Color Hair from Light to Dark

Color hair from light to dark
Photo: Bigstock
It may seem that going from dark hair to light is the biggest and most challenging process, and that the reverse is easy as pie. Think again. Going from light to dark is just as big a challenge as from dark to light, but in a much different way. When you bleach your hair, you are essentially stripping the follicles of all their color, leaving them exposed and much more porous, causing irreversible damage while the upkeep can be a big effort and expense.
The concept of going dark when you have lighter hair may seem like a breeze. You buy boxed color from the drugstore that seems to match what you are looking for, go home, and BOOM… you are a fabulous brunette. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way and it's not nearly that easy. If it were, all salons would be out of business.
There are several factors to consider when darkening your hair, for example: has your hair been chemically treated recently? Are you a natural or artificial blonde? What type of skin tone do you have? The color of your eyes plays a big part, as well. Do you want to go super dark or just a light brown? All of these issues must be considered before you take the plunge, which can be a very exciting one. Again, this is something that cannot be taken lightly, no pun intended.
As with lightening your hair, you should have a couple of darker shades in mind, just so that you know what you want to present to the stylist. Yes, you will want to go to a stylist to make this transformation as this process can go awry upon trying it at home.
Go to your local wig shop or use an online hair app and try on a few different hair colors, ranging from lighter to darker and take some screenshots to help you decide which one will be the best look for you. Now that you have done that, it is time to contact your stylist to prepare to go to the darker shade.
Woman with long dark hair, wearing a coral color turtleneck
Image: AI illustration
Going dark has many advantages such as making your eyes pop, a daring attitude will emerge, and it will accentuate your skin tone. That is why you need a professional to make sure that you get the right shades.
If your hair has been previously processed, especially bleached, the ends of it will not absorb the darker colors the way that the rest of your hair will and it will be a disaster. Green and gray tones could be the end result of home coloring because bleaching can cause transparency at the ends and will most often lead to an uneven overall color that will require further color modification.
Much like bleaching, dark colors contain a certain chemical (PPDA/pPD, also known as p-phenylenediamine) that can cause an allergic reaction to both the scalp and the skin. Your stylist will want to do an allergy test prior to coloring. This will ensure that you do not end up extremely uncomfortable. But remember, allergic reactions are quite common, which is why it is best to find out before you cover your whole head with dye.
Woman with dark hair in a pixie cut, wearing a coral color satin shirt
Image: AI illustration
To achieve the desired level of darkness, this could be a two to three step process, the stylist will start by applying a colored protein filler or demi-permanent hair color in a shade that has either gold or red tones. In the color spectrum, reddish tones are in the middle, so this is where your stylist may begin. Even on virgin hair, the stylist needs to do this. It could already be slightly damaged from the environment or styling tools like a hair dryer, curling iron, or flat iron.
The next step will be the true start of properly achieving the darker shade that you want, adding some natural honey or caramel tones to balance it out. Unless you are going super dark, like black, which you must keep in mind, cannot be reversed safely the next day. Once you commit to dark, you have to let your hair rest for a little while before even thinking about going light again because this could literally make your hair break off and there is no going back from that.
After you have completed the "going darker" process, try to wait a few days before you wash your hair to avoid anything harsh that can be found in some shampoos that can also strip the color away. You have worked so hard to get here, and you don't want to ruin it because of one mistake, do you? It is suggested that you wash your hair just a few times per week while making sure you are using a great conditioning mask to attempt to heal and repair any damage.
Woman with long dark hair, wearing an orange satin blouse
Image: AI illustration
Once you have achieved the dark color that you desire, if you have naturally lighter hair, you will be prone to roots and though coloring them at home may seem harmless, you are likely mistaken. Why? Because it is difficult to identify the exact color that your stylist has applied with a boxed color and that could leave your roots much darker than the rest of your hair, which you worked so hard to get perfect. Expect to go every month for touch-ups, which is great so that you can catch up on a deep conditioning or a trim, if needed, to avoid split ends.
So, just remember this: no matter if you have or have not colored your hair in the past, going from light to dark needs to be a professional process. You will be making just as big of a commitment as going light, so be ready for the upkeep and maintenance and to visit the salon a few times before you achieve the perfect color.
Impatient? Maybe consider some overall honey and chestnut lowlights to get used to being on the dark side. There are so many amazing darker colors on the spectrum that you might become addicted to trying them all, and fortunately, your stylist will be more than willing to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome. Have fun and welcome to the dark side!
See also:
Comparing Hair Colors
Color Hair from Dark to Light
Psychology of Hair Colors