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.

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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

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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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