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So, you bought a box of hair color and followed the instructions to a T—but the color you see staring back at you in the mirror isn’t quite what you expected. How are you supposed to leave the house looking like this? Just breathe—it’s going to be OK. We’ve all been there: Hair color mistakes are actually pretty common—even with permanent hair dye. Whether you’re a seasoned at-home hair colorist or trying it out for the very first time, it’s all too easy to make a small mistake that can have big consequences (like orange hair).
The thing is, you can’t always expect to get the same result as the model on the packaging. In fact, there are a lot of factors at play. Your starting color may have been darker or lighter than the model’s. And the condition of your hair, whether it's damaged or has previously been color-treated, can change the outcome, too. The good news is that there are things you can do to help correct your mistakes and get your hair color and your hair-care routine back on track. Follow the below color-correction hair advice on how to fix orange hair and address other hair color mishaps, and you’ll be happy with your new hue in no time.
Don’t panic—although it’s harder to lighten locks once they’re dark, there are some steps you can take to get back on the right track. First of all, reach for a clarifying shampoo and wash your strands, stat. This is basically the opposite of a color-protecting shampoo—instead of keeping your color vibrant for longer, a clarifying shampoo can help remove product buildup on your strands, including too much color. Shampoo the darkest area a few times with a regular shampoo—one that’s not intended to protect color-treated hair—to help fade the color. Follow up with a rich conditioner or hair mask treatment that’s intended for color-treated hair.
As alarming as it is to look in the mirror and see orange-looking locks staring back at you, there are a few ways to help backtrack on this mistake. For instance, knowing how to fix orange hair is all about the right color-correction. To cancel out orange tones, you’ll want to use a purple, brass-busting shampoo on your strands right away. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Purple Shampoo for Color Treated Hair paired with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Purple Conditioner for Color Treated Hair. Shampoos formulated with purple and violet undertones can help get rid of a brassy look, so they’re your best bet. If you’ve been washing with a purple system and the orange tint just isn’t budging, it may be time to call a professional.
This can happen when your roots simply don’t take to the color formula as well as the rest of your strands—or perhaps they just absorb it differently, which results in an overall mismatched look. For a quick fix, grab the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up spray or the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen. These handy root helpers aren’t just for gray hair coverage—they can work wonders on helping to blend your roots into the color of your lengths and ends, at least until you can sort out a more permanent solution.
Speaking of which, for this hair color dilemma, you’ll likely want to consult a professional colorist. Not only will they be able to help match the colors on your roots and your ends, blending them into a singular shade, but they may also be able to do it the first time around—because remember, the more often you color your hair in any capacity, the more likely it is to become damaged.
Yikes! This is no good, but we understand—sometimes, no matter how careful you are, a bit of hair dye can land on your skin, likely on your neck or your ears. If you’ve got time to spare, you can just wait things out: over time, the color will fade, and you can use a gentle soap to help remove it a little faster. If you want it off your skin ASAP, look through the hacks in our article, How Do You Remove Hair Dye From Your Skin?
Let’s say you managed not to get hair dye on your neck and ears, but your bathroom looks like a war zone at the moment. We’ve all been there, and while it can be stressful looking at your white porcelain tub when it’s completely stained, this hair dye mistake can easily be resolved with the right know-how. Speaking of which, here’s How to Remove Hair Dye Stains from Your Shower, Tub, and Counters.
You wanted to be a redhead, but things did not go as planned. In this case, try dyeing your hair a shade of brown that’s the same color level as the red you used. Start by applying the color to the area that’s the most red. Keep it on for five to 10 minutes, checking the hue every five minutes. Rinse it out when your hair is suitably dark enough. If all else fails, a hair color remover might be your best option. It’ll help remove excess semi-permanent color tones. All you have to do is mix, apply the remover, time it, and rinse it out. As always, every product comes with specific instructions that you should be sure to follow for best results.
After all of the work that goes into dyeing hair, nothing is more frustrating than realizing your new hair color looks anything but vibrant. Perhaps you didn’t leave it on long enough, or maybe your strands are just too dried out to absorb the dye sufficiently. Whatever the cause, there’s an easy fix: a toning gloss or deep conditioner. Using a toning gloss or color-reviving deep conditioner treatment, such as the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner, can help add some vibrancy back to your color ASAP.
If you’re finished coloring your entire head of hair, only to admire the results and realize you missed a patch at the back, don’t stress. There are a few options for fixing this hair coloring mistake. Our first rec is to turn to a temporary fix. Find a shade from the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color and L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray product lines that matches your new hue, then apply it to the area in question. Both lines wash out in just one shampoo, so you won’t have to worry about making another mistake with your color fix.
If you prefer a more permanent solution, you’ll want to phone a friend. This way, they can apply permanent hair dye to the exact area that wasn’t colored before. That said, when in doubt, turn to the pros. A professional hair colorist will be able to seamlessly fill in any gaps in your hair color without overlap.
A few other things to keep in mind: Frequently washing your hair and using heat tools on the regular can cause your color to fade. Damage from the sun and free radicals can do the same. Use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for color-treated hair, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Protecting Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Protecting Conditioner, to help your hue last, in addition to making sure to wash your hair gently and taking extra care when you style. A conditioning treatment with UV filters can also help protect your color.
Highlighting at home is an art, and it’s also a totally different story than all-over color that’s one shade. Generally, it’s wise to book an appointment at the salon if you want to try out highlights. But we also understand the freedom and allure of coloring your strands in the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, there are a few things that can go wrong—but, you guessed it, we’ve got help on the way. If you’re not happy with your results, this is what you should know for next time.
If your highlights are too visible…with your next attempt, don’t color such big chunks of hair. Grab fewer strands, and make sure each one is uniformly saturated with dye, so that your highlights are even. You should also pay attention to how long you leave the color on your hair—if it’s on for longer than the recommended time, your highlights may turn out way too light, creating a stark contrast with the rest of your hair.
If your highlights don’t show up enough…you may not have used big enough sections of hair. We get it, there’s a tricky balance. This is why highlights are best left to a pro. Another possibility: you may not have left the dye on long enough. Next time, keep the color on your hair for the entirety of the recommended time. If you’re still not seeing your highlights, try bringing them closer to the front and top of your hair, so they’re more noticeable.
If your highlights are brassy…washing your hair frequently, using styling tools, and the sun could all be culprits. Use a toning gloss to help minimize the brassiness, and wash with a clarifying shampoo once a week to help address brass-causing pollutants. And remember: shampoos, conditioners, and treatments specifically formulated for highlighted hair will help keep your mane free of orange and yellow tones.
If your highlights look sloppy…pull strands away from your head before coloring next time. When you’ve separated the section you want to highlight, then you can apply the dye. Remember to coat the entire strand evenly, and be delicate when you’re applying color close to your scalp. Alternate creating highlights on each side of your head, so one side doesn’t become saturated with more blonde strands than the other.
If you’re an at-home hair coloring and highlighting pro, step up your game and give babylights a try: What Are Babylights? How to Do This Popular Highlighting Technique.
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