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Coming Back from a Hair Color Catastrophe

In a perfect world, home hair coloring would always produce the glossy red or shimmering blonde high lights the packaging promises, but mistakes do happen, and they can be traumatic . . . to say the least! When the worst happens, your best course of action is to seek professional help, says Sheila Zaricor, president of Master Design in Memphis, TN.

“the box looks lighter than it will appear on hair”

The most common mistake women make with home hair coloring is overlapping their color, or applying hair color that’s supposed to go on new growth only throughout locks. The result? The line of demarcation becomes more noticeable, leaving a darker top and bleached, frazzled ends. Other times, color simply goes far darker than you anticipated—keep in mind that the hue on the box always looks lighter than it will appear on your hair—or you end up with a shade that would be more appropriate in a box of Crayolas than on anyone’s hair.

If the worst happens and you need someone to fix your hair color, keep in mind that nursing damaged hair back to health is a partnership between the hair colorist and client, and may need to be remedied in steps. That’s why you’ll need to find a hair colorist who you totally trust and feel comfortable with; someone who’s qualified and who has broad-based hair color experience. “Finding a good hair colorist is a lot like finding a doctor—always get credentials,” advises Sheila. Going with a hair color pro makes great sense, not just for emergencies, but for first-time hair color users or for women who are thinking of making a big hair color change. To locate a qualified hair colorist in your area, check out these websites:

  • The International Haircolor Exchange at

  • The American Board of Certified Haircolorists at

And take heart: A woman whose hair turned greenish-white after a hair coloring catastrophe once stumbled into Sheila’s salon. Four years and several neutralizing, deep conditioning and color treatments later, the woman is still a client, and her strawberry blonde hair is long, thick and healthy.

Article courtesy of Harris Publications




  1. You need to admit honestly that you’ve done wrong and seek the help of a professional haircolorist at this point. Any attempts on your part to fix things is likely to make matters worse. Gather up all of the boxes of the products you’ve used and honestly explain what you’ve done to a professional. Don’t worry about looking stupid as they’ve seen far worse than yours many times before.

    Check out this article for help:

    Comment by Barb Quinn — July 27, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  2. I made a horrible mistake. My natural hair color is dark blonde to a light light brown. I had professional salon highlights, but when the roots started showing I was going to pick a box color close to my natural color. I chose dark blonde. I put it on my hair last night. And it turned my hair very dark brown. And my roots had a reddish color to them. In a moment of panic I raced to get a box of lightest natural blonde because I thought with my hair being sooo dark it would lighten to my natural color. There’s only one problem, everything except my roots look exactly like my natural color…. my roots are bright orange! What do I do? I don’t want to damage my hair any more than it is already.

    Comment by kirstie — July 25, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  3. Mary, your problem is fixable at this point. This is a good question so I wrote a post for a better explanation of the answer. Thanks.

    Go here to read it;

    Comment by Barb — November 28, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  4. i died my dark hair and it turned orange yellow can u please help me.. i dont want to go out anymore..i used the quick blue powder bleach by lóreal w/ 30 vol developer and then used a permanent color by lóreal hicolor shimmering gold and honey gold.. how can i take that orange -yellow out i want it blonde

    Comment by mary — November 12, 2007 @ 11:14 am

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