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Common Hair Color Problems & Fixes


Kylie Bax All rights reserved

One of the most common hair traumas involves hair color problems and how to fix them.

I have personally lived on both side of the hair color street. For many years in my quest to be very blonde, I was addicted to Clairol's Nice n Easy one step blonding home hair color kit.

I had the normal problems with using the product including overlapping new root color with old color, damaged ends and sometimes my hair would take the color at the roots, but turn out too dark or too light. You name it, I've experienced it.

In the mid 1980s when I got serious about growing my hair longer, my hairdresser insisted on chopping off several inches of my chronically Nice n Easy blonde enhanced strands. The ends were in terrible shape and my hair had gotten too blonde with uneven patches of yucky color.

He convinced me to stop the all-over-the-head process and transition to lots of highlights around my hairline with some lowlights to balance the color.

Transitioning From Allover Color To Highlights/Lowlights

Although initially resistant, he was right after two years of careful work, my hair color looked great and my ends started to grow.

Until a major hair color disaster at the hands of Laurie in 2005, my blonde tresses consistently looked natural and was very healthy. I continued to trust a professional with my color until my 2005 salon color disaster destroyed my hard won trust.

Kylie Bax All rights reserved

During the many years I was addicted to Nice n Easy and the years I trusted Matrix SoColor I started to keep a log of hair color issues. It is by far the most common question I receive at Askkaren. It is also a popular topic on The HairTalk boards.

Whenever I met a professional hair color expert I besiege them with questions hoping to find more inspiration to share with the many DIYers in the hair color world.

I also know that sometimes even professional hair colorists have their challenges and try to gather as much hair color information as possible.

Listed below are some of the most common hair color problems that may occur both in the salon and at home. I know I have not covered everything, but I plan to keep adding to this list.

Hair Color At Temples Or Hair Line Is Too Dark Compared To Rest Of The Head

This is a problem that I experienced when using Nice n Easy. This problem occurs when hair around the face, hairline or at the temples absorbs the color that is applied, but it is much too dark.

The solution involves adding a lightener and applying only to the area that is too dark. This can be a little tricky and really should be handled by a professional hair colorist to avoid any of the lightener overlapping to the rest of the hair.

If you wish to do this at home, it is best to have a friend help you so that they can keep a very close eye on the lightening product you select.

Clairol Professional, which is available at Sally's makes a very good lightening gel kit known as Complement Lightening Gel. This hair color product designed to be used by professional hair colorists is advertised by Clairol as moisture-rich with ProVitaminB5 and hydrolyzed silk protein for shiny protective action.

This lightener is designed to be used on the scalp for all-over double-process blonding.

Clairol recommends the Complement Lightening Gel for a variety of hair color designs and techniques. It can also be used for tresses which are too dark at the roots or around the temples.

Kylie Bax All rights reserved

What To Do:

  1. Buy Clairol Professional Complements Lightening Gel at Sally Beauty or similar location.
  2. Purchase 20 volume developer. When in doubt ask the folks at Sally Beauty for a similar recommendation.
  3. Mix the Complements Lightener with the 20 volume developer.
  4. Apply to the target area of the temple or roots which is too dark.
  5. Check the area with the lightener constantly because it can lighten quickly. This is why it is important to have a friend help you by constantly watching the lightener.
  6. Rinse the area with lukewarm water and shampoo with a color safe formula.

  7. Mix the desired hair color formula use a shade which is approximately 1 or 2 shades lighter than your overall hair color.

  8. Apply the hair color formula to the newly lightened area.

For future reference, when applying hair color to the hair, dilute the formula with a lighter color before applying to the sides, roots and temple areas.

Hair Color Turns Undesirable Colors

One of the problems which often occurs is combating undesirable hair colors ranging from the common green to orange, blue, pink, purple red and bright yellow.

What To Do:

Yes, it happens all the time but there are many ways to fix it.

1. Consult with a hair color professional to prevent even more damage. If you can't go to a pro colorist, consider going to a high quality cosmetology school for a reduced rate consultation. They may or may not be able to help but it's a great start. 2. Call the toll free consumer hair color hot line for the brand you purchased. You will need to have the box available to provide information on the color you purchased. 3. Neutralize green hair by using a red based shampoo, toner or if appropriate, a hair color. Do not apply a new hair color unless you are advised to do so by an expert. 4. Even out orange or brassy hues with a violet based shampoo and/or hair color. 5. Blue hair will be balanced with an orange based shampoo or hair color. 6. Excessive red hair responds well to ash or green based shampoo or colors. 7. Undesirable yellow hues usually can be neutralized with violet based shampoo products. Some haircolor experts believe beige can work but this can be a little trickier. 8. When in doubt about how to neutralize any unwanted color refer to the color wheel.

Green Hair Color May Not Be What You Think

Kylie Bax All rights reserved

A common misconception about hair color that turns green is that it's because of chlorine in the water or the pool. While it's true that sometimes chlorine can turn some hair colors green, it can also occur because of other chemicals in the water supply or with water which is delivered from a well system. It may also be related to the water pipes.

What To Do:

1. Determine the true cause of the green color. Is it in your water system or is it some other cause? 2. If the problem is in your water system, consider washing hair with distilled water for a few weeks to see if the problem stops. If it does, consider adding a water filtration system. 3. If using distilled water does not eliminate the problem investigate other possible causes such as medications, allergic reactions to food or some other possible cause. 4. When hair is turning green due to exposure to pool chemicals, be sure to rinse hair with distilled water before getting into the pool, wear a watertight hat and rinse hair immediately upon leaving pool after removing pool gear. 5. Experiment with shampoo products containing a red base or discuss the option of applying a red toner with your hair color professional. 6. Work with a professional colorist to neutralize green. 7. Some people with green hair have found immediately results by rinsing hair in red tomato paste. 8. Clarifying shampoo products may work sometimes but they can be very drying. Use infrequently. 9. Apply equal parts of hair bleach, developer and regular shampoo together. Apply to wet hair and allow to remain for up to 2 minutes. In most cases the green will dissolve. Rinse hair well and apply conditioner to restore lost moisture.


Hair color problems can be a challenge to resolve. When in doubt always visit a hair color correction professional for assistance.

- Revised Date: 01/11/12

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