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    How to Avoid These Hair Color Mistakes

    Woman pulling her hair in frustraion over her hair color

    How to Avoid These 3 Top Hair Color Mistakes

    Have you ever colored your hair and ended up with a result nothing like what you had hoped for?  I know it’s devastating. I’ve done it myself, before getting into the business, as well as a mistake or two while on the learning curve to becoming  a better hair colorist.

    Hair coloring is an art and experienced hair colorists are your best bet to get top results. If you’re looking to get a hair color like Jennifer Anniston’s, Jennifer Lopez’s or the like, don’t try it at home. If you choose to color your own hair, take the time to read directions carefully, do the strand test and bookmark this article to avoid these top hair color mistakes we see in the hair salon all the time!

    A woman who's hair color turned too darkMistake # 1 – Coloring Your Hair Too Dark

    Coloring hair too dark is a common mistake (especially for novices) and can be expensive and difficult to correct. The majority of mistakes we see may have been avoided by taking these steps:

    •  Choose a temporary, semi-permanent, or demi-permanent color. These hair colors are the most gentle on your hair and should be your first choice. Unlike permanent hair color, these colors are more gentle and will gradually fade over time. Temporary, semi-permanent, or demi-permanent hair colors can only add color to your existing hair color and will not lift or lighten your color. Are you trying to lighten your natural hair color or cover gray completely?  If so, permanent hair color will need to be used because these types of colors only blend grays and deposit color.
    •  Choose a hair color one or two levels lighter than your desired end result. The color you add will look darker on your hair than on the box or  color swatch Why? Remember you are adding color on top of your own hair color. (See what happens when you add a second colored pencil on top of the first color . . . not an exact science but you get the idea.)
    • What if it doesn’t turn out dark enough? It’s a good idea to wait a couple of weeks or  when your hair is healthy enough before coloring it again. It is much easier to darken artificial hair color as opposed to lightening it.

    A woman who's hair color has turned orangeMistake # 2 – How to Avoid Orange Hair Color

    Fixing hair that has turned orange from coloring can be done . . . but not by most DIY’ers . . . it is a delicate undertaking. The reason is that in order to get it right, you need to understand principles of the color wheel, be experienced with bleach lifting and timing and/or be familiar with toners. Read more about how to fix orange hair color here, but below are steps to avoid this color mistake before it happens.

    • When changing hair color by two levels or more, see a professional colorist. The clients I’ve seen most often with this problem, happened when they tried to lighten or darken their hair by two levels or more. Just don’t do it!  It’s a complicated process, that is unique to each head of hair, to create a beautiful hair color change of two levels or more. And, the difference between getting a beautiful color or an orange mess, is in the hands of doer. Let the professional get you there and if they happen to get it wrong, someone in the salon will fix it. If you get it wrong, it can be a costly and/or painful error to fix. Once your hair has been changed successfully, the upkeep will be easier too.
    • It’s a crap-shoot and can be harmful to use hair lighteners or hair color removers at home.  These products can do far worse things to your hair than turning it orange.  They can severely damage your hair and cause it to break off, depending on how they are used and the condition of your hair.  A color remover, despite its name, will not return your hair to its original hair color shade. It can only remove some of the color from semi and demi-permanent colors, they won’t remove permanent hair color.

    Infogarphic showing underlying hair color pigments and the color wheel

    • Know the underlying pigment of your hair.  The underlying pigment of your hair is most important to  know when you are formulating your own hair color. It is the contributing pigment (color) that naturally occurs in your hair. You need to understand the color chart to get this right.

    For instance, a person lifting their hair color to a medium brown, level 5, has an orange underlying pigment.  They have two options; they can emphasize the orange or neutralize it.  To emphasize an underlying pigment choose one of its complimentary colors, the colors that are next to it on the color wheel.  To neutralize the tone, choose the color that it directly across from it on the color wheel.   In this case, red and yellow are the complimentary colors, so if a person coloring their hair medium brown wants to emphasize their orange underlying pigment, they should choose a hair color with gold or red tones.  Blue is directly across from orange on the color wheel, so a hair color with a blue ash base should be used to neutralize any unwanted orange tones.

    Standing in front of mirror looking at a hair color that did not completely cover gray hair

    Mistake # 3 – Your Hair Color Did Not Cover the Gray

    If you’ve used a hair color that didn’t cover your grays completely it doesn’t mean you need to use a darker hair color, as many people may think. It’s more likely one of these reasons . . . not to worry, this one is usually an easy fix.

    •  It’s time to use a permanent hair color.  Temporary, semi-permanent, and demi-permanent hair colors will allow you to blend gray, but they will not cover it completely. Temporary colors are the best choice to use until they don’t do the job any longer . . . that’s the time to switch to permanent hair color.
    • You may need to bring all of the primary colors back into the hair.  White hair is like the color white.  They both are absent of color.  Finding a hair color that is rich in the primary colors will give your grays a natural, rich look that is able to hold onto the color.  Most color lines have a neutral series that best cover gray.  Check the manufacturer’s directions, or call the 800#  for best results.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s directions.   Although using a neutral tone hair color is the most common way to cover grays, it is not always the case. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure complete gray coverage.

    Are you still not 100% sure of a hair color?  Before coloring your hair, always perform a strand test.  Apply small amount of the color to a small section of your hair, preferably somewhere inconspicuous. Make sure that you mix the color in the correct ratio and leave it on the full length of time.  If this section comes out perfect, you’re ready to color the rest of your hair.  Good luck!

    Barb Quinn on Google+  




    1. Hi Jodi,

      It’s nearly impossible to provide you with specific formulation without actually seeing your hair, but I can provide you with some helpful information. Below are some useful steps to help return your hair to a natural color.

      First, determine the level of your current hair color. The level is the lightness of your hair ranging on a scale from 1-10. In this instance, I suggest staying at the level that you are currently to avoid further damage to your hair.

      Second, determine the the current tone of your hair. The tone is the shade. It seems like your tone is yellow orange/ orange.

      Next, examine a color wheel to find which base color is needed to neutralize your current hair color. Colors across from each other on the color wheel are neutralizing colors. So, if you have orange hair, a hair color with a blue base will help neutralize your orange tones.

      Then, choose a hair color that is the same level of your current hair color with a blue base (usually an ash color). I recommend using a semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair color. These types of hair colors are perfect for this type of instance. They are gentle, fade over time, and they don’t tend to pull dark on porous hair like permanent hair color. Wella has an amazing demi-permanent hair color that is available at your local beauty supply store. Check it out here.

      Best of luck!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — April 2, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

    2. What to do for bleached hair in the yellow orange/orange yellow spectrum? Requesting advice to return coloring to previous natural color 8, 7, 6

      Comment by Jodi — March 31, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

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