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How to Lighten Dyed Hair Without Damage

Updated on August 21, 2013

What You Will Need:

  • 15-25 Vitamin C tablets (You can get these at most drugstores. Do not use chewable or gummy vitamins, only pills. Uncoated is best, but any will work.)
  • Anti-dandruff shampoo (Any brand will work.)
  • A bowl
  • A spoon or knife to mix
  • A shower cap or plastic wrap
  • Your favorite deep conditioning treatment (hair mask, hot oil, etc.)

Crushed Vitamin C Tablets
Crushed Vitamin C Tablets

Step 1: Crush the Vitamin C

Put the Vitamin C tablets into a plastic baggie. Place them on a hard surface and use something hard to crush the tablets until you are left with a fine powder. Pour the powder from the bag into a bowl.

Short hair will need 15 crushed tablets.

Medium hair will need 15-20 crushed tablets.

Longer hair will need 20+ tablets.

Vitamin C powder mixed with anti-dandruff shampoo
Vitamin C powder mixed with anti-dandruff shampoo

Step 2: Mix the Vitamin C and Shampoo

In the bowl, add the anti-dandruff shampoo to the crushed Vitamin C. You'll be applying this paste to your hair in the next step, so make sure that you add enough shampoo so the mixture is wet enough to do this. See the picture for an idea of the texture you're aiming for:

Step 3: Apply the Vitamin C and Shampoo Mixture to Damp Hair

Before applying the mixture, wet your hair. This is to help the shampoo lather and allow the mixture to spread more easily. (It may be helpful to keep a spray bottle filled with water nearby during this step to add extra water when needed.)

Apply the paste to your hair like you would shampoo. Gently massage the mixture into hair until it foams and is spread evenly throughout the hair.

Be careful not to scrub too hard because the mixture will be very gritty and could irritate your scalp or rip fragile ends.

Step 4: Cover Hair and Wait

Cover your hair with a plastic shower cap or wrap clear plastic wrap around it.

Leave the mixture on your hair for 1-2 hours, depending on how much lightening you want to do.

This process is very drying for some and there are no negative effects for others. If you feel that your hair is very damaged, only leave the mixture on for one hour. If you have generally healthy hair and have some serious lightening to do, consider leaving it on for 1-2 hours.

Step 5: Rinse and Condition

In the shower, gently rinse out the mixture. Due to the roughness of the mixture, use the same care when rinsing it out as you did applying it to your hair.

After all of the shampoo and Vitamin C has been rinsed from you hair, apply a deep conditioning treatment. This can be your favorite hair mask or a hot oil treatment. I prefer a quick, 5-minute hot oil treatment. Hot oil treatments can be purchased from almost any drugstore.

(If you will be using a hot oil treament, prepare a cup filled with hot water to place the oil in before you begin rinsing out the mixture. Place the oil tube in the cup before you begin rinsing so that it is thoroughly warmed by the time you are ready to apply it.)

Rinse out whatever conditioning treatment you chose to use.

My Hair: Before and After (One Treatment)
My Hair: Before and After (One Treatment)

Step 6: Post-Lightening Care

Towel dry your hair and avoid using heat for several days to keep your hair in the best condition.

Once your hair dries, you should notice that it has lightened at least one or two shades.


  • Honey has also been known to lighten hair naturally, due to the small amounts of peroxide found in it naturally. Try adding a small amount of honey to the mixture as well.
  • This process can be repeated as many times as you feel are necessary to achieve the lightness you want. Just be sure to take care of your hair in between/after processes with deep conditioners and avoiding heat from styling tools.
  • This process should not cause brassiness. However, if you are trying to lighten a reddish- brown color, you will be left with a lighter brown but still reddish color.
  • This will NOT work to lighten blond hair or add highlights (unless very light hair has been dyed to a darker shade of blond). It only removes dye that has been added to the hair and will help to return the hair to whatever the pre-dye color was.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Absolutely works. Didn't damage my hair at all. My hair was jet black. I will do it two more times to get it removed completely.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      i used this technique and added 2-3 tablespoons honey as well. It worked!!! My hair had years of dye deposits on grey hair and it lightened it from a dark dark brown to a light brown after two treatments.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Yeah don't waste your time or money, this doesn't work, what a joke!!!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I tried the Vitamin C treatment twice - in two days. I dyed my hair black with semi-permanent hair dye. It's been a month since I've had it in and I want it out. I have naturally blonde hair and want to go back, but I do not want to resort to bleaching it. So I tried the Vitamin C treatment. The first time I did it really didn't do much (I also did a conditioning treatment right after since it's very drying). The second time though did lighten my hair to a brown - but not all of it. Some of my hair is still black and some of it is now brown. It also left my hair very dry, even after using the hot oil conditioning treatment.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Does it work with blue black hair?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      after doing this once for 2 hours, i definitely noticed a difference. if you're expecting a miracle, don't hold your breath.

      but if you have the patience to do this more than once if needed, it definitely works.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      can I use this on bleached blonde hair?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Is this damaging to the hair? Does it cause brittleness? And why can't you use heat on your hair after? ( how long are you supposed to wait until you can use heat?) and also can you glaze your hair after the process?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      alright so my sister convinced me to use a box and she dyed my hair red but it was really supposed to be reddish blond but of course the boxes turns out to be something different every time so now I have two dark of red I've used boxes before I've also been to the professionals, and what I was wondering is if this would make my hair lighter because I was originally blonde? Or would it make it orange?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Again, i'm bugging you...if I "tested" this on a small part of my hair what will happen if I do like the results and I do the tested spot again..will it be a different color?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank You for getting back to me I just know my old stylist won't cooperate if I have questions about changing my hair because SHE won't be doing it. I stopped going to her a year ago just to save money, and I always promised i'd go back eventually but I still can't right now.

      I do have another question and/or concern...If my hair does turn out orange-y am I able to dye over it with a light brown without it turning a different color. I know I am bugging you a lot I am just in no way able to afford a stylist right now?!

    • abbyczwrites profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Hi Courtney! Trust your stylist, since she is familiar with what has been done to your hair.

      A way to tell how your hair might respond to this- This process is basically just to speed up the fading of the color. What is left behind depends on the color of dye you used and the color of the natural hair the dye was put on. (This does not contain bleach, so you'll never get lighter than your natural color by doing this.)

      So, if your hair tends to be orange-y as your color fades, you'll likely get the same results with this... just in a few minutes instead of a few days/weeks.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Help! I have a natural dirty blonde hair...started highlighting 11 years ago and then dyed it to a dark brown 7 years ago gradually getting darker and finally I've been dying it black from 3 years. ALL PROFESSIONAL!! This past year and a half I started home and/or box dying it black. It has turned out good, never as soft though, but that's expected. I am wondering if this will work considering I have had both professional and box dye in my hair. Honestly my biggest fear is my hair turning completely orange or green (mainly bc my old hair stylist said it would!) Am I safe to try this!??

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This works! I had warm damp hair to "open" hair I left on my blue black dyed hair 2 hours with a shower cap on after washing it out and conditioning I have streaks of my natural color I'm stoked! Bye bye harsh bleach!

    • profile image

      ok I guess.... 

      6 years ago

      This works for regular hair dye but not those with a metal base. that may be why it didn't work for some ppl.mes and realize it's great for regular hair d

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It works. It just may take a more then one treatment for some people and only one for others.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This was awesome. I didn't think it would work but with 20 tablets I went from a faded dark red/purple to a light red/orange colour! Didn't dry out my hair at all.


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