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Messed Up Hair Color

Q: I really messed up my hair. It was my natural color which was medium brown. I wanted it just a little darker so I got stuff from Wal-mart and it turned it black. I know black would be the hardest color to get out, but what do I do? I know I can get it stripped and get a different color but I know it would cost a lot. I would love to have it done before Christmas Eve so what do you think?
 
A: Well, I’m going to have to make a number of assumptions here. First of all, I assume that you used a permanent haircolor. This seems like a safe bet, since if you’d used a temporary haircolor, you’d simply spend the next few days shampooing your hair repeatedly to fade the color quickly.
 
       I’m also going to assume that the color you selected wasn’t a “true black” haircolor. Odds are the color you chose was a deposit-only permanent color that, when added to your natural color, turned out much darker than you anticipated. In deposit-only colors, there is no lightening of the natural hair color. The color you apply simply adds itself to the natural pigment of the hair. If your hair is already dark, you are going to get a darker result than what is seen on the box or hair swatch.
 
       Your best solution is to visit a hair salon to have the color corrected. However, since you state concerns about the possible expense, I’m going to give you cost-effective solutions.
 
       There are a couple of ways to go about dealing with this situation, both of which will require a visit to your local beauty supply store. The products you need will have to be combined to be effective. Here are the options you have:
 
       A Lightening Cap - you can make a bleaching mixture to lighten your hair. You will need to purchase a small bottle of 20-volume peroxide “cream” developer (used to mix with haircolor to activate it), a single-application packet of powdered bleaching agent, a color mixing bowl and brush or color applicator bottle, and hair conditioner. You also need to have gloves and a plastic cap, and a bottle of red-orange base haircolor that is level 8, 9, or 10 (in case you need to do a color adjustment).
 
       Put on your gloves and pour 2 ounces of cream developer into your bowl or bottle and add the packet of bleaching agent and mix thoroughly. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area and don’t breathe in the powder. It is very harsh and will burn if you get it in your mouth, nose or eyes. Once thoroughly mixed, add in 2 ounces of conditioner and mix once more.
 
       Apply the mixture to your hair using the brush applicator, or the applicator bottle, but don’t apply it directly to your scalp. You should only need about half the mixture unless your hair is very long. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and use a hair dryer to warm the hair through the cap. Have a mirror handy and watch the hair closely as it processes.
 
       Leave the mixture on for 5 minutes and then take a lock of hair and rinse it off. If you are happy with the lightening, then stop here and rinse the mixture from the hair and shampoo using cool water. If the hair is still too dark, then reapply to the test hair and leave for another 5 minutes. Continue until your hair is as light as you want it to be, but no more than 20 minutes.
 
       The conditioner added to the mixture should help to prevent damage to the hair from the bleaching process. If after lightening your hair you find that the hair has a greenish or grayish cast to it, you can mix 1 ounce of the haircolor with 1 ounce of developer and 1 ounce of conditioner and apply it to the hair. Leave on for 15 minutes under the plastic cap (rinsed to remove the bleaching mixture) and your hair should be free of the unnatural tint.
 
       You can also Re-color your hair to correct the color. For this, you need the mixing bowl and brush or applicator bottle, a bottle of haircolor with a neutral base color and color level 5, a small bottle of 40-volume peroxide cream developer, gloves and a plastic cap. Put on the gloves and combine the haircolor with 2 ounces of the developer. Mix well.
 
       Apply the haircolor to your clean dry hair and massage thoroughly through the hair. Cover with the plastic cap and use a hair dryer to warm the hair through the cap. Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse the hair completely and shampoo thoroughly. This should lighten the hair sufficiently to undo the too-dark color.
 
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