Grow Out Hair ColorQ: 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.
Basic hair coloring information
How to find the right hair color for yourself
How to get back to your natural hair color
The difference between temporary, semi-permanent and permanent haircolor
Strip hair color and go back to your natural hair