What to Do About Metallic Salt Hair Dye

by Andy Pasquesi

The brand names sounded innocuous enough: Nice 'N' Easy, Feria by Clairol, Grecian Formula 16. And what a bargain! "Finally," you thought, "I beat the system." Now, it's two weeks later and your hair color looks like something out of a comic strip. Such is the price of metallic salt hair dye. While these dyes are notoriously difficult to remove, useful strategies do exist.

Don't Give Yourself A Perm!

In addition to interfering with a perm's waving effect, the presence of metallic dyes can lead to a "double processing" effect that ravages the hair cuticle's luster.

Go to a Salon

No one likes eating humble pie -- but it's better than literally melting your hair by accidentally using an ammonia-containing remover. Note: That's not a joke. When hair treated with copper salts gets exposed to ammonia in solution, the heat from the chemical reaction will boil the water and emit a horrible, burnt smell. Salons employ highly trained "color correction specialists" who know how to safely remove metallic dyes. Think of a professional color correctionist as a pharmacist for your follicles; she has encyclopedic knowledge of dyes, removers, their ingredients, and how those specific ingredients interact. However, depending on the amount of dye used and your hair's physical characteristics, complete color correction may take up to five separate visits (althought that many is unlikely).

Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

If you must go it alone, go slow. Very slow. Just as metallic dyes need several consecutive applications before they take effect, shampoos, such as Prell, require daily use for about two weeks before they begin to significantly lighten your hair. If a photo shoot is looming, don't try to "double up" on applications. A salon color correctionist will have access to special, professional-grade chemicals. Note: Don't bother with "Color Oops," bleach, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda or other common color removers. Most of them are designed for vegetable, semi-permanent or demi-permanent dyes.

About the Author

A Chicago-based copywriter, Andy Pasquesi has extensive experience writing for automotive (BMW, MINI Cooper, Harley-Davidson), financial services (Ivy Funds, William Blair, T. Rowe Price, CME Group), healthcare (Abbott) and consumer goods (Sony, Motorola, Knoll) clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University but does not care for the Oxford comma.