It's a hair problem, too.
April 24, 2012 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Can I solve dark hair dye buildup by getting ombré coloring done in a salon, and then maintain it by doing my roots at home?

I've been dyeing my hair brown. At the roots, it looks great, very close to my natural color.

At the ends, it's a different story. I just did not anticipate how awful the buildup would be. I started by doing the whole length. Then, chastened, I started doing the roots only and spreading it to the ends during the last 10 minutes.

The effect is still awful. It looks fake, lurid and horribly ageing.

I have been growing my hair for eleven years now and it is finally below shoulder blade length. Cutting it all off is not an option.

So, would it help if I got an ombré color treatment in a salon and after that maintained the roots and only the roots?
posted by tel3path to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes, you can! Also, if you get your hair done at the salon, make sure you find out the shade they use (like 7N or 6A or whatever), and you can buy the store version of that color. Frequently, going one shade lighter than your natural shade actually ends up looking more "natural" in practice.

You can also buy highlighting hair-color and apply highlights, which is a sneaky way to help soften the extremes and blur the line between the over-dyed build-up and the more natural color you prefer.
posted by misha at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2012

Have the salon strip all the color out and start over. Condition the crap out of your hair for a few months (try not to shampoo it, just condition and leave in conditioner). Trim the split ends regularly and in 2-4 months your hair should look decent again. In future don't even run the color through your ends for 10 minutes and switch to demi permanent if its an option.

Been there done that!
posted by fshgrl at 11:33 AM on April 24, 2012

I've been doing my hair all kinds of ways at home for years, and have a similar problem right now except that my roots are ashy blonde and the ends are dark, dirty, built-up auburn.

Stripping the color may be an option depending on how damaged your hair is - if it's already fried I wouldn't do it (at least not to the whole head). Doing an ombre' treatment is going to require some sort of bleach or stripping anyway on the ends, but if the ends are already damaged and ick and you're willing to risk it, I think it would probably work - to an extent. Keep in mind that it's probably still not going to look super healthy on the most fried part. You're going to definitely need to deep condition the lighter section like crazy, and watch out for icky discoloration/greenish tint/etc... but it might look better than the dingy brown buildup.

For the roots, I definitely second switching to demi-permanent - especially if the dye isn't too dramatically different from your natural color. I switched six months ago (due to fried hair) and the difference in damage and buildup between permanent and demi is pretty amazing.
posted by celtalitha at 12:04 PM on April 24, 2012

I have done the "go to a salon and have them strip out all existing dye and dye your hair more or less its natural color" thing with jet-black dye and purple/blue streaks. My hair is super-resilient, so it didn't get too straw-like or damaged, but you should talk with the salon folks about whether your hair (and your scalp*) is up to it. If so, it's a great reboot.

*My scalp is far more fragile than my hair, so that was a bit of a o_O experience, as I had a couple of weeks of really extreme flaking.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on April 24, 2012

I mean, my hair was black and purple and blue and I had them take all that out and make it reddish brown again.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:21 PM on April 24, 2012

My colorist does what she calls a "mini" meaning that for $15 she does my roots, hairline and sends me home in a shower cap, to rinse myself. It's so much better than when I did it. But if your's won't do this, get the exact formula , buy the exact same color products and do the roots yourself. Every 3 months or so, go in for the works.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

That is awesome ideefixe. I want your stylist!
posted by fshgrl at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2012

If you've only dyed it darker, you can strip the colour out yourself & then go in with a clean slate. Color Oops is like 14$ a bottle, smells like death & removes all non-veggie dyes without damaging your hair.
posted by Krushchev at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: as a professional who receintly did what you want to do, receintly, I would go to a professional. I had a realy hard time getting the color out of my ends, and im a pro. It took five applications of bleach, and i did it so i didn't have to cut the legnth. I'm still not the color i want but closer, and i did it over a peroiod of several days, then, wore a silk scarf on my head at night as not to damage the cuticle. In the day, I wore a hat. Your hair can only take so much, and if you want to get the dark out of the ends, you must procede with bleach, and a very low developer, like 5 or 10 volume. Only on the ends, because your roots come up so much faster as they are not processed to the extent to which your ends are, and the heat comming from your scalp processes it fast! So what you may use on your ends to get your altimate color, is not what u will use on your roots to obtain the same result. By all means DO NOT USE HEAT or go under a drier to lift the ends, or you will have to cut your ends off. I hope this helps. If you have questions, feel free to memail me.
posted by brittaincrowe at 3:30 PM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: I already had a color-strip done, last year, and my hair is very thin and fine and damageable. It tangles like crazy, I live in a hard-water area, and even with the richest conditioner I can find it takes 7 minutes of combing to hack the knots out of it after every shampoo. So I'm going to rule out the color-strip for now.

In general I don't want to massacre my hair more than strictly necessary, or do anything that might inflame a hairdresser's zeal to cut it all off. That's how it took me 11 years to grow my hair this long in the first place (that, and "trimming the split ends regularly" - I finally wised up and reduced that to once a year). If I cut any more length off, I won't live long enough to get my hair to the length I want it. So, no cutting, no damaging in such a way as to bring Sweeney Todd out of the woodwork.

Another thing I considered was a bleach wash - bleach powder mixed only with water, left on for 30 minutes. I've successfully used this to brighten red tones in the past. Would this help my current situation? If so, should it go on my whole head, or just the ends?
posted by tel3path at 4:11 AM on April 25, 2012

Best answer: I don't know if this'll work for sure, but when I ended up with darker deposited color than I wanted and couldn't afford professional remediation, my hairstylist told me to buy a bottle of Prell shampoo, work quite a lot of it into damp hair, and let it sit for a half-hour to an hour, then rinse. Prell is really strong stuff, shampoo-wise, but not as harsh as a stripper. It worked quite well for me in terms of getting the color out, and she told me if it didn't work the first time, I could wash with it regularly until it got to where I wanted.
posted by jocelmeow at 11:15 AM on April 25, 2012

Response by poster: So, about a month ago I had this done and the results look much more natural than before.

The hairdresser followed it with a gloss at 6.0 and he told me to wait two weeks before doing a 6.0 at home, roots only. He said from now on I should only do the roots, unless the colour wears off the ends to the extent that they start looking really light, which could happen in 5 or 6 months' time, and in that case, I could work the colour into the ends for the last 5 minutes.

Previously I had been using 5.3, but I hadn't realized the buildup would be so nasty. At first, the 6.0 looked almost the same as the 5.3 had, but it now seems to have gotten a lot lighter - the instructions and label were in Arabic so I may have accidentally picked up a semi-permanent instead of a permanent color, not really sure what happened there, but my gray roots are shining through more than they should so I suspect impermanence. Either way, it looks really good.
posted by tel3path at 3:43 PM on May 28, 2012

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