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Remove Red Slice

Q: Hi there. I have naturally, dirty-blonde hair. I have been dying it blonde for a few years now and it looked great, I treated myself yesterday to a day at the salon, and went for having a red slice put in one side and a few put in the other under my fringe and on the side. It looks horrid. It is a very, very, bright red. I just want to go back to being all-blonde, the way everybody liked me. Please help. I can’t afford another trip to the salon. I was wondering: can a color corrector sort this out? Or using head and shoulders shampoo? Or even just get a bright ash colored blonde, and use it on just the one slice that I don’t like it? instead of getting rid of the all the red, someone told me I can use an ash blonde dye to get rid of the little bit of red that I truly do not like but not to use it on the big red part. Please help.
 
A: I can certainly sympathize with your dilemma, but I need to warn you of trying to take drastic measures to attempt to change or remove color from areas of the hair. With such a vibrant red having been used, it is understandable that the result may have been “more” than you anticipated. However, most ‘color correctors’ and ‘color removers’ are pretty strong products that are designed to strip away all the color on the hair. The problem is that the color that was applied may have removed natural color in the processing. This depends on the type of color used (permanent or demi-permanent hair color), the strength of the developer if it was permanent hair color, and how light the hair was in the areas that were colored. I’m not saying that this isn’t an option, just one that needs careful consideration.
 
      If the color used was formulated to lighten the base color so that the resulting color would be brighter and sharper, then using a color corrector can leave you with areas that are just as awkward in their appearance. In 95% of the situations where a color corrector is used, there has to be an additional step where color is added in order to achieve a natural-looking result. There is also the matter of the hair’s condition. Depending on the type of color used and its formulation, the hair could have been left more porous than the rest of the hair and be especially vulnerable to further chemical processes.
 
      As for solutions like using “Head & Shoulders” shampoo (which, incidentally, is named because it is a fairly alkaline shampoo that has a propensity for deep-cleaning the hair and scalp and is known to fade artificially-colored hair) you should be realistic in your expectations. There is no “easy fix” in these situations. You’re not going to find a ‘magic solution’, as much as I wish I could give you one.
 
      You may be able to tone down the red by using a complementary color to neutralize it. The specific shade depends on the light level of the red color used. Someone simply saying ‘get a bright ash-colored blonde’ isn’t necessarily appropriate. If the red is a dark shade, using a “bright ash-colored blonde” would probably only mute the vibrancy of the red slightly, leaving the main color as it is. You MUST consider the lightness level as well as the base color. Speaking of base color, the “ash blonde” colors may or may not be what you need. You need to specifically look for a color that is close to the lightness level of the hair you are coloring, PLUS has a “green” or “drab” base color. It’s the base color of the formula that will neutralize the red, but you must have a color dark enough that there is enough pigment to match the amount of pigment in the hair being colored (or else you have to have some means of lightening the color first).
 
      You might try using a color corrector or color remover and then a color formula that more-closely matches your own color to return your hair to a natural look. Just be aware that you are stressing your hair considerably, the more you subject it to chemical processing.
 
      I truly do advise getting a professional’s assistance in this matter. There are a number of things that could factor in and someone with experience can be invaluable. If you decide to do it yourself, please read and follow all instructions on the product packages carefully.
 
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