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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. So, let’s look at how to lighten hair dyed too dark at the salon.

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.

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, here are some other options available.


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.

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.

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 onto 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.

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


Causes Of A Dark Outcome

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.


Leaving your hair dye on too long

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

Generally, the longer you leave the color on, the more it is absorbed and the darker the outcome.

Make sure you follow the directions or if you are at a salon communicate with your colorist.

Let them know what the condition of your hair is, what you have done to it, and what you want your final results to be.

Be as detailed as possible.


The porosity of your hair

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.

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.

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 your entire head of hair 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.

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.

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.

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

The following are some of the things you can do to lighten your hair:


Wash your hair!

If you have just dyed your hair, and have found that your color has come out too dark, your first instinct may be to hit the shower.

This is a good idea.

Hair dye takes about 72 hours to fully lock in.

So, the sooner you start to wash it, the better it will fade.

For this you can use your normal shampoo or a clarifying shampoo is recommended.

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.


Baking soda, lemon juice, and shampoo

If you are not satisfied with the result of merely washing with a clarifying shampoo, you can create another shampoo with baking soda and lemon to use instead.

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

You want to mix baking soda and lemon juice in with your shampoo.

Wet your hair and generously apply the mixture.

You will want to leave it on for about 45 minutes, and then rinse and condition.

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


Vitamin C powder and water

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

Vitamin C is acidic in nature and can be very useful in getting unwanted hair color out.

If you have vitamin C tablets at home, crush them into powdery form and mix it with your shampoo until it forms a paste.

Wet your hair with hot water before applying the paste.

Evenly coat your hair with the paste and allow it to sit for 60 minutes.

You can use a shower cap to cover your hair.

After an hour, rinse the mixture out of your hair.

This can make your hair a bit dry so do not overuse this technique.

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


Wait it out

The final 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.


What Can A Professional Do?

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.

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.


Blend dye into a balayage

One option they may try is to fade the color and blend it into a balayage.

This will give your hair more definition, and it will blend the fading so it looks more natural throughout your hair.

Recommended Post: Does Balayage Damage Hair?


Color remover

They may also try a color remover to strip some of the color out of your hair.

These can be damaging so it is best left to a professional to use.



If you have 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 which 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.

Bleach can be very damaging, and since your hair has been dyed it can be a bit of a challenge to get out.

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

If you do attempt to bleach your hair at home, please do your research.

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

Related post: Does bleaching your hair damage it forever?


Some things to know

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.

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.

Never exceed a 40 volume developer.

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

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.


Products For Fading Your Color

There are thousands of hair products out there, and that can make it very overwhelming to try and navigate.

Don’t fret, and when in doubt you can always ask your hairstylist for their recommendations.

Reading reviews on a few different products is a good place to start.

Ultimately, you know your hair best and what types of products it can handle.


Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoos work to rid your hair of product and mineral build-up and impurities in your hair.

The potency can work to your advantage when you want to fade some of the color out, especially if you use it soon after you have dyed your hair.

Neutrogena has a highly-rated clarifying shampoo on Amazon.

Some other highly rated options are Kenra and OGX Charcoal.


Color remover

Color removers are specifically made to help lift out permanent and semi-permanent hair dye.

These can be more damaging to hair, and while some may claim to be ammonia and peroxide free, they may use other chemicals that are just as harsh.

Some highly rated color removing products on Amazon are Color Oops Extra Conditioning Color Remover, Color X-Change, and Colour B4.


Managing The Upkeep Of Your Desired Hair Color

As mentioned above, using color fading and removing techniques can leave your hair feeling dry or can even leave some damage.

After you reach your desired shade, be sure to spoil your hair.

Deep conditioners and hair masks are a great way to put moisture back into your hair.

OGX has a highly-rated hair mask, and so does Arvazallia.

As for deep conditioners, it is worth checking out Sebastian Drench Treatment.

You may also want to look into a color-preserving shampoo such as MATRIX Total Results or L’Oreal Color Vibrancy Protecting Shampoo.


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, 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 result.

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.

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 coloration.

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.



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.

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