Suppose you are a blonde, and you wish to try life as a brunette. Or you may be a brunette already, but you think it’s time to eliminate those blonde highlights. (After all, every woman over forty has highlights. They are like a flashing neon sign, announcing to the world that you have passed the Big 4-0 mark!)
Boldly, you step out where so many women have gone before: the hair-coloring aisle of your local store. With highest hopes, you hurry home, rip open the box, and begin to dye.
Timing the entire process carefully, you eagerly await the results. Finally, at the prescribed moment, you unwrap your towel-turbaned head and peer into the mirror.
What!?! Immediately, you discover that your hair is ten shades darker than the synthetic hair scrap at the store, or even the tiny photo color sample on the box.
Don’t Try This at Home!
My teen daughter wants to be a beautician. She’s awesome with hairstyling. But she’s still learning, in the color department. Aiming to be a supportive parent and encourage her developing skills, I allowed her to color my hair several months ago. We visited the store together and matched the tiny acrylic hair samples to my locks before selecting the color.
An hour later, my hair was darker than my niece’s Snow White costume wig. The package said warm auburn, but my hair was midnight black.
Learning Too Little, Too Late!
Home hair-coloring is not the same science as professional salon coloring. The chemicals are vastly different, and the techniques vary considerably. However, home hair-coloring is readily available and economical, making it a tempting impulse for far too many of us.
I called my hairstylist in distress. She patiently listened to my tale of tinting terror. She asked me what product and color we used. (I read the chemical ingredients to her over the phone.) Then she explained how dyeing disasters may be redeemed most of the time, if a professional colorist is enlisted within the first two to three days. However, she was leaving for a two-week trade show. I would have to wait fifteen days for an appointment.
In the meantime, she told me to follow these steps at home.
First, shampoo the hair three times immediately, using baby shampoo. Although it is supposed to be gentle on an infant’s eyes, baby shampoo is really quite potent. In the absence of baby shampoo, lemon-scented dishwashing soap is the next best choice.
Wash and rinse hair with the hottest water you can stand. (Heat tends to fade hair dye.) Condition as usual.
The next day, shampoo and dry the hair three times (morning, evening, and one other time) with liquid dish soap. Again, use the hottest water possible. Use a deep-conditioning product to repair the hair.
After that, wash the hair daily with a clarifying shampoo and condition as usual.
Remarkably, this process did diminish the over-darkening of my hair quite a bit. Even so, I welcomed the opportunity to return to my stylist’s chair for a professional rejuvenation!
If This Happens to You:
Read the hair-coloring package label for troubleshooting instructions. Call the manufacturer’s toll-free number and ask for assistance. They may instruct you to purchase a specific color and repeat the process.
Consult a professional. Ask for assistance before attempting any home remedies, such as alcohol, bleach, or peroxide. Permanent and demi-permanent dyes will react differently to these methods. Bleaching colored hair can be disastrous. (This can produce fades and neon manes.)
Follow instructions carefully.
Don’t panic. Even permanent hair color is not really permanent. In time, the color will fade, and your hair will grow.
Try to enjoy your new look, while it lasts.
Enjoying the Dark Side
I attended a family reunion with very dark hair. Traditionally, in our family, I was the lighter-haired daughter, and my sister the deep auburn one. Our extended family was so confused! It proved to be extremely entertaining for us.
In the end, disaster was averted. After all, hair does grow out. This mishap was five or six haircuts ago. Guess what? My daughter is coloring my hair again tonight. Either she is getting pretty good, or I haven’t learned from prior experience!