Get this light red out of my hair!
April 14, 2009 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Good professional hair color turned into revolting light red a month later. Want to get back to original color at-home. What to do?

I'm going to use this as a guide.

My natural hair color is something along the "Walnut" color at the top, just a normal brown color, not dark, but not too light, either. In January I had it professionally colored to a beautiful dark brown / red color, (the mixture was half dark brown and half red) and it looked fantastic--for about a couple of weeks. Now, in April, it is fading to this increasingly light red color which looks hideous against my pale white / hazel eye color combination (I'm "cool," if that helps at all). It looks like a lighter version of "Terra Cotta" on the third row.

I'm out of the country and would really prefer an at-home remedy to this, and I do have access to hair color boxes. My roots have been growing in since January, and I probably have about an inch and a half of roots growing.

I'm concerned that if I attempt to color it further, it will be on top of the light red, and just compound the problem. I would really like to get rid of the light red altogether. I am a total neophyte to hair color in general. Any advice? Is there anything I can do to take the color out? I use a volumizing shampoo, which I was told lifted color (I did not use this at the onset of my coloring job, but avoided it like the plague).

Also: I have fine hair.
posted by Dukat to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would see another professional. A dye job over a dye job shouldn't be done at home, box or home remedy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:15 AM on April 14, 2009

This happened to me. I called my stylist and he fixed it for free. You should call your stylist and find out what he/she suggests. Even if they cant' fix it, they're most familiar with your hair and can recommend the bast at-home solution.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2009

I've used Color Oops before to correct hair color. It worked pretty well for me and I was able to re-color my hair afterward.

I dye my hair a lot and wear it short/ textured so I don't have to deal with the potential damaging effects of all of the processes I put it through. Keep in mind that all hair reacts differently...
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 9:17 AM on April 14, 2009

Unfortunately, red dye fades. That's just the way it is. I color my hair red and I have it done every four weeks. I would suggest going to another professional, especially since it's red and you could end up with some nasty brassiness. The problem with coloring it at home is that the previously dyed part may take the color differently than the roots.
posted by thejanna at 9:50 AM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if you want to do any color lifting, let a pro do it. There's so very much that can go wrong with that, it's crazy. The only way to totally lift the color is to bleach it. Permanent hair color has the bleach already in it. If you managed to lift it, the hair underneath wouldn't be your natural color anyway; it would probably be white or a light, weird yellowish shade. If you want to just color over it, you'd probably want to go with a medium dark, ash-toned brown to cover and counteract the red. I've colored my hair a thousand times, at home over pro and in reverse, and never had anything truly horrifying happen. But then, my hair is pretty short and I'm pretty fearless, so for your peace of mind, maybe avoid doing it yourself.

That said, I don't think what happened to your color is exactly the result of something messing up or going wrong. As I've said in previous hair color threads, in more than 10 years as a fake redhead of a variety of shades and tones, if I've learned anything it's that any dye job with red pigment in it fades like nobody's business. Lighter tones lose luster and warmth, but I've had darker, burgandy reds fade to pale reds similar to what you describe countless times. A stylist once told me that it's because the pigment molecules are bigger than any other color and thus don't adhere to the hair as well.

After more than eight weeks without a refresh, it's not surprising that the color faded so much. Fake red hair is really kind of a commitment. What sucks is that most stylists don't bother telling you that before they color.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:57 AM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did you go somewhere that is very sunny? That is likely part of your problem- and so is using regular shampoo. Red hair requires a LOT of maintenance and going three months between dye jobs is asking for brassiness. In general it's not a good idea to mess with it at home or to go to a salon you don't know or trust to deal with it.

If you must do something at home (absolutely, no option, must) then I'd use an ammonia-free semi-permanent color in your natural color to temporarily cover the brassiness and wait until you can get to a salon to do something permanent. Stay out of the sun.

The most important thing to remember is that the treated parts of your hair will not react like regular hair- they sound somewhat bleached which means they are going to absorb a lot more dye- if you go for a dark brown permanent color you may well end up with jet black hair from the roots down. The other thing to remember is to never, never, never, never attempt to strip red dye from your hair at home. Ever, ever. Unless you like pink.
posted by fshgrl at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2009

You can't lift the color - do NOT use a color lifter, repeat, do not - because it's already gone. What happened is that the red faded. It's no longer there and what you're seeing underneath is the result of the bleaching that happened along with the remnants of the red dye. The bleaching was part of the process: dye doesn't just sit on top of your natural hair color; your hair has to be stripped a bit to accept the dye.

I am going to second what fshgrl & mostlymartha are saying: try a dark dye in something close to your regular color. Follow the instructions that say "For touchup" and leave it on the roots much longer than on the bleached out ends.

For future reference, always use shampoo & conditioner for color treated hair. Otherwise reds will fade like crazy. My hair has some red in it naturally so I can get by between, um, freshening treatments (my hair also has a bunch of gray in it naturally now, blah) longer than most people - I usually go about 3 - 4 months between dye jobs - but I also credit the shampoos.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:03 AM on April 14, 2009

Have been dying my hair red for the better part of 20 years now, all different kinds of shades (hey, Mom figured letting a 14 year old dye her hair funny colors was better than, say, piercings)... red ALWAYS fades, and two-tone hair colors are fun at the time but never last and have to be planned for in advance. (I speak from very recent experience, having had salon-produced violet stripes on a blonde background in January before just slapping red dye on top at home once the roots came in).

You should, especially if you're going to keep it up with the red, look into getting red-hair-specific shampoo and conditioner. Aveda's madder shampoo/etc for redheads often helps me hold my color longer.

Color Oops might help if you want to take out some of the color, and I'll second everyone above who said putting box color on top of salon dye can be a baaaad idea, but if you're stuck, it's better than nothing. Pick a darker (or "redder" red, as in "more Crayola, less copper") red, leave it on a little longer than the directions say (and hit it with a few hairdryer blasts while it's processing) and you should be ok. My hair is fine like yours, so I know this has worked for me in the past...
posted by at 11:06 AM on April 14, 2009

For future reference: if you want your expensive color not to fade, use shampoo that does not contain sodium laurel sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Most shampoos have SLS's, even the $20 "color protecting" ones. I use shi-kai shampoo, super-gentle, from the health food store that's around $8 a bottle, and my stylist always comments on how much longer my color - yes, usually a red tone - lasts compared to the rest of her clients. Any really gentle shampoo that contains no SLS's will help keep the color better than anything else. Even better than Pureology, which is about 3x the price. It took me years to figure this out.

Good luck.
posted by 8dot3 at 4:12 PM on April 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

After thinking about this for a while I have an Idea that should work in one step. find a "cool dark blonde" (level 6) ( (6A) ) natural ash, Darkest ash blonde) standard permanent haircolor.
The trick, when you mix the color only use 1/2 of the developer (this minimizes lifting and concentrates the pigment) apply to your regrowth without swamping the roots, let it go on your uncolored hair 7 to 10 min, then using gloves pull it through your hair and let it go for a for another 10 minutes, work up the color with water rinse shampoo condition, judge after it dries. This is based on a professional technique called color concentration
posted by hortense at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey, thanks for all your help!!! After collecting this advice I bought an ash brown colored box and ended up a very dark brown--but the red is gone and I am much, much happier with this color (it looks far more natural) than with my red. I think I'll stay away from red in the future until I'm ready to maintain it. I think, for my first at-home color job, it went quite well! Thanks again!
posted by Dukat at 2:25 AM on April 15, 2009

I should have bolded the word blonde! Dark blonde is one step lighter then Light brown. If you saved the other 1/2 of your developer you can use it with shampoo and a cotton ball to loosen up the darker areas of the hair, avoid getting it on the previously red sections. Just around your face if you need to as your natural hair appears. :)
posted by hortense at 10:02 PM on April 15, 2009

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