Undoing botched highlights
June 1, 2014 11:31 AM   Subscribe

A friend has very dark brown, basically black hair. She wanted to lighten it up and went to a salon yesterday and asked for some subtle highlights. The stylist used foils and then decided to process her hair again using foils a second time because the color came out uneven. She left the salon with some very blonde highlights, mixed with some very brassy highlights. How do we fix this?

Don't say go back, because that is not an option today and she would like it fixed today. (I told her the same thing.) Can we go to the drugstore and buy hair dye close to her natural, base color and just dye her back? I have read a bit that dying blonde hair black can turn a greenish shade. She wants the highlights gone, not toned down. Any insight would be very much appreciated. Thank you!
posted by mzwz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
Since her hair is almost black, I would buy a brown box dye that is a couple shades lighter than her natural color. It won't lighten the darker hair.

Also, buy a good hot oil treatment, and use it after the dye.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:34 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Followed by this.
posted by essexjan at 11:51 AM on June 1, 2014

I don't think hair color remover will have any effect on bleach, though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:52 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

The reason people always say to go back is that dye over dye is extremely unpredictable. It could turn out fine. It could turn out awful. I would note the reviews for that color corrector--it's not some kind of magic product, it's bleaching out the hair dye and will also bleach the stuff that wasn't. Generally you're going to want it only on the right spots, and if you don't have a person helping you who is experienced with this sort of thing, getting any kind of hair product only on some parts of the hair is really not that easy.
posted by Sequence at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

That hair color remover IS bleach, pretty much. Do not put that on her hair unless you want it all to turn brassy!!

The answer to your question really depends on whether you guys can make foils and isolate the highlighted areas or not. If you can't then whatever you do will affect the rest of her hair too and it sounds like she doesn't want that at all. If that's the case a professional is in order.

If it were me, since my hair is already colored to within an inch of its life, I would get some non-peroxide, semi-permanent color that was several shads lighter than my natural hair in a cool tone (ash usually for brown hair) and apply mostly to the highlighted areas with a brush, knowing that I was also coloring some of the rest of my hair. Bleached hair takes up dye like crazy so I'd be conservative with the color and how long I left it on. You can always make it darker, making it lighter? not so much. If you love it then repeat in a few weeks with permanent non-peroxide color. If not wait for the temporary color to wash out, go back to a different salon and have a pro fix it.
posted by fshgrl at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

If the stylist screwed up the salon should do a color correction for free. Your friend should call the salon and explain that she is not happy with how her hair turned out. Ask for the owner if the receptionist is not helpful. She can ask for a different stylist if she prefers.
posted by fozzie_bear at 12:44 PM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

Your friend should not try to put drugstore color over it. Box color and salon color are very different and the results can be horrible, and hair color remover can be very damaging to one's hair. Please have your friend go back to the salon. This is not a rare occurrence and the salon will be happy to correct the color. What they can do is use toners to soften the over-bright highlights as well correct the brassiness.
posted by SA456 at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2014

No no no no don't put ash color over bleach. Dooooon't. It will turn wicked-witch-of-the-west green. Ask me how I know this.

If anything, I would (and I am pretty liberal with fucking up my hair) use a WARM brown shade as dark as the rest of her hair and do it over. If you do a color several shades lighter than her natural hair, since bleach won't take the dye as much as virgin hair, it will do basically nothing. Maybe even do a red protein filler before the warm brown. DO NOT DO ASH.
posted by celtalitha at 1:22 PM on June 1, 2014

Actually apparently people's experience with that varies. My bleached hair never took dye as well as the undamaged parts.
posted by celtalitha at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she wants to get rid of the highlights completely, she should go to the drugstore and talk to the person in that section and ask their advice. In her place, I would just get a really dark brown/black dye and take my chances. I have hair that is almost black and for many years I bleached it platinum and then sometimes dyed fuschia. When I decided I wanted to go back to my natural colour, I went to the drug store and picked a warm, reddish brown (which I thought would avoid the ash green problem) that looked good and dyed it. It turned out a crazy bright coppery colour that was horrid.

So, then I went back to the drug store and asked the salesperson for help, and I don't remember exactly what she recommended, but all it took was a second box of neutral dark brown dye to get it to a dark brown fairly close to my natural colour.

(I mean, really she should go back to the salon, but I totally empathize with wanting to fix something IMMEDIATELY even if it is not the wisest course of action. See above re: bright coppery colour that was horrid.)

TL;DR: go to the drugstore or beauty supply place and ask the pros for help.
posted by looli at 1:52 PM on June 1, 2014

Do you have a Sally Beauty where you live? If so, you would have lots of options to cover the highlights without having to color your entire head of hair. They could give you lots of advice on how to do it (and I would also have suggestions on specifics).

If you don't, I would buy a box of color a couple of levels lighter than her original hair color, and in a neutral color, then, I would take a single highlighted area in an underpart of the hair and color it, for anywhere from 5-10 mins and keep checking what the color is, and stop processing when it looks good, you can wrap it in saran to keep it from touching the other hair.

If that looks good, you can do your entire head of hair, OR, just on the highlights, depending upon how much has been highlighted.
posted by nanook at 3:17 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

She shouldn't try to dye it herself. That's the answer she doesn't want to hear, but it's true. It's difficult to know how dye will react over hair that's already been dyed even for professionals. It might work (and I hope it does), but if I were her, I'd put it up in a bun for the time being until she can go back and get it fixed.
posted by semaphore at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Drabbwr is what pros use to tone down brass. Any beauty supply place should have it.

If you want to re dye it, use Filler (also available at the beauty supply place). This will fill in stripped hair and help it take color evenly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 PM on June 1, 2014

Sorry I didn't read the question thoroughly--you didn't want to go back to the salon. But I agree with semaphore; however it looks now can't be worse than what could potentially happen if you guys try to fix it yourself. And if that goes wrong you may not be able to get the salon to fix what you did to her hair for free.
posted by fozzie_bear at 5:16 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If going back to the salon isn't an option, go to another salon. Processed hair responds very differently than unprocessed hair, and trying to fix it yourself with boxes of dye will probably not work out well.

That being said, if she's going to dye her hair black, then it will probably cover everything. Go with a demi-permanent black instead of permanent, permanent black almost never comes out and even with dark brown hair you end up with ridiculous looking roots.

Sometimes when hair is over processed it stops taking color almost entirely. I have dark brown almost black hair, and have managed to bleach and color my hair up until that point--it turned an orange color. If you're worried about damaging her hair, consider finding another colorist instead of trying to fix this on your own.
posted by inertia at 10:30 AM on June 2, 2014

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