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?