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May 28 / denisa

Oops! What To Do When Hair Dye Goes Bad

So, you’ve taken the plunge and and colored your hair at home. We commend you for your bravery, but now you’re unhappy with the results. What to do? Ask Denisa has the answers for you whether you went too dark, too light or you just plain don’t like the color.

Did your hair come out much darker than you expected? If this is the case try using a hair dye remover like Color Oops Extra Strength Hair Color Remover. ( It’s available at Walgreens for about $10. You want to apply this as soon as possible as it’s easier to remove the dye if you’ve just colored it.  This product is gentle enough for you to go back to your original color and (do we dare?) apply another color the very same day. It does not however, have any effect on hair that has been lightened by bleach or peroxide (think highlights or blonde dyes, more on that next). Another method of removing dye color from your hair is by applying a mixture of clarifying shampoo and vitamin C powder (available at your local pharmacy or GNC). The powder costs about as much as the dye remover, so unless you have this already at home, we’d go with the Color Oops, which most likely will work more efficiently.  If your color is just a tad off, try washing it with dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders. This will strip some of the dye out and fade your color one to two shades. A good solution for reds that come out too bright or browns that come out too dark.

If your hair came out lighter than you wanted it, the only solution is to re-dye with a shade that is two levels darker than the one you applied. This is a simple solution. But know that mixing one dye on top of the other may have funny effects. Go with a color that’s similar to the one you already dyed it with, but again, just a few shades darker. The dye will adhere better to your hair if you apply it to dry hair, so blow dry before re-applying the new color. I also suggest you leave it on for a good 45 minutes to an hour to insure it takes. Even if it says 20-30 minutes on the box, leaving it longer will ensure better results.

So, what if you highlighted your hair and the highlights are orange or too light or just crazy looking overall?  Never fear, there are solutions for this as well. If my highlights come out too light and I want to go darker I usually go for a semi-permanent hair color product such as L’Oreal’s Casting Crème Gloss. These dyes are much gentler on the hair and tend to blend both colors so your highlights don’t disappear completely. They wash out slowly over a few months so your highlights will brighten over time.  But since they don’t contain ammonia or peroxide, you can apply them the very same day of your mishap and/or reapply in a few days if you feel the need.

If your highlights are orange or bright yellow in color (caused by rinsing the lightening cream out too early), there is still hope. Clairol makes a great product called Brass Free Brunettes (or Blondes for that matter). This counteracts any orangey or brassy colors and helps regulate your tone to a more natural hue. Its gentle on the hair so it can be applied right after the mistake. Our only problem is finding it in drugstores. It’s not always around when you need it. If you cant find this product, go for a Casting in a cool toned color. Anything with the term “ash” in it (light ash brown for example) will counter-act extra warmth (aka brass) and help you even out your color so you end up with the fabulous (and savvy) hair color you intended.

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  1. Chastity / May 28 2013

    Can someone help… I put ombre on the ends of my hair which was a dark blonde with some red tones… Now it is like a peachy looking I guess champaign color…very dull looking… How can I fix it please help ASAP. I would like the ombre if I could but not sure what to do.

  2. Sam / May 11 2013

    I have recently dyed my hair a caramel shade with a L’Oreal product, and it was said it was designed to lighten the darkest hair. My hair was originally black, and was said it would turn out to be a medium caramel shade. The end results did not look like that.. at all. Instead, the roots and partially underneath of my hair was a dirty blonde, and the rest of my hair is still black. What can I do to fix this problem ASAP?

  3. Debbie / Mar 4 2013

    We recently used color remover on my daughter’s hair. Then we applied L’Oriel blonde. Ir turned out a bright reddish blonde, or as she calls it, orange. What can we use to get it to blonde now? OR, should we wait a while? She hates it!

    • admin / Apr 22 2013

      If she has dark hair and you apply blonde dye it wont have the ability to lighten it any further therefore making it reddish. You can try two things. First there is a product called Brass Banisher you can try. (they sell it online and at Ulta) Its meant to remove the redness out of blonde hair. If it is too dark you will need to lighten it with a bleach based lightener. Its a tricky procedure because you can literally bleach your hair right off your scalp if you are not careful. If she’s only going a shade or two lighter you can try L’Oreal Paris Feria Absolute Platinum Advanced Lightening System, Extreme Platinum.They sell it online and at walmart. This will remove all color go pretty much white and then you can dye it a darker more colorful shade of blonde. Note that if you do this you should use a color safe shampoo afterwards otherwise your color will get lighter and lighter every time you wash. I would personally go with the Brass Banisher first before going to harsh bleach system. But if they Brass Banisher doesnt work, you’ll have to take more extreme measures.
      When all else fails you may need to seek a color specialist at your nearest salon.
      Good luck!

  4. patricia / Sep 16 2012

    i colored my hair with loreal colour expertite express and the highlight part is horrible, what can i do to cover them up and how long do i have to wait

  5. Jim M. / May 31 2010

    Really decent post… I love it. Keep ’em coming… :)

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