We painted a closet recently with a latex/acrylic based paint and no plastic hair caps. This lead to the issue with some unsightly paint splotches on our hair. After several washes the paint still hasn't faded and is very noticeable.

Please let me know what methods are available for removing the paint from the hair on our heads while leaving the hair intact after the process.

UPDATE: We tried several of the solutions here but nothing worked. We had to wait until the hair grew out and it was cut off. Hair dye would not even cover the paint. I think a couple of the reasons we were unsuccessful was the amount of time that went by before we noticed the issue and the fact the hair seemed more porous due to the condition it was in to begin with. We think it was porous due to the frequency of the hair dyes and the very dry nature of Colorado's weather.

  • It a bit yucky but i would put paint thinners on a cloth and dab the a effected hair areas. Its smelly and wont disovle your hair.. but you would need to wash your hair with 2-3 times afterwards because thinners is very oily. Then use some conditioner. Please remember if you have dyed your hair this process is likely to remove your hair dye too!
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 12:09
  • Ever find a solution here? Commented May 7, 2012 at 15:49
  • 6
    haircut usually is the solution. Alternatively, just paint it all to match.
    – DA01
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 15:52
  • @ppumkin - No. NEVER put paint thinners on your hair. The chemicals can bleach the hair, will strip it of natural oils making it brittle, and can even damage the hair follicle.
    – KeithS
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 17:05
  • @ppumkin, No, never put paint thinners on your hair. It will irritate the skin, and it's easy to get it in the eyes, resulting in irritation, burns, conjunctivitis of eyes, and corneal ulcerations of the eye. See the material safety data sheet. Commented May 8, 2012 at 17:39

8 Answers 8


This E-How article says that a soak with your normal shampoo, followed by running a fine-tooth comb through the affected area(s), should remove water-based paints including latex acrylic. By fine-tooth, I assume they mean a comb like a pocket or dressing table comb, but you may have more luck with something like a lice comb.

Now, latex paint with VOCs may cause other types of discoloration, similar to thinners (which is why you NEVER put paint thinner on your hair; no turpentine, no acetone, no methylated spirits, no nothing). Also, certain dyes, like red and orange, will soak into surfaces (even some things you wouldn't consider "porous", like ceramic tile) and become extremely difficult to remove. I dunno what color you painted the closet or exactly what type of paint you used, but it may not be a layer of actual paint causing the discoloration anymore.

  • We tried this a few times as well and it did not work for us. We literally had to wait until the hair grew out and it was cut off. Dye would not even cover the hair. I'm going to mark this as the answer as it seemed to helped @SamTheBrand, but a couple issues, and why I think we were unsuccessful, was the amount of time that went by before we noticed the issue and the fact the hair seemed more porous than normal due to its semi frequent dye jobs.
    – James
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:46

When this has happened to the kids (we let them help when painting) I just pick the paint out of their hair with fingernails while watching TV - they sit still and it's quite 'Gorillas in the Mist'

It does take a wee while, but it works without the use of any chemicals.

  • I believe this won't always work if paint gets 12+ hours old.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 13:18
  • Unfortunately we didn't notice in time. We had minor success the first time we tried picking it out of the hair but very little would come out. We try to periodicity pick it out even now, but it doesn't work.
    – James
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 21:25
  • I think @sharptooth may be right. I didn't let it sit for 12 hours - think it was around 2, and it came right out.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 21:42

I find that olive oil or similar cooking oil usually removes sticky hardened gunk. paint, gum, etc...


Water dispersion paint (latex/acrylic is a flavor of those) is not fully water-resistant - it will get much weaker and softer once you leave it in damp conditions for long enough (which is something like several hours). So you need to somehow make hair wet and not let it dry and after a rather long period of time the paint will get weaker and you can try to carefully separate the paint from the hair.

  • We tried this a couple times. We even let the hair soak overnight, but it did not help when we tried to pick it out. We can see it slowly going away on its own, but nothing seems to be speeding up the process.
    – James
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 21:25
  • @james How did you soak the hair overnight? that must have been a sight to see.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 21:10
  • @Tester we tried both with water and conditioner. We clipped up the hair and tied a plastic baggy around the hair so the moisture would not dry out.
    – James
    Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 23:07

Try dish soap and really wet hair. If that doesn't work, you might try using some gritty toothpaste. The dish soap would get between the hair and the latex and help it come off, the toothpaste would act as a mild abrasive and chew up the paint so that it could be washed off.


Mayonnaise! My son has bright blonde hair. While we were spray painting beds he got bright pink spray paint in his hair. We tried everything and nothing made the paint come out. I put some mayo on his hair and he jumped in the shower and scrubbed it out. All the paint gone!


Apply water And blue Dawn ASAP. Stroke in hair conditioner and pull through with the thumb nail. Follow up with a vigorous tugging with a fine comb. Reapply conditioning .


a few years ago I was painting a wall and I spilt paint all over my hair and after days of trying i just shaved my head completely bald and it grew back normal. shouldn’t use chemicals or anything like that should just cut it

  • This should actually be a comment because it doesn't answer the OP' question. They want to remove paint from the hair, not the hair from the head.. :-)
    – JACK
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 12:40

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