Let’s face it, for most women who start coloring their hair, it’s a long-term proposition. Once a woman gets a color she’s happy with, she usually wants to keep it. And many women have had the same haircolor for years,
even decades. In my line of work I meet lots of women who have been coloring their hair for a long time before they decide that they want to go back to their natural color. The trouble is, these women usually have no
clue how to go about getting their natural color back.
And it’s not quite as simple a process as you might think. I can remember clearly back when I was a kid, my mom’s sister had been coloring her hair (lightening and coloring) to a light golden blonde for as long as I had
memories of her. I would often see her retouching her new growth every couple of months to bring it to the pale yellow-blonde of the rest of the length. Yet, in my early teens, she decided that she wanted her hair to be
healthier and she wanted to stop bleaching it and return to her natural color.
She knew that her hair “used to be” the same color as my mom’s, so she went to her hairdresser with a photo of my mom and set out to have her hair returned to the medium brown that it used to be. Well, the stylist got the
brown color matched apparently, and my aunt sat in the salon chair looking into the mirror at the haircolor she had worn when she was in junior high school. It looked good – shiny, soft, smooth – and she was thrilled.
She was less thrilled when she got outside to her car in the bright afternoon sunlight and saw her hair in the car mirror as it was lit by the sun through the sunroof. As the sun shone on her medium brown hair, it glowed.
Yes, it glowed a sickly shade of green. She burst into tears and ran back inside the salon and dragged her hairdresser out onto the street to see what had resulted.
Well, to make the long story short (which took two more visits to the salon over the next five days) her hair finally got a natural, non-green, coloration and she stopped bleaching her hair and only used a demi-permanent
color from then on to cover the inevitable gray from having two teenaged daughters.
But the point of the story is that there’s a lot to consider when you plan to try and recapture your “natural color”. There’s not only the natural color to achieve, but the color you’ve been using all the time since
you’ve been coloring the hair, the condition of the hair as a result of whatever color process you’ve been using, and whether or not the “natural color” will suit you now. Beyond that, there’s the added consideration
of exactly what procedure to follow: color-matching; mask and regrow, cut and start fresh, or some combination of these.
Factors to Consider
When you decide to try to reclaim your natural color the first thing to determine is what, precisely, is your natural color. Old photos will help, as long as they’ve been well-kept and still show true color
representations. Other sources are siblings who have the same color you once had, and even your children can give examples of your original color. And, finally, an excellent way to determine your natural color is to let
the hair grow out a little longer than usual between retouches and see what color the new growth turns out to be. Whatever you have as the sample for the color, you then have to determine which of the colors of a
particular maker most-closely match that color.
That leads us to the second important factor, which is the color you’ve been using since leaving behind your natural color. If you have been wearing your hair as a golden blonde all these years and want to go back to
your medium brown, you have to make sure that the color you intend to use to achieve that medium brown is compatible with the base pigments of the color you’ve been using. For instance if the color you’ve been wearing
has a base gold or yellow pigment to get the blonde tones, then applying a medium brown that uses a blue, or drab base pigment is going to give you a lovely (NOT) shade of green. So, make sure you know where you’re
starting, where you want to get to, and the RIGHT path to get you there.
If you do get an unfortunate result, we have some guidelines for color correction here.
Speaking of the right path; for some, the idea of getting in a salon chair and having a couple of hours of chemical service to restore their original haircolor is the way to go. It means that as long as you were careful
and prudent in your color choice, as the hair grows out, the new growth should pretty closely match to the color already outside the scalp. But, if you aren’t sure of the color match, or you want to avoid yet another
permanent color application, you can always opt for temporary or semi-permanent hair color. These are the mask and regrow techniques since they cover up the current color and give the hair time to grow out and reveal the
natural color. These are great for those with damaged hair since they are usually far less harsh on the hair.
Of course, let’s not forget the option for those who are very adventurous and care-free of simply cutting it all off and starting from scratch. Some women time this kind of thing when they can do so alongside showing
support for friends and loved ones battling cancer, and some just do it because they are okay with the idea of being bald. Of course, when you aren’t one of these rare women, you might choose to mix it up and cover
the new growth with temporary or semi-permanent color until the new growth is long enough to cut into a short and sassy hairstyle.