In the pink, and need to get out of it...
January 3, 2010 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me get rid of my pink hair quickly!

I'm a teacher, and over the Christmas holidays I traditionally dye my normally dark gingery-blonde hair a nice unnatural colour. Two weeks ago I dyed it a lovely reddish pink with La Riche Directions' Pillarbox Red, which I got from a website that claimed it would come out in 6-8 washes. School starts again on Tuesday and I really need to get rid of my still-pink hair by then.

I've washed it over and over again in the last few days (I normally wash my hair every day anyway), sometimes leaving the shampoo in for 20 minutes or so at a time; I've used clarifying shampoos, Vosene, lemon juice, even vitamin C, and although it is now obviously faded, it still looks distinctly unnatural and nothing seems to get out large amounts of colour in one go. I don't really have the time or the money to go to a salon to get it fixed, and I don't know whether you can get colour-stripping products easily here in the UK (Boots does a brilliant one, apparently, but according to their website they don't have any in stock).

As far as I can see, I can either use a soap cap to semi-bleach out the remaining colour, or I can dye over it. Is a soap cap safe (the idea of using bleach at all troubles me)? Is there a shade I can dye it that will look more natural (I can't go too dark as I'm very pale)? Can anyone help me at all?!
posted by raspberry-ripple to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hydrogen Peroxide? In for a half a minute, and then washed out, and then a minute and then washed out until it works. . .
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 9:57 AM on January 3, 2010

Bleach would definitely be more damaging to your hair than another round of hair color, so I would suggest hitting the drugstore and picking up a box of hair dye that's close to your natural color. I understand that you've got dark blonde hair naturally so you may not be able to get it quite that light but I feel like you'll definitely get closer to normal than the current pink.
posted by kate blank at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2010

Dish washing detergent, though very drying to the hair, usually strips semi-permanent haircolor right the hell out in my experience. Use the kind you use for washing dishes by hand. Afterward, your hair will need some extra conditioning because it'll strip all the oils out of your hair.
posted by bedhead at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Funny. Twenty-five years ago in midwestern America, I had a teacher who would sometimes come back from a long weekend with bits of pink in her blonde hair. When we students would ask her about it, she'd look vaguely confused and shrug off any knowledge of how the color got there. It took me years to realize that this was just a coverup. Maybe the tactic will work for you.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:11 AM on January 3, 2010

I'd recommend dyeing it darker- a light or medium brown semi-permanent dye or rinse would probably work best to tone it down to an auburn rather than a pink. I'd avoid bleach or hydrogen peroxide as you run the risk of turning to a lighter and brighter pink and drying out your hair in the process.
posted by emd3737 at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2010

Agreed with going darker. When I tried bleaching my blue tips platinum blond to match the rest of my hair, it bizarrely turned pink and was very, very damaged. A hairstylist said pink pigments stain the hair much more than other colors so it tends to stick around and bleaching it doesn't work very well.
posted by frolic at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2010

Note for next time: Shampoo for 20 minutes wouldn't drag out as much dye as a fatty non-color safe conditioner for 20 minutes does.

If you do a soap cap, use two pumps of shampoo and one conditioner, and apply on wet hair to make sure it gets even treatment. It's not that harsh on your scalp and hair when you have a conditioner in there.
posted by dabitch at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2010

A hairstylist told me to use Prell shampoo to get remnants of green dye out of my hair, and I remember it working pretty well after a couple of uses. It's very harsh. If it's not available in the UK, maybe you could call your hairstylist and get a recommendation for something similar?
posted by min at 10:40 AM on January 3, 2010

Why haven't you considered dyeing your hair to a natural color? Buy a bottle of $10 dye, either semi-permanent (Clairol's Natural Instincts in light brown, maybe) or permanent. You say you can't go very dark, but a lighter auburn or brown should deposit enough color to take the pink out. This honestly seems like your only option, as you're currently scrubbing your hair raw to no avail. Looking at that color online, I'm not surprised it won't wash out in 6-8 shampoos, especially if your hair is naturally light. It's very intense and pink, which, as frolic mentions, is quite hard to completely eradicate. Darker dyes are much easier on the hair than light ones, and the accompanying heavy conditioner should restore some luster and smoothness.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:40 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

If Boots have sold out, try Superdrug or Sally Hair and Beauty, both stock similar products.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2010

I had to do this a while ago - a randomly bought-from-supermarket brown dye covered up a very bright shocking pink easily.
posted by Coobeastie at 11:04 AM on January 3, 2010

I haven't tried this, but I have heard that those hot oil treatments will suck colour out of hair.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:42 AM on January 3, 2010

Wow, thanks so much, everyone!

bedhead, I tried washing-up liquid and nothing significant seemed to happen, though maybe the one I used was too mild?

zoomorphic, I had been relying on the idea of dyeing a natural colour over it - during one of my earlier dyeing adventures I ended up with mostly normal hair and a few pink streaks, and on that occasion I used a red/blonde/chestnut semi-permanent dye over the top which worked really well (and just looked like a more interesting version of my natural colour). When I did a strand test a few days ago using the same dye, though, nothing happened to the colour of the hair at all. That's why I'm so worried about it now! It's possible, though, that the same dye might work fine now the colour has faded more (it's a lot lighter than it was when I last tried it) - I will try that again first and if nothing happens, I'll try a darker colour.

Coobeastie, that's very reassuring - thank you, and glad it worked for you!

roger ackroyd, thank you. I have been worrying about this all day and that made me laugh out loud.

Thanks so much to all of you. I will update tomorrow after a re-dye! (And I think I'll go back to my usual comes-out-in-a-few-washes purple next Christmas...)
posted by raspberry-ripple at 11:59 AM on January 3, 2010

I've heard Selsun Blue (dandruff shampoo) will strip color out of your hair.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 2:12 PM on January 3, 2010

Brian and her husband are correct. Long veteran of poor hair colour decisions here. Anti-dandruff shampoos are the solution.
posted by taff at 2:40 PM on January 3, 2010

Dish washing detergent, though very drying to the hair, usually strips semi-permanent haircolor right the hell out in my experience.

US dishwashing detergents are generally much stronger than UK dishwashing detergents, because the custom in the UK is not to rinse the dishes after washing whereas in the US rinsing is the norm.

Thirding the "dandruff shampoo" suggestion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:54 PM on January 3, 2010

I've also found that tea tree oil shampoo (available at some chemists) and, oddly, L'Oreal Kids lavender shampoo are both good for stripping hair colour. They take a bit longer, but they don't screw up your hair as much as bleach.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:54 PM on January 3, 2010

Get a gold enhancing shampoo *color maintenance* type shampoo. gold pigment is the antidote to pink.
posted by hortense at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2010

The vitamin C mix worked for me when I did the 'pink error'. I had to grind up a huge handful of tablets and then mix them into a paste that I kept on my hair (with plastic wrap) for about an hour. Pretty amazing.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:44 AM on January 4, 2010

Sidhedevil, that's really interesting about the dish soap. I wondered why it was so highly recommended and didn't do anything for me! (Although I've always rinsed my dishes anyway...)

Anti-dandruff shampoo did help a little, but the pink just wasn't budging. I dyed over it with a semi-permanent shade called "golden mahogany brown" and it doesn't look too bad - there's still a bit of a pink tint in certain lights, but it doesn't look as frightening as it did and the colour's not so dark that I can't live with it for a while. I just can't believe that after so much scrubbing, fading and dyeing over the pink is still hanging on in there - I may have to use roger ackroyd's tactic after all...

Thanks again for all your suggestions. And consider my lesson well and truly learned!
posted by raspberry-ripple at 8:17 AM on January 4, 2010

For future reference, if you need to get redish or pinkish tones out of your hair go for a colour labelled "Ash" as opposed to "Golden". The ash will tone down the red/pink while some of how they make thing golden is to add red-tones. I too have made bad hair decisions - glad to hear you've got something you can live with.
posted by machine at 11:35 AM on January 4, 2010

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