Lighten Down HairQ: I was so glad to find your site. I am looking for some hair color help. I died my hair with Ruby Red 44 permanent hair color by Herbal Essence. I have strawberry blond hair and it has been 10 weeks since I dyed my hair. I want to lighten it down to my original color and am not sure what to do without spending a million bucks at a salon. What should I do?
A: Well, to go from the hair color that you currently have (approximately level 4, base color: red) to the color you originally had (assumed to be level 8, base color: red) you've got a couple of options:
You can get a permanent haircolor remover from your local beauty supply store which will strip away the permanent haircolor you have, and allow you to recolor your hair to something like your original color. You will want to be aware that these permanent color removal products do not discriminate between artificial and natural hair color. Most people report that they end up with beige-colored hair that must be re-colored in order to look natural. The advantage to this process is that it should leave you with a light level close to your natural light level without having to use potentially risky, harsher bleaching to lighten the hair's color level. After removing the permanent haircolor, you can simply select a haircolor that approximates your hair's natural color and apply it to get the desired shade.
The other option is to select the haircolor that most closely matches your natural shade (making sure to choose a color with a neutral base to avoid possible color conflicts and to tone down the red) and mix it with a 40-volume peroxide developer. Apply the mixture to clean, dry hair and place under a plastic cap. Sit under a heated bonnet dryer while processing the color to ensure full lightening during processing. This is a simpler process, but can be prone to brassy results and unexpected color reactions depending on the base colors in the haircolor you used previously. (I checked the manufacturer's website for the product you used, and they don't provide base color formula information on their colors.)
Before you do anything, please make a very objective assessment of your hair's condition. If you see any signs of damage, or if the hair seems dry or frizzed, do not attempt to perform these re-coloring processes yourself.
I want to go on record saying that I NEVER advocate doing tint-backs, or original color restorations like this on your own. Going to the salon may be more expensive, but a salon professional will be better able to gauge how to best achieve the color you want - SAFELY - and will be responsible for correcting any unfortunate color results that may occur. That being said, I do want to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Hair color levels
Hair coloring damage
Hair colors and our color palette