What Can I Put on My Hair to Remove the Gold & Red Tones?

You can tone down reds and golds with a semi-permanent color.

Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Brassy tones can make a perfectly good 'do look like a home-job gone bad. No need to drop the big bucks at a pricey salon, though -- you can throw some cold water on those flame-colored locks with a little color know-how and some dye.

Semi-Permanent Color

A too-loud 'do is relatively easy to fix with a semi-permanent wash of color. Hit your local beauty store and look for a color that is in the general neighborhood of the one you have now. You can't go lighter with a semi-permanent color because it's a deposit-only dye, so consider it more of a hair-tamer than a game-changer.

Undertone or Base

When choosing a color, getting the undertone or base color right is even more important than picking the perfect shade. Choose a color with a violet undertone: The purple will neutralize those screeching reds and howling golds and give your whole head a cooler, more chilled-out look. You'll also want to pick up a 10-volume developer, some gloves and a highlighter brush so you'll have everything you need to play hair doctor.

Toning Your Hair

Mix your color and the developer in a plastic bowl with the highlighter brush. The recipe is usually equal parts color and developer, though this can vary, so read the directions first. Apply the mixture to your entire head, even if you're just trying to tone down highlights. The color is intended to balance out your locks, so you need your every last strand to participate. Using the highlighter brush roughens up the cuticle and makes color penetrate better.

When to Rinse

You'll need to wait about 35 to 50 minutes, though you should scrape the color off a strand or two every 10 minutes or so to make sure your 'do is not heading toward a big-time don't. Previously dyed hair is more porous than regular hair and will often slurp up color faster, so unless you want to look like your blue-haired granny, you'll need to keep a keen eye on those locks.

The End Result

When you like what you see, hop in the shower and rinse the color out. While semi-permanent color is relatively mild compared to that ultimate bad boy, bleach, it's still a good idea to follow with a high-performance conditioner. Keep in mind that semi-permanent color is a temporary fix, so if your hair doesn't mellow out on its own, you'll probably have to do a repeat in a month or so.

In the Future

If you want to avoid the whole red/gold debacle next time you color or highlight your hair, add a packet of color corrector to your dye mix. Red/gold color corrector tones and neutralizes golds from the get-go, so you're far less likely to suffer any nasty color shocks next time you try a little color pick-me-up.

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