10 Steps To (Safely!) Lighten Dyed Black Hair

From Goth to not, here we go!

woman lightening dyed black hair New Africa / Shutterstock, Pexels

Back when I was in high school, I really wanted to be Wednesday Addams. Or, really, I wanted to be any form of hot Goth girl. Being young and a total fashion victim, I decided that the best way to show my inner Goth girl style was to dye my hair pitch black. Problem: it looked awful.

You see, not everyone can pull off raven-black hair. Some people, such as myself, don’t look good in it at all. My pink-hued, super-pale skin tone, combined with my inability to get rid of dark circles under my eyes meant that my black hair looked “off.” (As in, I looked more like Samara from "The Ring" with a hangover.)


Though I did try to get better makeup and clothing, I eventually looked in the mirror and conceded that black was not a color that suited my hair. I did well when I decided to change my color.

Speaking as someone who has had to do it, I can tell you that learning how to lighten dyed black hair is brutal and tricky. Thankfully, it’s also very doable.

RELATED: 10 DIY Hair Dye Mistakes You're Making (& How To Fix Each)


Here’s what every bottle-dyed raven needs to know before they try a new color. (Note: This article will get your hair to a blonde hue, but not a platinum blonde color in most cases. You really can’t go platinum blonde from black without serious hair damage in the vast majority of cases.)

How To Lighten Black Dyed Hair

1. Understand how you should treat your hair.

Before you even continue reading further, it’s important to know what to expect when trying to figure out how to lighten your hair from black to blonde. Removing black hair dye can and will harm your hair.

If you dye your hair black, you will not be able to lighten your hair to a platinum white-blonde color without serious issues. What I’m saying is, this process can and will damage your hair.

You owe it to yourself to be gentle with your hair. Don’t attempt to do this if your hair can’t handle it, and if you have fine hair, it may be a good idea to add extra conditioning treatments into the mix and wait a couple of weeks before you actually bleach your hair.


2. Grow your hair out a little.

If you have a sensitive scalp, you will need to give your hair an inch or two of extra length. The chemicals used in lightening treatments, as well as hair dye remover products, can be pretty irritating. People who have skin that’s tough and hair that’s strong will be able to skip this step without issue.

That being said, I still cautiously grow out my hair before I lighten darker colors simply because skipping this step makes my scalp itch.

3. Purchase your supplies.

Before you can begin, you will need to get color remover kits, bleach kits, gloves, and a deep conditioning mask. (I strongly suggest using Color Oops! for your hair dye remover, simply because it’s seriously strong.)

It’s often best to buy more than one hair color remover kit since black hair dye can take multiple passes to remove.


For bleach, just about any drugstore variety will do. It’s often better to choose a full kit that also happens to have a gentle formula. Harsher formulas will not do well on hair that’s going to be brittle.

RELATED: Why Wearing Hair Ties Around Your Wrist Could Kill You

4. Use a color remover kit.

Before you lighten your hair up, use the hair color remover kit. As mentioned above, I suggest Color Oops! Hair Dye Remover, but you can use any other brand too.

Doing this part is relatively easy. Just follow the instructions on the box. It’s important to leave the color remover in for the maximum amount of time that the instructions indicate. Black hair dye is notoriously difficult to remove!


Once you rinse out your hair, take a look to see how dark it is. If it’s still very deeply dyed in, you may need to wait to dry your hair and use another color remover kit. It’s important to note that color remover alone will not get rid of all the black hair dye — and that’s actually okay.

What you’re really doing here is preventing yourself from having to bleach your hair more than is absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, bleach is way worse for your hair than dye remover. So, it’s the lesser of two evils.

5. Treat your hair with a deep conditioner.

Finish prepping your hair by treating it with a deep conditioner. Color remover kits are gentler than bleach, but that doesn’t mean they don’t mess with your hair’s health.

Truth be told, just about any chemical you put in your hair will harm it. To keep your hair reasonably intact, you should give it a little nourishment. Take a pause and treat it with a deep conditioning mask immediately after you finish rinsing out the remover. (My personal choice is Hask Keratin Protein Deep Conditioner, but try to find one that works for you.)


After you give yourself a conditioning treatment, let your hair dry and chill out for about a day or two. Recovery matters! After your conditioning treatment, use your bleach kit on your hair.

6. Bleach it.

Done giving your hair recoup time? Awesome. The next step for lightening black dyed hair is to use bleach on it. I use Splat Hair Bleach, simply because it gets the job done quickly. So, grab that bleaching kit you bought and follow the instructions on the box.

Stick to a single pass of bleach if possible — and, in most cases, it will be. One simple pass of bleach will be enough for most dyes to stick to your hair and remain noticeably bright.

If you want to go for a very light blonde look, give yourself some time (and hair conditioning treatments) before you go for another pass.


RELATED: 13 Easy Ways To Naturally Lighten Hair Without Touching Dye Or Bleach

7. Use a honey wash.

Instead of using bleach, try an at-home hair treatment. Mix one part honey with four parts distilled water with one to two teaspoons of cardamom (it has natural bleaching properties). Add the mixture into a bottle and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour before use.

Wet your hair and apply the treatment from the roots to the tip. Keep your hair wet enough for the bleaching properties to be effective, and wear a shower cap once you are done applying the treatment. Let it soak into your hair for at least an hour before rinsing it with a good conditioner.


8. Use rhubarb.

Another natural way to lighten your black dyed hair is by using rhubarb (a vegetable native to Asia). Mix one part chopped rhubarb with four parts boiling water. Let the mixture come to a boil before you let it cool. Finally, strain the mixture to remove the rhubarb pieces.

Apply the mixture in the shower after you shampoo and before you condition. No worries if you don't have the actual vegetable — retail stores and salons sell ready-to-use rhubarb lightening solutions.

9. Try alternative methods.

If you aren't up to bleaching your hair, you can use baking soda, dish soap, and vitamin C. Though these are not guaranteed to work, some have said to have had success lightening their dark-dyed hair. You could even use just lemon juice.

10. When in doubt, visit a salon.

Going to a salon can become pretty expensive fast, but it's your hair and you probably don't want any more damage from a bad dye job. Lightening your hair is a tricky business, so it's always best to visit a professional when you don't really know what you are doing.


Salon stylists are trained to deal with every type of hair and every mishap that could occur, so head to the salon and rest easy knowing your hair is in the best hands.

RELATED: How To Dye Black Hair Red In Just 6 Steps

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, New Theory Magazine, and others. Follow her on Twitter for more.