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Dyeing your hair at home is a bit like a science experiment. Not only are you messing with strong chemicals, but different things happen when you combine different colors. Fortunately, ash-brown dye — because it’s a cool, neutral shade — is an excellent tool for fixing a color mishap. Because of its cool undertones, ash brown can cover up a too-bright red or orange blond mane without totally changing the original color of your hair.
What Will Happen
Ash-brown dye, like neutral or natural brown, will generally darken a reddish-blond mane. Ash brown will also lift any brassy or overly red hues from your hair. Because hair dye is generally more effective in color-treated hair (previously colored hair is more porous than virgin hair), ash brown is ideal for covering up a previous dye job. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t cover up red and blond tones in virgin hair: It just may have more of a subtle lowlight effect.
Choosing a Dye
The type of dye you choose will have a significant effect on your final look. Permanent ash-brown dye may last a long time, but if your hair’s still recovering from its last dye job, permanent dye may seriously dry out your strands. To play it safe, opt for demi-permanent (or even better: semi-permanent) ash-brown dye. Though these types of dye may only last a couple of months, they’re way gentler than permanent dye and should be just as effective at covering up your reddish-blond tresses.
Using Hair Dye
You can avoid most hair dye disasters by being as prepared as possible. Read your product’s instructions thoroughly before even mixing your dye — and protect your skin by lining your hairline with petroleum jelly and wearing rubber gloves. Test your ash-brown dye on a hidden strand of hair to see exactly how long it takes to transform into the color you want. Make a note of how long it took, and don’t exceed that time when you’re dyeing your entire mane or you’ll wind up with a funky color or serious damage.
Before you buy a dye, check the back of the box to see what color it’ll become when applied to your hair. Though the picture on the front gives you an idea of the shade you’ve chosen, the guide on the back will be much more accurate. If you’d rather not re-dye your hair completely, you can use a hair toner (find it in the hair dye aisle at any beauty store) to neutralize unwanted hues.