Hair color not what I wanted. Can I fix it myself?
April 6, 2016 10:29 AM   Subscribe

My natural + previously faded out dye color was a dull medium brown yesterday. I asked the stylist for chocolate brown but it turned out reddish medium brown, only slightly darker than my previous color. At this point I'd like to be one or two shades darker and way less red. Can I fix this myself with box color?

I know Option A would be to say I'm unhappy with the color and ask the stylist to fix it, but she's an old family friend and even though I paid for the session it just didn't feel right to tell her I didn't like it.

She's not the only stylist to have trouble with this. I've had beautiful chocolate brown hair exactly once, courtesy of my NY stylist, but every other hair professional has either second guessed my choice to go so dark (I have very pale skin) or not been skilled enough to do it and given me something entirely unsatisfying and not the dramatic effect I wanted.

I've dyed at home before, though I'm not very good at it and usually miss a spot or two. I don't need the dramatic effect to last too long, but I have a very special event on the 14th that I would like to look nice for. If it washes out quickly after that, ok.

Main question: Is it possible for me to darken my hair and correct the amount of red in it on my own within the next week?

Sub-questions are:
-How long do I need to wait to try to fix my color, considering it was professionally dyed (with a demi-permanent dye) yesterday, but I need to look fabulous before hopping a plane in one week?
-What products do you recommend?
-Do you have tips for how to apply it?

Thanks very much in advance!
posted by philotes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
Go back to her! Don't risk it yourself. You need to be honest, especially since you paid for it.
posted by radioamy at 10:31 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

The chemicals in the professional stuff are different than the chemicals in the box stuff. Plus, if she is an old friend, she will probably notice that you changed your hair color. I vote for asking her to change it for you, professionally. She will know how to change the color appropriately with the chemicals in the dyes she used.
posted by jillithd at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, I figured most people would recommend I ask her to fix it, but I am extremely reluctant to do that (and she is semi-retired, only works part-time and her schedule is typically packed, so she probably wouldn't even be able to squeeze me in again so soon). If people have other suggestions I would really like them.
posted by philotes at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are tinted drops called UNRED that are used for adding to color - in your case just mix the drops with a few tablespoons of water and spritz onto dry hair, let dry. DO THIS TODAY.

You can get these drops at better hairs supply shops. If it did not work (it will work!) then I might try something with harsher chemicals. It's just pigment that cancels red. It works brilliantly. Don't know how I lived without it!
posted by jbenben at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

reddish medium brown,

That *is* chocolate brown, so there's your trouble.

Go back to her and say that now you've looked at it under different light conditions you realise it's not the colour that you want, and that maybe you didn't describe it well. Yes this is a bit of an exaggeration because you knew you didn't like it from the start but it makes it less awkward. Then talk more with her about what you want (darker and less red). The darker brown dye will cover a lot of the red, at least for a while, so it's not a difficult colour correction. Then while you're there, ask for the best way to describe the good colour so that you have better luck in the future.
posted by shelleycat at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, using the pigment UNRED wash will not in any way interfer with anything else you try. You might have to reapply the UNRED every week to keep the look for the 14th. Totally worth the effort.
posted by jbenben at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2016

Worst case scenario putting a dark brown that has a black undertone over the top will darken everything and hide the red for a bit, but it can easily end up too harsh and dark. I have similar colouring to you and am always trying for a really good non-red dark brown. I found Loreal Excellence OK in the past and Syoss is my go-to now. But I don't know how it will work with professional colour.
posted by shelleycat at 10:42 AM on April 6, 2016

I'd do this process at home.

1. Get Color Oops. This stuff is pretty fantastic. It will take out the red. Follow the instructions to the letter. Be sure to rinse it for the 20 recommended minutes, this is where the magic happens. I buy it at CVS or Sally's.

What you'll have is your natural color, if you've used any color lifters, it will be lighter than your natural color.

2. Condition your hair. Use a deep conditioning mask or coconut oil. Put a shower cap on and let it penetrate. About an hour should do it.

3. Color your hair the color you like. You're not going to pick a color based on the box. The Color Oops will make take much darker and faster. If you normally pick a level 5, pick a level 6. This one is 6A, which means it has Ash in it, which is the opposite of red.

Here's your shopping list:

1. Color Oops
2. Box color
3. Conditioning mask
4. Plastic shower caps (disposable.)
5. Hair color brush
6. Good gloves

You can do this, I promise.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on April 6, 2016

If you want to take down red tones you need blue tones. Preference makes medium browns now that claim to be "cool" (not "ash") but I can't vouch for these. The 4c is medium and it will come out darker than the box.

Based on my own home-dyeing experiences, unless your hair is in perfect condition from root to tip, you might get brown roots and black ends with the "whole-head" method so I would not leave it on the ends as long as indicated.
posted by kapers at 11:02 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You really should go back to her. Redoing it yourself is not a good idea.
posted by shesbenevolent at 11:48 AM on April 6, 2016

Box dye or DIY stuff on top of professional color is asking for a disaster. Go back to your friend or go back to another professional person.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nthing what the other people said-- go back and ask for do-over.

I have been coloring my own hair for more than 20 years; I buy developer and color separately (not the box kits); I have double processed my hair (bleach and tint); and I have done Color Oops.

There is no way that you could do a better job with a box kit. You have a special event. Shelleycat gave an excellent script-- Different lights, match my dress, polite but firm. It's absolutely normal and not an imposition.
posted by ohshenandoah at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the advice, everyone. I tried jbenben's suggestion to use Unred mixed with water and let it dry. I just rinsed it out and even with my hair wet I can tell it's still completely red. I suspect it works well in getting out brassy/red tones, but maybe not as well on hair that was (somewhat intentionally) dyed red. And Ruthless Bunny, I appreciate the step by step guide but I just don't have that kind of confidence in my hair dyeing abilities!

After much hand wringing and calling my mom I finally worked up the nerve to text my stylist. I didn't want to be so pushy as to outright ask that she fix it (she's still my friend!) but I asked for her advice on how to adjust my color to darken it and make it less red. If she offers to fix it, great, and if not then hopefully she'll have some recommendations based on the products she used.

For what it's worth, I think she knew when she first saw it that it wasn't what I asked for - she said she could have mixed it darker but was being conservative. I should have told her right then that it didn't work for me, but I decided to spend two days fretting and googling instead.
posted by philotes at 7:25 PM on April 6, 2016

I'm glad you're in touch with her. For the record, "box" permanent dyes and color strippers are not a great way to correct color done with a demi, especially if you're goal is darker, as it is unecessarily harsh.

I would just do another application of the same formula, 1-2 levels darker on the blue side of the color range.

If you were left on your own in the supermarket aisle trying to make it better, I would look for something that says semipermanent or gloss, the darkest ash brown available. Good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:30 PM on April 6, 2016

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