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How To Lighten Hair Dyed Too Dark At The Salon

Hair dye is great, it lets you change the color of your hair subtly or dramatically to give you a brand-new look.

That is until the colorist dyes your hair a shade too dark. But before you panic, you should take a deep breath and calm down since there is a solution.

Honestly, is there anything more thrilling than sitting down in your favorite salon to get your hair colored in your dream shade? I think not.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being pampered while the stylist works on your hair to achieve that chocolatey brown or dusky gray tone.

But sometimes, the big reveal at the end of a hair coloring session is far from expected.

For one reason or another, you might end up with a hair color that’s much darker than you had anticipated.

Instead of a rich brown or deep red, you might end up with an unexpected, one-dimensional jet black.

If this happens to you, try to stop yourself from hyperventilating or having a nervous breakdown at the salon.

Calm down – there are many ways you can try to salvage the situation (and your precious hair).

Some people might tell you that bleaching out the ultra-dark color is the only way to get your hair back in a lighter, more natural-looking tone.

But that’s not true at all!

You can still try and lighten your locks without bleach.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

In this post, I’ll teach you how to lighten hair dyed too dark in a salon setting.

Mistakes Happen…

Whether you want to give yourself a fun pop of color, brighten up hair that you feel is a bit dull, try out a new trend, or adjust your look for a new season, dyeing your hair is an easy choice, and more cost-effective at home than at the salon.

It can be frustrating when the hairstylist dyes your hair the wrong shade, especially if you have an event, date, or outing.

I can tell you right now that if you ended up with hair that’s far too dark for you, it was definitely an accident.

No stylist wants their client to leave with a color they’re unhappy with – especially with a really dark shade that is a pain to mend.

Mistakes can be a huge deal when it involves coloring your hair.

Even those who are extra careful, and do not want to damage their hair by bleaching it, can end up with a result they did not anticipate, such as their hair color coming out way too dark.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

It may seem like the only way to fix it is with the bleach they refused to use in the first place.

Before you run and grab that hair bleach, however, you need to know that there are other avenues to salvage the situation.


How Hair Dye Works

When you dye your hair a darker color than it already is, the hair dye is much less damaging, and (depending on the developer used) less permanent.

If you use no higher than a 10 volume developer or forego developer entirely, then the dye is only going to coat the outside of your hair, unlike bleach which actually causes your hair to go through the chemical process of oxidation.

This oxidation reaction will completely dissolve the color of your hair follicle.

Generally, hair dye will bond with existing color molecules in your hair, which is why it is recommended to put a filler in your hair if you are going from bleached hair to a dark brunette color.

Suggested Read: How To Go About Putting Color Over Bleached Hair

When you are only going from your natural or dyed hair color to one that is darker, then the dye has your existing color to cling to and cover, meaning a much less intensive and damaging process for your lovely locks.


Permanent And Semi-Permanent Dye

Hair dye comes in two main types: permanent and semi-permanent.

The way they both work on the hair is somewhat different and influences how you can lighten your hair if it has been dyed too dark.


Permanent Hair Dye

The permanent dye contains chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and ammonia and causes lightning.

Plus, it doesn’t wash out easily but fades over time.

This is because the working principle of permanent dye ensures that the chemicals go past the hair’s outer layer, known as the cuticle, and unto the cortex.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon
Hair Structure


The cortex is the part of the hair that contains pigment and hair coloring.

At the cortex, the chemicals in the dye react with each other and, with the help of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, form dye molecules that change the hair color.

Recommended Post: Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Hair?

These molecules get attached to the hair cortex and are too big to come out quickly.


Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Semi-permanent hair dye, on the other hand, doesn’t contain peroxide or cause lightening.

It washes out with a few washes because, unlike the permanent dye, there is no cuticle opening.

Instead, the dye’s chemical molecules simply attach to the outer hair shaft and are thus easier to remove.

Now that you understand how both dyes work, selecting the right method for lightening your already-dyed hair will be less complicated.

Related Post: How To Make Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Last Longer


Why Did My Hair End Up So Dark?

There are several factors that can contribute to your hair becoming too dark after it’s dyed.

Remember, your hair has pores and whether they are open or closed can impact how your hair dye is absorbed.

But what is it exactly that made your hair end up way darker than expected?

There are three main reasons this could have happened:


The Dye Was Left On Your Hair Too Long

One reason your hair can come out way too dark is that the colorist left the hair dye on way too long.

The longer you leave dye in your hair, the more it will be absorbed by your cuticles.

This means the dye will get absorbed more and you’ll end up with a darker color that’s more intense.

Make sure you communicate with your colorist about the condition of your hair, what you have done to it, and what you want your final results to be.

Be as detailed as possible.


Your Hair Is Extremely Porous

Your hair has tiny cuticles that can open, causing your hair to become more porous.

When you bleach your hair, for instance, you are intentionally opening up your hair cuticles so the bleach can enter and dissolve your hair color.

Often, the resulting damage can cause your hair cuticles to open further which can lead to breakage.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

Hair that has more open cuticles is more porous, and it absorbs hair dye more efficiently.

This causes the dye to process faster, ending in a darker result.

Dye penetrates porous hair more easily, leaving a darker color even if it was left there for the right amount of time.

Daily heat styling can also cause your hair strands to become more porous.

The middle of your hair shaft and ends are usually more porous than your new growth, which can mean lighter roots and darker ends when you dye your hair.


Dyeing Entire Head When You Just Want A Root Touch-Up

When you are dyeing your hair, the only time you need to saturate your whole head in hair dye is the very first application, when you are initially changing your hair color.

As mentioned above, the roots are less porous than the rest of your hair, so they will absorb less of the hair dye.

When you need to touch up your roots, be sure to only apply the dye to your roots and the spots that need dye.

Suggested Read: How To Dye Hair Evenly With Roots

Otherwise, you can end up having an inconsistent color, and your hair may look dull and lifeless.

When you are in doubt, it is safer to go with a lighter shade.

You can always dye it again, darker, but making it lighter is more difficult.

Be sure to follow the instructions, and do not leave the dye in your hair for more than the recommended time.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

Also, it is important to never mix dyes, especially different brands.


Prepping Your Hair For Color Fading

Anytime you are trying to remove the color from your hair, you can take on more damage and dryness.

That is why it is important to take time beforehand to prep your hair to handle the strain.

Be sure to use moisturizers and moisturizing treatments to help protect your hair and to compensate for any processes that will dry out your hair.

Throughout the week leading up to your color fading, you will want to spend time partaking in deep conditioning treatments.

I like to saturate my hair with a deep conditioner, cover it with a shower cap, and then use a heating cap to help the conditioner work.

Recommended Post: Best Heat Cap For Deep Conditioning

Another product you can try is a deeply hydrating hair mask.

Whenever you use a hair lightener, bleach, or color remover, you want your hair to be dry and unwashed.

Your scalp produces natural oils that are there to protect your hair.

They will help to minimize dryness and damage.


How To Lighten Hair Dyed Too Dark At The Salon

If your coloring job goes wrong and you end up with dark hair because of any of the reasons above, don’t panic!

You can still salvage your beloved tresses.

Here are some ways to do it:


Lift Your Shade With A Color Remover

On your way home from the salon, try to stop by a drugstore and grab a hair color remover.

When color molecules from your hair dye latch onto your strands, they grow larger – so large that they’ll be difficult to wash out.

That’s why your hair color stays so long in your locks.

A color remover reverses this process.

It makes the color molecules smaller so that all you have to do is rinse the dye out.

One of the most popular hair color removers out there is the Color Oops Extra-Conditioning Hair Color Remover.

This ammonia-free solution is excellent for getting rid of color without damaging your strands the way bleach does.

This color remover shrinks color molecules in your hair while nourishing your strands at the same time.

It’s formulated with aloe vera and soy proteins that help hydrate and strengthen your hair as you strip the overly dark shade from it.

It’s also very easy to use, thanks to its one-step application.

All you have to do is drench your hair in this liquid, just like a semi-permanent dye.

Then, leave it to process for 15 minutes.

If it smells like sulfur, don’t be alarmed.

It just means it’s working.

Finally, jump in the shower and rinse it out with shampoo and cold water.

And you’re done!

Your hair should be a lot lighter than when you started.


Use A Clarifying Shampoo

One of the golden rules of having your hair colored is that you shouldn’t shampoo for the next 72 hours.

It takes that long for your hair cuticles to lock in those color molecules.

If you shampoo your hair too soon, you’ll likely wash out the color as well.

But if you want to fade your dark hair color faster, shampooing is exactly what you should do!

Hop in the shower as soon as you can after your salon appointment and scrub as much as you can.

Look for a shampoo that’s formulated with sulfates.

Sulfates are powerful surfactants that help fade color faster.

Make sure that the shampoo you use isn’t labeled “color-safe” or “for color-treated hair” either.

If you want to make sure that your shampoo will really scrub out most of that color, use a clarifying shampoo, like the TRESemmé Cleanse & Replenish Shampoo.

This shampoo is designed to deeply cleanse and detoxify the hair to get rid of product build-up and stubborn residue on your strands.

It contains vitamin C, lemon, and grapefruit – all of which are known to be acidic and may be able to help lighten your locks.

It also leaves your hair smelling fresh and fruity, like melons, apples, and peaches.

This sweet fragrance is a charming little bonus!

When shampooing your hair, rinse it out with hot or at least warm water.

This will help open up your hair strands, making it easier to scrub away the color molecules making your hair look darker than you want.

Depending on how light you want your hair to be, you should wash it daily for seven to ten days.

Be sure to condition your hair, as this will dry it out.


Fade The Color With Hydrogen Peroxide

Most homes have hydrogen peroxide for various reasons, whether it’s to clean surfaces in the kitchen or to treat wounds.

But you can also use this chemical to lighten your overly-dark hair.

Instead of dousing your hair with hydrogen peroxide, it’s a better idea to spray it across your locks.

Pour some peroxide into a spray bottle and spritz it all over your hair.

Make sure every strand is coated in the stuff, but make sure your hair isn’t dripping wet.

Wait 30 minutes, and then rinse it out.


Baking Soda And Lemon Juice

Make your shampoo a little more intense and hardworking by combining it with baking soda and lemon juice – both known to lighten hair.

In a small bowl, mix everything together until you have a smooth paste.

Apply this to your hair in sections until all your hair is covered in the mixture.

Wait 45 minutes to an hour so that the baking soda and lemon juice can activate and lighten up your hair.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

To help it activate faster, you can sit in the backyard and turn your head towards the sun.

When time is up, wash the mixture out in the shower.

Make sure the paste is completely rinsed out – if part of it gets stuck in your hair, you could end up with extremely dehydrated hair in that area, or a patchy color.

Condition your hair after to bring back the softness and smoothness of your hair.

Doing this once should lighten your hair two shades or so.

You should not overuse this method since the acidity of the lemon juice can cause damage to your hair.

See: How To Lighten Hair With Lemon Juice Overnight


Vitamin C Powder

Vitamin C is very acidic, so it can help lighten your hair a shade or two if you don’t feel like rocking ultra-dark tresses.

All you have to do is take 15 or so vitamin C tablets and crush them until you get a fine powder.

Then, mix this with warm water until you get a smooth, slightly runny paste.

Wet your hair with warm water first.

Afterward, apply this paste all over your hair, focusing on your ends and mid-lengths, where the color is likely the darkest.

Let it sit for an hour.

You can use a shower cap to cover your hair.

After 60 minutes, rinse the mixture out of your hair.

You’ll find your hair a little lighter than before.

The sooner after dyeing you use this method, the better it works.

However, this technique can make your hair a bit dry – so do not overuse it.

Make sure you always apply conditioner to your hair after rinsing out the mixture.


Wait It Out

The other method for getting unwanted color out of your hair is to wait for the color to fade away.

Do note, though, that this may take about nine weeks.

As mentioned earlier, permanent dye chemicals get attached to the cortex, and the molecules formed become too large to wash out easily.

The artificial color then replaces your natural hair color and only starts to fade away when the dye molecules become smaller in size.

When the unwanted hair dye has faded, you can re-dye your hair without much difficulty.

The waiting period doesn’t have to be drab as you can spice up your hair’s look with highlighters that will give it a natural glow.

This method ensures you maintain a healthy condition for your hair because too many invasive and harsh chemicals can cause your hair to become dry, brittle, uneven, or break.


Ask Your Stylist To Help You Come Up With A Solution

First of all, I should say, if you have had your hair dyed at a salon and it came out too dark, then you need to be honest with your stylist.

The easiest (but also most expensive) way to fix your problem is to speak up as soon as you can in the salon.

If you’ve been going to the same stylist for a long time and you completely trust them, tell them straight up that you think the color is too dark.

Then, ask what they can do to help you fix it.

You hired them for a service, and if you are not pleased with the result, then give them the opportunity to make it right.

They want you to love your hair, and they won’t know that you do not like it if you do not make it known to them.

Salons have a variety of products at their disposal such as different types of shampoos, as well as color removers, and for really bad cases – bleach.

These are professionals that have studied these hair processes in-depth and they know what they are doing.

They may suggest the following:


Blend Dye Into A Balayage

Your stylist may suggest giving you a balayage to somehow lighten up your mane and give it extra dimension and depth.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

The balayage will also give your hair more definition, and it will blend the fading so it looks more natural throughout your locks.

Adding a few lightened locks into your hair doesn’t make your entire shade lighter, but it does remedy the look of flat, dull, extremely dark hair from root to tip.

Recommended Post: Does Balayage Damage Hair?



If your stylist is a bit more daring (and your hair isn’t too damaged), they might be willing to bleach it.

If they’ve already tried to fade out the color, and nothing seems to be working, the last resort would probably be for them to bleach the unwanted color out of your hair.

This would be considered a color correction.

If it does come to this, you are much better off sticking with a professional to take care of it.

While bleaching freshly colored locks isn’t the healthiest thing for your hair, a professional should know how to do it without damaging your hair all that much.

Suggested Read: Does Bleaching Your Hair Damage It Forever?

Along with bleach comes toners, fillers, and gloss which depend on what color you want your end results to be.

You may want to attempt bleaching your hair at home, but please do your research.

Research what brands will be best for your hair, and follow the directions.


Things To Note If You Opt To Bleach

Your hair should be unwashed and dry, and you should always do a strand test to know how your hair is going to react to the bleach.


Strand Test

Doing a strand helps you to know what you can expect for an outcome.

If you have an allergic reaction to any of the products you are using – or they end up causing a lot of damage – a strand test will minimize the reaction and let you know that you should not apply this all over your head.



If you are unsure of what developer to use, a 30 volume will be your best bet.

It is strong enough to lift the color, but not as damaging as a 40 volume.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

Never exceed a 40 volume developer.

Never start with applying bleach to your roots since the heat from your scalp helps them to process faster.

Suggested Read: How to Mix Bleach Powder and Developer


Section Your Hair

Work quickly in small sections starting from the very back and bottom of your hair.

To section your hair, make four equal sections, two on each side, and from there work in sections that are about ¼ of an inch.

Once you apply the bleach, spritz the inside of a shower cap with water and place it over your hair.

Bleach works best in humidity, and the moist shower cap will create a steaming effect.

Do not leave the bleach on longer than 60 minutes.

If you think you need to bleach your hair again, make sure your hair is in a good enough condition to withstand it.

You may want to let it rest, and apply some deep conditioning treatments and a bonding agent.


Always Remember To Nourish Your Hair

Doing any of the methods above can be very drying for your hair.

After all, you’re trying your best to strip your hair of color.

You’ll probably also strip a lot of the moisture out of your strands as well, leaving them parched, brittle, and rough to the touch.

So, it’s important that when you finally fade your dark color and are happy with the shade you have, you treat your hair to deeply moisturizing treatments.

Not only will this replenish your hair with the moisture it lost when you were lightening it, but it also brings back elasticity and bounce in your hair.

One that I love using is the Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Deep Moisture Hair Mask.

This deep conditioner is formulated with intensely moisturizing ingredients, like coconut milk, mango seed butter, and murumuru butter.

It softens and nourishes the hair to give you smooth, touchable, shiny locks.

You can also treat your hair with a protein mask to help strengthen it again.

The Marc Anthony Grow Long Hair Mask is one you might like.

It’s rich in keratin proteins to rebuild your strands and make them resilient against breakage.

Keratin is also known to make the hair super smooth and silky.

Suggested Read: DIY Protein Treatment For High Porosity Hair


How To Avoid Hair Dye Mistakes

The mistake of getting your hair dyed a shade too dark can happen to anyone.

However, it can be avoided in some cases with enough attention.

Consider the following ways to avoid such disasters in the future:


Go To A Well-Known Professional Colorist

Dyeing your hair in the right shade of color requires skillful hands and trained eyes.

Because they will be dealing with chemicals, it means that measurements and timing are very important and must be strictly adhered to.

The nature or type of hair to which the chemicals would be applied is also an important consideration.

A professional hair colorist understands all this and would ask the right questions to give you the right results.

Do not allow just anyone to dye your hair; you should be confident that they are trained, professional hairstylists.


Communicate With Your Hairstylist

Adequate communication with your hairstylist is essential in avoiding hair coloring mistakes.

Talk about the kind of hair color you desire and ask questions about your hair.

If possible, bring a couple of photos of the exact shade you want to end up with.

This will give them a better idea of how to formulate your color with the right undertones and lightness to ensure you won’t end up with super dark hair again.

Be transparent with your stylist about your hair’s health and condition.

how to lighten hair dyed too dark at salon

Explain to them your hair’s history.

If you’ve bleached your hair in the last year or damaged it with too much heat styling, make sure you mention it before they start dyeing your hair.

This has huge implications as to what kind of dye your stylist should use on your hair, as well as how long they’ll leave it on your hair.

So, make sure you’re 100% honest about it so that you don’t end up with another hair color disaster.

Let them know all the previous products you’ve used on your hair and what brands they are.

It will also help if you get to know the risks involved and how to maintain the hair after dyeing it.

Individuals are unique, which means that some specific colors will look better on you than on others.

Having an open conversation with your hairstylist affords you the opportunity of selecting the right color fit for you.

If you are unsure of anything or do not like anything, let your hairstylist know.

Ultimately, it is YOUR hair.



If by some stroke of bad luck, you end up with hair that’s much darker than you wanted while sitting in the salon, don’t fret.

Color mistakes and unintentional shades can happen to the best of us.

It is important to remember to stay calm and not rush into doing anything rash.

Evaluate your hair condition, and the situation, and do your research.

We tend to jump into the worst-case scenario before we grasp a full understanding of our options.

You know your own hair best.

If you’re stressed out over how to lighten hair dyed too dark at the salon, you can choose to correct it with a professional’s help or do it yourself at home.

If you do not have a trusted hairstylist, it is best to shop around.

When you find a professional, ask questions, and be open and honest about what has been used and done to your hair.

That way, they can help you to the best of their ability.

Don’t let one unfortunate incident discourage you.

There is no harm in wanting to give your hair a new color.

As I’ve said, hair dyeing mistakes do happen.

Fortunately, there are different methods to correct such errors.

Whichever method you decide on, ensure you take all necessary precautions for your hair and that the result is precisely what you desire.

The most important thing about an experience like this is to learn from your mistakes so that it won’t happen a second time.

And hopefully, you’ll never have to face a salon disaster like this ever again!

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