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Author: Karen Marie Shelton -
Originally Posted on: November 1st, 2011 at 1:50 am
Last Revised: November 1, 2011
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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.


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.

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.

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

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2 Responses to "How Do I Transition From Dark Black To Light Brunette?"
  • […] How Do I Transition From Dark Black To Light Brunette … – How Do I Transition From Dark Black To Light Brunette? Removing very dark hair colors, like black, is never easy nor predictable. […]

  • Sue July 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    It’s good advice, but if you have very strong hair, it’s extremely possible to go from black to blonde at home. I’ve been dying my naturally level-8 blonde hair to blue-black on and off since 1989. Sometimes, I decide “enough” and go blonde again. I have chin-length bobbed hair, generally and would not recommend this on longer dyed hair.

    A few years ago, my hair was quite long for the first time ever, so I decided to go to a friend who is one of the top hair dresser’s in my area. I spent $600 USD removing the black over three sessions and wound up with a long bob. She said my hair was very tough even though it is actually fine. She simply bleached it with foils, checked it, and toned it. A few months later, I wanted it platinum, bleached it at home and toned it white. It was easily a level 11/12.

    It’s really just a matter of noting if your hair is damaged as you proceed. I am going to lift mine today, thus my writing this post. It will go blonde. I have no doubts about it. If you’ve only dyed it once, it’s especially easy, and likewise, if you are careful to only redye roots and not your entire head, it’s easy too. It’s also easier to life “natural black” or “soft black” than blue black or black. I have an inch of natural root growth right now that I definitely want to avoid lifting, so I will be using foils along with a high-level bleach powder from Sally Beauty supply mixed with 40 vol. peroxide. I will paint this onto the bottoms and front where the dye seems to take the most first. Every five minutes, I will check it. I am guessing it will take around 45 mins. to an hour. Then I will rinse it and tone it with a Highest Lifting Blonde in a cool shade to counter the bleachy-weird orange color (my hair never bleaches white even though I’m naturally baby blonde, but it can easily be TONED white, which is nice! And then I can easily maintain the tone with a purple-based shampoo in case I feel like a Marilyn Monroe thing… sometimes I go a sandier ash blonde too, which is darker than my real color by flattering).

    The only time I’ve ever had any problem lifting color at home was when I dyed it dark red/burgundy for a summer with a permanent dye that constantly faded. That was awful and I over-lifted it, bleaching three times until the ends did get a bit mushy and had to be cut. And it was STILL peachy mixed with luminescent bleach banana color.

    My strongest recommendation for blondes who want to go raven but may later want to lift it is really to be careful about how you dye it, using a “soft black” with a low-volume peroxide, like a 10, for 20-25 minutes, and then the same for root growth. When I’m careful and do that instead of using a box dye, it’s very, very easy to lift. In the sad event that I’ve gotten desperate and used Feria or something, or worse, dyed it a few times over, it’s much more stubborn.

    I’ve tried using a color remover once instead of bleach, and it turned deep burgundy, and that was that. I had to redye it to black since it must look relatively natural for my work.

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