How to Reverse a Bad Hair Dye Job

a mannequin with long red hair and red dress in outdoor setting image by David Smith from

The hair is our crowning glory and a bad dye job might cause you to want to run and hide from the world. Color correction is a process that will help you to reverse a bad dye job and achieve your desired hair color, but it is not as simple as putting on a new color to hide the old. There are specific steps that will help you to correct a bad dye job and finally get the hair color you love.

Purchase a packet of color and 20-volume developer to remove the old hair dye. You may need two or more packets if your hair is very long or thick. Mix a packet of hair dye with the recommended amount of water or peroxide. Darker hair color that has been on the hair for over 24 hours may require peroxide.

Perform a strand test. Protect your clothes and skin by putting a towel around your neck and putting on a hair coloring cape. Use a rattail comb to section out a strand of hair at the nape of the neck and clip all other hair out of the way with a hair clip. Apply hair color remover and time for three minutes. Check every three minutes for up to 20 minutes. Remove color remover by lathering with shampoo and rubbing with a damp towel. Dry to see resulting color. If hair was dark, you may only obtain a red orange level of lightening. If test strand does not lighten enough with water, mix with peroxide and test another strand until desired lightening is achieved.

Apply to whole head using mixture that worked for the test strand. Using a rattail comb, section the hair into four quadrants by parting from mid forehead to nape and then from center part to behind each ear. Secure with a large hair clip up and out of the way. Section ½ inch horizontal sections from the nape area on either side of the head and apply mixture using a bottle or brush to individual partings from side to side. Saturate strands thoroughly, using gloved hands to press the mixture into the hair. Work from side to side up through the hair until you reach the crown and then finish each side from the bottom to the top of the head.

Time and check in three-minute increments. If areas that were applied first lighten more quickly, remove with a towel that is saturated with shampoo and water. Spray down with a mixture of conditioner and water to further stop the action of the color remover until the frontal areas have a chance to catch up.

Shampoo the hair twice to eliminate the color remover once desired lightening is achieved. Rinse the color remover out of the hair using warm water. Apply a light conditioner to remove tangles and rinse as well. Towel dry to remove excess moisture and then allow to dry naturally or dry on a low heat to avoid excessive damage and allow for even distribution of the follow-up tint.

Mix semi, demi or permanent hair color in a bowl or bottle and apply using the same steps you used to apply the color remover product. Leave on the hair for 20 to 25 minutes or according to hair color instructions. Shampoo, condition and rinse to complete the hair color repair process.