Lighten Dark Red Hair

Woman with long dark red hair
Photo: NeonShot/Shutterstock
Q: How do you lighten dark red hair? My hair is a lot darker shade of red than what I was hoping for. A friend told me to use an "Ash Brown" hair color over my dark red hair to make it a lighter shade of red. Will that work or will my hair look even worse than it does now? Thanks.
A: Simply adding an "Ash" color to your dark red hair will dull the redness into a browner tone. Unless you lighten the color level of the hair, you aren't going to get a "lighter shade of red".
Your best bet is going to be getting a hair color that is the color level you want and mixing it with high-lift peroxide (30- or 40-volume peroxide developer) to reach the desired color level and tone. You can find what you need at your local beauty supply store. Be sure to select a red that uses the same base color as the color you initially used or you can get unwanted color results and will have to do a color correction.
The thing to remember with hair color is that you are working on two separate facets of coloring - color level (how light or dark the color is) and color tone (the actual tint of the hair). To get a shade of hair color that is lighter than the current one you have to raise the current color level to the color level of the desired color and then add the color tone desired.
This can be done with hair color mixed using a high-lift peroxide (known as single process coloring), or can be done by first lightening the hair with a bleaching mix, then adding a color toner (known as double process coloring). The factor that determines which of these processes to use is how much you need to lighten the color level to get the desired result.
If you only need to raise the color level by four levels or lower, you can use the single process method with a high-lift developer. If you need to raise the color more than four levels you should pre-lighten and tone using the double process method.
See also:
How to color hair
Tips for redheads
Fading red hair