Commenter Crisis: Denise


One of the joys of hair color is being able to switch up your hue with the season– going darker in the fall and lightening up for the summer. Unfortunately for some women, there can be some major color snafu’s along the way. Read on to find out commenter Denise’s highlights horror story.

Hi Jason,
A year ago my hair had blonde highlights and after nine months I decided to change it. I went to a salon and asked the guy to cover all the highlights and told him to just dye it black. My hair turned blue!! He tried to cover it with red and my hair was half purple and half blue. I was so upset and I told him that he had to fix my hair, which he finally did, and now I have all black hair.

The thing is, I really miss my highlights, so I was thinking about getting highlights this summer. I’m scared that something bad would happen to my hair though. What should I do?

Hi Denise!
First, let me explain what probably happened when you went darker. Hair color is formulated with the perfect balance of tones and is manufactured assuming it is being applied to virgin hair. When we lighten hair we are removing the natural red, orange and yellow tones to reveal light brown or blonde. When you wanted to make your blonde highlights black, it sounds like your colorist didn’t “fill” your hair first – that is salon speak for replacing the missing red, orange and gold tones. In his defense, when going black, 90% of the time it’s OK to skip this step but if you get stuck in the 10% it doesn’t work and it’s a real drag!

Second – can you go lighter for spring/summer? Absolutely! One option is to do it with highlights over multiple salon visits. First do a full head of very fine, very close together medium to light brown highlights. On your next visit follow that up with a half head of medium blonde highlights and on your next visit another full head of highlights to make it look even more blonde. With this approach you can slowly but surely achieve a neutral, natural looking blonde and keep the hair as healthy as possible.

The key word there is slowly — If you are an instant gratification girl you can lighten the entire base and then follow that up with a full head of highlights. You can expect your hair to feel a bit more compromised when you are finished and it will most likely have a very warm (golden or even reddish) result, but the upside is you can be all over lighter in just one visit.

My recommendation for anyone thinking about going from light to dark like you did last Fall is to do it with demi-permanent hair color. You can still get a rich deep brunette or even black shade but it will gently fade and when you change your mind in the spring to go lighter (as almost everyone does), it is so much easier and so much less damaging to change than permanent color.

Long story short (too late, I know), GO FOR IT! I hope this helps.
– Jason