You may have seen buckets of paint falling on someone’s head in TV shows or movies, usually in a funny context. Although such extreme instances are rare in real life, getting paint in your hair while you’re renovating your house isn’t uncommon, especially if you’re doing it DIY or are working with spray paint.
While people usually remember to wear old clothes to prevent their regular ones from getting dirty, the thought of covering their heads usually slips their minds. If this reminder comes a little late and you already have dry paint in your hair shafts, this article will surely help.
Today, we look at nine effective methods how to get paint out of hair. Keep reading to find the solution that suits you best!
1. Scrape It With Your Fingernails
The simplest course of action when you’re thinking of how to get paint out of hair is scraping the paint off with your fingernails.
This method for how to get paint out of hair is simple. Hold your hair with paint and pull it tightly. With the fingernails of your other hand, scrape the paint particles off by pinching a lock of hair from the roots and dragging it in a downward motion.
You’ll need to repeat this step plenty of times until the dry paint comes off since you won’t get it all in one go. The effectiveness of this method also depends on certain paint types and works only if you have a small quantity of paint stuck in your hair shafts.
2. Comb It Out
If using just your fingernails doesn’t work for you, the next step in how to get paint out of hair is to bring out your trusted table comb to do the job. Just like the previous method, this one will work only if you have a small amount of paint in your hair and not larger swaths of it.
Making your hair wet may help, but you can also try it first on dry hair. Grasp a lock of your hair where the paint is located and drag the comb through your hair strongly, in an up-and-down motion.
For wavy and curly hair types, use a wide-toothed comb and a fine-toothed comb if you have straight hair. Be careful to not hurt yourself by yanking the hair with paint too vigorously!
3. Soak Your Hair in Water
Our third method for how to get paint out of hair may seem silly, but sometimes, luck can be on your side even after getting paint stuck in your hair. If you were using water-based paint, thank your lucky stars. If you’re asking yourself how to get paint out of hair, warm water works sufficiently well for water-based paint.
Fill a container with warm water (NOT hot water, you don’t want to damage your hair further). Soak your hair in water for a period of time until you can feel some of your hair shafts separate from the paint.
After a while, step into the shower and wash your wet hair normally with your regular shampoo. If paint is still stuck in your hair, check again to see if it’s water-based paint or not. For other types of paints, you might need a stronger cleaning agent.
4. Gently Apply and Rub Coconut Oil, Baby Oil, or Vegetable Oils
If the type of paint you were using wasn’t water-based, there are a few other materials that you can try as you figure out how to get paint out of hair. One of the popular methods that people swear by is using a normal product like baby oil, or different types of vegetable oils like coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
The properties of mineral oil like baby oil can help soften the unsightly paint splotches stuck in your hair and remove them easily with minimal hair breakage. For this method, soak up liberal amounts of oil with a cotton ball, and dab it on the places where the paint has latched on. This method works particularly well with oil-based paints.
For best results with this method of how to get paint out of hair, make sure you’ve dabbed enough oil to moisten the paint and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. Then, get a wide-toothed and start combing your hair gently. This should help remove the biggest chunks of paint from hair. To remove paint residue, wash your hair with shampoo as you normally would and comb it with a fine-tooth comb, or lice comb after.
5. Rinse With Shampoo, Dish Soap, or Toothpaste
In many cases, when you’re trying to find out how to get paint out of hair, all you need is a good wash with your normal shampoo and warm water. This simple fix is usually sufficient to get rid of paint if it’s water-based or the paint is minimal. A special shampoo like clarifying shampoo can also be used.
If your favorite shampoo isn’t getting the paint out, consider using dish soap since it’s stronger and easily available at home. Since these soaps are strong enough to get rid of food grease from utensils, they can help you remove oil paint from your hair. Mix dish soap with water and create a lather where the paint is stuck. Let it sit before scrubbing it off with a washcloth. Finally, shampoo and wash your hair with conditioner then use a fine-tooth comb to remove any remaining paint residues.
Another hack for how to get paint out of hair in this category is to use toothpaste in the same way we just described. The only difference is you’ll need to apply the toothpaste directly (don’t mix it with water) to the area covered in paint before trying to scrub it out.
6. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Here’s our sixth method for how to get paint out of hair. We don’t blame you if you’re not too keen on trying this method — no one wants their hair to smell like vinegar. Before you disregard this idea altogether, however, consider the fact that people use diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) to naturally cleanse their hair even when there’s no paint stuck in it.
In this method, the process of how to get paint out of hair is similar to the previous methods. Massage a healthy amount of diluted ACV to the areas where the paint is stuck and allow it to soak for an hour or so. The components in apple cider vinegar can break down paint and make removal easier when you wash your hair and comb it. Despite its distinctive smell, this method for how to get paint out of hair can help get rid of oil-based paint or acrylic paint easily.
7. Apply Peanut Butter
This is the tastiest method for how to get paint out of hair. The only drawback to this trick is you might end up craving a PB&J sandwich in the middle of your (small) crisis. But for people who are apprehensive about the effectiveness of this trick, consider this — the oils in peanut butter will help break down the paint and ultimately get rid of it once you wash your hair thoroughly.
For this method to work, it’s better to use chunky peanut butter because it has more grit that helps remove stubborn paint from your hair. Apply the peanut butter in places where the paint is stuck, work it in with your fingers, and let it sit for around 10-15 minutes before massaging it in again.
If you can feel sections of paint coming off, you can safely wash the peanut butter off (use a little extra of your favorite shampoo so your hair doesn’t smell appealing to squirrels). If the paint comes off partially, consider applying a bit more peanut butter and repeat the process until the paint is completely gone.
8. Apply WD40
The WD-40 method should be a last resort when it comes to how to get paint out of hair. WD40’s formulation can adversely affect your hair and scalp while causing skin irritation.
If you were unlucky enough to have latex paint stuck in your hair (with a quantity that won’t budge with your favorite shampoo or dish wash), you may opt for stronger agents like WD40, commonly used as a lubricating spray.
Try to apply it only in the areas where the paint is stuck before rubbing it in with your fingers. Though it’s safe for your hands, it’s best to wash them properly later. Let the liquid sit before rinsing it out thoroughly with slightly hot/warm water and shampoo.
9. Paint Thinner, Turpentine, or Mineral Spirits in Affected Area
Like our eighth method, this should also be used as a last resort when all attempts of how to get paint out of hair fail and you start to get desperate. Chemicals like paint thinners, turpentine, and mineral spirits can thin the paint until it comes off easily, but they can be harsh on your hair and cause skin irritation.
To minimize negative effects, dab some of the paint thinner, turpentine, or mineral spirits with a piece of cloth that you won’t mind discarding later. This will help you control the amount that you apply to your strands. With the now wet rag, wipe the paint until you feel the paint start to come off. You might have to dip the cloth and reapply it a few times for it to work. This method can be effective against latex-based paints that don’t come off easily.
Once your hair is free of paint, immediately wash your hair with warm water and shampoo to make sure the harsh chemicals are washed off completely along with any remaining paint.
Wrapping Up How to Get Paint Out of Hair
You may be cursing your luck if you find yourself with paint stuck in your hair, but don’t fret. It can happen to anyone and there are many ways to remedy the situation. Knowing how to get paint out of hair is practical and useful knowledge, especially if you work with paint often.
The best and easiest fix, however, is to keep your hair intact by covering it with plastic hair caps before painting. We hope you won’t need this article anytime soon but in case you do, you now know what to do!
If some paint also managed to get into your carpet while it was getting into your hair, take a look at How to Get Paint Out of Carpet.
I’ve been a professional painter since 2001 and spent the last 12 years specializing in kitchen cabinet refinishing. I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves. In 2019 I started the DIY Painting Tips Youtube channel where I publish in depth videos all about kitchen cabinet painting, painting gear reviews, and interior/exterior tutorials.