The Vitamin C Method for Removing Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Sooo… I decided to dye my hair purple. I don’t know if it was the Prince concert I went to recently, the fact that purple is my favorite color, or that I’ve been completely bored with my hair lately, but I thought adding a subtle purple tinge would give just enough “wow” to keep me from chopping my hair into this pixie cut (cute, right?). Welp, I was wrong. Here’s sort of what I was going for:

purple curls
Sadly, I now realize this is probably more of a fuchsia. (Source:

Here’s what I got:

results from N'Rage Purple Plum

I used N’Rage Purple Plum demi-permanent hair dye, chosen because the helpful lady at Sally Beauty Supply told me she’d seen this color on a brunette with a similar hair tone as mine, and it looked “nice in the sun.” Don’t get me wrong, I did not expect to look like this (which is still pretty), but since my hair is a medium shade of brown with some natural highlights, I expected just a little more, well… purple.

Instead, I got blue-black-purple. Depending on the light, much of my hair was nearly black, the tips were dark blue, and my roots, where I had purposely not applied dye, were my natural medium brown. #fail.

Whenever I color my hair at home, I know it’s a roll of the dice. This time I lost – miserably. So I immediately googled how to safely remove hair dye without using bleach. I came across the vitamin C method, which is supposed to lift demi-permanent hair color 1-2 shades. Here’s what it called for:

  • One or two 1,000 mg vitamin C tablets, crushed
  • A clarifying or dandruff shampoo – something not too gentle, cheap is ok
  • Plastic shower cap
  • 20 minutes
Vitamin C Method

So I got to work, figuring I’d have nothing to lose. For my amount of hair, I crushed three tablets in a plastic bag with a hammer and mixed this well with my usual amount of clarifying shampoo. After letting warm water run over my hair for a few minutes to open the cuticle and let any access product run off, I wrung out my hair and lathered as usual with the shampoo/vitamin C mixture.

I piled my hair on top of my head, covered it with the plastic cap, and let it sit for about 25 minutes. I  then rinsed thoroughly and applied a deep conditioner for about 20 minutes since clarifying shampoo can be harsh.

The Results:

before and after vitamin C Method
Left: after washing only with clarifying shampoo. Right: after using the Vitamin C method

Although the pictures above were taken in slightly different light, you can see the movement of the blue/purple dye further down my hair after using the vitamin C method.

The shampoo/vitamin C mix took out A LOT of hair dye, more than with my usual moisturizing shampoo. The first time I tried this method, I noticed a very subtle difference, but not much. I let my hair rest, then a few days later I tried it a second time, and when my hair dried, I began to see hints of my natural hair color. This method is definitely not a one-shot fix, but if your hair is strong enough to handle multiple treatments back to back, it will remove temporary color more quickly than normal shampooing. Plus, it’s more gentle than bleach, which can strip curly hair of it’s natural oils and change the curl pattern.

It’s now been 10 days since I dyed my hair “purple.” After two vitamin C treatments, two normal shampoos, and one day at the beach, I’d say the color is about 70 percent gone. That’s not so bad considering it normally takes demi-permanent dye between 3-6 weeks to wash out.

Once the color is completely gone, I’ll likely head over to my stylist for a complete color re-do. Maybe I’ll add honey highlights, so I can try purple again over lighter hair. I’ll use a different brand, of course. 😉

Have you ever dyed your hair purple?


14 thoughts on “The Vitamin C Method for Removing Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

  1. I just tried this myself. I had been dying my hair a dark red almost purple and was tired of it. I’ve done the Vit C treatment twice, first time not much difference I did like you and rested my hair a few days the second time it’s faded to a nice copper color. I might do it once more. Mine was permanent dye too so it works on that as well.

  2. In defense of the well-meaning lady at Sally’s, I have to say that n’rage is actually a really excellent brand. It’s the only one I’ve found that will keep vibrant color for more than about 3 weeks (which obviously isn’t so great if you want to get it out, as I’m currently trying to do as well).

  3. So i tried this method on my rather pinky burgandy hair tht ive had for about a year now .. it does work . But as my ends r so damaged it just turned them a real funny colour .. almost ginger .. im goin to reapply again in a few days .. and again until the vitamin c tablets run out .. want to get to a nice light brown eventually .. as i work in a salon .. im sure the girls will bleach it out after ive stripped it as much as possible .. wish me luck!! Xx

  4. I dye my hair to dark blonde them my roots was orange so I dye my hair to natural brown color witch I hate it. So I decide to use vitamin C with shampoo. So I wash my hair everyday for 3 days and the brown colour went out completely just my roots still a little be red witch is understood because was orange than I dye brown. But it’s work perfectly:) I recommend that for sure.

  5. I just think purple is only going to be achievable when your hair is some sort of blonde. I don’t know why but even I had problems with purple, and my hair was a light auburn/golden brown/almost blonde color and it didn’t take purple well either. I had the same weird blueish blackish purple color that was barely even noticeable. The sections that I dyed blue took noticeably..but the sections I dyed purple looked pretty much black. I’m gonna try this method too to speed up the fading process so I can lighten my hair a bit more and then try purple again.

  6. If you’re willing to try purple again, Jerome Russel Punky Color is a really good hair dye brand. I use plum and violet mixed and I love the color. If you want a lighter color I would suggest probably the plum. They last a long time and they’re great dyes. I’m trying the vitamin C treatment now so I can go silver. Thanks for the info!

  7. I just added water to the vit c tablets and let it dissolve. The vit c did not remove as much as using a dandruff shampoo.

  8. I like the bold colors on my hair, the problem is they never go away. I bought an ion demi permanent blue color. Looked great honestly. But I thought it was supposed to eventually wash out, not just fade a bit. Tried color fixer (ion extreme color remover), and all it did was lighten my roots. It’s grown out, and I’m debating just dying over it closer to my natural color. I still have green on the tips of my hair, it’s been about 18 months since I colored. Is the only way to fix the issue to cut all the hair that still has color?

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