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So you bought a box of hair dye 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. O.M.G. How the heck 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 oops are actually pretty common. 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, for starters. And the condition of your hair could 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 back on track. Follow the below advice on how to help address hair color mistakes—you’ll be happy with your new hue in no time.
Did your color turn out way different than you thought it would?
If your hair is too dark…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 moisturizing treatment intended for color-treated hair.
If your hair is too light…apply a darker shade of dye—from the same brand—to your hair, keeping it on for half the recommended time. Check the color every five minutes until you feel that it’s dark enough. Then, you can rinse.
If your hair is too red…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 color every five minutes. Rinse it out when your hair is suitably dark enough.
If your color looks faded…a toning gloss can help add back some vibrancy. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to re-dye your strands. Frequently washing your hair and using heat tools on the regular can cause the appearance of 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 to help make your hue last, making sure to wash your hair gently and take extra care when you style. A conditioning treatment with UV filters can also help protect your color.
A hair color remover might also be an option. L’Oreal Paris Colorista Haircolor Remover is formulated for natural or bleached blondes who’ve used semi-permanent dye. It helps remove excess semi-permanent color tones. All you have to do is mix, apply the remover, time it, and rinse it out. The product comes with specific instructions, which you should always follow for best results.
Highlighting at home is an art. Not happy with your results? This is what you should know for next time.
If your highlights are too visible…don’t color such big chunks of hair. Grab less 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 big 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. Or, you may not have left the dye on your headlong 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 be the culprit. 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 brass-free.
If your highlights aren’t super-precise…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 more blonde than the other.