How to Get Paint Out of Hair

Getting paint in your hair is almost as bad as getting food and gum stuck in it. It can be annoying, especially when it has dried up and is just sitting there like a bad dye job. However, the good thing is that when paint gets into the hair, it’s a little easier to deal with than something like gum, for example.

Often times, people tend to think the worst the minute they realize that paint has gotten in their hair, especially when it is the more adherent types such as acrylic/latex-based paint or oil-based paint. Fortunately for you, we have found that it is not that difficult to get rid of, and you probably won’t even have to chop off your locks in the process!

Speaking from personal experience, the process of getting rid of it is similar to getting stuff like syrup out of your hair (don’t ask me why I’ve had maple syrup in my hair before). So, if you’re wondering how to get that colorful stuff out of your hair, we’re here to give you some tips.

First, here are the materials you will need to do this at home:

  • Water
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Cooking oils
  • Baby oils
  • A comb
  • Hair color remover
  • Dish soap
  • Toothpaste

Getting rid of oil-based paint

how to get rid of oil based paint in hair

Oil based paint is really annoying once it gets in your hair. It’s all slick, and it just gives your entire scalp this nasty texture. That being said, it’s actually one of the easiest types of paints to get out of there. Now, as you may have brilliantly deduced from the name, oil-based paint is, well, oil-based, which means that other oils will be able to easily loosen and separate the paint chips in your hair.​

Step-by-step guide

  • Step one - Apply oil to oil-paint affected areas and let sit for about one to two minutes.
  • Step two - Take a comb to the affected areas, combing carefully so you don’t pull at the hair. Do this for about two-three minutes or until you notice the paint slowly coming off.
  • Step three - Lather shampoo through the hair as normal. Rinse and repeat at least two to three times, ensuring that the shampoo has thoroughly removed paint chips.
  • Step four - Apply conditioner to hair to nourish the affected areas, then rinse and dry.

Acrylic/Latex Paint Removal

how to get rid of acrylic paint from hair

Unlike Oil-based paints, Acrylic/Latex paint can be slightly more difficult to remove, especially once it has dried in the hair, as it dries quickly. We suggest that the moment you notice the acrylic paint, you immediately wash it vigorously with shampoo and conditioner because that will loosen the strands with the paint in it, and loosen the paint chips that would otherwise bond the hair with paint in it together.​

Step-by-step guide

  • Step one - Using warm water, massage head and scalp and the affected areas.
  • Step two - Apply shampoo and lather into hair (focusing on the painted areas of the hair) and let it sit for three to five minutes. Rinse and repeat at least three to five times.
  • Step three - Take a comb to the painted areas of hair and comb through it until the paint is removed.
  • Step four - Apply conditioner to hair to nourish the affected areas, then rinse and dry.

Protip: use a shampoo that does not protect dyed hair colors, as water-based paint can behave similarly to hair dye. Just use a regular shampoo and you should be fine.

Hair Dye Remover

If the paint is being particularly stubborn and not coming out as expected, you can easily get rid of it by going and using hair dye remover, however, if you have colored hair you may want to save this method as a last resort. It is particularly effective against watercolors.

On that note, if the other methods don’t work you can also try toothpaste or a bit of dish soap in place of the shampoo steps listed above.​

What if nothing works?​

Generally speaking, the big problems happen when you let the paint dry in your hair. In situations where there is a lot of paint that has dried on the hair (specifically acrylic/latex paint and oil paint), we would suggest seeking out help from a professional. Don’t worry, they won’t laugh... much.

A professional hairdresser will have way better tools than what you have in the house, especially fine-tooth combs and salon quality shampoos and other products. They will help you get rid of all that paint, to the best of their ability.

Of course, if you leave the paint in your hair too long, you may be forced with facing the worst case scenario – chopping your glorious strands off.​

Tips to avoid getting paint in your hair​

Ultimately the best way to deal with a potential problem is by avoiding it entirely. It’s nice to know how to get paint out of your hair should the occasion arise, but you wouldn’t really have to know if you had of just avoided getting it stick in there in the first place. In that spirit, here are a couple of tips for how to keep paint on the walls/canvas, and out of your follicles.

  • If you have long hair, tie it back, keeping it away from your face with whatever you have available to you. If it’s out of your face and neatly tied back, you’ll avoid 90% of accidents.
  • Cover your hair with something, like a bandana or a shower cap. There’s a reason the stereotypical painter’s outfit includes a head-covering. It’s not for fashion.

In conclusion, you should probably just not get paint in your hair. Of course, if you do, remember to stay calm and quickly run to the shower to get it taken care of as quickly as possible.

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