How to remove hair colour from skin, clothes and surfaces

Now that you’ve read all the tips on how to best colour your hair at home, it’s worth asking: what do I do if I make a bit of a mess? 

We’ve all been there. We’ve accidentally coloured our skin (oops) or got a splodge of colour on the table, or stained the sink faucet. So here’s a round-up of some of our top tips for what to do if your colour ends up anywhere that’s not your hair...

Prevention is always better than cure!

There’s a very good reason why our permanent hair colour kits contain a barrier cream - just in case your application goes slightly amiss. This is best applied all along your hairline to keep your colour exactly where it’s supposed to be. Don’t forget the top of your ears, and if you’re using dark colour it’s a good idea to do along the nape of your neck. We’re very generous with the amount of cream in the sachet, so don’t feel like you have to use it all. Make sure not to catch any baby hairs in the barrier cream though, as this could interfere with the colour coverage. Here’s how to get your at home hair colouring prep right:

If there’s any other areas you want to protect, petroleum jelly is a good option to form a protective barrier for skin. And you wouldn’t think we’d have to say it, but always wear the protective gloves provided. If you have a latex allergy, non-latex ones are available at most high-street chemists. You can also cover surfaces you’re concerned about with plastic bags. 

Treat yourself how you’d expect to be treated at the hair salon: use the right hair colouring tools! A waterproof, correctly-fitting hair colouring cape will prevent your clothes becoming stained, and a black towel specifically for colouring will ensure your regular towels stay pristine. As ever, don’t underestimate the importance of hair colour application; using a bowl and brush, with hair sectioning clips, will ensure precision and will make an accidental colour bottle drip less likely. Your hair, and you, are worth patience and care.

That’s all well and good, but what do you do once you have a stain that needs removing? 

Move quickly

When looking at how to remove hair colour from skin, nails and hands, it's important to remember that permanent hair colour is, after all, as the name suggests, designed to permanently colour! So whilst it’s worth handling it straight away, don’t panic. Use the Josh Wood Colour stain remover wipe that’s included in the kit to remove excess hair colour or a hair colour stain from your skin. 

Be gentle with your skin

If the hair colour stain is particularly stubborn, there are other options. Our senior colourist Issie suggests that diluting nail polish remover with water is an option, as it contains acetone which will help take away unwanted pigment. Soak a cotton wool pad with this mixture and gently wipe it away from your skin. Having already done the recommended patch test, you’ll know that your skin isn’t allergic to the hair colour, so there’s no need to scrub in a panic and irritate the area.

The stronger stuff

For surfaces like floors, sinks and carpets that have been stained with permanent hair colour, you might need more than nail varnish remover. The effectiveness depends on what the surface is, and it’s a good idea to test your stain remover on an inconspicuous area if you’re concerned about doing damage to the material.  

How do I remove hair colour from clothes? An easily available favourite is bicarbonate of soda; for stained fabrics, make a paste of two to three parts baking soda to one part water, then rub the paste on the affected areas. Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse and scrub the colour stain off or put the garment into the washing machine. 

Rubbing alcohol is also a popular choice, and can give quicker results. To remove stubborn hair colour stains, moisten a cotton cloth with a few drops of denatured alcohol. However, make sure to check that this is a good idea for the fabric or you’re using this for- it’s not recommended for wool or silk. 

For household surfaces like the bath or sink, it’s worth sticking with the classics: a good cream cleaner left to soak and work its magic gives good results. And of course, there’s always household bleach! Make sure to wear gloves when handling these and they’ll help restore those stained surfaces. 

Do you have any products that you swear by? Any tips for a clean, sleek at-home hair salon experience? Let us know!

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