What Is A Soap Cap And Why Should You Use It?

Have you ever heard of the term, “soap cap”?

If you’re into hair color, you need to know what a soap cap is. Let’s talk about how you can use this awesome technique to your advantage.

There are a few different types of soap caps (also known as shampoo caps, or color balancers). In this post, I’ll explain what they are and how to use them.

If you are a DIY hair colorist, you should probably know how to use a soap cap to your advantage. This professional technique is the perfect way to freshen up your hair color, while doing minimal damage do your hair.

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What You Need to Get Started:

First things, first… you’re gonna need some supplies. Don’t worry, I got you covered.

I also highly recommend you follow up with a deep conditioning treatment to keep your hair happy. I LOVE the It’s a 10 Miracle Deep Conditioner for projects like this.

Buy All Supplies on Amazon Now

1. The “Traditional” Soap Cap with Color

Preparation of hair dye. Isolated on white background

This type of soap cap can be used to refresh dull hair color.

To perform a traditional soap cap: 

  • Mix hair color with equal parts shampoo
  • Apply to the hair and thoroughly saturate
  • Process for 5-10 minutes
  • Rinse, shampoo and style as usual

This method works best if you want to freshen up your color without recoloring your hair.

For example, if you’re just touching up your roots, you can use this method to revive the rest of your hair without the extra damage.

It could also just be used to refresh color between applications. The added shampoo dilutes the color so it won’t darken the previously colored hair.

It also ensures even application, which is a must.

2. Soap Cap with Bleach and Developer

Portrait of beautiful young woman dyeing hairs - isolated on white

I use this soap cap technique reasonably often on my own hair, as it is beneficial for platinum blonde hair. It can also be called a “color balancer” or “bleach bath.”

I use it to freshen up my bleached hair after touching up my roots or even just to freshen up in between applications. It does a lot less damage than re-bleaching the hair over and over again.

You could also use this type of soap cap to lift color gently. For instance, it will take out most semi-permanent colors without doing extensive damage.

You could also try to gently lift darker colors without doing too much damage. The Paul Mitchell color line recommends doing this before any color service (when switching color lines) to create a “fresh canvas” for the new color.

To perform a color balancer, you need to mix equal parts bleach, shampoo, and developer. Like the previous form of soap cap, process for 5-10 minutes, then rinse and deep condition.

3. Soap Cap with Bleach, No Developer

Portrait of young beautiful woman washing her head

I honestly just learned about this type of soap cap yesterday, and it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever. You can mix powdered bleach with shampoo, and it will lift color out of the hair. Skipping on the developer cuts down the damage done to the hair.

Yesterday, my co-worker tried to tone her hair with Redken 8T (Titanium Hair Toner), which is silver for those of you that don’t know. Well…her hair quickly turned silver. We used this method of soap cap to lift the color out of her hair safely.

Scientifically, I am unsure of how the bleach works without peroxide; I think it has to do with the oxygen molecules from the water mixing with the bleach.

Anyways, believe me, it works, and it does very minimal damage.

Now you know…

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Have you ever used a soap cap to freshen up your hair color? Do you have any tips to add for other DIY hair colorists? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below…

RELATED: How To Use A Hair Toner For Brassiness

61 thoughts on “What Is A Soap Cap And Why Should You Use It?”

    • I don’t think this would be an effective way to get to platinum unless your hair is already super blonde… in which case, it will lighten out the yellow tones. It does lighten a little bit each time, but probably not enough to get hair that light. It would cause damage if done repeatedly. Hope that helps 🙂

  1. Loved this post my granddaughter put pink in her bleached blonde hair even tho I suggested not to. Just a few streaks thought I would try shampoo cap to help her remove. Then she has about 2 inches of new growth med blonde thought I might try the soap cap with developer around to blend with her highlights. She is sunbleached just needs a little lift and blend. Your thoughts.

  2. last YEARI dyed my hair black but grew tired of it and went back red and did a big trim on my curly hair to get rid of as much of the dark as possible. now my dark dirty blonde roots are coming out about 2 inches ..So my question is would the color form of the soap cap be okay still and even my hair out? because the color i use makes it darker and but will it still have the same effect its supposed to eith the evening out of color?

    • Are you wanting to soap cap and then color over it? If so, that’s a good option. If you’re not going to color over it, I wouldn’t do it because it will turn out brassy. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. I recently bleached a section of my hair, (twice.. 😔) And can’t get rid of the orange tone.
    I also didn’t have a toner so I just put purple shampoo on it, LeT it sit for a while then rinsed it out.

    COULD I use either of these methods to get rid of the orange that won’t go away?

    • The soap cap probably won’t lift out the stubborn orange. I’m guessing that the area that won’t lift has been previously colored a dark color because those are really hard to lift out. In this case, it will just take multiple processes over a longer period of time. I’d just keep toning it and deep conditioning until you can get it to the shade you want.

      Hope that helps!

    • This is a little long, but I promise you’ll FIND at least 1 helpful bit of info, if not more! You need blue for orange, not purple. However it will only tone it to as light as the base under the orange. So if it DIDN’T bleach enough it may tone to a light brown, but at least it won’t be orange.

      What I like to do is use manic panic ultraviolet or a purple and a blue semi and put a tablespoon or so of each in a full bottle of shampoo or conditioner. I like conditioner because it adds a bit of slip to the hair, making it less likely to overtone. Then I put it on dry hair for anywhere from 15 to 30 mins. I never use toner that takes developer because it fades so fast and bleached hair doesnt need anymore peroxide processes than it’s already gone through. I like using violet because it takes care of yellow and orange, since it’s both blue and purple. Also helpful is pulling up a really in depth color wheel on GOOgle and finding your exact shade and then going directly across to the opposite, I use a pencil to be sure I’m on the right row, the more detailed wheels are kinda hard to tell which is across from which exactly. Then I add more purple, blue or conditioner until I duplicate the color I need to cancel my unwanted tones. It’s not as tedious as it sounds. It’s worth it when you take the wrap off your wet hair to find the color you wanted! Oh and use an old t shirt, not a towel for wrapping your hair! The loops in towels can snag and tear at hair causing more breakage. It stays on better and is lighter anyway. Just stick your head in the neck hole and wrap as usual.

      I also highly suggest one of 2 things: find a friend with a cosmetology license or use one of the few legit online places to get olaplex. They sell single use packets for 8 bucks at cosmoprof/Armstrong Mccall! For real! 8 bucks! If you’d rather a bottle but cant afford the high prices, if you had to, you could just get #1. It has the strongest concentration of the active ingredient bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. Then add some to a CONDITIONER to make #2. Or shampoo and Conditioner to make 4 & 5 Or to a leave in conditioner to make 6 or hair oil to make #7.
      2nd option: and this is not my 1st choice after doing this myself and realizing I could’ve bought a giant bottle of #1 for the same price, but I wanted to do it NOW, you know how it is. Lol Go to sephora, especially now, they have the holiday pack for 60 that has the 3.3 oz. Bottles of 3,4,5,6. So it’s like buy 3 get 1 free and then grab #0 too which comes with a freebie sample size bottle of 3. #0 & #3 are identical to 1&2 just a bit less potent, but way better than none at all! Literally 0 and 1 are 100% identical in ingredients and so are 2 & 3! 0 goes in your bleach or color and when that’s rinsed out follow with 3 and cover! Leave on as long as you want, as long as it stays wet, its still working, just like bleach. I’ve left #2 on 18 hours before. Just remember, it’s a Disulphide bond rebuilder, it isn’t a deep conditioner even though 3 calls itself conditioner. It should be called condition-er as in it improves condition, not imparts moisture. It also doesnt address protein, so a good protein treatment and deep conditioner are good after olaplex! I love joico k pack and aphogee 2 minute keratin is good quicky or more intensive is the aphogee protein 2 step. Save conditioner for last. You can always make your deep conditioner do more by covering with shower cap or saran wrap, grocery bag, whatever amd hitting it with the haIr dryer for 30 mins. You can still reap huge benefits when if you already bleached without olaplex! Do a stand alone treatment by clarifying your hair (I love aussie detox, it’s the only clarifying shampoo that doesnt dry out my hair, AND its liken 2.50 at target. The dollar store by house even has it) while damp, drizzle either #0 or #1 all over until fully saturated (it takes way less product when hair is still a little damp) cover & leave for 10 to 20 mins, remember you dont wanting to dry out. Then slather 2 or 3 directly on top of 0 or 1, cover and sit. The more damage, the longer I would leave it, sleep in it if you like. Again, if its wet, its working. Then shampoo/condition out preferably with 4 &5 or whatever stuff you like and then do your protein and deep condition. Voila! Done!

      And since I covered so much, I’ll add one last bit of helpful info. If you’re dealing with a green tone, get a hot pinkish Fuchsia color to mix and get that color wheel out again and match your color to the antidote color. The ion pink ice toner is magical for greens but it’s a developer process. With olaplex though it isn’t as much of a risk, if it’s one at all.

      Olaplex is absolutely worth it! Theres so many negative things online because most people think it’s a one stop fix all, and it isn’t. It does a lot, it repairs hair from the inside out, even being able to fix split ends! Just be sure to give your hair the other necessities after and you’ll be fine! (Unless you’re allergic to an ingredient and then it should go without saying dont use it!)

      No olaplex dupe does what olaplex does, NONE! dont be fooled! They have their magic ingredient(BIS-AMINOPROPYL BLAHBLAH) locked tight in their patent, any other “plex” wannabes just deposit silicone in the spaces where bonds are broken and protein has been lost. Hardly a comparison to actually rebonding and rebuilding the structure of your hair.

      So sorry for getting carried away, I just have been learning by trial and error for a long time and finally have it down. I like to save people time and research if I can.

  4. What is the process IF there is 2 TO 3 inches of new growth, and you’re trying to lighten a level 6 red violet to achieve level 7 ginger color? Do you not apply the soap cap TO the uncolored new growth and how do you avoid that area?

    • I guess it really depends on what level the virgin hair is. You want to try to get it all on the same page before applying the new color. Without knowing anything about the hair you’re working with, I’d say generally you should put the soap cap on the colored hair and let that process for a while before running it through the virgin hair. When everything is at a similar level, you can apply the color. Hope that helps!

  5. Im currently a darker brown color and have an upcoming appt for hiGhlights. Im cery short on funds so my Friend recommended me to do a soap cap at home first. Should i do it with or without developer and what kind of color do you think this will take me to?

    • A soap cap isn’t going to take you super light, it just helps lift some of the color out of your hair. If your hair is super dark brown, it will probably make your hair orange, to be honest. Unless you are planning on covering it with a lighter color, I probably wouldn’t go this route before getting highlights. If you do, I wouldn’t use developer. However, it won’t lift much out of your hair.

      Hope that helps!

  6. THis really does work! After coloring my hair i ended up with hot roots so i did the bleach and clarifying shampoo miX anD it completely evened everything out! I do recommend keeping a close eye, don’t just time it and walk away. MY hair evened out wIthin just a few minutes.


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