Hair Color Disasters: How To Recover
Hair Color Disasters:
How To Recover
Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved
Revised Date: 05/03/11

Introduction

Charlotte Sullivan
Rookie Blues

ABC
All Rights Reserved.

This article on Hair Color Disasters is the original information which was written on this topic back in 2002.  It has been updated on a regular basis to include new information.

Why Does Hair Color Hold Such Fascination?

Why does hair color hold such fascination?  Hair color can be that amazing magic wand that instantly transforms dull mousy locks into glorious golden lights that shimmer and shine.  It can also instantly erase years of age by covering gray, adding depth to fading colors and cranking up overall shine.

Time has not lessened the power of hair color.  Currently Clairol makes more than 70+ different shades of just blonde hued hair colors.  

Although hair color has the fabulous power to transform a mousy brunette into a fiery redhead, beautiful blonde or classy raven beauty, with pleasure often comes pain.  Permanent hair dyes with a high chemical composition may stress and dry out the best of hair.  

Even worse, hair color can sometimes go horribly wrong.  Whether applied at home or the highest priced salon in town,  hair color can sometimes take a bizarre detour and come out any hue, but the one that we hoped for.  While hair color disasters are much more common at the hand of bathroom hair wizards, master colorists can sometimes have a bad color day. Yes, it happens.

Many hair consumers make the mistake of thinking that hair color is infallible and will always come out looking just like the hair color of the beautiful model on the box.  There is nothing further from the truth.  Another misconception is that anyone who can do hair can do color.  Again, not true.

Master colorists are an unusual and rare breed of one part hair expert and one part artist.  The best colorists are often gifted with natural talents to transform a drab head of hair into a work of art.

Possible Problems

If you are experiencing hair color horrors you developed them because of one of two possible paths:

1.  You went to a professional stylist or colorist and came out with a color disaster.

2.  You were swept away by a hair color advertisement and did the dirty color deed to yourself in the privacy of your home.

It is important to point out that there is a major distinction between home haircoloring and professional haircoloring.  Many consumers think that there is very little difference.  This is not true.  The differences are many and somewhat complex.

Professional Resolution

Charlotte Sullivan
Rookie Blues

ABC
All Rights Reserved.

If you went to a professional colorist or stylist, contact them immediately to report your color problem.  Most experts believe you have a 48-72 hour window before the color has a change to lock into the cuticle.  Prompt action is critical for safe color correction.

Don't get wrapped up in the blame game. While its good to evaluate what went wrong so you can avoid it again, forgive yourself and your colorist/stylist and focus on fixing the problem.  Avoid outbursts of anger or emotion.  Yelling and forgetting to be polite will only make the situation much worse.

Remember, even the best colorists and stylists in the world can encounter problems.  Give them the benefit of the doubt and be willing to let them try and fix the color to your satisfaction. Most professionals will try to correct color problems and will do it at no additional cost, unless you caused the problem in some way.  

The best colorists do know how to correct their mistakes, so give them a chance to do so.  Be sure to ask what the color correction cost is before you agree to try it at the hands of your hair professional.  This allows you to be clear about your financial responsibility.

Professional Backup 

Clairol Hydrience Absolute Blondes Haircolor, OasisIf you went to an unfamiliar colorist or stylist and you are unsure that they can correct the problem, find a color correction expert that you are sure can undo the color damage.  When possible, it is always best to stick with the colorist or stylist that made the mistake. 

Good colorists will know what to do to undo the damage.  Going to a second or other stylist or colorists who did not cause the problem can just be asking for additional problems.  Try not to panic and take your time to find the best solution for you.

If you sincerely believe that the first professional stylist or colorist caused the problem, call and ask them to pay for your correction treatment or refund your money for the treatment that caused the problem in the first place.

Once you have suffered through bad color, try not to panic and rush to find a solution that might cause even more harm.  Many people try to fix the color problems themselves  once they get home.  This will often make the problem a lot worse and potentially damage hair beyond easy repair.

Avoid the temptation to add more color or try to remove the color at home with bleach or other harsh chemicals.  Once you have a color problem the very best solution is to find a professional color correction expert and work with them to get you back to your desired color.

Color Correction Might Take Several Visits 

Model With
Bleached Tresses

All Rights Reserved.

Many consumers with color correction issues don't realize that hair color can not often be instantly reversed.  It can take up to five visits for some serious color problems to be reversed.  

Did I say five visits?  

Yes indeed.  Hair color is not like paint on furniture which can easily be removed with paint remover.  Haircolor is a lot more like painting a white wall.  Sometimes you can't just paint over the color with corrective white paint. 

Many times you have to remove the botched color in several steps.  The same is true with hair color gone wrong.  If you go to a color correction specialist and they tell you that it will take several treatment sessions, take the time to talk to them and find out why before you reject the suggestion outright. 

Home Haircolor Resolution

It is a well known fact that trying to repair home hair color can be very difficult.  Don't panic. There are some options to help with your hair color disaster.

If you can afford to hire a color correction expert, do so immediately.  Home hair color has the same 48-72 hour window for quick repair.

When finding and/or utilizing a professional color correction expert is not an option, turn to the hair color maker for assistance.  Most of the major manufacturers have a toll free consumer help line printed on the box or on the brochure inside.

The consumer help lines are usually only available during daytime business hours. Some of the help line consultants will require the exact hair color formula information.  Be sure to have the box available to answer any questions that they may have.

Platinum Blonde

Haircolor by Henry Amador
Photo by Gregory Paul
All Rights Reserved.

It is important to note that other consumer hair consultants will probably not be able to provide any detailed email or phone assistance since the best source of color correction assistance will come directly from the home hair color manufacturer.

There are some cases where serious mistakes will require you to find a color professional to help correct the problem. Although a bad hair color experience can be heart breaking, there is nothing worse than a color disaster that becomes even worse and causes hair loss or permanent cuticle damage.

Actions To Avoid 

Although you may feel that you can do a miracle fix with the color, at home yourself, historical evidence in not in your favor unless you utilized a vegetable, semi or demi-permanent color.  If you used a permanent color or a bleach product, it is best to try and get professional help from the manufacturer or an outside color expert. 

While there are color removing products available to professionals stylist and color experts, unless you have a complete knowledge of how to use the formulas, avoid them like the plague.  The color removal products often contain strong chemicals or bleach and in the wrong hands they can cause severe hair breakage.  Color removal products should never be used on relaxed or permed hair without the advice of a hair expert.  

Quick Fixes 

Model With
Bleached Tresses

Haircolor by Henry Amador
Photo by Gregory Paul
All Rights Reserved.

The only way to remove permanent hair color is with a color removal product.  Depending on the color that you selected, you may be able to cover the permanent color with a semi or demi-color.  Enlist the advise of the color manufacturer before you start experimenting with different coverage shades or you could wind up with the color of mud.

If your visions of Pamela Lee blonde turned to Carrot Top orange, only a color expert can safely get you back to a safe color zone.  The same is true for purple, pink, blue or some green.  

Some chlorine enhanced greens can be removed with a special chlorine removal shampoo. When all else fails, try the tomato juice soak.  The red in the juice will neutralize the green in many cases.

Many people have color disasters with henna.  Not only does henna coat the hair, it is highly unpredictable for some users. If a horrid shade of henna is haunting you, reach for good old fashioned mineral oil.  A colorist told me to follow these directions to lessen or even remove henna from the hair:

1.Saturate hair strands with a mixture of 70% alcohol applied with sterile cotton balls.  Avoid the scalp area.

2. Follow 5-10 minutes later with a coating of mineral oil.  Apply the mineral oil on top of the 70% alcohol. Avoid the scalp area.

3. Cover your new oily head with Saran or similar plastic.  A plastic shower cap will also work well.  

4. Sit under a hood dryer for 30-45 minutes.

If you don't have a hood dryer, direct a heat concentrator towards the hair from your blow dryer. 

Platinum Blonde

Haircolor by Henry Amador
Photo by Gregory Paul
All Rights Reserved.

5. To remove the oil apply a little shampoo to the palms of your hands and then pat on the oil BEFORE you apply water.  After you have applied the shampoo to the oil areas, turn on the shower and lather.  Use a good cleansing or clarifying shampoo. You may need to shampoo more than once to remove all the oil and the henna.  If necessary, repeat as needed.

6. Once you have removed the henna, be sure to perform deep conditioning treatments to restore moisture to the hair.

When in doubt about henna, don't do it.  Take your time and do lots of research to be sure you are on the right track to desired color results.

Here are some other ways to recover from the horrors of bad color:

1. Time heals all hair color wounds

Although you may hate your new color, if neither home or professional correction are an option, consider going shorter with a new style that will allow you to outgrow the color quickly.  Ask your stylist to help you select a style that minimizes any new roots or growth.  Give yourself some time to let the color fade naturally away. 

2. Heat to fade

Hot water is notorious for fading chemically colored hair.  Some volume shampoos and gels like Matrix Amplify and related products may also help fade color faster because it is designed to blow open the hair cuticle which sometimes accelerates hair color loss.

Hot extra virgin olive oil and some commercial oil treatments will also help to strip chemically applied color.  An old trick of colorists is to shampoo with Prell shampoo which is known for its color striping talents.

Model With
Bleached Tresses

Haircolor by Henry Amador
Photo by Gregory Paul
All Rights Reserved.

Don't assume that it will remove your unwanted hues.  It will help fade your color which may or may not be a good thing.  While this may or may not be a good option for quickly moving past unwanted temporary or demi-perm colors, it may actually accentuate a bad shade on permanently applied color.

3. Make lemonade out of lemons

Yes, I know it sounds sappy, but I really believe that when life gives you lemons, you can have fun making lemonade. Being positive really helps in any bad situation, including sporting a head of pink and purple hues when you wanted cookies and cream.

Not only does positive thinking and actions make you feel better, it gives you the opportunity to learn new ways to appreciate your hair.  

Set aside some private time, drag out all your hair styling tools and play with some new looks that can help you pass the time while your horrible hue grows out.  Styling products like volume enhancing mousse or extra strength gel can work wonders on instantly changing limp locks into luscious fat locks.  A good straightening or defrisant balm can remove the frizzies for a smooth, sleek shiny cap and help you to forget that it just happens to be slightly orange.

Experiment with hot rollers or styling irons to achieve a different texture and movement.  

4. Pop a pill

No, hair vitamins will not instantly help you outgrow a bad dye job.  However, it will help maximize your genetic hair growth rate and to help you grow super healthy new strands and leave bad color behind. Consider adding a good essential fatty acid to your daily vitamin count which will help to internally condition new strands.

5. Accessorize

Use hair clips, barrettes, jeweled hairpins and headbands to camouflage uneven color.  Grab the latest fashion headgear as a last resort and only if you really must.  

6. Get out of the house

Avoid the temptation to let your bad hair color experience prevent you from enjoying your life.  Don't pass up a special social event just because your hair looks less than perfect.  Spend some time before the event practicing some cool ways to equalize your color challenged hair.

Sometimes color shampoos will help soften the blow of bad colors.  No, it won't change them, but it might make you feel better. Then go out and enjoy yourself.

7. Offer to be a hair model

If you can't afford color correction services you may want to call around to the local cosmetology colleges to see if they need a model to teach color correction on. 

Although it's a long shot, you never know when a school may want to use your head to teach their students what can happen with bad hair color results.

8. Once burned

Surviving one really bad hair color experience should help you avoid them in the future.  Always make sure that you have a pre-color consultation with your stylist and that you believe you are both on the same hair page. 

Take photos of your desired hues since stylists work well with a visual view to guide them. Once the color begins, watch carefully.  If you think the color process is going wrong, instantly stop the process.  If your head or scalp starts to sting or burn speak up immediately.  Remember, it is your hair and you have to live with it.  Don't be shy, speak up and leave if you must.

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Original Publication Date: 06/01/2002 - Revised Date:  05/03/11

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