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Is Oops hair color remover a bleach?


Oops hair color remover is a popular product used to remove unwanted hair dye. It works by reversing the hair coloring process and removing artificial pigments from the hair shaft. Many people wonder if Oops acts as a bleach, stripping color aggressively from the hair. The short answer is no, Oops is not a bleach. However, there are some similarities and key differences between how Oops and bleach work to remove color.

How Does Oops Hair Color Remover Work?

Oops does not contain bleach. It is formulated with a reducing agent called dithionite, which breaks down the oxidative dye molecules trapped inside the hair. This allows the artificial color pigments to be washed away with shampoo after the Oops treatment is complete.

Here is a quick overview of how Oops removes hair color:

  • You saturate your hair with Oops and process it for 20 minutes.
  • The dithionite in Oops reduces and shrinks the dye molecules.
  • This allows the color pigments to detach from the hair strand.
  • You rinse Oops out and shampoo repeatedly to wash away the pigment.
  • Your hair is left a lighter shade as the artificial color is removed.

The key is that Oops shrinks and releases the trapped oxidative dye pigments. It does not bleach or dissolve the natural melanin pigment in your hair.

How Does Bleach Work to Remove Hair Color?

Bleach contains an alkalizing agent like ammonia or ethanolamine combined with hydrogen peroxide. This combination actively destroys melanin pigment and strips away all color from the hair:

  • Bleach penetrates and swells the hair cuticle.
  • The alkalizing agent opens the cuticle further allowing hydrogen peroxide to enter.
  • Peroxide oxidizes and destroys melanin within the hair shaft.
  • All natural underlying pigment is stripped from the hair.
  • The hair is left very pale yellow or white with no melanin.

So bleach permanently removes all natural color while Oops only targets and releases trapped artificial dye pigment.

Does Oops Damage Hair Like Bleach Does?

Bleach is very damaging to hair because it destroys the melanin in the cortex. This leaves hair extremely fragile and prone to breakage. The peroxide in bleach also weakens and oxidizes keratin protein bonds in the hair.

Oops does not contain peroxide so it does not bleach or destroy melanin. However, some damage can occur from swelling and manipulation during the color removal process. Using Oops too frequently can cause drying, frizziness, and loss of elasticity over time.

Here is a comparison of the damage potential:

Bleach Oops
-Destroys melanin pigment
-Oxidizes keratin bonds
-Major cuticle damage
-Extreme fragility and breakage
-Does not affect melanin
-Minimal cuticle damage
-May cause dryness if overused
-Less likely to weaken hair

As you can see, bleach is far more damaging thanks to its active destruction of melanin and keratin. Oops has less long-term impact on hair integrity.

What Are the Active Ingredients in Oops?

Unlike bleach, Oops does not contain hydrogen peroxide. Its active ingredient is sodium dithionite, a reducing agent. The full ingredients are:

Sodium Dithionite
Cetearyl Alcohol
Citric Acid

Sodium dithionite acts as the reducing agent to shrink dye molecules. The alcohols help swell the hair to release trapped pigment. Citric acid brings down the pH to open the cuticle. These ingredients work together to remove oxidative dye without bleaching the hair.

When Should You Use Oops vs Bleach?

Oops is the much safer option and causes less damage overall. Here are some guidelines on when to use each product:

Use Oops When:

  • You need to remove permanent dye buildup.
  • You want to lighten your color by a few shades.
  • Your hair is already overprocessed from coloring.
  • You hope to return to your natural color.

Use Bleach When:

  • You wish to go from dark to platinum blonde.
  • You need major color correction like removing black dye.
  • Your hair is strong and healthy enough to withstand bleach.
  • You require maximum color removal.

As you can see, Oops is the gentler option that gets you subtle to moderate color removal. Bleach is more aggressive for major color changes or corrections.

What Are Some Alternatives to Oops and Bleach?

If your hair is already damaged, you may want to avoid both Oops and bleach. Some gentler alternatives for removing dye include:

  • Vitamin C Treatment – Mix vitamin C powder into a deep conditioner and apply to hair under heat for 30 minutes. The acidity helps lift stain from hair.
  • Clarifying Shampoo – Use a clarifying shampoo containing sulfates every few washes to help fade color over time.
  • Baking Soda and Anti-Dandruff Shampoo – Make a paste with baking soda and shampoo and massage into hair. Rinse and repeat every few weeks.
  • Dandruff Shampoo – Contains sulfur and zinc pyrithione to help strip color molecules.

These are less damaging alternatives if your hair is compromised and cannot withstand chemical processing.


Oops hair color remover should not be confused with bleach. It is a gentler way to remove oxidative dye pigment and lift your hair color gradually. Oops does not contain bleach, peroxide, or ammonia. It shrinks dye molecules using dithionite instead of destroying melanin pigment like bleach does. However, Oops can still dry hair out with repeated use. For maximum hair health, alternate with moisture treatments. Avoid overusing Oops and allow at least 2 weeks between applications. With some caution, Oops can safely remove unwanted permanent hair color.