Pros: affordable, not damaging to hair, actually works!
Cons: Doesn't seem to completely remove red pigments from hair, may need more than one application, uses a lot of hot water

Having a botched salon highlight job, attempting to conceal the disaster with brown dye and then deciding the semi-permanent dark colour was much too dark for my liking (and this dye was super resistant to fade - 2 months and still no lightening!), I turned to JoBaz Colour Remover - Max Strength.

I decided I wanted to bring my colour back to the lighter shade it was post salon visit (no product can remove bleach), but then redye a lighter shade of blonde-brown. I followed the JoBaz instructions of: applying the product to dry hair (do this in a well ventilated room) - sit for 60 minutes in a warm room or throw on a shower cap to keep your hair warm - rinse for 10-15 minutes - buffer for a few minutes - rinse again for 10 minutes - apply buffer again - rinse and dry hair as per normal. However, after reading on hair forums that heat can help 'loosen up' trapped colour molecules, after the second rinsing and buffering I let my hair partially dry using heat and then returned to the final buffer and rinse stage.

When I rinsed my hair the first time my hair was taken right back to a sandy blonde shade. I was surprised to see the water was still clear - don't expect to see any hair dye wash out as this product works to shrink the colour molecules so that you don't see the colour deposited in your hair. These colour molecules are still in your hair, which is why extended rinsing is the most important stage to stop them oxidising and returning to their original size - which would mean a return to the dreaded colour you've just attempted to remove. My hair felt pretty soft during the first rinsing stage, and I made sure to keep the water running throughout the hair for even longer than the recommended time. The buffering and rinsing again stage is when my hair turned that squeaky dishwashing liquid clean, and a tangled mess which made rinsing much harder. But keep that water running through the hair as best you can.

So, the final result? My hair was a birdsnest and there was no way a comb could get through that! I didn't apply my usual shampoo or conditioner as these can affect oxidation of the hair colour - something you want to avoid unless you want to fork out more money to go through the entire process again. I checked out the colour which had gone from a dark reddish brown to dark orange with blonde highlights peeking through. So it appeared to have darkened again somewhere between the final buffer and rinsing stage, but I was thoroughly impressed that the stubborn semi-permanent was gone. The JoBaz instructions leaflet mentioned that "you may notice a warm, brassy or even copper tone to the hair." I certainly noticed this allover, but predominantly near the roots. This was likely caused by the previous hair dyes I'd used to cover the blonde, all of which used hydrogen peroxide to lift and deposit colour. In other words, my hair had already been subjected to several light bleachings which had left me with the dreaded brassy tone. JoBaz recommends applying a temporary ash tone to the hair, or if blonde using a violet shampoo.

Here in NZ we have very little selection of semi-permanent boxed hair dyes. The only range I could find was Loreal's Casting Creme Gloss, but the lightest shade available came in a honey blonde which wasn't ashy enough for my ginger mop. Using a permanent dye was likely to return the old colour molecules to their original size, bringing back the dark colour to my hair. I pulled my hair up into a bun for the next few days and avoided washing it with anything other than natural soap (or anything devoid of sulfates). By day 7 I'd decided my hair could do with another stripping as some of the darker red tones were still apparent in my natural colour which was never highlighted in the original salon visit.

So I followed up with another session of JoBaz Colour Remover - Max Strength, this time following their instructions to the T. Again, after the first rinsing my hair appeared to be completely blonde, even when wet, but darkened back to a light orange by the end of the final rinse. I was pretty happy that I'd removed all the red tones and was at the light shade I wanted. The dreadful orange tone was still there, but I'd remedy that with my own DIY blue shampoo and follow up with an ash hair colour if need be.

I'm very happy with this product and would definitely use it again if my DIY dye ever comes out too dark. It's very gentle on hair, much more affordable than a salon visit, and to my amazement actually works! I highly recommend this product for DIY hair colour disasters.

See the following article for How I Remedied My Hair Colour Disaster.