Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

How Do I Transition From Dark Black To Light Brunette?

[caption id="attachment_517" align="alignleft" width="167" caption="Katy Perry With Raven Black Hair"]Katy Perry With Raven Black Hair


Dear Karen,

My natural hair color is a light brunette.  Over the past two years I have repeatedly colored my hair with the darkest black permanent shade I could find.  I wanted my hair to be vampire black.

Unfortunately I have gotten tired of the black hair color but don't seem to be making any dents removing the color myself.  I want to get back to my natural color or even lighter.

I recently went to see a hair color correction expert since my own stylist told me she couldn't easily remove the black color from my hair.  The color correction expert told me that it would not be easy to remove the black and it might take weeks, if not months to restore my hair color to its original lighter brunette.

Is the color correction expert correct?   Why would it take so long to remove the black?

Although I haven't had any luck getting the black out of my hair I'm thinking that if you could suggest a color removal product which works I could handle this color removal at home.


[caption id="attachment_518" align="alignright" width="165" caption="Katy Perry Raven Black Medium Length Hair"]Katy Perry Raven Black Medium Length Hair


Dear Sandra,

Your color correction expert is correct.  It can take a long time to completely remove black from hair which is naturally much lighter.

Removing very dark hair colors, like black, is never easy.  Nor is it predictable.  Some color correction experts won't even undertake the process.  Others may require you to sign an agreement excusing the colorist or the salon from any liability in the case of damage which may occur during the long hair dye removal process.

Case in point?  Popster Katy Perry who visited famed colorist Rita Hazan in New York to go from her trademark raven black to a light golden blonde.  Not only did it take several visits and many weeks in between shades, Rita made sure that Katy's hair was not damaged in the process.

If your color correction expert is willing to work with you I would definitely go that route.  If you try to remove the color at home, even with the stronger color removal products on the market, you risk doing major damage to your strands.  Plus there is no guarantee you would be successful after risking major damage.

[caption id="attachment_519" align="alignleft" width="165" caption="Katy Perry With Long Blue Hair"]Katy Perry With Long Blue Hair

The reason it can take so long to transition from black hair to light or medium brunette is that the hair has to first be treated with a special un-color product for stain removal from the hair.  Although a color removal product will start the transition process, it may not remove much of the black color.

After a color stain removal product has been applied many color correction specialists will then begin the tedious process of lightening individual strands with a professional hair lightener applied with foils.  The individual strands will have to be watched closely and then immediately rinsed.

The newly lightened sections may or may not be light enough.  If not, the lightening process will have to be repeated until the proper lightness is achieved.

Preventing Damage Inbetween Highlighting Sessions

In between the lightening process the strands need to be deep conditioned to prevent damage.  When the hair is lightened to the proper level a toner or colored glaze will be applied to lock in the final tone.

As you can imagine, this is a tedious project which takes a lot of time and can't be rushed without risk of severe damage or not being able to remove the black dye stains.

[caption id="attachment_520" align="alignright" width="213" caption="Katy Perry As Blonde"]Katy Perry As Blonde

Some color correction experts will require you to come back to the salon over a period of several weeks to allow your hair to assimilate the various lightening stages and recover before proceeding.

Also, a reputable color expert will not guarantee you a final color, but will do their best to get you close.  Be patient and have trust in your color correction expert to help you transition from the darkest black to a light golden blonde.

Although many people are not aware of the fact that it's much more difficult to go from black to blonde than the reverse, this is indeed the truth.

Best wishes,

Karen Marie Shelton


By submitting your question, you grant full permission to to publish it. Due to the volume of mail we receive, Karen regrets that she cannot respond to every question personally.

To AskKaren a question, send an e-mail to: [email protected]

Social Media Network Information

Please follow us on Twitter at: I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets.

New On
Active HairTalk Threads
Wanna talk?
HairTalk® is the place for you!
Recent Topics:
Quick Poll
Do you prefer stars with short hair?
View Results
Daily Hair Tip
Tease your hair with a baby comb or toothbrush. The small bristles add lots of volume to small sections of hair.
Top Gallery Images