How To Remove Paint From Hair – 10 Solutions That Work

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There’s a lot of excitement when you start a painting project. You get your paint supplies out, throw on your painter’s attire and begin creating your masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the realization that your hair is vulnerable to paint splatters settles in too slowly, and you’re left with paint splotches on your head and colored strands once the project is over.

This is when the excitement turns into panic, and you wonder, ‘how can I remove paint from my hair without damaging it?’

The first thing you can try is to comb the paint out. If that doesn’t work, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo. Baby oil, vegetable oil, or dish soap also works wonders for cleaning oil-based paints from the hair. Interestingly, peanut butter and toothpaste can also be used to remove paint from hair.

Luckily, there are several DIY solutions to this common problem. So, let’s go over each of them, and you can decide which one you want to try out first.

Does paint come out of hair?

Yes, it does! Even if it doesn’t come off right away, it’s not an impossible task.

If you get stuck with paint in your hair, you first need to establish the type of paint you’re dealing with. So, check the label on the spray paint to find out if it’s water-based or oil-based.

Water-based paints are easier to remove compared to oil-based paints, and the method for paint removal is different for each.

The second factor that will affect which paint remover works best for you is the amount of paint you have accidentally splashed on your head. If it’s just a speck or two, the colour should clean up easily, but if it’s a considerable amount, you may need more than one trick to remove it completely.

Tricks to clean paint from hair

Here are a few tried and tested solutions that might work for you too.

1. Comb through your hair

Sounds too good to be true? Sometimes the simplest tricks are the most effective.

If you have splashed a little paint in your hair, the comb might be the easiest way to remove it. However, you can’t expect it to clean a giant splotch of colour, so be reasonable with your expectations.

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Hold the strand of your hair with paint on it, and make sure to pull it slightly, so the strand is stiff. Now comb slowly through it with a fine-toothed comb focusing more on the paint-stained area. Use a back-and-forth motion to loosen the paint.

Work in small sections and keep going until you start seeing some progress. Remember to be patient and not dish out your frustration on the strand of hair you’re holding.

Try me: Put your fingernails to good use and scrape the paint off your hair by pinching them together and pulling your nails down the strand.

2. Wash with a clarifying shampoo

Depending on the type of paint you’ve used, you might be able to shampoo it out from your hair. Water-based paints are user-friendly because they can be cleaned easily, so give a strong, clarifying shampoo a shot.

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First of all, loosen the dry paint by combing through your hair. Follow it up by making them wet and applying a liberal amount of shampoo. Scrub the stained strands for a few seconds with your fingertips.

Rinse out the clarifying shampoo and check whether all the paint is gone. If you’ve missed a few spots, repeat the same process again, but leave the shampoo in your hair for longer.

Pro Tip: Too much shampoo can dry your hair, so remember to apply a conditioning treatment after rinsing it.

3. Clean with dish soap

If shampooing doesn’t work, it’s time to go a notch up. Dish soap contains more potent chemicals that can cut tough grease and stains.

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This time I won’t ask you to apply dish soap to your hair liberally but recommend a spot treatment instead. Take some dish soap on your fingers and gently work it on the hair strands with paint. You can also use a washcloth or a comb to give the dried stain a nudge.

Scrub the paint for a minute or two and thoroughly rinse your hair out with water. If this trick works in the first round, perfect! If not, you can always repeat the process two to three times.

You can also use dish soap to wash off paint from clothes, but we have you covered if you want to find out more ways to remove paint from clothes.

Pro Tip: Let the dish soap sit in your hair for fifteen to twenty minutes before washing it out. Just remember to apply a conditioning treatment at the end.

4. Try vinegar

Vinegar is a great choice for removing paint from hair, especially apple cider vinegar. However, it has a pungent odour that might turn you off.

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Spraying vinegar into hair

If you’re not bothered by the smell, go ahead with this tip.

Massage a good amount of vinegar into your hair, making sure the painted strands are completely soaked. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before detangling the strands with a fine-toothed comb. The natural acid in the vinegar helps break down the paint particles, making it easier to comb the dried paint out.

Finally, wash your hair with a regular shampoo to clean the vinegar and any paint residue.

5. Use toothpaste

When you try to remove paint from your skin, you turn to a loofah or a pomace stone to shake things up. But the same cannot be used on your hair, so you have to find the next best thing that is gritty and abrasive enough to clean paint from your hair.

Toothpaste has the perfect texture to remove paint from hair strands. So, start by squirting some onto the colour in your hair and massage it in thoroughly. You should stretch the strand you’re working to reach tough spots.

Rinse the toothpaste out to check if all the paint has come off. If your hair is back to its original state, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, repeat the process until you remove every speck of paint.

6. Try baby oil

Oil-based paints can be tricky to remove, and your best bet is to use an oil-based cleaner. Oil helps soften the dried paint and makes cleaning it easier.

You can take some baby oil on a cotton ball and dab it on the painted strands. Make sure to cover the stain completely by rubbing it in as much as possible. Leave it in your hair for around 30 minutes, then try to run a detangling comb through it. 

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You should be able to comb out the paint completely, but if some residue remains, you can repeat the same process again.

Finally, wash your hair and condition it as usual.

7. Apply olive oil

If you find baby oil to be too mild for the job, try olive oil instead to break down the paint. Apply a liberal layer of the oil to your hair, making sure to massage it into the strands with dried paint.

Let olive oil sit in your hair for fifteen to thirty minutes before combing the strands with first a wide-toothed comb and then a fine-toothed comb. In the end, simply wash your hair with shampoo.

A perk of using olive oil is that it makes your hair soft and shiny. So, even if it doesn’t clear all the paint away, you will be left with lustrous locks in the end.

Try me: Coconut and vegetable oil work the same way as olive oil. So, feel free to use whichever one you have in your pantry.
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8. Clean with peanut butter

Did you think peanut butter was only good for making a sandwich? You’d be amazed at how this delicious snack can remove oil-based paints.

Before you start racking your brain trying to figure out why peanut butter is a good paint remover, let me give it to you straight. Peanut butter is made primarily of oil, making it perfect for breaking down oily substances.

The grit in peanut butter works the same way as sandpaper so massage some into your hair from where you want to remove the paint.

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Allow it to sit for some time before checking its progress. If the paint starts to move around, it’s time to wash it out. But if the stain doesn’t budge, apply more peanut butter and wait a few extra minutes before washing your hair.

9. Use a chemical like turpentine or paint thinner

If you have exhausted all natural paint removers but still need to get rid of the paint in your hair, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Just be aware that strong chemicals like paint thinner, turpentine, or mineral spirit can damage your hair. For this reason, I am mentioning them near the end of the list.

These harsh chemicals can eat away the paint and remove it effectively from your hair. All you need to do is soak a rag with the chemical paint remover of your choice and wipe down the hair with dried paint on it.

In a few wipes, you will begin to see the paint coming off bit by bit. Reapply the chemical as needed and keep wiping until all the paint is removed.

Wash your hair thoroughly to ensure all the chemicals are removed. You can shampoo your hair twice just to be safe, as the harsh compounds can burn through your strands and leave permanent damage.

Pro Tip: Get more details about the two products: turpentine and paint thinner you can check out our blog. 

10. Try WD-40

If you are stuck with latex paint in your hair, you will need a heavy lifter to remove it. Although using on your hair sounds bizarre, it might be the solution you need.

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Spray it directly on the paint and rub the liquid, so it covers the area entirely. Let it sit for a few minutes so it can work its magic.

Once you start to see the paint move on your hair, rinse it out with warm water.

Pro Tip: Use this trick as a last resort because WD-40 can be very harsh on your hair.


How to remove latex paint from hair?

Removing latex paint from hair can be challenging but rubbing alcohol, and other solvents can get the job done quickly. Soak a rag cloth in the solvent and rub the paint stain gently. In a few wipes, the paint will ultimately come off.

How to get enamel paint out of hair?

If you have a few specks of enamel paint in your hair, you can apply a few drops of cooking oil to the affected area. Massage the oil for a few minutes and wash your hair with regular shampoo.

How to remove acrylic paint from hair?

Acrylic paint is easy to clean from the hair. Work up a lather using warm water and shampoo and apply it to wet hair. Allow the product to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before washing it off.

Will nail polish remover get paint out of hair?

Nail polish removers are made of acetone which is a paint thinner. For this reason, it can break up the paint particles in your hair. However, it can cause damage to your hair and should only be used when you have exhausted all other paint-removing options.

Does hair spray remove paint?

Hairspray contains isopropyl alcohol which helps break down paint stains on clothes and hair. Simply spray a generous amount on the paint stuck in your hair and allow it to work its magic for a few minutes. Next, comb through your hair to remove paint residue.

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The best way to prevent the paint from getting into your hair is by covering it. (Hint: shower cap) But if you do end up getting a few flecks here and there, my tips will help you get rid of them in no time.

So, keep calm and continue painting!

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