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    How to Fix Bad Highlights or Lowlights

    Bad High lights

    Help . . . bad high lights went too brassy!

    Here is a recent bad highlight, hair coloring question on the comment board from Linda,

    Hi, I have dirty/blonde hair which I’ve been using permanent hair color on (in light, medium & dark brown) for about three years. I’m ready to go blond-ish again, have yellow-golden undertones that become sickly with the dark hair. I gave myself highlights last night & they look very brassy & unnatural…I JUST want to be golden blonde, don’t need too much in the way of lightning, on a budget though.



    My best suggestion here is, don’t try to fix a bad highlight job yourself! . . . Stop! The next step is a critical one. Although it can be fixed, it will take a good hair colorist to get the right hair color formula and application to correct this.

    When it comes to hair highlighting, lowlighting or any other hair color changes that involves darkening or lightening by more than two hair color shades, you would do yourself a BIG favor by leaving the job to a reputable hair colorist. Even a professional hair colorist can get it wrong, but they should know how to fix it.

    I’m afraid the manufactures of hair colors have made it look waaay . . . to easy to be your own hair colorist at home. I’ve colored hair for years and I wouldn’t attempt to do highlights or lowlights on my own hair for these reasons;

    1. The technique of foiling in hair highlights (which is the best procedure in my opinion) is a learned skill. The width of your sections and the width of pieces of hair to be highlighted in each section have a specific effect. I don’t have the dexterity to be able to do this on myself, and I know how its done! I want someone who has done this over and over and over again, they have perfected the technique.
    2. The hair color or colors you choose to weave in combine for the over all affect.
    3. If you’re using bleach, you need to be able to assess when the color has been lifted to the desired shade, by watching it and then getting it off your hair quickly. You would have a very hard time recognizing when the right timing is to do that.
    4. Bleach shouldn’t touch your scalp, or it can melt into the roots and make them totally bleached, instead of just highlighted. Then you need the right level of hair color to tone it back to the shade you want.

    Do you see what I mean? It goes on and on for the little things that can, and will go wrong with a home hair highlighting project. I’m afraid I may sound like a broken record here, but, it’s your hair, your messing with . . . your crowning glory . . . what you will first see everyday when you get up, get out of bed and look in the mirror . . . YIKES!

    I know a professional hair coloring treatment can become expensive, but for Lisa, at this point, the next step she takes may mean the difference of making it right or making it SO wrong that the only fix would be to cut your hair off.

    For more highlight ideas check out our Pinterest Hairstyles with Highlights Board.


    Barb Quinn on Google+  



    1. Hi Wendy,
      I’m sorry to hear about your hair color. Believe it or not, brassy highlights are a very common problem. Because you expose the underlying pigment of your hair when you lighten it, you’re often left with undesirable results. Don’t worry! We’re here to help. Check out the article Fix Orange Hair, and learn insider DIY secrets that will help fix your hair color!

      Also, before you color your hair again, take a look at the article How to Prepare for Hair Highlights. I think that you’ll really enjoy it.

      Good luck!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — August 31, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    2. You’re welcome Salma, and thank you for leaving positive feedback. We are really happy to hear that you enjoyed this article. Check out How to Prepare for Hair Highlights to learn great tips before you highlight your hair.

      Good luck!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — April 20, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

    3. I truly appreciate this article post.Really thank you!

      Comment by Salma Speck — April 16, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

    4. Hi Mandy,

      I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. It sounds like the salon that you’re going to is unable to achieve your desired results. You should express your displeasure, and nicely ask for a refund. Most salons will refund the total amount of your service if you are left feeling unsatisfied with your service.

      Once you receive your refund, I recommend consulting with a few different hair colorists. Consultations are generally free of charge, and they allow you to see if the professional is confident in their abilities to achieve your desired results. Bring pictures! Pictures are a great way to make sure that you are both on the same page, and they provide insurance if the color isn’t right.
      Check out Fire Your Stylist: How to Find the Best Hair Salons for great information how to find the best hair salon!

      I wish you lots of luck and good hair days!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — April 9, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    5. My natural hair colour is likely about a 5 (according to my root growth, I actually cant remember the last time it was natural. Anyways, I have always had a blonde base with highlights and lowlights throughout (about a 6). I recently decided to change things up and go blonder, asked my hairdresser to make it a soft baby blonde. She used a 11N with 40 developer as a base and put highlights throughout. This made it very brassy and orange. I wasnt happy and was told to try shimmering lights for a week and if I still didnt like it to go back. Needless to say, I went back. She ended up putting more highlights and a few lowlights (6) to tone it down a bit. It still looks like crap. All I want is a soft baby blonde, but not platinum. I am hesitant to do it myself, but if I got to a different salon, will they be able to bleachout my whole head and then add a colour – maybe a 10 to tone it to the right colour? I just dont know what to do…please help!

      Comment by Mandy — April 4, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

    6. Hi Heather,

      I recommend contacting the salon that visited as soon as possible. When you call, calmly explain the situation. You will attract more bees with honey than with vinegar, so always remember to be polite. Reputable salons will have a process in place for unsatisfied customers. If you do not want the same hairdresser to perform the service, let the salon manager know. Another hairdresser may be able to help you, or you can always request a full refund if you feel more comfortable going somewhere else to have your hair fixed.

      You should never feel nervous or uncomfortable letting your hairdresser know that you are unsatisfied because their main objective is to make you happy.

      I hope that you have a good hair day soon!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — March 11, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    7. I have dark brown hair and went yesterday to a salon to go lighter. I was hoping for various shades of blonde. I let the sylist know I was not interested in highlights since I didnt want my natural color to contrast so much with the blonde I was getting. She did a bleach foil then used a toner to lift the rest. One side turned out with way more blonde and there is too much contrast between the blonde and dark. Plus it looks like I have regrowth already. I guess from where the toner she applied bled into blonde parts. Near my scalp it looks a little brassy too. I am worried to go back to her but dont want to spend $$$ to go to another salon. what can I do or tell her so she can fix it to get the look I want?

      Comment by heather — March 11, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    8. Hi Flo,
      Yes, your hairdresser should be able to fix your lowlights. Their job is to make you happy. If you ever left feeling unsatisfied, make sure that you contact the salon that you visited as soon as possible. Express your displeasure, and request an appointment for your hair to be fixed free of charge. If they are unable to fix it, request a full refund for your original service, and find a hair colorist who can make you happy.

      Good luck!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — February 13, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    9. I have naturally ginger/auburn hair and have been having Boone highlights put all the way through my hair for years. I really liked my usual look as well as all my friends, bu the other day my hairdresser said some dark brown lowlights would look good. I was very reluctant to take risks with my hair becuase of how rare the colour is, but my mum told meto go for it so I did. I hate it! The dark town highlights go all the way through my hair and have made it look dull and grey. it is an awful contrast against the blonde and Ginger. What should I do? Will my hair dresser be able to fix it?! Or am I stuck like this? please help!

      Comment by Flo — February 12, 2012 @ 1:30 am

    10. I have colored my own hair for years, my natural is what I was told is a light brown to dakr blonde. I color to an extra light ash blonde, I really like the level blonde I wear. Its just me.. Until I moved to a place that has well water, I have never really had a problem with brassiness. Apparently many have this problem who live in my area. I spoke to the stylist at the salon I got to about removing the brassiness. She talked me into having her color my hair. She wanted to add low lights in. I have had this done before so I was ok with it. Well not this time! I didn’t really watch what she was doing as I was reading a book, but the bottom line was that she died my scalp brown and added addl low lights throughout. On top the color isn’t too bad, but I HAVE dark roots now in some areas that is 1/2 inch + . There are NO highlights around my face or even close to it. On the top she did a closer job of the blonde near the roots however if you open a section of hair randomly it looks like I have at least a 1/2 in growth in most places. I look like a brunette who has gotten their hair frosted. I cannot stand to look in a mirror. I miss my blonde hair I just wanted the brassiness out!!!! She offered to add in addl highlights (with a major attitude I might add!!!) I am scheduled to go in in 2 days, but honestly I am scared it still won’t make it blonde enough for me, can I even trust her? I am new to the area, and don’t know of any color experts around, (rural area) and there are none on any of the links I have looked at. My hair is SUPER FINE, and feels SO dry on the ends already. Help :(

      Comment by chickie — May 29, 2011 @ 2:02 am

    11. I had hightlights but instead of having my roots fixed at my next appointment, I asked my hairdresser to make me a little lighter with some more highlights. Well, she did and I am not highlighted at all, I’m completely blonde. Is there a way to get my hair back to the highlighted look I want without having to bleach my hair to my natural color?

      Comment by Jodi — February 6, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    12. Carolina,
      This can be made better but you need to try to decifer where to go to get your best fix.
      To save money, I would suggest looking for an’advanced cosmotology school, or a reputable school. They have the staff on board to help the students learn the right thing to do.
      Otherwise, ask around for a reputable colorist. Try, these are colorists who have gone the extra mile for education andit might have some listed in your area.
      Good luck!

      Comment by Hairstyle Blog — January 13, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    13. Hi,
      I am so upset because I went to a hair salon to get some caramel highlights done (just the roots beacuse I already had them) . The stylist looked at my hair and asked me if I wanted the same color and I agreed. Well, it turned out the person was a color blind because I am now blonde with chunks of my hair almost white and the roots very dark since my natural color is medium brown. Please help me! Can I go to another salon after a week and have my brown hair back??? I wish not spend anymore money but unfortunatly I don’t have any clue about what to do. I am very sad right now. How can someone like that (color blind I think) be working still? If I put some brown color the yellow/really blonde chunks of hair will become brown? OMG!!!! Thanks for your help

      Comment by Carolina — January 10, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

    14. Coco,
      Call your stylist and ask if he can suggest a toner you could put on at home. He may be able to suggest a toner that will be subtle and still be gentle on your hair. He knows what levels your color is at now and the condition of your hair.
      Hope this helps!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — January 8, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

    15. I just got my bleach blonde hair lowlighted by a proffessional and he did a good job at what I said I wanted but it just isn’t working for me. I want to go back to my blonde (or at least make it blend better) but I don’t have the time or the cash to go back to a stylist. What should I do?

      Comment by Coco — January 8, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    16. Whitney,
      Thanks for the question; I answered it with an article here;

      Hope this helps!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — January 4, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    17. I just highlighted my hair with lighter blonde streaks. I have dark blonde dyed hair with lighter streaks. Naturally my hair is brown so i just highlight the roots but, they turned out brassy. I usually get them done at the salon but i wanted to save money. I’m afraid now it will cost double what it would have been. I don’t want to dry my hair out and dye it right away, or get rid of some the streaks that are already there. I just want my hair back with my darker roots! Please help me!

      Comment by Whitney — December 26, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    18. Kristen,
      My best advice is to call the #800 on the box and be prepared to tell them all the hair colors that may be on your hair. That info is necessary in order to help you get to the brown color you want.
      Good luck!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — April 20, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

    19. Hi-I colored my hair last month a champaign blond at home treatment and it came out surprisingly oka. Yesterday I tried to highlight my hair using the same box brand and it turned out brassy yellow-guess the volume was not enough to lift it. So….my question is should I go into a beauty supply store and purchase a 40 volume bleaching kit and try it again until I get the desired level of blond highlights. Or can I actually color a warmer choclate brown over my hair?I cannot afford to sped $100 plus at a salon. Thanks!

      Comment by Kristen — April 17, 2009 @ 9:39 am

    20. Elizabeth,
      I think you are right to go back to her. Although it’s disappointing for all the time and $$ you spent so far, she errored on the right side. She didn’t fry your hair.
      Seeing she is your stylist, she might even expect that you would call if it hadn’t turned out right.
      Call her and tell her what happened and I would bet she can fix it or, she would hand it over to someone who can. It sounds to me like since she needed to leave, she guessed wrong on the processing time.
      Good luck!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — October 3, 2008 @ 10:40 am

    21. Barb I just spent ALOT of $$ on my long hair. I went to my regular stylist and had a hair piece with to! It was the same color that I wanted her to change my hair for the fall. After two hours and doing two different coloring proceses.She said Im sorry but I can’t finish blow drying your hair.I have to pick my daughter up from school. However she said your hair will look exactly like the hair piece that you brought in. Boy was she wrong! When I got home my hair was the same color that it was when I went in. So because of all of the $$ that I spent I have to go back there and tell her to do it over for nothing! I hate to go to someone else and loose all that $$. What would you do? I don’t understand when she had the hair piece right in front of her?

      Comment by Elizabeth — October 2, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

    22. i dont know if im on the right page to ask. i dont wish to get highlights on my hair. My problem however is that i have dyed my hair black. I tried getting rid of it by using another color but it only left my roots colored. So i have a dark blonde on my roots and black the rest. I dont know what other method i can use to get rid of it, aside from bleaching it. So what do you suggest ?

      Comment by lola — July 22, 2007 @ 4:01 am

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