With the burgeoning popularity of hair coloring and with so many people trying it hair dye mishaps are not so surprising. If your hairdresser dyed your hair, but it wound up being too dark for your liking, there are ways you can lighten up the hair.
Can I Lighten Dyed Hair That Is Too Dark?
Yes, you can lighten dyed hair that is too dark by washing the hair with a sulfate shampoo, using a color remover, or using a hair lightener.
However, manage your expectation, as you can only lighten up the hair a level or two unless you bleach it with lemon juice. If the dyed hair is too dark, lightening may not have a significant impact.
Other alternatives include waiting for the dye to fade over time, applying a lighter dye color, or cutting your hair and nurturing new growth.
4 Ways to Lighten Dyed Hair That Is Too Dark
#1. Color Remover
Color remover is also known as hair dye remover, hair color stripper, or artificial hair color extractor. These may be your best option for removing dark colors from your hair.
They are most effective for removing artificial dyes but do not alter the structure of your hair. Therefore, they are less damaging to the hair than ammonia and sodium-peroxide-based toners.
However, you need to rinse your hair severally with warm water to wash out the color remover. This can strip the hair of essential oils, leaving it dry. As such, you need to deeply condition the hair after using a color remover to restore moisture, shine, and softness.
There are different types of color extractors. Some contain bleach, while others do not.
You can use a color extractor to remove an undesirable color to create a base for a new color. It can also remove the buildup of previous dyes, preparing your hair for recoloring. However, it does not work if you have dyed your hair with henna dye, semi-permanent dye, or permanent hair color.
It works by penetrating the hair shaft and breaking down color molecules deposited on the shaft by the dyes. The color molecules are broken down into small sizes and are easily washed out. Those that contain bleach also lighten the dark color.
The application process varies from one brand of the color extractor to the other. Generally, the color remover is applied to dry, unwashed hair. Ensure your hair is fully saturated with the mixture. Comb with a wide-toothed comb to ensure even distribution of the mixture, then wear a shower cap.
Some manufacturers recommend applying heat to the hair to accelerate the breakdown of color molecules. You may briefly sit under a hooded dryer or use a blow dryer to blow warm air into your hair.
Rinse the hair and then wash it with shampoo. Rinse several times to remove any residual broken-down color molecules and color remover. Apply conditioner, leave it on the hair for a few minutes, comb the hair to detangle it, and then rinse one more time. Dry the hair and style it as desired.
#2. Wash Your Hair With Sulfate Shampoo
Typically, hair dye sets in the first 72-96 hours. During this time, the hair fiber expels any excess color pigment. Therefore, you may notice that your hair becomes lighter after the first 3-4 days.
Washing your hair within this window period washes out the expelled color molecules making the dark dye lighter. The water can also interfere with the setting process helping the hair to shed most of the dark dye.
Sulfate shampoos are particularly discouraged in regard to proper hair care after dyeing. If your hair turns darker than you prefer after dyeing, washing it with a sulfate shampoo helps degrade the dye and lighten it.
Start by rinsing out any loose color molecules with hot water. Hot water opens the cuticles enabling more color to be stripped from the hair. Then, apply a generous amount of sulfate shampoo on the wet hair and massage the hair and the scalp. Once again, rinse with hot water.
Follow up the wash cycle with deep conditioning using a hair mask or hydrating conditioner. Sulfate shampoos dry up the hair, and deep conditioning restores the moisture to the deepest part of the hair fiber.
Consider washing your hair and using a hydrating mask at least once weekly to lighten the hair color further and keep the hair moisturized.
#3. Hair Lightener
There is a wide range of hair lighteners that you can use to lighten dark-dyed hair. They include drug store hair lightener products as well as homemade hair lighteners.
Home Made Hair Lighteners
Below are some options for homemade hair lighteners to use on your dark-dyed hair.
The high alkalinity level in baking powder opens up the hair cuticles enabling water or shampoo to enter the hair fibers and wash out the color molecules. Make a thick baking soda paste and apply a generous amount on wet hair.
Leave it on the hair for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with hot water. Do not use cold water to wash the hair, as it will close the cuticles before the color molecules have been washed out.
If your dark dye has not lightened enough, make another batch of baking soda paste and repeat the cleaning cycle for another round. For better results, consider mixing up the baking soda with bleach.
Soap Cap With Bleach and Developer
A soap cap combines shampoo, bleach, and a developer such as a hydrogen peroxide. The mixture balances hair color and serves as a bleach bath to lighten the dye color. It removes most semi-permanent hair color dyes without damaging your hair. You can use it to lift dark hair colors before applying new colors.
Mix equal parts shampoo, bleach, and a developer. Apply the mixture to damp hair, cover it with a shower cap, and let it sit for 5-10minutes. Wear gloves when handling the mixture and start the application process from the roots to the ends. Then rinse and condition your hair. You can also make the soap cap without the developer.
Vitamin C or Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is highly acidic and strips the hair of dark dyes. You can use it on its own or mix it with baking soda. Then wet your hair and apply generously. Let it sit for about 45 minutes, then rinse. The hair should be 30-50% lighter. Lemon juice also contains high levels of Vitamin C, which benefits your hair health.
Another hair lightener you can use at home is hydrogen peroxide. It is cheap and readily available at drug stores. Simply put it in a spray bottle and apply it to your hair.
Let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing it out. Note that although effective, hydrogen peroxide dries out hair. Therefore, follow up with a conditioner and apply oil to your hair.
#4. Apply a Lighter Dye
Dye is harsh on the hair. Therefore, you do not want to reapply dye to the hair too soon. Wait for at least 6 weeks before dying your hair again with a lighter color. It is advisable to use a color remover about a week before to remove some of the colors and create a base for the new color.
If your hairdresser dyes your hair too dark, the best thing to do is to intervene immediately before it sets in completely. Wash it within the first 72 hours with hot water to wash out any loose color particles and dislodge some of the others before they set. Then, condition the hair to prevent damage to the strands.
You can also use a color remover or lightener to further lighten the hair. Ultimately, the color lightens and fades over time, becoming lighter. But, if the above methods do not work and you really do not like how your hair looks, the only other option is to cut it and wait for new growth.