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If you color your hair too much, you'll be left holding your hair in your hands -- literally. With each and every application you damage your hair a bit more. Your hair can only take so much; when it reaches its limit, it gives up and falls out. Since high-lift colors cause more damage than deposit-only colors, you can usually get by with more of the latter. But all color can cause your hair to fall out. So you better be sure your hair is up to the task before you recolor it.
Sometimes you can color your hair immediately after a color mishap -- orange again, really? Before you can fix it before anyone sees it, you have to meet certain criteria. First, your scalp has to be free from irritation. If it's red or sore to the touch, don't even try it. You could blister your scalp or cause severe chemical burns. Second, your hair has to be up to it. Check the strength of your hair by stretching an individual strand when it's wet. If it stretches and bounces back without breaking, it's strong enough. If it snaps and recoils, it's not. You'll have to wait.
Even though you can color immediately after a mishap, waiting a week is better. It gives your scalp time to recover and allows your hair to regain a bit of its strength. If you're not suffering from I-have-to-wear-a-hat-everywhere-I-go syndrome, then wait a week. Your hair and your scalp will thank you for it. Again, perform the stretch test to see if your hair is strong enough. A week is not enough time for your hair to bounce back from moderate to severe damage; a week might be too soon for some people.
If your hair looks and feels damaged, it is too damaged to withstand more color. Damaged hair appears frizzy and it snaps easily. It also has a difficult time holding onto color. So if your color is fading fast, your hair is too damaged to color right away. If it's not melting off your head, you can take a month, repair it and go back in. Repair your hair with intensive conditioning and protein treatments twice a week. After a month, check the condition of your hair. If it's still snapping, wait another month.
Some hair is past the point of no return. If it's mushy, falling out in handfuls or looking like something other than hair, you cannot color it -- ever. To change your hair color, you will have to cut away all the irreparable damage and start over. In some cases, the most damaged parts are on the ends; you might be able to remove a few inches and color again after several conditioning treatments. But that yucky stuff? Don't even try to color it.