Q: I've had my hair colored for some time and now I'd really like to let my natural
color grow out again. How should I go about this?
A: This is a common situation. We've all tried haircolors that didn't turn out exactly the
way we wanted, or had a certain haircolor for such a long time that we grow tired of
maintaining it and want to go back to our natural color. It's a problem as old as permanent haircolor itself.
For some people it's simply a matter of waiting a few months and trimming away
the colored portions of the hair. This would be a reasonable solution for people with
really short hair whose haircolor is relatively close to their natural color, but few cases
fit the criteria of short hair and similar color. The color involved is usually dramatically
different and those women with longer hair usually prefer not to lose the amount of
length this process would require even if they were inclined to live with a two-tone head during the growing-out process.
The best solution is to use semi-permanent haircolor to match (as closely as
possible) either the current haircolor or the natural color (whichever is darker) while the
permanent color grows out. Semi-permanent color is designed to last between 6 and 8
shampoos and will not have any lasting effect on the newly growing natural color.
This allows you to maintain a uniform hair color without prolonging the length of tim
before you can return to your natural color.
Finally, if you just can't wait for it to grow out completely, consider seeing a
professional stylist for a tint-back. With the tint-back, your stylist will attempt to match
your natural hair color as closely as possible. In some cases there are special problems
with this process depending on the color that is being changed to your natural tone. For
example, my aunt's natural haircolor is an ash brown (around level 4) and for years she
kept her hair a pale yellow blonde. Her hair was long enough to hang past her shoulder
blades, and therefore way too long for her to consider trying to live with the effect of
letting it simply grow out. She decided to go to the hairdresser to have it dyed back to
her natural hair color. (She'd been doing her own lightening and retouches for many
years.) I don't want to say anything negative about the stylist she saw, but while he
did manage to dye her hair back to ash brown, he didn't take into account the yellow
base of the color he was working from. My aunt's hair looked great in the salon, but
the minute she stepped outside into natural sunlight and saw her reflection in the
mirror, she was horrified. Everywhere the sunlight reflected from her new haircolor shone
a sickly green. When she got home, she called my mother who immediately took her to
see Mom's hairdresser. Mom's hairdresser was able to "fix" the color by adding a red-
based toner. Tint-backs are a great way to resolve the issue of growing out unwanted
haircolor, but please seek a professional's help or you could just end up with more problems.