How to Get Hair Dye Off Your Skin, According to a Master Colorist

Hint: You may want to keep dish soap handy.

If you’ve ever dyed your hair, either at home or at a salon, odds are you’ve probably gotten hair dye on your skin. Hey, accidents happen. But thankfully the aftermath of your new hair color doesn’t have to stay on your face, neck, or nails for long—or even at all! There are ways to prevent getting hair dye on your skin and ways you can quickly get it off.

To find out how to get hair dye off skin, we tapped Nina Rubel, a master colorist at the Rob Peetoom salon in Brooklyn, and Shvonne Perkins, the Manager of Training and Education at Madison Reed.

Why does hair dye stain the skin?

The reason hair dye leaves such a stubborn stain on your skin is the same reason it does the same to your hair. “The pigment is very strong as it’s designed to penetrate through the hair cuticle and last for a long time,” explains Rubel. “When it’s exposed to skin it can cause stains as the pigment penetrates to the upper layer of the skin.”

How can you prevent getting hair dye on your skin?

Like most things related to skincare and haircare, prevention is the name of the game. “Protect your clothes and hands by wearing a hairdresser cape and/or extra protection, like a disposable sheet,” suggests Rubel. If you’re coloring your hair at home, she says to work the dye very carefully around your face and neck to prevent staining your skin. Perkins says that you can use petroleum jelly around the hairline and tops of the ears to avoid color transfer onto your skin—just be careful of where you place it. “Remember that it’s designed to block color, so if you get it on your hair, it’ll block color there, too,” she says.


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How do you remove permanent hair dye from skin?

“There are lots of great color removing wipes designed specifically for post-color clean-up,” says Perkins. “If you know you’ll be coloring often, do yourself a favor and invest in color-removing wipes—they are a lifesaver! Our at-home hair color kit comes with an individually wrapped towelette for this purpose.”

Rubel also notes that you should clean up dye as soon as you notice the mishap to prevent the dye from staining your skin. “Make sure to use a gentle cleanser and water—Argan oil can also work as a cleanser to remove hair dye.”

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Josie Maran 100 Percent Pure Argan Oil

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How do you remove permanent hair dye from the scalp?

The scalp is the most obvious place where hair dye will end up, and you’ll have to act quickly to remove it. “Professional salon shampoos are designed to remove most stains without damaging the fresh hair color—and that great head massage your stylist [gives you] will also work to rub off any stains,” explains Rubel. In lieu of a salon, she suggests washing your hair with a gentle shampoo that prevents color fade to get rid of scalp stains without stripping hair of its new color.

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Herbal Essences bio:renew Honey & Vitamin B Shampoo & Conditioner

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How do you remove permanent hair dye from your hands and nails? 

Rubel and Perkins suggest using gloves when coloring hair, and since most at-home hair dyes come with a pair in the box, there’s no need to shop for them. When you’re done dying your hair, Perkins recommends keeping the gloves on when you go into the shower to rinse off the dye until the water is clear-ish to prevent color from seeping into your nail beds. If you still have dye stains on your fingers, she suggests using nail polish remover while Rubel recommends dish soap to take it off—just make sure to use a moisturizing hand cream after to prevent dryness.