How do I Lighten Hair That Was Colored Too Dark?

Lighten up that hair scare fast!

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If you've ever whipped off a towel on your head, ready to appreciate your newly dyed locks, only to find that your "Auburn Sunshine" is more like "Midnight Black", then you know the sinking, gut-wrenching feeling that is "hair panic." Before you reach for for the scissors and resign yourself to headscarves for the next eight months, check your panic and try to pull out some of the excess color with simple at-home or professional remedies for lightening good locks gone bad.


Go to the box. At-home hair dying kits always list a customer contact phone number on the box that you can call in case something goes terribly wrong. The representative will be able to give you exact directions about what to do. Be forewarned: she will also almost certainly ask you if you did a strand test, which you likely did not if the dye came out all wrong. Prepare to be gently scolded.


Get in the shower. The sooner you wash your hair, the more likely you'll be able to pull out the color with a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos are slightly more alkaline than regular shampoos to amp up their color-stripping power.


If clarifying shampoo just isn't cutting it, reach for a medicated shampoo with salicylic acid or sulfates that will strip you hair of color. Be prepared with a follow-up conditioner since these heavy-duty shampoos also strip your hair of moisture.


Treat yourself to a hot oil massage for your hair. Hot oil treatments will condition your hair and pull out color. You can pick up a hot oil hair treatment from a drug store or whip up your own. Pour 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp. of your favorite conditioner into a microwave-safe bowl (no metal bowls, ladies). Zap the mixture in the microwave in 10-second increments until the oil is warm to the touch. Let it cool for two minutes, just to be safe. Massage the creamy goodness into your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes wrapped in a towel or plastic wrap before rinsing. Not only will it fade color, but it will also leave your locks super-soft.


Treat your hair with a chemical dye-removal product specifically designed to strip color out of hair after a dye-job disaster. These color-zapping products are usually stocked at beauty supply stores, and their potent mix of sulfates will get your hair pretty close to its original color. Don't repeat the same mistakes twice: do a strand test!


Call in the professionals. For serious hair mistakes, your best bet is to go with the tried and true method of asking for professional help from a colorist or stylist you trust. A stylist will be able to mix up a cocktail of lightening dyes to restore your color or layer on a lighter color without making your hair go green or brassy.

Things You'll Need


1.Clarifying shampoo

3.Hot oil treatment



9.Sauce pan

2.Medicated shampoo

4.1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6.Microwave-safe container

8.Plastic wrap

10.Color-removing product


Tips & Tricks


Avoid hair color mistakes by doing a strand test and following the timing limits listed on the manufacturer instructions.

Microwaves have different wattage, so watch your oil treatment carefully. Oil burns easily! Don't microwave your mixture for more than 10 seconds at a time.


Related Videos




Beyond Jane: Transform Your Hair with a Home Hot Oil Treatment Shampoo to Remove Excess Hair Color
Hair Coloring Hair Color Removal
"The Art of Hair Colouring"; David Adams and Jacki Wadeson; 1998 "Natural Beauty at Home: More Than 250 Easy-to-Use Recipes for Body, Bath, and Hair"; Janice Cox; 2002

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