If you've recently dyed your hair black and decided the color isn't for you, don't be discouraged. It is possible to dye hair back to a lighter color, whether you are dying your hair at home or enlisting the help of a professional. Repetitive hair dying can damage your hair, and redyeing severely damaged hair that is breaking off or feels gummy when wet is not recommended.
Consult a professional. Even if you are going to dye your hair at home, a professional colorist can determine whether you should dye or tone your hair, whether your hair is too damaged to be dyed and how many shades you should lighten your hair at a time.
Take extreme care when using products containing bleach or peroxide, if you can't afford to see a professional, because these products are most damaging to your hair.
Decide whether to tone, lighten or strip your hair, depending on the effect you want. Each of these processes are discussed in the following sections.
Wait for your black hair to grow out. Although you may not get the instant gratification of having a new hair color right away, waiting for the old color to grow out and cutting your hair regularly is the healthiest way to change black hair color.
Use a toner to bring brown or red into your hair. Toners are semipermanent and will add only subtle tone changes to your hair, but it may change your black hair enough to provide a better coloring for your complexion.
Saturate dry, unwashed hair entirely in a red or brown toner. Avoid using blond toners on black hair.
Leave the toner in your hair as long as the manufacturer recommends, which is usually between 30 and 40 minutes.
Rinse your hair thoroughly, and apply a deep-conditioning treatment to your hair for 10 minutes. Rinse again and style as usual. If you are satisfied with the color, there is no need to redye your hair.
Lighten your hair with dye if you are still unsatisfied with your color. Hair should be lightened gradually to preserve your hair's health and to prevent any hair accidents.
Dye your hair only one or two shades lighter than your current color, at the very most, in a dark brown shade.
Purchase hair color kits at your local beauty supply store or drugstore. Mix the hair color according to directions, then apply the dye to dry, unwashed hair.
For the most even application, use hair clips to dye one section of hair at a time and paint hair with a dye brush. Leave in the dye according to the box directions, usually between 20 and 40 minutes.
Rinse thoroughly in the shower, then apply a deep-conditioning treatment for 10 minutes. Rinse again, then allow your hair to air-dry.
Use a dye stripping kit in extreme hair emergencies. Dye stripping treatments are available at most drugstores and beauty supply stores. They strip the hair of the dark dye, leaving hair a muddy color that must be dyed over again.
Use a dye stripper only if it is recommended for your hair by a professional. Dye stripping kits can be damaging to hair.
Mix the dye stripping solution according to directions. Apply to hair for the suggested amount of time, usually 20 minutes. Some kits contain a processing lotion to add for 5 minutes after rinsing. Apply the processing lotion, then rinse again.
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.
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