How to Color Your Hair From Light to Dark

by Robin McDaniel ; Updated September 28, 2017

Coloring your hair from light to dark requires a few steps.

Dark haired woman image by Imagenatural from Fotolia.com

There are many reasons you might want to change your hair color from light to dark, including going back to your natural color or just for a change in appearance. Coloring your hair from light to dark is a process that may require more than just buying a box of tint and throwing it all over the head. There are some necessary steps to help you complete the process successfully.

Determine the darkness level you wish to achieve and the level you currently have in your hair by visiting a local beauty supply store and putting color swatches up against the lightest areas of your hair. Also, determine the level of the shade you have chosen to darken the hair. This will help you determine whether you will need to take the additional step of applying a color filler before the actual tint. If the levels differ by more than two levels, you will likely need a color filler to avoid rapid fading.

Perform a strand test by choosing a ½-inch strand of hair at the nape of the neck. Clip other hair out of the way. Apply the filler to the strand and leave on for 15 minutes then rub out with a wet rag. Dry the strand with the dry end of the towel or a blow dryer then apply the tint you have chosen. Leave on for 25 to 30 minutes and allow it to process. Check every five minutes for color and remove earlier if the desired color is achieved.

Use a filler to darken more than two levels and minimize fading. A color filler will contain the color that is missing from your lightened hair. This is usually in the red family and will not show up in the finished color. Choose a color one to two shades above your existing color and one to two shades below your chosen color in the red or gold family. Apply it to the hair after mixing equal parts color with a five to 10 volume peroxide. Leave on the hair for 10 to 15 minutes to deposit the filler color. The hair will be red or red-orange after processing.

Choose a semi or demi-permanent color for deposit only. Because no lightening is required, permanent color is not necessary. Demi or semi-permanent color will reduce the level of damage due to lower levels of peroxide. Put on plastic gloves to protect hands and mix cream color in a bowl using a color applicator brush by combining color with developer until they become creamy in consistency. Apply a protective cream around the hairline to avoid color staining the skin. Put a towel and cape on yourself or the client prior to application.

Section the hair into four quadrants by parting from mid forehead to nape using a rattail comb, and then from that part to behind each ear. Clip with butterfly clips. Part horizontal 1/2-inch sections starting at the nape and saturate the hair strand thoroughly. Work from side to side until each quadrant is finished and the entire head is covered. If there is existing root, apply from where the root begins to the hair ends, and then go back through to complete the root.

Process the color for up to 30 minutes or according to package instructions. Check every five minutes for color deposit by wetting the end of a towel and rubbing color off the hair. Dry with the dry end of the towel to ensure you see the true color. Remove as soon as desired color is achieved. Shampoo using a color treatment shampoo then rinse completely. Follow with a conditioner to help smooth the hair shaft and lock in the color. Dry and style hair as usual.

Photo Credits

  • Dark haired woman image by Imagenatural from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Robin McDaniel is a writer, educator and musician. She holds a master's degree in higher educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as well as a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in adult in community education. McDaniel enjoys writing, blogging, web design, singing and playing bass guitar.