How to Darken Permanently Lightened Hair

by Caroline Baldwin ; Updated September 28, 2017

If you're tired of your lightened locks, darken them at home.

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Darkening permanently lightened or bleached hair can be a simple process. Going from light to dark is an easy color fix although it can be a little harsh on your hair. Bleach can dry out hair, leaving it broken and damaged. Applying a darker color does not use the same chemicals to process the color and are not as bad for your locks as bleach. Color your hair as the seasons change or correct highlights gone wrong by darkening your hair at home.

Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo the day before you color it. This will help to eliminate any buildup in your hair and will enable the color to adhere better to the hair shaft.

Purchase a color kit from the local drugstore. Select a color that is closest to your natural color before it was permanently lightened. If you are going darker, stay with a color that has the same tone as your natural color (warm, cool or neutral).

Mix the color together according to the instructions on the kit. Starting with the crown of your head, apply the color from the root to the tip. Work in small sections until all of your hair is saturated with color.

Clip your hair to the top of your head with a large clip to keep it away from your face and neck. Have a paper towel handy so you can wipe up any drips as dark color can stain your skin.

Leave the color on for the designated amount of time stated on the packaging.

Rinse your hair in the shower until the water runs clear. You should see no hair color in the water that is running off your head.

Apply a deep conditioner to your hair. Leave on for at least 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Towel dry your hair and let it finish drying naturally.

Apply a hot oil treatment a week after you color your hair for added moisture.


  • Refrain from washing your hair for 48 hours after you color it. This will help the color to last longer.

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About the Author

Caroline Baldwin, a corporate communications director located in South Carolina, began writing in 1998. Her work has been published in publications across the United States and Canada including Rolling Stone, Boating Life, Waterski and Wakeboarding magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from The College of Charleston.