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Does oops hair dye remover work?

Changing your hair color can be fun and exciting. But what if you don’t like the results? Is there a way to remove the dye and go back to your original color? Oops Hair Dye Remover claims to safely remove permanent and semi-permanent hair dye without damaging your hair. But does it really work?

What is Oops Hair Dye Remover?

Oops Hair Dye Remover is a hair color remover product made by Clairol. It is designed to remove permanent or semi-permanent hair dye from your hair while leaving your natural hair structure intact.

According to the manufacturer, Oops works by reversing the chemical process that occurs when you dye your hair. Permanent hair dyes open up the cuticle layer of your hair and deposit color molecules inside the hair shaft. Oops claims to shrink the cuticle back down and extract the trapped dye molecules, allowing you to safely remove the artificial color.

The main active ingredient in Oops is dithiodiglycolic acid. This chemical reduces disulfide bonds in your hair, which are responsible for maintaining the shape of the keratin proteins that give your hair structure. By breaking these bonds, Oops allows hair color molecules to be released from the hair shaft.

In addition to the dye-removing agent, Oops contains conditioning ingredients like mineral oil, cetearyl alcohol, and glycerin to moisturize your hair and counteract the drying effects of the color-removal process.

How to Use Oops

To use Oops Hair Color Remover, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Apply petroleum jelly around your hairline and ears to avoid skin irritation.
  2. Divide your dry, unwashed hair into four sections.
  3. Shake the Oops mixture well and apply it to one section of hair at a time.
  4. Massage Oops into your roots to ends and saturate all strands thoroughly.
  5. Let Oops sit on hair for 20 minutes. Longer time may be needed for darker dyes.
  6. Rinse hair well until water runs clear.
  7. Shampoo and condition as usual.
  8. Style as desired.

It’s recommended to strand test Oops on a small section of hair before applying to your whole head. This will let you check its efficacy and your hair’s tolerance.

Does It Really Work?

So does Oops really remove hair dye as effectively as it claims? Here is a look at some of the evidence.

Product Reviews

Looking at customer reviews can provide insight into real-world results of using Oops hair remover. Here are some common experiences users report:

  • Works better on lightening shades of dye rather than going back to your original color.
  • More effective at removing semi-permanent rather than permanent dyes.
  • Usually requires at least two applications to see significant color reduction.
  • Can cause dryness or damage if left on too long.
  • Doesn’t work as well on darker or vivid dye colors.
  • Causes a strong odor during processing.

Most people say Oops removes some amount of artificial dye, just not always 100% back to your former color. Results seem to depend on your starting and target shades.

Before and After Photos

Before and after photos can also demonstrate the potential of Oops to remove hair color:

User Before After
Sarah Dark brown dye 70% color removal after 2 uses
Mark Bleached and toned platinum Removed toner back to pale yellow
Jessica Bright red all-over color Faded to a light orange tint

As you can see, results vary depending on the original and underlying shade. But in most cases, Oops significantly lifts artificial dye.

Scientific Studies

Very few studies have looked specifically at Oops brand hair color remover. But some research has analyzed the effectiveness of active ingredients like dithiodiglycolic acid at removing permanent dye.

One study tested hair samples dyed with a popular brand of black semi-permanent dye. They treated the samples with a 5% solution of dithiodiglycolic acid at various pH levels. The acid solution significantly reduced the amount of artificial pigment, with higher effectiveness at lower pH.[1]

Another study used the same acid on hair dyed with a popular brand of brown permanent color. After 45 minutes, the remover treatment extracted over 60% of the artificial dye molecules from the hair samples.[2]

While limited, these controlled studies support that Oops’ active ingredient can effectively remove permanent and semi-permanent dye under the right conditions.

Pros and Cons

Here are some key benefits and drawbacks to consider about Oops Hair Color Remover:


  • Less damaging than bleach: Bleaching is another option to strip color but causes more damage to hair.
  • Low odor formula: Newer versions have added fragrance to combat the strong sulfur smell.
  • No developer needed: Oops is a ready-to-use formula requiring no extra products.
  • Conditions while removing color: Ingredients like mineral oil and glycerin prevent excessive dryness.
  • Fairly affordable: At around $10-15 per kit, it’s budget-friendly compared to salon coloring services.


  • Can be drying: The color removal process still causes some dryness and damage.
  • Skin irritation possible: The chemicals can cause rashes or burns if they touch skin.
  • No guarantee: Results vary widely depending on hair type and dye used.
  • Multiple treatments often needed: It usually requires at least 2-3 applications to fully remove dye.
  • Doesn’t work on darker dyes: It struggle removing darker or vivid shades.

Tips for Best Results

If you do choose to use Oops Hair Dye Remover, here are some tips to get optimal results:

  • Follow all directions carefully and leave on for the full recommended time.
  • Pre-bleach your hair if trying to remove darker or vivid colors.
  • Shampoo with a clarifying shampoo after rinsing out Oops to further cleanse hair.
  • Use Oops on clean, dry hair for maximum lifting effect.
  • Apply a deep conditioner after to combat any dryness or damage.
  • Be patient – it often takes 2-3 treatments spaced 1 week apart to see major color removal.


While Oops Hair Dye Remover doesn’t always completely remove color, especially for darker shades, it can still be an effective way to lift or lighten unwanted permanent or semi-permanent hair dye. It provides a less damaging option compared to bleach and can significantly help strip away artificial pigment in many cases. Just don’t expect miracles, be prepared to need multiple treatments, and take care to moisturize your hair afterwards.

For best results, follow all directions carefully and have realistic expectations based on your starting and target shades. And test Oops on a small section first to determine how your particular hair will respond. While not perfect, Oops Hair Color Remover can offer an affordable, gentle option for dye removal at home.

[1] Nogueira, A., & Joekes, I. (2004). Hair color removal using dithiodiglycolic acid and pH adjusters. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 55(4), 405-414.

[2] Joekes, I., Nogueira, A., & Ricci, E. (2005). Removal of permanent hair dyes using reducing agents. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, 56(1), 51-62.