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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. 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, 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 advice on how to help address hair color mistakes and you’ll be happy with your new hue in no time.
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. All it takes is a quick misstep for things to go entirely wrong. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up some of the most common hair color mistakes—as well as our top tips to help get your hair back to looking its best. Read on to learn about some of the most common hair color mistakes and how to fix them ASAP.
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 build-up 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 into the mirror and see orange-looking locks staring back at you, there are a few ways to help backtrack this mistake. Brassiness can happen to anyone, after all. For canceling out orange tones, you’ll want to use a purple, brass-busting shampoo on your strands right away. Shampoos formulated with purple and violet undertones can help get rid of the look of brassiness, so it’s your best bet. If you’ve been washing with a purple system and the orange tint just isn’t budging, call up a professional colorist.
This can happen when your roots simply don’t take to the color formula as well as the rest of your strands—or perhaps just 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’ll 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 to the hacks in our article, How Do You Remove Hair Dye from Your Skin?
So, you wanted to be a redhead but things didn’t go as planned. In that 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 color 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. The L’Oreal Paris Colorista Haircolor Remover is formulated for natural or bleached blondes who’ve used semi-permanent dye (shades of the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color, specifically). 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 be sure to follow for best results.
After all of this work, nothing is more frustrating than coming to find out that 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 one 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 back some vibrancy to your color ASAP.
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 Intensive Protecting Shampoo and the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy intensive Protecting Conditioner, to help make your hue last, in addition to 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.
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. 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 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. We get it, it’s a tricky balance! This is why highlights are best left to a pro. Another possibility: you may not have left the dye on your head 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 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 saturated with more blonde strands than the other.
Are you 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.