If you frequently color your hair at home, you’re probably all too aware of the risks that come with DIY hair dye — sometimes it comes out too dark, sometimes it’s too light and sometimes, it’s a completely different color than you intended it to be. It’s a wild ride. When it comes to at-home hair-dye jobs, we’ve all experienced a nightmare or two (read: maybe five) but nevertheless, we’ve persisted and tried again. To help you navigate some of your most common at-home hair coloring questions, we spoke with George Papanikolas, Matrix Celebrity Colorist, to learn pro tips and tricks. Ahead, read his advice on what to do when your hair color comes out too dark.
Mistake #1: You Picked the Wrong Color
Although there are many factors that can contribute to your hair color coming out too dark, the most probable cause is the box color you selected. “Most likely, you picked a darker color than you desired,” says Papanikolas. “People might think they have black hair, but really they have medium brown hair. On the color spectrum chart, there are 10 shades, level 1 black to level 10 pale blonde. Levels 1-6 are all brunette shades, so picking the right color can be tricky when you aren't a professional.” Luckily there are several apps that can help you select the right shade at home, including the Garnier Shade Selector Tool created with Modiface. This one lets you virtually try on different colors before you buy and dye.
Mistake #2: Your Application Technique is Wrong
“The second most likely factor is that you applied the same color from root to ends. This is a wrong approach, especially if you are using permanent color. Because the ends are more porous and have more color buildup, they can suck up more color and become inky and dark.”
Tip #1: Only Use Permanent Color on Gray Hair
To keep your hair color from coming out too dark next time around, only use permanent hair color to cover gray hair and on your regrowth. “Refresh the ends with a semi-permanent gloss 2-4 shades lighter than the root color,” advises Papanikolas. “You always want the ends to be a little lighter.”
Tip #2: Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Lighten Color That is Too Dark
Papanikolas explains there is a universal rule of hair color: A lighter color won't lighten previously colored hair. “Use a clarifying shampoo, like Matrix Total Results Pro-Solutionist Alternate Action Clarifying Shampoo, hot water, say a prayer and be patient that the color hopefully fades over several weeks.”
Tip #3: Know When to See a Professional
“The only other way to quickly lighten the hair is by seeing a professional. It's an expensive option as it's a complicated and time-consuming color correction, which requires your colorist to strip it out, and then go back over with the desired color,” he says. “The process is too complicated to do at home and can be harsh and damaging to the hair.”