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What are the Different Types of Hair Color Correction?

By Erica Stratton
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Hair color correction is needed when hair dye does not come out correctly. The goals of these methods are to darken, lighten, or remove the dye entirely. Applications of hair dye remover, or natural cleansers such as baking soda, may be used in hair color correction. The hair can also be re-dyed with another shade to achieve the desired color.

Whether the hair was dyed at the salon or in the bathroom, speed is key when trying to salvage your hair from a botched dye job. Many professionals recommend that you take steps to correct your hair within 72 hours. After 72 hours have passed, the dye will have fully bonded to the hair.

Many salons will correct a bad hair-dye treatment for free or refund you the cost of your appointment. If a permanent dye was used, it may take several treatments with hair-dye removers in order to tone it down to an acceptable hue. If the dye was semi-permanent, the hair can be dyed again to change the overall shade.

There are many methods for doing hair color correction at home. It is easiest to remove or alter hair color if it's semi-permanent or vegetable-based, like henna. Hair that is too light or too dark in hue can be softened by mixing together equal amounts of baking soda and regular shampoo. Apply the mixture as you would the shampoo, soaping and rinsing out. Using very hot water will also encourage the dye to wash out.

If the hair has green streaks, shampoos used to remove chlorine stains may help. If all else fails, soaking your hair in tomato juice may help lessen the greenness. Grass-green is one of the most difficult colors to remove from hair and will require the help of a salon.

Too-light hair can be darkened with unsweetened cocoa powder. Mixing half a cup of coca with yogurt will form a staining paste. The paste should be applied to the hair after shampooing, left in for five minutes, then washed out. This treatment may need to be applied several times to reach the desired shade.

Mineral oil can be used for henna hair color correction. The hair should first be rinsed with a 70% alcohol, 30% water mix. Apply the mineral oil to the hair without washing out the alcohol mix, avoiding the scalp. Hair should then be wrapped in saran wrap or a bouffant cap. Finally, heat should be applied to the hair using a hair dryer on a cool setting to avoid melting the plastic.

Before undertaking any kind of hair color correction, a patch test should be used. This involves dying a small lock of hair and waiting to see if there is an allergic reaction. A patch test will also give you a preview of what the hair will look like dyed, thus avoiding another hair color mistake.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Oct 02, 2014

I'd never heard of using cocoa paste, although that makes perfect sense. I may try that trick the next time my roots need a touch-up, but it's too soon to cut my hair, or I'm too broke to buy color.

There are all sorts of good beauty workarounds, if you just take the time to find them!

Any salon worth its salt, though, should see quickly that the customer's hair is not what they wanted, and should fix the problem as soon as possible, as well as refunding the charge for the color.

By Grivusangel — On Oct 01, 2014

Not many things are worse than having to correct a bad dye job. I had that experience at a salon, but I was young and stupid and didn't really know they were supposed to correct it, since my hair wasn't badly dyed -- it was just a *lot* lighter than what I wanted.

On the advice of a friend, I actually made a paste of coffee grounds and beaten egg yolks and left that on my hair for like, an hour. It did help darken my hair a little and took some of the red out.

I learned my lesson, though. Look at the hair swatches in the salon and tell your colorist you want that particular shade. No darker, no lighter -- that shade.

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