How to flawlessly fix a hair dye disaster

October 22, 2014

If your last dye job was a disaster, don't despair. There are ways to fix worst hair colour failures, whether they're the result of a bad trip to the salon or a DIY attempt gone awry.

How to flawlessly fix a hair dye disaster

Act right away

The sooner you act on a hair colour failure, the better. It takes between 48 and 72 hours for most dyes to set, so acting immediately makes it easier to undo some of the damage.

In the first 48 hours

If you're within the first 48-hour window, here are a few steps you can take to remedy any failed hair colour (other than bleach) right away.

  1. If your failed dye job was done by a professional, contact him/her and arrange to have it fixed. If it was a DIY dye job, read on.
  2. Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo or use a dish detergent. Both are abrasive and will strip some of the colour out of your hair. Apply the shampoo (or detergent), lather and leave it in for 10 minutes, then rinse. Repeat.
  3. Apply a hot oil treatment. A commercial treatment or hot extra virgin olive oil will do.

If the above steps don't remedy the dye disaster, or if it has been longer than 48 hours, try one of these other ways to fix the most common dye disasters.

Carrot top

If your hair has turned bright orange, chances are you didn't leave the dye on long enough.

  • To fix it, colour your hair with a demi-permanent dye in an ash blonde shade.
  • The blue overtones should lessen the brassiness of the red and the light blonde shade should take the fire out of it a bit.
  • Your hair will still be red, just a more subdued shade.

Highlights gone (very) wrong

If you were trying to add some subtle highlights and ended up with thick stripes instead, fear not, it can be fixed. Choose a demi-permanent dye in a shade close to your natural hair colour and use it to re-dye your hair.

  • If the highlights (or stripes) are red, look for a blue-based dye (the word "ash" or "natural" will probably appear on the box) to counteract the brassy tones when you re-dye.

Green with envy

If your blonde dye job wound up turning green, soak your hair in tomato sauce. The red should cancel out the green and restore your blonde tone.

  • If that doesn't quite do the job, you can try a swimmer's shampoo, which is specifically designed to remove chlorine.
  • If your hair is still green after all that, you can re-dye it with a warm-toned demi-permanent dye to balance the blue pigments that are combining with your blonde hair to give the greenish tinge.
  • Make sure it's a warm shade, not a blue-based shade, or you'll wind up making the problem worse.

When all else fails

If all else fails, you may consider cutting your hair to minimize the damage. The shorter your hair, the sooner the colour will grow out. Pixie cut, anyone?

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