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Dyed Hair Too Dark? Let’s Talk!

Two newborn puppies with dark hair

If you dyed your hair too dark here are the options

As a hair stylist, I see this problem a lot! It is often the result of someone dying their hair at home. Box kits and do-it-yourself  hair coloring systems are appealing because they are so  affordable, but trust me, they do not always end up saving you money!  This is especially true if you’ve dyed your hair too dark! Hair dye stripping is difficult and costly.

The biggest problem with these home hair coloring kits is that they have a picture on the front of the box of what the hair color is supposed to look like when finished but, unless you read the back of the box, (and understand it) your hair will probably NOT turn out like the color in the picture.

Reasons at-home hair color turns out too dark

  • Wrong hair color choice – the picture on front of the box is NOT an accurate choice to go by.  Read the back of the box. It will try to walk you through determining which color to choose for your desired end result. If you don’t understand it, don’t buy it. Call the 800 number on the box for more advice.
  • Previous color in the hair is not allowed for, which added more color to the end result.
  • Dry, brittle or unhealthy hair which grabbed or soaked up the color more intensely.
  • Did not follow the directions or left the color on too long.

If you have any hair color previously in your hair, if you are going from dark to light, or if your hair is unhealthy, it is highly probable that you will not be happy with an at-home hair coloring kit. There is a lot more that goes into hair color success than just knowing the desired result. (This is why it is always best to leave any chemical service to the professionals.)

But, if you are reading this article, there is a good chance that you’ve already dyed your hair too dark and it is too late for such advice. (Take note for future reference though.) So . . . what to do now?

If a salon dyed your hair too dark

Did you have your hair colored by a hair stylist and you are not happy with the outcome? If this is the case, you may be in luck. Most salons will re-do your hair for free if you are not happy. If you are uncomfortable going back to the same hairdresser, you may be able to request that someone else correct your hair.

If you dyed your hair too dark with a semi-permanent or demi-permanent color

Did you use a semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair color? If so, there is hope for you! Semi-permanent color fades out the fastest (usually in about 6-8 shampoos). Demi-permanent hair color also fades out, but takes a little longer (about 6-8 weeks). If you used  either of these types of hair color you have a few options.

  1. First, try washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo, which may strip some color from your hair. But it if you’ve dyed your hair way too dark this option probably won’t take out enough color . . . but, why not give it a go, it’s an easy, inexpensive fix.
  2. Try a Malibu Treatment done at a salon. This would be my second recommendation. This is a clarifying treatment that strips color from the hair and it is usually not very expensive. How much? That will depend on how many times they need to apply the treatment to exhaust its capabilities of removing excess color from the hair. This treatment can dry out the hair and therefore fewer treatments are better than more. A professional can assess how many times it can be used safely to save the integrity of your hair.
  3. Pick up an Ion Crystal Clarifying Treatment at Sally’s Beauty Supply (or another beauty supply store) for about a dollar or two per package. You may need more than one packet if you have long or thick hair. This treatment is very similar to a Malibu, using gel crystals that are mixed with hot water. After mixing, apply to damp hair and then wear a shower cap to seal in heat. Leave this in for about 30-45 minutes. The treatment should remove quite a bit of the hair color and get you closer to what your hair looked like before you colored it. It is a safe treatment that will not cause further chemical damage. It’s still a good idea to use a deep conditioner afterwards though.

If you dyed your hair too dark using a permanent hair color

Unfortunately, this is the most abundant type of hair color that is sold in stores and therefore, the first one people choose off the shelf.  I imagine that many of you, who have dyed your hair too dark, have used a permanent hair color. If this is the case you have two options:

  1. Schedule an appointment at a salon to get it fixed. It is uncommon for a salon to give an exact price quote without seeing your hair first. However, most salons will do free consultations and can give you a price quote. You might be wise to schedule a couple different consultations to choose the hair stylist you feel most comfortable with and to assess how much you are willing to pay. If you are financially strapped try your local beauty school.
  2. Cut it off.  You can check out what a bleach-shampoo cocktail can do, but it’s a bit tricky and is not for everyone. Washing or clarifying will not alter permanent color much.

Unfortunately there are really no do-it-yourself solutions when it comes to permanent color correction. Without a thorough understanding of color chemistry, there is no safe or quick fix that I can suggest you try at home.

If you have further questions please comment on this article and ask! We may be able to help!

Guest contributor Erin Mullen Graduated  from the Midwest College of Cosmetology, Erin is a licensed cosmetologist and beauty professional. She is currently a senior studying Communication at Purdue University. Hair & Make-up Portfolio:  Twitter: @ErinJMullen or LinkedIn.

 





19 Comments »

  1. I colored my hair with a semi perm color and it was WAY too dark. Especially in the back of my head. Ugh . I used the ion crystal clarifying treatment that you recommended, and it worked like a charm . Thank you so much . Left it on 20 minutes. Thanks again !!!

    Comment by Keri L — April 23, 2017 @ 1:30 pm

  2. You can definately fix your own hair at home. There are so many products you can get. I stripped mine out as it was too dark then I waited a week used a 10vol and stripped again. I was left with light blonde hair. I used bleach to ombre and then I coloured with igora a proffessional colour. It was Perfect! I used a green based dye to neutralise the red!

    Comment by Ame — December 6, 2016 @ 2:36 am

  3. I had my hair colored by a stylist, left it too dark with Chunky with RED highlights. I started with Med Brown hair. I went back to the stylist and they applied a toner and my hair got even darker and Highlights even redder.

    I waited a month and Sally’s beautician told me exactly what to do. She did recommend going to another stylist but I didn’t trust anyone else touching my fragile baby fine hair. I did strip my own hair with ColorFix, used a protein neutralizer after that and applied a Loreal Light Ash brown color with 10% on the roots and 20% on the ends. My hair looks great and I am so happy the Sally’s beautician told me what to do. She did look at my hair after I stripped it (roots were lighter). And advised how to color it. YOU CAN FIX this on your own. I did but I had the help/guidance. Not all Sally’s help know what they are talking about but this one did she had been a licensed beautician at one point.

    Comment by Rosalinda — February 26, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

  4. Hello! I normally get highlights and i have a blonde hair color. I recently died my roots the wrong color (sallys told me the wrong color) and my roots gave off an orange look, still blonde though. I decided to just dye my hair brown and now it is too dark and yet my roots are still like a reddish/dark brown, I am okay with the color but I would like to just strip the red and brown and start over.. should i use a product called vanish? or a malibu treatment to lighten it? thanks

    Comment by Olivia — February 11, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

  5. Hi Loretta,
    Hairdressers always want their clients to be happy. I would get in touch with your hair stylist as soon as possible, and be honest. If you are unhappy with the results, you can discuss the different possibilities (maybe even a few highlights to brighten up your hair color).

    Do you want to learn more? Come check out our article Color For Hair Go Bad?. It gives great insider tips and advice for situations just like yours. I think that you’ll really enjoy it.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — August 31, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  6. Thank you for your advice Deb! We love to hear our readers’ success stories.

    Check out the article Hair Color Too Dark? Here are your options to learn more great techniques!

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — June 3, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  7. I have dyed my hair blue black for over 7 yrs and have no patience to let it naturally grow out and refuse to have it stripped so I keep dying it black over and over, although I am frankly quite tired of this color! So I recently came across a video on how to remove black permanent hair dye “naturally”. It’s a mixture of vitamin c and shampoo. Didn’t think it would work but tried it and I must say it drastically lightened my hair! Now don’t get me wrong, parts are still dark, not black but darker. Most of my hair is back to its original reddish brown hue. Looks like I have dark hair with red highlights! Anyway, you apply the mixture and let it set and once you rinse, you literally see the color wash out. I’ve done it once but am thinking the more I do it the more my black will come out. Hope this helps!

    Comment by Deb — May 27, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  8. Hello. I’m so sorry to hear about your hair. It’s like how some lotions hydrate our skin better than others. Hair products are very similar. I would be honest with your current hairdresser, and let her know your concerns. She’ll be able to closely examine your hair and suggest the proper treatments and/ or products to return your hair to optimal health.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — May 18, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  9. Since going to a new hair stylist, she switched hair dye brands. My hair has become incredibly thin and stringy, completely changing the type of hair I have. It used to be thick and a lot coarser, now it’s so lifeless and thin. I don’t know what to do.

    Comment by DS — May 14, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

  10. Hi Chris,

    I’m sorry to hear about your situation. When you bleach hair (especially twice), it opens the cuticle of the hair shaft and leaves the hair very porous. Because of this, when a hair color is applied, the porous hair tends to pull a darker shade. It is very common, and the professionals at the beauty school have avoided this mistake.

    Unfortunately, you’re hair may fade some, but it will most likely stay dark. I recommend using a clarifying shampoo as soon as possible to try to release some of the color. An inexpensive one like Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo will work as well as any of the brands. Shampoo your hair with it twice, and leave it on your hair as long as possible. You can even use heat, like a blow dryer, to increase effectiveness. It won’t provide jaw-dropping results, but it should help. The shampoo dries out your hair, so you’ll want to use a quality conditioner to keep your hair in optimal condition.

    For more information about this technique and others check out Hair Color Too Dark? Here are your options!

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — April 9, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  11. Hi! So I recently went to a beauty school to dye my hair a lighter color(it had been about 10 months since the last time I dyed my hair blue black,and it has been about 4 months since I tried putting light brown over my hair,which inevitably cause hot roots,which i was fine with until I started getting called out on for having multiple-toned hair.) the beautician that took me applied bleach(twice,one day,and than the next day) and on the second day it was when he applied the color I wanted(which I had brought myself) the color was a dark golden brown,I wanted a lighter brown but was afraid on how it would compliment my skintone,so I chose the darker Golden brown.Okay,fast forward day two of having my hair died and it looks black! I don’t understand,I bleach my hair(twice) which was what they reccoment to remove whatever black I had left,my hair was a yellow color after the bleach,than when the brown was put over it just looks black,is it meant to do that,I don’t see the “golden” in it,it is a permanent color I got at a Sallys beauty supply,will it get lighter as time goes on?

    Comment by Chris — April 5, 2012 @ 1:51 am

  12. Thanks for your suggestion Stephanie!

    Color Oops by Orly is a wonderful product for removing hair color. Someone considering this product should be considerably careful. It will most likely expose your underlying pigment and the product is strong enough create serious damage. If someone has no experience with this type of product, we recommend consulting with a professional to explore other options.

    Thanks again for your input! We love to hear our readers feedback.

    Comment by Michelle Skye — April 9, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  13. Anyone who has dyed their hair too dark with permanent color should try Color Oops by Orly. Follow the instructions for slight color correction on the inside of the box. I have used this multiple times when my color has come out too dark, and it works every time. Good luck!

    Comment by Stephanie — April 3, 2012 @ 6:27 am

  14. Hi Martina,

    Coloring hair too dark is a common problem, but unfortunately there is no easy solution.

    I would strongly advise against coloring your hair light brown. Hair color cannot lighten artificial hair color. Applying a light brown hair color to blue black hair may cause negative results. One outcome that is likely to happen is “hot roots.” This term is used when the color of your roots are lighter than the rest of your hair. It is also likely that your hair will turn darker if you apply another hair color.

    There are a couple of things that you can try at home to lighten your hair just a bit. The first thing that you should try is a clarifying shampoo. This type of shampoo is formulated to remove excess buildup from the hair, but it is also wonderful at removing temporary hair colors and fading permanent ones. Another option is lemon juice. Lemon juice will not remove the hair color entirely, but it can aid in helping lift your color a bit. Here is an informative article on how to lighten your hair with lemon juice.

    If you are unable to achieve your desired results at home, consider going to see a professional hair colorist. Often times, they will even offer a free consultation. Going to a beauty school is also an excellent money saving alternative. The services are performed by students while they are supervised by a licensed cosmetologist, and they can save you 50-75%. Find a beauty school near you with this website.

    Check out this article, and bookmark it to prevent coloring your hair too dark in the future.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — February 20, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  15. Okay so I dyed my hair blue black from a box 2 days ago and I like it just a little to dark I like it but ehh I’m thinking of putting brown dye from Sally’s to lightn it up but what will happen will all the black go away or will it be a light brown black help please what should I do if I just wanna lighten just a bit?

    Comment by martina — February 19, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  16. Hi Shy,

    Coloring your hair too dark is a common problem, but unfortunately there is no easy solution. Hair color is unable to lighten artificial hair color. This means that you will most likely have to use a lightener on your hair to be able to color it a light brown.

    Use a clarifying shampoo before you lighten your hair. Sometimes these products’ results are surprisingly wonderful. They are known to remove temporary and semi-permanent hair color, and drastically fade permanent hair color. These types of shampoos tend to be drying. Make sure that you use a quality conditioner after to replenish moisture to your hair.

    If the shampoo does not provide you with your desired result, consider a corrective color service with the use of a lighter. These services can lead to damage and breakage if they are not performed properly, so it would be in your best interest to see a professional hair colorist.

    You can even save lots of money by receiving the service at a cosmetology school. Most schools offer services at a discounted rate. The services are performed by students training to become hairdressers, and they are overseen by a professional cosmetologist. Check out this link to find a local cosmetology school.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — February 18, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  17. i dyed my hair from auburn red to black now i want to dye light brown non of the dye works what shall i do use a lightener n use the correct clolour or what can i do please help?

    Comment by shy — February 17, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

  18. Hi Shannon,

    My best advice is to seek a professional hair colorist that specializes in corrective color. They will need to use a lightener on your hair to remove the artificial color and lighten your hair. These products can turn your hair unwanted colors, and they can cause extreme damage to your hair if they are not used correctly. Depending on the circumstances, a hair colorist may not know what the exact outcome beforehand, and they may require you to come back for a second visit.
    Explain your concerns and your expected results in the consultation with the hair colorist. If they do not seem confident that they can achieve your goals, consider finding another professional that does.

    Comment by Michelle Skye — February 9, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  19. Basically I really want my natural hair colour back..my natural hair colour is a light brown with a tad of blonde in it, I did have natural highlights aswell which were light blone and light brown! My friend died my hair blonde,but not bleach blonde,and I didn’t like it,so I died it again,but with a colour that looked like my natural colour,and then It went ginger,so I died it to a dark brown to cover the ginger up,but for some reason it still has ginger in it,I’ve actually cried over this because I do not like my hair at all,and I just really want my natural colour back! I don’t know what to do? So I really need help! I was thinking of getting it stripped? But I don’t know how this is going to turn out..so if you could help me it would be great!

    Comment by shannon — February 2, 2012 @ 8:53 am

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