Coloring hair often starts with the best of intentions. The result, however, might leave you questioning what on earth you were thinking in the first place. If your hair color turned out to be too light, you can tone down and get what you wanted in the first place.
Picture this: You chose a dye based on the hue displayed on the packaging. You followed the instructions word-for-word, including being extra careful not to over process your hair color.
Despite your best efforts, the shade of blonde hair you’re staring at in the mirror reflection is several times lighter than what you expected.
Now, what? Do you get another box dye kit and attempt the whole process again with a darker hue? Should you wait it out and see what it looks like after a few washes?
Should you throw in the towel and visit your local salon and ask them to fix it? Here’s everything you need to know about how to tone down hair color that’s too light.
How to Tone Down Hair Color If It’s Too Light
We’ll start by saying this – ‘lightening‘ is the sugar-coated term for bleaching. For you to end up with hair that’s too light, it is likely because you bleached it unevenly. At the risk of stating the obvious, bleaching hair is an extremely aggressive and damaging process.
Before you attempt to tone down your hair, ask yourself this: Is this the right time to do it, or should you wait a while before subjecting it to any more abuse?
If it feels brittle, breaks easily, or develops split ends, it’s clear a sign that you need to give your hair a little TLC before you take any steps to tone it down. Don’t try to tone down damaged hair.
In the same way, you wouldn’t force someone who’s just had open heart surgery to run a marathon days after their procedure; you shouldn’t attempt to tone down your freshly bleached hair, especially if you notice signs of damage.
We’ll go as far as to say that even if your hair appears to be doing just fine, we recommend waiting a couple of days before you do anything else to it. With that out of the way, we’ll look at three popular ways to darken light hair color.
Method 1: When in Doubt, Go Natural
Before you bring out the big guns, you should try chemical-free methods to tone down hair color that’s too light. Here are some popular ones.
Fresh Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
A solution of lemon juice and baking soda is not only effective in whitening discolored teeth; it works surprisingly well to darken overly light hair color. Simply:
- Mix the two ingredients until you have a thick paste.
- Wash your hair with shampoo to remove any product buildup.
- Apply the lemon and baking soda paste to your damp, towel-dried hair.
- Put on a cap and let it sit for an hour.
- Rinse out the mixture with warm water and apply conditioner as usual.
Repeat this process three times a week until you see a change in your hair color.
Vitamin C and Vinegar
If you’re using Vitamin C:
- Mix the powder with water until you have a thick paste.
- Apply it to damp hair, cover with a cap, and let it sit for an hour.
- Rinse it out, and then shampoo and condition your hair as usual.
If you’re using vinegar:
- Mix in the vinegar with your shampoo and shake well until it is fully integrated.
- Apply it to your hair and shampoo as usual.
- Rinse it off and apply conditioner.
Repeat this process three times a week until you see noticeable results.
Olive and Coconut Oil Mixture
The great thing about this technique is that a solution of the two oils is not only nourishing for your hair, but also surprisingly effective in toning down hair color that’s too light. Here’s what you need to do:
- Mix 1:1 parts olive oil and coconut oil in a glass bowl.
- Heat the mixture in the microwave or use a pan.
- Let it cool to lukewarm, and then apply it to clean, damp hair.
- Cover with a cap and leave it on for as long as you can (overnight if possible).
- Rinse off the oil with warm water.
- Shampoo and condition hair as usual.
Repeat this three times a week until you see visible results. The great thing about this method is how gentle it is on your hair.
Method 2: Bring On the Heat
If you know anything about dyeing hair, then you know that heat styling throws hair color out of whack. One way to darken hair that’s too light is to use flat irons and curlers to style your hair.
A word of caution, though, excessive heat styling is detrimental to the health of your hair. Before you use this as your primary method to tone down overly light hair, you need to weigh if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. If the answer is yes, then go right ahead.
Method 3: Use a Clarifying Shampoo
A clarifying shampoo is to the hair what an exfoliating cleanser is to the skin. These shampoos are specially formulated to get rid of product buildup from the hair shaft.
That being said, a clarifying shampoo also strips pigment from freshly colored hair. To tone down hair color that’s too light, ditch your regular moisturizing shampoos for the time being, and wash your hair daily with a clarifying shampoo instead. Make sure to use a conditioner afterward to replace the lost moisture in your dyed hair.
Method 4: Color Correction
Despite your best efforts to use the techniques we’ve outlined so far, your dyed hair color is still too light. Color correction might be your only option to tone it down. One way would be to wash your hair with a tinted shampoo to infuse darker pigments.
The other option would be to go to a salon and have a professional give you some balayage highlights to create a more natural hair look.
Alternatively, you could use purple toning hair products to tone down overly light hair if you need a quick fix. A purple shampoo may not get your hair several shades darker, though. Another quick fix would be to use a cover-up spray or a color-blend concealer to tone it down.
Prevention Before Cure
Now that you know how to tone down hair color that’s too light, remember: It’s easier to prevent a problem than it is to correct it.
Always do a strand test on the hair in the middle of your head. Let the hair dye sit for the prescribed time before rinsing it off. Then, wait 24 hours to see whether you get the desired hue before coloring your entire head.
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