The Fashion Spot Momtastic

How I Fixed My Too-Dark Hair Color Myself

Posted 11/29/11 at 06:30AM by Rebekah George

I recently had a hair crisis. I'll spare you the excruciating details, but suffice to say that my usual colorist was out sick and I let someone else do the job -- to disastrous results. I left the salon looking like Morticia Addams.

As my too-dark hair and I rode in a taxicab to meet friends downtown for dinner (that's witchy-poo me and a pal in the photo at left), I hatched a fix-it plan of attack. If you're ever staring back at your own accidentally Goth image in the mirror, follow these steps and you'll be lighter and brighter in no time. (Just like I was in the "after" photo, below, taken outside the next day.)

Wash Your Hair Right Away: The detergents in shampoo tend to wash out your hair color over time. If you shampoo immediately, you'll remove extra amounts of hair dye -- which will help lighten hair a little. Clarifying shampoo is best for this job, but if you don't have any on hand, dish washing liquid does the trick, too. It contains higher amounts of detergent than regular shampoo. (Just be sure to use lots of conditioner afterwards.)

Try a Toner: At-home toners or color correctors can help soften your shade. I like Ion Brilliance Color Corrector, $8.99, because it's a simple, single-step process and doesn't damage hair. (Just be careful not to go overboard and to try a strand test first.)

Paint on Highlights: A few lighter streaks can help break up a darker hair tone. (Try Clairol Hairpainting Blonde Highlights, $8.79.) And, bear in mind that highlights don't need to be perfectly spaced -- a few sporadic streaks that are lighter at the ends look most natural. Just paint on a few and go from there. If your hair is still dark, go back and add a few more.

Once your color is back on track, be sure to use a weekly hair mask or deep conditioner to help make it strong and hydrated.

What do you think of my hair coloring prowess?
And the survey says...
1-6 of 9 Comments

  • Posted by Jannes715 on 11/02/14 at 12:53pm

    Thanks for this, just got out of the salon after asking to go back from a faded red to a more natural warm brown. My hair is friggin' BLACK!!!!! And I'm a pale person, it's awful and I paid a ton of money for it! I'm going to try this and pray it works. This is the last time I go to a hairdresser for color seeing as it's the 6th time they've screwed up my hair color royally and charged me a ton to do so. I did better with a box, I always got complements and it always looked pretty. And if it's going to be screwed up, I'd rather have paid only $10 to do so and not $150. It's clear most stylists don't know what they're doing. Ive lost complete faith that any hairdresser knows how to color, cut or style my hair.

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  • Posted by EricaC123 on 12/29/12 at 05:04pm


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  • Posted by beautybody on 03/25/12 at 09:30pm

    Great tips because I had too dark brown hair and didn't know what to do other than wash it a lot.

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  • Posted by powerwoman033 on 03/14/12 at 11:42pm

    I think you look great in both hair colors! Maybe next time, I would go back and make the stylist fix it for free. We are supposed to leave there happy with the end product.

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  • Posted by heatherbfeather on 02/23/12 at 06:51am

    I know this is an older post, but I have to add because I am a colorist and I have to add something. First YES...Dish soap is very harsh and works and LOTS of conditioner afterwards, but DO NOT use a toner if you want it to continue to lighten on its own. A toner only DEPOSITS color. It only adds more pigment and will darken and change the tone of the color and seal closed the cuticle again. If your color is too dark when you leave a salon you really should call back the salon and ask them to look at it. It may have been a miscommunication. Usually they would be more than happy to help. You paid for the service! Most of us just want to make you happy and keep you happy!

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  • Posted by brandi918 on 12/22/11 at 08:19am

    Dawn dish soap and lots of conditioner. The same thing happened to me.

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