How I lightened my hair with Color Oops

I recently came across a product called Color Oops Hair Color Remover which is supposed to remove dyed pigment from your hair without damaging it. I read a lot of successful reviews online and decided to give it a shot myself. My goal was to lighten my dyed dark brown hair and get to a light brown so I could put some blonde highlights in and journey back to a blonde. The catch: my hair underneath the dark brown dye is not virgin (heh heh). It's a bleached out blonde, and I'm not really expecting a product to remove months of color to get me back to that color. Would my hair turn orange? Would it simply lighten? After a bunch of research, I decided to jump in, and I'm really pleased with the results.

What I started with

You might recall from a previous post that my style icon is Gwen Stefani. For nearly a decade, I've been bleaching my hair to that gorgeous platinum color that she pulls off without looking like a stripper. My hair hasn't been it's natural dirty blonde since. I have gotten the itch to go darker, usually in Fall. (My first time found me with green, then purple hair, all of which broke off and left me with a very, very unflattering, unintentional pixie cut.) Since then, I've gotten better at doing my hair myself. This Fall I went to a red color, which I looooved, and then to my standby dark brown a couple of months ago.

From the left: my beloved platinum blonde, the red I went to this Fall, and my most recent dark brown.
Since it's nearing Spring (not really, but I'm delusional that way), I want to go lighter, but I don't want to make the jump from the picture on the right all the way back to the picture on the left. Somewhere near my natural color would be awesome, so I can add in blonde highlights and get lighter as it gets warmer.

The idea

I wanted to lighten my hair, but didn't want to harshly bleach my hair and end up looking like a ginger scarecrow. I was hoping Color Oops would remove a lot of the dark brown pigment to get me to something lighter that I could work with, sans damage. I knew there was a good chance I could end up with orange-ish undertones, but I decided that I could work with that.

The process

What you'll need
  • A box of Color Oops. If you have a lot of hair, or are messy when applying this stuff, you might want to buy two boxes. I used ALL of one bottle and my hair isn't that thick, although it is long. I've read CVS sells it, and I know that Walgreen's does as well. Our Walgreen's was completely out, and I've heard that others ran into the same problem (I get this image of people wearing baseball caps running into Walgreen's and snatching up a bottle, haha). Luckily, our K-Mart had it as well - I bought the last box for $14. Our Walmart does NOT carry it. Don't buy L'Oreal's Color Remover - it is NOT, NOT, NOT the same product.
  • An old shirt and pair of pants. The product is reallllly runny and doesn't stay on the gloves very well. Wear a shirt and pair of pants you don't mind ruining in case something happens. 
  • A follow-up color. You will want to do the strand test (See below) beforehand so you get an idea of what Color Oops will do to you hair. This way you can decide if you'll follow up with a new color or not. Developlus (the makers of Color Oops) also recommend a color filler since your hair will be porous after the process, but I didn't use one.
  • A timer and somewhere to rinse your hair.
The strand test

I read sooo many reviews about people who were mad about their results because Color Oops left them with orange hair. My advice is to do the strand test before you put it on your entire head. It takes all of a half-hour, and then you know how it's going to react to your hair. No surprises. There are instructions in the package, but I'll briefly describe it.
  • Cut a small section of hair from an inconspicuous area of your hair. Less than the size of an eraser... no giant chunks here. Just enough to make a swatch, but not so much that you're going to leave yourself with a crazy random short piece in back.
  • I taped mine together at the "roots" so it would stay together.
  • Mix equal parts of the two components.
  • Spread mixture on the hair - I placed mine on a couple of paper towels while it processed.
  • After 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly.
  • Let dry.
Now you'll see how Color Oops is going to react to your hair. Some of you might notice it took all of the artificial pigment out, and some of you will notice something else. Mine turned lighter, but also had an verrrry slight orange tint to it. I decided to buy a box of dark ash blonde in case I wanted to try to counteract the orange once I saw how my entire head looked. I tried the dye on my test strand and decided to keep the box around just in case. Since you've done the strand test, you can anticipate what you're going to do. The biggest mistake I've run into while doing my own hair is screwing up, panicking, trying to fix it, and screwing up more. You can screw up your test strand all  you want, at least it's not your whole head.

Putting it on your head

One of the biggest things I read was how horrible this stuff smelled. I think someone compared it to a dying whale's ass? It's not a pleasant smell, but I guess it wasn't that bad. All noses are different. If you've ever been in a hair salon in the 90's and remember what it smelled like when someone got a perm, it's kinda like that. Only not as intense. 

I also read about people have trouble with blotchiness. My guess would be these people applied it incorrectly and missed spots as they were going. As I mentioned before, it's super runny. You really need to section your hair off and saturate small parts of your hair before moving on. If  you have a lot of hair, you really want to have two boxes. You might lose some solution due to it running off of your gloves. I watched this video by BeautyByElsa before I applied it. The application part of the video is sped up, but you can see how she sections her hair and makes sure she gets everything. I did it her way and had no blotchiness.

Finally - rinse, rinse, rinse. As mentioned before - it's stinky, so you want to make sure you get as much of the solution out of your hair as you can. I used the kitchen sink and changed positions... top, bottom, sides, etc. I shampooed a couple of times using Tresemme's Deep Cleaning Shampoo.


My hair ended up exactly like my test strands. Who knew? ;) So I was not in the least bit surprised to see that my hair was lighter, and slightly orangey. Truthfully though, it was so close to what I was going for, that I could almost ignore the orange tint. And you couldn't really notice it except in a certain light. Since I was going to put in blonde highlights, I almost left it as it was. But, I knew I might regret the top of my head looking like some sort of summer treat rather than natural-ish looking, so I decided to go with the ash blonde after all. Developus warns that your hair will be super porous after using color oops (meaning it will grab color really quickly), so that dye should not be left on for more than five minutes. They're not kidding. According to my test strand, two minutes was more than enough to take out the orange. It even went a little darker than I intended, but I'm ok with that.

What I started with, again on the left, and what Color Oops left me with, (pre ash blonde dye). 


As someone who has gone the route of doing my hair at home many times, I would recommend Color Oops for lightening hair. I have never successfully gone to an intermediate color from my dark brown, and always just ended up bleaching my hair back to the platinum. Color Oops left me with something lighter, although slightly orange, so that I could work from there. And the best part - it did NOT DAMAGE MY HAIR! Even if I didn't have any results, I would feel like I was basically out nothing, except maybe $14. (I've ruined my hair for a lot more than that) I'll more than likely be going back to platinum once Summer hits (I can't resist it... I know), but I know I'll be right back to "I miss my dark hair!!" again next Fall. When it's time to go lighter again, I'll be going this route for sure. It's the closest I've been to my natural hair color in ages.

Nearly all of the reviews I read online had comments: "What is this going to do to my hair??!" My answer would be, read about other's experiences and then do a test strand for yourself. I've had professionals mess my hair up because they didn't anticipate the results. It happens. If you do a test strand you'll know what will happen and can decide what you're going to do from there. 

Good luck and happy lightening!

xoxo Rosie


  1. Thanks for the article, I just finished using the color oops but I had one question.....did u just add highlights with your blonde die afterwards or did you all over color?

  2. Anonymous4:17 PM

    So helpful! Thanks!

  3. Anonymous12:49 AM

    Thank you Rosie,
    I've been staring at this oops for two weeks mostly from fear of damage. My hair is long but thin, I guess the all powerful vanity/ego holds me back.
    I appreciate an honest review.
    If I may, you look 'best' with red hair :)

  4. Pleaaaase tell me which dye did you use for your red hair, the way it looks on the picture is EXACTLY how I want it :D
    I might need that Color Ops when I feel like changing haha.

  5. Anonymous9:23 PM

    The key here using color oops is applying the products as quickly & evenly as possible. I coated my hair with the c. oops and brushed it through my hair with a paddle brush (in under five minutes) to ensure it was evenly distributed. Then I left it on for about 17 minutes, you must wear the cap, and you must be in a warm room. Cold air messes up the entire process. I have naturally champagne blonde hair-dyed it RED on a whim, hated it, then dyed it brown to get out the red. Then every 2 weeks after I used box blonde hair dye desperately trying to get my hair back to blonde. So in total I dyed my hair 8 times in about 3 months. I ended up with a brown/blondish color...then I found color oops!. I did it exacly as the instuctions said, but cut 3 minutes off the processing time because the back of my neck began to sting a little. RINSE, SHAMPOO, RINSE for 5 minutes, SHAMPOO AGAIN, rinse again for 5-10 minutes, SHAMPOO again, then rinse for another 5 minutes. Deep condition. Towel dry. My end result was a beautiful champagne blonde. I had no need to dye my hair after color oops. I really thought it was gonna fry my hair and make it straw-like, but I used the conditioner from a old ox of dye & my hair is soft. Absolutely perfect. I would recommend this to anyone who is familiar with the dying process. This product removed 8 applications of Loreal excellence crème dye. Amazing. So happy with my results.& read the instructions EXACTLY-your results should be as good as mine. Good luck!

    1. Anonymous10:38 PM

      Will color oops remove red orange brassy look.

    2. Absolutely dashed me many a time from hair dresser goofs

    3. Absolutely dashed me many a time from hair dresser goofs

    4. Anonymous9:10 AM

      Hi guys, I tried color oops twice. The first time it turned out well. I had read a bunch of reviews and was well prepared with good advice. The second time I was extremely tired and forgot some of the key steps that made it a success the first time. The second time left me with lighter hair but in no way removed as much color as the first time. After reading reviews again to see what went I wrong came up with this list.

      Here are the 4 things that I forgot to do besides the following the exact directions...
      1) I heated the bathroom for 30 minutes first with the bathroom wall heater and bathroom door closed. Use a portaable heater if you don't have a built in heater.

      2) Next I closed all of the windows in my apartment. Usually my windows are always open. For fresh air.

      3) I wrapped my hair in the plastic bag that is provided and wrapped it again with an old towel.

      4) The color oops solution is not thick at all. When I shook it, both times some squirted out of the bottle when I removed my finger. My shower is directly across from the medicine cabinet. So the first time I stood in there with the doors open and applied the mixture. Too bad I forgot this genius move because I ended up with a quarter size bleach mark on my bath mat with the second use.

      Both times I used this my hair was not damaged. It was dry. Nothing a couple of good deep conditioning treatments couldn't handle :)

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience, Rosie! I must agree that before you try something, you must anticipate the result you want to achieve. You just can’t go and dive in to the river without testing the water, and leave everything to fate.

    Mattie Hanson

  7. Anonymous12:29 AM

    Awesome article. .. very well written!

  8. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Will color oops remove brassy orange reddish look

  9. Thanks for the review, it looks like it's a real help for when you're changing hair colour!

  10. Don't forget to use protein filler before re-coloring to decrease porosity- cheap at Sally's! Also, use Aphogee two step protein once a month and a deep conditioner weekly. When wet, your hair should pull to twice it's length then return back. If it snaps, you need protein and moisture!! Also put down the irons, curlers and dryers if your hair is damaged.

  11. Your hair looks amazing! I can't believe that you highlighted it by yourself! It looks like you went to a salon to have your hair done! I have always wanted to do something like this to my hair, and I think I'm going to try it. It might be fun to have a new look in the new year.

    Sara Welsh |

  12. I have coffee brown hair and I bleach it , and know its like a brassy orange color if I use this product will my hair go back to its color

  13. Anonymous3:48 PM

    @ Genesis Rodriguez:

    No, it is for when you dye your hair a darker color. It does not work on color that is lighter than your original hue. This is because when you bleach your hair, it takes pigment out. This product is for removing pigment that you have deposited on your hair by dying it.

    1. What if you have light brown almost blonde hair and you dye it lighter blonde and it comes it brassy, will color oops still return it to the natural color ??

  14. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Do you apply the color you want 2 shades lighter right after rinsing off color oops?

  15. deborah LB2:15 PM

    I'm a novice with coloring and loved my purple!! Then Burgundy! Now it's April & time to lighten up. I tried a med ash blonde a little lighter than my natural color. Results: orange roots & lighter auburn on the Burgundy. I was hunting fora solution & found THIS. I'll pick some up today & rectify my ignorance. I appreciate your very helpful post ms Rosie.

  16. Anonymous2:36 PM

    What is the brand and name of the red hair color, that is beautiful

  17. I've been dying my hair black for 10 years and I hated that every salon was charging me expensive money to lighten it...hello I tryed color oops and yup my black came out to a medium reddish brown...and i can go from there..and no it wasn't 100 dollars thank you!

  18. Wow! This is a great idea. Your generosity is inspiring. I love the support of the kid lit world!
    We are offering salon towels bleach safe

  19. Rosie, how many weeks & sessions did it take you to go from brunette to platinum both times? I have dark dyed 3v hair and been talking about going platinum. Some stylists imply it will take MONTHS (plural) while others say 4-6 weeks. So I really don't know what to expect?? I understand I'm not going to be platinum overnight, but one stylist said after the first bleach session I would have to run around with orange/violet hair for 1 month before the next session could be done?!?! I was like "how violet are we atlking?" But never really got an answer. I have a professional job, so not sure how they would feel about the unnatural color in the office. Also, I mean, violet sounds dark to me, as I've had lots of violet in my hair with the 3v, and it seems counter intuitive to put dark anything back on when the goal is light...right? Thanks!


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