Make me light ash blonde again
February 11, 2013 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Absolute haircolor disaster at the salon happened, perhaps somebody can help me pick up the pieces?

I just want to preface this question by saying, I don't have the money to just go get it fixed at another salon, otherwise I would go do that right away.

What happened:
I have naturally dark ash blonde hair that I have been lightening to pale ash blonde since I was a teenager.

I recently went to a new salon to get my roots touched up. After she she bleached my hair she used "Paul Mitchell PM Shines" to tone it. She left the toner in too long and my hair turned purple. She freaked out, did a "french shampoo" (which I guess is shampoo plus bleach).

Now my hair has a reddish tint all over on top of blonde that looks terrible on me. I burst into tears whenever I see myself in the mirror.

I think what my hair needs is to be bleached again. I'm not sure when or if that is safe to do?

Can somebody help me sort out this mess?

posted by skjønn to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total)
Can that salon not correct it at their cost with another colourist?

Alternatively...dandruff shampoo MAY help a little bit.
posted by taff at 8:11 PM on February 11, 2013 [12 favorites]

Is there someone else (not the person who initally did the coloring) at the same salon who is a color specialist? Perhaps bringing this to the attention to the manager or owner of the salon and have someone correct it and certainly without charging you again?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 8:13 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah the owner of the salon should fix this at their own cost!
posted by fshgrl at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

You have got to make the salon correct this or give you a refund. Unacceptable!
posted by amycup at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2013

If someone fucked up your hair, most definitely call the salon, ask to speak to the owner, and tell them what happened. They should fix it, and don't be too shy to ask for a refund.
I worked front desk at a salon, and even though the team was good, people have off days and this is so far from unheard of in the industry.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:16 PM on February 11, 2013

The salon should fix their mistake for free, that has happened to me in the past and they were apologetic and got me in the next day to fix it.

Alternately, try to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo like The Neutrogena clear one, that may help wash out the toner.
posted by katypickle at 8:16 PM on February 11, 2013

She didn't charge me for it. My husband called the salon to ask about fixing it, and the other lady at the salon said "she's an independent contractor" and didn't offer to help unfortunately. I am scared to have this same lady work on my hair again :(
posted by skjønn at 8:17 PM on February 11, 2013

I'm sorry for this debacle. Nthing calling the salon and asking to speak to the owner, regardless of any claims about whether the person who worked on you is an "independent contractor." Someone owns the place, and I can't imagine they want their reputation harmed by someone using a chair in their establishment, regardless of their employment status.

Also, painful as it may be, I would also take photos and perhaps a short video of your hair, to document the problem. They may help convince the owner to do right by you.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:25 PM on February 11, 2013

I just verified via google that the lady my husband spoke to was the salon owner unfortunately. :(
posted by skjønn at 8:26 PM on February 11, 2013

Alright then, if you absolutely must do something to your hair, here's what you need to do

1)Wait. Your hair is in shock. Wait a week, preferably 2, before doing anything. In the meantime, treat it. Hair cholesterol is great, and can be found at ethnic haircare stores. Or walgreens in the ethnic section. If that's not an option, mayonnaise is good.
2)Get a clarifying shampoo. Preferably from a beauty supply store. If it's too expensive (i don't know how much your budget is for the fix, but most things come in travel size and that should be enough) Again, if you can't make it to a beauty store, the alternative is dandruff shampoo. Wash it, wait 3 days, do it again.
3)This time you really do have to go to a beauty supply store. You need a green toner. If they don't have green, start off with blue. I'd suggest just doing a small pice, for maybe 5 minutes, and try and see the direction the hair is going in. If it's getting less red, then great. If it's getting purple, Stop. If after blue-ing it, and it's still a bit off, try yellow.

I know it sounds complicated but really it's not. I have dark brown hair, it bleaches to orange/yellow, and I've made it platinum (ish- it's a process). You'll need a developer to go along with your toner, so just ask the person at the beauty store, and they'll be able to help.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:30 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ugh! Is it red as in bleachy-orange, or red as in red dye? If it's bleachy-orange (because she bleached out the toner), you can re-do a toner at home with a kit from a shop and it's quite easy (I do it all the time, and it's much much easier than actually BLEACHING your hair yourself.) Just don't leave it on very long!! Much better to do 2 or 3 very short rounds to get it right, than to overdo it and have it purple.
posted by celtalitha at 8:31 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

A lot of people seem to have good results by posting about bad customer service on twitter. Maybe the salon owner would behave differently in (internet) public?
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:31 PM on February 11, 2013

Call Paul Mitchell -- they'll be able to talk you through the necessary steps
posted by spunweb at 8:57 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

PM Shines is a demi permanent color. In other words, you can get this gone. You want to use clarifying shampoo or dandruff shampoo and let it set in your hair for a bit. Lather rinse repeat and repeat. You're going to need heavy conditioner. I would get Clairol Silver Lights conditioner. That's designed to take out brassy and red tones.

(The french shampoo was a mistake BTW. You don't want to take the overall color lighter. You only want to remove the toner.)
posted by 26.2 at 9:31 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd call the salon owner back and tell her you are calling the local papers and tv if she doesn't make it right. You aren't asking for anything more than they fix their screw up.
posted by pearlybob at 9:34 PM on February 11, 2013

Post reviews to Yelp and Google, with clear before & after hair color pictures.

For added emphasis: once you find a good colorist, update your review of the bad salon with the good colorist's name & tell everyone to see him/her instead.

Be strong and do not spend one more minute crying in front of the mirror.
posted by invisible ink at 10:31 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Clarifying shampoo, every day. heavy conditioner. Your hair is already damaged and the clarifying shampoo won't help, so no heat - no hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener - for the next month or so.
posted by amaire at 11:17 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

If I read your description correctly, the hairdresser did NOT re-apply toner after the "french shampoo" - am I correct.

If so, you are in luck!

Like someone mentioned above, I'm also wondering why you can't do another application of an at-home hair color in a neutralizing shade (the store bought comes with 20 vol peroxide, which is pretty weak) and be done with it.

Better? Use only half the box peroxide diluted with half water, bringing it down to 10 vol peroxide, mix with toner, apply to hair.

Spot check it, but I would not leave it on for the full 40 minutes, I'd start checking at 10 minutes.

Please post a pic of your hair here (you can blot out you face, or just take a pic of the damaged parts) so we can give better advice as to what shade of toner you might need to use. Call Paul Mitchell and ask their advice of toner shade, as well (more on that below!)

The fix is to apply toner again, no more stripping the color out with french shampoos or clarifying shampoo, which as far as I can tell is just the same thing, probably at different strengths of bleaching. This is bad bad bad because it strips out color without depositing color to neutralize the "off" color all of the other processes caused.


You'll likely have to go a bit darker to do this right with the toner you choose. They will advise you.

No to the clarifying shampoo. Yes to a weaker application of toner in the appropriate shade to fix this.

I've done worse and fixed it. The key is not to take anymore shots in the dark further damaging your tresses.

I'm sorry for your troubles. This is an easy fix. Call the professionals. They'll guide you.

Good luck!

PS - Do you know what brand and number of toner you usually use when it is done correctly? In most brands, for a light ash blonde effect, I'm usually a 9A (9 is the depth of color, 9 being very light, A is for Ash Blonde.) If you don't already have this important info memorized, write it down in the future. This way no matter who does your hair, you can tell them precisely what brand and what shade you prefer.

Knowing this number will help the folks at Paul Mitchell direct you to the correct toner to achieve the look you are after.

If the Paul Mitchell folks can't or won't help, call the help line on the back of the box on the at-home color brand you are considering to buy and ask them. All major brands offer phone customer service advice. They've heard it all.

You can also post here your proposed fix (brand, vol of peroxide, number designation of the toner) and ask advice before applying anything to your hair.

Yes, in the meantime do a deep conditioner. It can't hurt, and will likely help.

Advice to let your hair "rest" for a few days... I don't know. If there was a toner involved, it might help to let that hang out for a couple of days, as the color will change a bit from oxidizing, but since there is no toner on there right now (hence your natural red undertones on full display) I think putting a little color back in there is the best thing you can do.

Another color tip? Do not use hot water to rinse out the application or wash your hair ithe coming weeks. Hot water can strip our some of the initial application, and that is not the effect you are looking for.

Switch to a non-sulfate shampoo IMMEDIATELY. The sulfate (salt) damages your hair. You hair is not in great shape right now, so protect what you've got. Ditto no hair drying.

Lastly, it sounds like you are doing a double process (bleaching than depositing color) - is this necessary? Are you naturally very dark?

If your hair is dark blonde, but definitely blonde, I don't see a need for a double process. You might want to explore this alternative with a more experienced colorist down the road, FYI...

Looking forward to seeing your pics and hearing about the professional advice you've gotten. Again, good luck.
posted by jbenben at 1:47 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Digging into the memory banks, I definitely fixed something like this with an application of toner and plus a vol 20 vol peroxide diluted down to 5 vol peroxide, so really, no need to go crazy with the developer strength.

I used to know exactly what shade of toner fixed what, but I've forgotten. Sorry.

I do know the red you are seeing is a little of the undertone of the toner, but mostly, it is the natural red undertones of your natural hair color. Again, the right toner with the right strength developer will fix this.
posted by jbenben at 1:56 AM on February 12, 2013

Nthing Clairol's Shimmer Lights shampoo, which will tone down some of the redness while you figure out a permanent solution. I used this stuff more than once when the double process went red on my hair instead of when the requested ash-blonde range. As someone else upthread said, if your natural color is in the ash range already, you shouldn't need a double process of added color.

Would the salon and/or colorist consider reimbursing you for the cost for going to a hair ER elsewhere?
posted by Elsie at 5:28 AM on February 12, 2013

In case all else fails, you could get a temporary dye -- something in that hip maroon shade, say, or a punky color like purple (or just a regular brownish shade) -- and do that just to hide the color that's so upsetting while getting to own it in a fun way. "I decided to fight the doldrums of February with some crazy color!" and dress up in lots of color to match. Then, by the time you can afford another real salon treatment, the pink will have grown out a bit, the temporary dye will be mostly gone, and you can return to a closer semblance of your normal self with a shrug that your punkster phase is over now. Lots of people try out alternative hair styles and colors for a short time, so this would certainly be an opportunity for some dress-up! (Maybe even for some stranger-in-a-bar role-playing with Spouse! :)

Just looking for some routes to lemonade, since I have no experience with more serious color disaster remediation. Hope you find some solution that works for you!
posted by acm at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2013

You could try this product, which strips the colour out and leaves your hair ready to re-colour. I tried the UK version a couple of years ago to get rid of a too-auburn colour and it worked just fine and took my hair back to its natural dark brown.
posted by essexjan at 9:59 AM on February 12, 2013

Do NOT use any color remover if your intent is to correct orange tones from bleach. It won't work. Color remover/stripping products remove deposited color, toner, dye, etc; that is, they scrape off the stuff on top of your base hair. They don't undo a bleaching. The "natural" color of your hair is now orange. Ditto on clarifying shampoos; this would be a good idea if she had left it purplish (the abrasive shampoo would fade the purple tint faster) but the orange from bleach is NOT a dye, it's damage to your actual natural hair. Scrubbing it won't take it off, it will just damage it further. Do lots of deep moisturizing treatments, use sulfate-free shampoo, and maybe even a do protein treatment like Aphogee.

So! The orange is there for good. But the good news is, as jbenben and others said, you can cover it up pretty easily - by toning it at home with either an ash-blonde dye, or a blue/violet toner. Mine hair is currently light ash blonde (naturally dark blonde) and I use the violet toner with 20 vol developer, and leave it on for only about 10 minutes, every couple months, to keep down the brass. You may or may not need a longer amount of time. Another option would be a semipermanent ash dye... less damaging, but will wash out eventually and have to be re-done on occasion.
posted by celtalitha at 2:23 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the future, if this ever happens again, the blue from over-toning is kinda not a big deal mistake. I home dye all the time and do this regularly. It goes away in 1-2 days of washing as the extra deposits of color wash away. Brassiness/redness from bleaching means that a bluing toner is necessary to neutralize it, otherwise it's permanent.
posted by amileighs at 5:54 PM on February 15, 2013

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