Accidentally caramel hair
December 22, 2014 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I may have had a home hair color mishap! Help me fix it, or live with it (am open to convincing that caramel is a hot color trend)?

I'm telling myself it's "caramel" in order to get through the day with some dignity, but deep down I know it's a brassy orangey blond. I followed the directions on the L'Oreal box, hadn't colored my hair for 3 months beforehand (and then it was semipermanent, so all traces were long gone by the time I got to it last night), and have a naturally blond-ish hair color, so I really don't know what went wrong.

I'd go to a salon if I really had to. But I'm hoping to avoid the treadmill of shelling out $100+ every six weeks, so I want to find a way to color and maintain my hair at home. My eyebrows and such are all light blond, so it behooves me to keep blond hair on my head--embracing a darker shade isn't really an option.

Someone on a beauty-related message board recommended buying a bottle of Wella toner and pouring it into your normal shampoo, then alternating between shampooing with that mixture + something like the John Frieda Sheer Blonde shampoo. Has anyone tried this? Also, someone in an AskMe thread from 2008 recommended a shampoo but the link is now broken.

Any product recommendations, best practices, attitude adjustments, etc. are welcome. I'm not freaking out...yet...but I want to have a plan of action.
posted by magdalemon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
What color was it supposed to be? If it very different from what was on the box and/or different parts of your hair are different colors (in a bad way, not a natural-highlights-looking way), then you'd be well served to visit a salon that has a color correction person on staff. If you like the color, but hate the brassiness, a toner might be all that you need. If so, those aren't generally super-pricey at most salons.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2014

Response by poster: It was supposed to have been a medium blonde with "cool" undertones. The color itself isn't terrible, I don't think, it's just much warmer (to the point of being orange) than I wanted. If I could effectively tone it down, I think that'd be good. But this seems beyond the purview of purple shampoo.
posted by magdalemon at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2014

Call L'Oreal using the number on the box (there's usually a blurb that says, "Questions? Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX"). give them the specifics of what happened and they can tell you how to fix it.
posted by quince at 1:28 PM on December 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

It was years ago, but my purple hair and I were helped tremendously by the people on the L'Oreal Hotline. The number should be on the box, or the website's listing 1-800-535-3457. They had me buy a color I wouldn't have thought of and do weird things to the timing -- it turned out perfectly, and the person on the phone obviously knew what they were doing.
posted by jaguar at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

There are toners that you can buy at Sally, for under $5. You put it directly on your hair, follow the instructions.

Buy some plastic shower caps to contain the drip, they tend to be liquidy.

If you still are unhappy, you can use Color Oops to strip the color out. Then you can start over. Read the reviews on Amazon, they're super helpful, and don't skimp on the rinse, it's vital.

Another option is to highlight, L'oreal Petite Frost is a good kit (I have one in my linen closet right now!) Again, you may still want to put some toner on it, but it will be less a field of caramel, and more gradations of color.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing calling the L'Oreal helpline. A few years ago I did pretty much the same thing you did and they were immensely helpful.
posted by cooker girl at 2:09 PM on December 22, 2014

Heh, I think the 2008 broken link might be mine! The stuff I recommended there and would recommend to you again now is sadly no longer available. However! There is a shampoo/conditioner made by Aveda that does a great job of canceling out brassy tones, it's just not quite as individualized.

I recommend a few washes with this stuff. (Blue Malva shampoo, for future AskMe searchers who might come across my broken links.) I've used it with good results to keep my auburn hair from getting brassy, so I'd imagine it will only work even better on lighter hair.
posted by adiabat at 3:26 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

It might fade after a few washes. I'd leave it though -- I aim for that color, actually.
posted by travertina at 3:28 PM on December 22, 2014

(Also, did you just dye it? Like, it hasn't already been washed a ton? Hit it with the blue malva shampoo right away if you can. I once had seriously ORANGE highlights and the very first wash with that stuff fixed it right up. To a pleasant shade of, um, caramel. But not orangey caramel.)
posted by adiabat at 3:28 PM on December 22, 2014

I have your answer!!

I recently discovered this semi-permanent color (no ammonia) product that myself and a lot of people (according to the folks at my upscale beauty supply) use to cover a multitude of sins. It corrects the orange in my hair. I swear by it, and can not believe I have lived without it for so long.

I use it two or so times in between doing my roots. It evens everything out, refreshes my color, and keeps me from having to do root touch-ups so often. After touch-ups, it mellows the color and helps me create a much more natural final result.

You can get Umberto's U Color cheapest at for $10.99, free shipping. Not available at the store.

It sounds like you should use the 9.0 color.

Might be in stock if you have an Ulta or similar store near you. If you have longer hair, you will need to use both applications in the package.
posted by jbenben at 3:32 PM on December 22, 2014

The Target website says the U Color has 30 Volume Peroxide, but I'm almost 110% positive there is no peroxide involved in demi color.

The Umberto website doesn't mention peroxide, either, FYI. You can always call them.

It is super gentle and the color quality is top notch. Hope the helps.
posted by jbenben at 3:42 PM on December 22, 2014

attitude adjustments, etc. are welcome

Hey that's my hair on your head. My dream hair. And it's quite hard to get, at least from the chain-salon of my small quasi-Southern city. I even brought in David Bowie's Low as a visual aid, but still wound up having to use Instagram's Kelvin filter to pretend (to the well-intentioned friend who had given me the chain-salon gift card) that it had worked.

tl;dr Can you give me the name or number or whatever of the L'Oreal box you're using?
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:49 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a product called Color Ooops sold at the drugstore. You can also do a search for "hair color remover" and other brands come up too. I did this once. I usually use medium blonde and I tried dark blonde for a change and it was brown. I used Color Ooops and it worked great. Good Luck.
posted by Ella Megalast at 12:43 AM on December 25, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everyone!! Sorry I didn't update til now, but I bought a lot of what you offered and the color has now corrected to an ashier shade (more like what I was going for) -- so thanks! And feral_goldfish, I did not save the box I know it was a "warm" shade of "light blond," and that it was on sale at the drugstore...but that's all. Thank you for your excellent perspective, also :)
posted by magdalemon at 8:17 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

A web search of L'OREAL WARM "LIGHT BLOND" is showing me some promising image results, so thank you :)
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:53 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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