is for sale everywhere, and depending on your CURRENT hair lightness (I know, the box says natural, it assumes you haven’t just prelightened/colour removed etc), use either medium or high peroxide cream. Peroxide comes in percentages.

Medium is 30vol, high is 40 vol. If you’re not sure, go for medium, you can always bleach it again if it’s too dark. If you go too high, you can burn your hair off, this is called a chemical haircut and you can’t dye your hair again once it’s happened (but hairdressers will tell you they can “fix” it by putting more peroxide-filled chemicals, or worse, semi-permanent colour, on your hair). Once your hair has been damaged that badly, it cannot be repaired (see also: how to fix hair that’s turned to chewing gum). We’ve all wrecked our hair, it’s a rite of passage. But you’re going to try not to, so go for medium if you’re unsure.

Mix the bleach in a bowl (I use a pyrex glass bowl, most people use plastic ones that are specially made for hair dye) and use a spatula (non-metal), so your brush doesn’t get full of lumps of unmixed powder that lands on your hair and makes a splotchy mess later.

Once it’s mixed, apply it to your hair according to the instructions (usually brush on lengths and ends first, then roots 20 mins later because roots develop much faster. I find this hard so usually just leave my roots to do on a further application when the rest of my hair is dry and not tangled up in thick creamy bleach, it’s more of a faff but my hair would be much shorter if I just yanked it around and treated it like a Stretch Armstrong), basically wait until your hair is the colour you want, and wash it off.

Let hair dry. Congratulations, you should have some pale yellow bleached hair, and if it’s pale yellow, contrasting with your complexion and looking a bit unnatural; you’re now ready to tone!

Other hair colouring articles you might like:

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

What do I use between the silver shampoos?

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A