It’s an age-old story. You get all suited up in your worst clothes, the ones you don’t mind if they get covered in paint! Then, you lay out the tarp to protect the floor. Finally, thinking you’ve got all the bases covered, you finally open up the can of paint to begin your project. But you forgot about your hair, which promptly gets a nice swath of clearly not natural coloration from the paintbrush in your hand as you attempt to begin painting the ceiling.
Of course, you don’t want to walk around with this wild stripe in your hair, making it seem like you’re still going through your rebel phase. So, how do you remove paint from hair?
Don’t worry, you’re far from the first to experience this issue. Luckily, I’ve found eight effective methods for how to get paint out of hair. Make your way down the list one item at a time. One of these solutions is sure to strip the paint from your hair.
How to Get Paint Out of Hair
1. Scrape it Off With Your Fingernails
This might seem overly simple, but it’s first on the list because it is simple. Even better, you don’t need anything to attempt this. As long as you’ve got hands and fingers (and haven’t chewed your nails off too far!), then you can try this method.
Grasp your hair with one hand and pull it tight. Use the fingernails of your other hand to scrape the paint off your hair by pinching them together and dragging them down your hair.
For this to be effective, you may have to repeat it many times to hit each little area where the paint is sticking. It can be a bit time consuming, but if it works, you won’t mind the time investment!
This method works best for small patches of paint in your hair, not giant swaths that cover half your head. It would just take too long to try to scrape all that off with your fingernails.
2. Comb it Out
If using your fingernails just didn’t quite do it, then you can step up the effort a notch and start incorporating tools. Of course, the tools of the hair trade, in this case, will be combs.
This works best if there isn’t too much paint to remove. It can be done with the hair wet or dry, and you may benefit from trying it both ways.
Simply drag the comb through your hair vigorously. You can take a handful of hair and hold it tight, dragging the comb up and down along the strands, scraping off the paint.
You’ll likely have to rearrange the hair a few times to scrape it all of since the comb can only scrape paint it can touch.
3. Dish SoapIf combs and fingernails just aren’t cutting it, it’s time to bring in something a bit heavier hitting. Dish soap is made strong enough to cut through stubborn grease stuck to cooking pans, so it can also be a great benefit when trying to remove paint from hair. Plus, most people have dish soap available at home and won’t have to scramble around trying to find some.
Just like you might add some dish soap and water to a pan and let it soak for a while to loosen up the caked-on food, the same method will work on hair. Lather your hair up with some dish soap and water. Let it sit for a while so the dish soap can start working on the paint. Then, scrub the paint hard with a washcloth, a comb, or even just your hands.
Once you’ve scrubbed the paint as much as possible, thoroughly rinse your hair out with water. With luck, this has removed all the paint from your hair. But if not, you might need a second or even a third round with the dish soap.
Trying to remove the paint from your hair is similar to attempting to exfoliate the top layers of your skin. So, a similar method might work for both. For your skin, you’d use some rough-textured material to help rub off the dead skin, such as a loofah or a washcloth. For paint stuck in your hair, instead of a loofa, we’re going to use toothpaste.
Toothpaste is gritty and abrasive, the perfect texture for helping to remove paint that has dried onto your hair. Start by squirting some of the toothpaste onto the paint that’s smeared on your hair. Don’t worry, it won’t make your hair white like your teeth.
Next, use your fingers to massage the toothpaste into the painted area of your hair. Keep massaging as hard as you can until either the paint is gone or your fingers are too tired to continue. Then, rinse your hair out well with water and examine your handiwork.
If you did well, then your hair should be back to its original, paint-free state. But if you only performed a semi-adequate job, then you’ll see some flecks of paint remaining and will need to repeat the process for a second time.
5. Soak Your Hair
Some of these methods will work best with particular types of paint. If you should be lucky enough to only have water-based paint in your hair, you might have an easy time removing it with water alone. Of course, it’s hard to call anyone with paint in their hair, “lucky.”
Fill a tub or bucket up with warm water. Soak your hair in the water until boredom takes over and you can’t handle it any longer.
Start the shower and wash your hair with shampoo. If your luck has returned after your paint accident, then you’ll no longer have any paint in your hair.
Should you find that this process didn’t work for you, check the label on your paint again. It might not be water-based!
6. Use WD-40If you’re dealing with latex paint in your hair, then you might need something a bit stronger than water. It might sound strange, but WD-40 could be the solution you’re seeking.
Of course, you don’t want to overdo the WD-40 usage. Try your best to only apply the spray to the parts of your hair that have paint on them.
Spray the WD-40 on the paint patches in your hair. Then, rub them in with your fingers to make sure it has a chance to work its magic. Let it sit for a few minutes so it can break down the paint.
After allowing the WD-40 some time to work, rinse it out with hot water.
Remember, the WD-40 can be hard on your hair and skin, so you might want to use this as a last resort if none of the other methods work for you.
7. Olive OilWhen it’s oil-based paint that’s stuck in your hair, you’re going to need another oil to help remove it. In this case, we’re going to use olive oil, which is proven to work well at removing oil-based paints from hair.
For this method, you’ll need olive oil, plastic wrap, and plenty of time.
Start by soaking your hair in the olive oil. Be very liberal here and soak your hair down. Then, wrap your hair in the plastic wrap to trap the oil against your head.
For this to work, the oil needs several hours to soak in and take effect.
After a few hours, you can remove the plastic wrap. With a comb, remove all of the now softened paint. It shouldn’t be hard to remove at this point, just gently pulling off with each stroke of the comb.
As an extra benefit, this is a great way to condition your hair and make it luxuriously soft. In fact, some people perform this ritual without any paint in their hair to remove!
8. Use Chemicals Like Paint Thinner, Turpentine, or Mineral SpiritsIf you’ve exhausted all the other methods and still can’t get that blasted paint out of your hair, then it’s time to bring in the big guns. When we’re talking about removing paint from hair, the big guns are chemicals such as paint thinner, turpentine, or mineral spirits.
Any of these will work just fine. But keep in mind, none of these are nice to your hair or your skin, which is why these are the last resort. That said, they’re powerful, heavy-hitters that are almost guaranteed to work. Instead of rubbing off the paint, these harsh chemicals will work to eat away the paint.
Apply some of the chemical of your choice to a rag. Use the rag to wipe down the hair that has the paint on it. You should see the paint starting to come off with each wipe, though the first several wipes may not release much or any paint.
Continue wiping until the paint is removed. You may need to reapply the chemical to the rag once or twice to finish the job.
As soon as you’re done wiping the paint off, you’ll need to wash your hair very thoroughly using shampoo. You may even want to wash twice. The last thing you want is for those chemicals to sit on your head and keep burning through your hair, so wash them out well.
If you find yourself stuck with paint in your hair, don’t fret. You’re certainly not alone. It happens to people all the time! Thankfully, there are many ways for you to attempt to get that paint out of your hair. No matter the type of paint or how long it has been in your hair, there is a solution that should help you to remove it.
If you found this information helpful, please feel free to share it with others who might have paint in their hair as well! I’ll do my best to respond to any questions or comments in the comments box below as quickly as possible.