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How To Lighten Hair That Has Been Dyed Too Dark

What to Do If Your Hair Color Comes Out Too Dark

It can happen to even the most skilled at-home colorist: you use a box color to dye your hair, and the hue comes out much darker than you'd hoped. But believe it or not, you don't have to suffer with a hue that's not for you. Keep reading for our tips on how to lighten a botched dye job.

  • Try a clarifying shampoo: These types of cleansers are full of color-stripping surfactants (the stuff that makes your shampoo and soaps lather). The faster you can get to your freshly dyed hair, the better; just make sure you deep condition afterwards.
  • Call the hotline: If you experience unwanted results from an at-home hair color, immediately call the hotline number on the side or back of the box. The company representative can offer you professional advice on what to do next.
  • Face the facts: The only true way to lighten color is to remove it. But once that unwanted color has been removed from your hair, sometimes toners have to be added to color-correct. Sure, there are color-removing products like L'Oreal ColorZap ($12) readily available at the nearest beauty supply store, but if your too-dark color is still not looking right, heading to a professional is probably the best option.

How to prevent it in the first place: Since semipermanent or demipermanent colors typically fade a lot faster than permanent colors, they are often more gentle for the home colorist. And when coloring your hair at home, go only one to two levels lighter or darker than your natural hair color to avoid "oh no" moments. While most box color includes a description of what the shade will be (such as medium-light brown), keep in mind that level one equals black and level 10 is light blond.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 8 years
Clairol one 'n only ColorFix. A few applications, following directions, took my hair from level 3 brown and 5 copper (long layers) to (my natural) level 6, but orangey. A little ashy demigloss, and I'm neutral. Don't forget protein treatments if you strip your hair. Try PM whatever it's called.
sarasonne sarasonne 8 years
1. Actually do a strand test, people! 2. I've also had success with ColorOops!
foudini foudini 8 years
It's really key to pay attention to the colour as it develops! For example, try leaving it on for a quarter to half of the recommended time instead. Then rinse completely (do NOT apply conditioner) and dry. That way you can evaluate the shade. If it's too light, repeat the process. I have highlights growing out and they were getting brassy so I used a dark brown dye to help blend them a little while the natural hair grows out. I made sure not to use tons of hair dye (another mistake people make: you usually do not need all of the bottle) and to rinse the dye out a couple minutes after I applied it. After drying and evaluating, I repeated the process and ended up with lovely, blended hair that maintained the look of my original highlights. So it ended up looking like I had gotten my hair re-done professionally!
emalove emalove 8 years
This has never happened to me, thankfully. I don't want to make my hair darker!
Kalliefornia Kalliefornia 8 years
Color Oops! They sell at at rite-aid and sometimes other beauty places, it is a life saver and really does work.
brielleblonde brielleblonde 8 years
i bought a medium brown shade and it came out medium blonde! i hate it. i can never get my hair darker :(
redrover189 redrover189 8 years
I'm a total "at-home dye veteran" (aka, too cheap to go to a salon...) and I've had my fair share of hair-dye nightmares where I've gone a little dark. A few things to remember - hair dye isn't like paint - if you dye your hair brown, it's not like putting brown-colored paint on your hair. You are adding different pigments to your hair and the sum effect of those pigments will be a brown (or black, etc) color. This is why if you dye your hair too dark, you may notice red, purple, or blue shades when you look at your freshly dyed hair in the sunlight. This is why it's always best, if you're going more than a shade or two darker, to have your hair dyed professionally - the salonist will know the correct blend of pigments that will best darken YOUR particular hair color. But, if you really want to go the cheapie route, have a bottle of dandruff shampoo on hand, no joke! Dandruff shampoo, like Head and Shoulders, has always worked best for me at removing excess dye (or reversing the process, if I've chosen the wrong color) from my hair without overdrying like a clarifying shampoo or dishsoap (both of which I've tried). Hope this helps!
Lyv Lyv 8 years
Well no color looks good on my hair other than black anyway so, lucky me! :P
gingergin1 gingergin1 8 years
When that happened to me I called the manufacturer's hotline and was told that any color, when left on too long, will go to black. I guess I pushed the time limit in an attempt to get better coverage for some grey!
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
I leave all this stuff to my hairdresser! I don't trust myself :P
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I've only ever used semi perm and it fades pretty fast on me so I never worry.
LArgent LArgent 8 years
This always seems to happen! Personally, I just don't trust what they say on the box, so if I want dark brown, I buy a more medium shade. That aside, I used Nice n Easy's new perfect 10 in Dark Brown this week, and its alright. It's pretty dark, but then the name does give that away!
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Also a fan of Color Oops... has saved me from a many hair tragedies.
pandacn pandacn 8 years
I used to hate trying to get color right because the color on the box is almost never how it looks on me. But I switched to using Fekkai Salon Color at home (they have it at Bath and Body Works or Bloomindale's) and I've been converted. It's definitely more expensive, but it's worth it to not have to go to a real salon. My natural hair is dark brown-ish, but in the sun, it has highlights, so I used 5W (medium golden brown) and the color is just like how I wanted it. Still not like on the box, but it touched up my roots while maintaining my natural color - without drastically darkening or lightening. It's worth the price!
plasticine1 plasticine1 8 years
beauty school basics :-P and yes, color oops works really good, it just opens up your cuticle and gets out all of the color. you just have to remember that if your hair is lightened underneath all your color (which if you use a dye with peroxide, it IS) by the end of the process your hair will be bleach-y colored, but it's a good base to start on for your next desired color
Zivanod Zivanod 8 years
I have had that happen to me. A medium brown came out almost black with purple when the sun hit it. I hated it but washed my hair a few times more then usual and within a week the severe colour had faded to a more appropriate shade of brown.
Goblin72 Goblin72 8 years
Color Oops is the best way to remove color that came out too dark. It works great and doesnt damage your hair, and it doesnt leave it yellow, its get pretty close to your natural color. You can get it at your local drugstore like CVS or Walgreens, or if you have Ulta nearby.
aka-Daria aka-Daria 8 years
You should also open the box and make sure everything is labeled the color its suppose to be, cause there's a bunch of assholes who like to switch stuff in boxes to fuck with people.
T-S T-S 8 years
This has definitely happened to me. I used dish soap...not sure what's so "extreme" about that...
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