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How many washes with clarifying shampoo to remove color?

If you’ve recently colored your hair and are looking to remove the color, using a clarifying shampoo can help speed up the fading process. However, how many washes it takes to fully remove hair color depends on several factors.

What is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoos are designed to thoroughly cleanse the hair and remove product buildup. They contain ingredients like sulfates that deeply cleanse the hair follicle and strip away oils, styling products, and dye molecules. Using a clarifying shampoo helps remove artificial color more quickly than regular shampoos.

Factors that Affect Color Removal

There are several variables that determine how quickly clarifying shampoo can remove hair color:

  • Hair color type – Permanent hair dyes last the longest, while semi-permanent and temporary colors fade more quickly.
  • Color shade – Darker shades tend to cling to hair longer than lighter colors.
  • Hair type and texture – Smoother, less porous hair tends to retain color longer than coarse, porous hair.
  • Frequency of washing – Washing hair more often with clarifying shampoo speeds up color removal.
  • Heat styling – Heat from blow drying, curling, or straightening hair causes color to fade faster.
  • Sun exposure – UV rays help break down hair dye molecules over time.
  • Hair products – Using other stripping treatments and anti-residue shampoos helps clarifying shampoo remove color.

Number of Washes Needed

On average, it takes 3-6 washes with a clarifying shampoo to significantly lift hair color. Here is a breakdown by hair dye type:

Hair Dye Type Number of Clarifying Shampoo Washes
Temporary color rinse 1-3 washes
Semi-permanent dye 3-5 washes
Demi-permanent dye 5-7 washes
Permanent dye 7-10 washes

As you can see, temporary rinses come out the quickest, usually fading after just 1-3 washes. Semi-permanent color starts to lift after 3-5 clarifying shampoos. Demi-permanent dyes take 5-7 washes to start fading. And permanent hair color requires the most washes for removal, usually at least 7-10 treatments with clarifying shampoo.

Tips for Using Clarifying Shampoo

To get the most out of your clarifying shampoo for color removal, follow these tips:

  • Wet hair thoroughly before applying clarifying shampoo.
  • Lather the shampoo into your roots first, then work it through to the ends.
  • Let the shampoo sit on your hair for 1-2 minutes before rinsing.
  • Rinse hair very thoroughly – go over it a few times to remove all residue.
  • Use cool or lukewarm water instead of hot, which can accelerate fading.
  • Repeat the clarifying wash process 2-3 times each shower for maximum effect.
  • Use the clarifying shampoo regularly, at least 2-3 times per week.
  • Combine with other fading treatments like anti-dandruff shampoo, vitamin C spray, or baking soda scrub.
  • Avoid conditioning your hair after using clarifying shampoo as it can deposit residue.
  • Style hair less with heat tools to prevent damage and breakage as color fades.

When to Move On From Clarifying Shampoo

While clarifying shampoo is effective at removing hair color, it can also dry out your hair and scalp with overuse. It’s best to discontinue clarifying washes when:

  • You’ve reached your desired degree of fading – don’t over-strip the color.
  • Your hair feels dry, brittle, or damaged.
  • Your scalp feels irritated or excessively stripped of oils.
  • The clarifying shampoo has removed most of the artificial dye.
  • You see signs of breakage when brushing or styling your hair.

At that point, you can switch back to a more moisturizing, color-safe shampoo. Be sure to use a good conditioner and hair masks to restore moisture and strength to your hair.

Other Methods to Help Remove Hair Color

While clarifying shampoo is effective, you can combine it with other techniques to lift color more quickly. Some other options include:

  • Baking soda scrub – Make a paste of baking soda and anti-dandruff shampoo and massage it into your hair. Let it sit briefly before rinsing. The alkalinity helps strip color.
  • Vitamin C treatment – Crush vitamin C tablets into a powder and mix with shampoo or conditioner. Apply to damp hair and rinse after 20 minutes. Vitamin C oxidizes dye molecules.
  • Anti-dandruff shampoo – The zinc in anti-dandruff shampoos helps remove metallic dye pigments.
  • Dish soap – Dish detergents are highly effective yet harsh degreasers. Only use sparingly!
  • Hot oil treatment – Coat your hair in coconut or olive oil and wrap your head in a towel or plastic cap. The heat helps swell the hair cuticle to loosen dye.
  • Swimming – Chlorine from pools helps strip hair dye. Just be sure to condition well after.
  • Color remover – Products like ColorOops shrink dye molecules so they can be rinsed away. Follow precisely.
  • Bleach bath – Lighten your strands with bleach to allow the underlying color to show through. Very damaging!
  • Salon treatments – Professionals have access to stronger fading agents like sodium metabisulfite and peroxide.


It typically takes 3-10 washes with a clarifying shampoo to significantly remove hair color. Exactly how many washes depends on your dye type, shade, hair texture, and washing frequency. Always monitor your hair’s condition and feel. Combine clarifying shampoo with other fading methods for better results. And discontinue use once adequate fading is achieved or your hair shows signs of damage. With some patience and targeted treatments, you can remove unwanted color for a fresher hair look.