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Blondes may have more fun, but they also have more upkeep to deal with -- especially if their golden locks come from a bottle and not lucky genes. If you're ready to restore your processed blond hair to a darker shade, you already know you're signing on for easier maintenance. But going darker is more complicated than you might think, and just busting out a box of brown hair color won't give you the results you want. Darkening your blond hair is a multistep process, but doing it right ensures you a future full of good hair days.
Do Your Prep Work
Colored hair can easily become dry and brittle, so get your hair ready for its new dark shade with a deep-conditioning mask at least a week before your big color change. And follow every shampoo in the days leading up to your color with a generous amount of conditioner. If your hair still feels dry and brittle, apply another deep-conditioning mask and postpone your dye job. You don't want to try to color damaged hair. While you're at it, schedule a quick trim to get rid of split ends -- they'll soak up more color than the rest of your hair and may make your darker 'do look funny.
Choose the Right Color
Going darker isn't a one-step process. When you lighten your hair to blond, you strip out the layers of gold, red and blue that give brown hair its depth and vibrancy, explains Syracuse, New York, salon owner Brian Bojarski in "Cosmopolitan" magazine. To restore those tones to your hair, you'll need two semipermanent or permanent colors: one warm, golden brown and one in the shade you're hoping to achieve. For the second shade, opt for a neutral or cool brown so you don't end up with those dreaded brassy highlights.
Be Application Savvy
Your scalp heats up hair color, making it work faster -- and when you're darkening up, this phenomenon can lead to a weird two-tone effect. Beat it by applying color from the bottom up. Start your color process by applying the warm dye according to the package instructions -- and don't freak if your hair looks a little orange-y when the color is done. Once you've finished the first round of color, follow immediately with the darker, neutral shade, again using the directions on the box as your guide. Work slowly to massage the color into your hair one 1-inch section at a time. If you have curly or wavy hair, be sure to coat every twist and curve completely.
Prepare to Troubleshoot
Condition your hair and blow-dry it immediately after coloring so you can get a clear picture of what your new color looks like. If the color is a little darker than you anticipated, fade it a bit by washing your hair with a super-sudsy clarifying shampoo. If the color is just plain off, consider using a semipermanent dye to brighten or darken it.