The Expert Guide to Using Hair Colour Removers
New hair colour not quite what you were hoping for? Before you reach for the hair dye remover, read these expert tips to make sure you colour correct like a pro.
1. Hair Colour Removers and Hair Colour Strippers Are Very Different
A colour remover contains a reduction agent, which works only on destroying the artificial colour molecule so that it can be flushed from the hair; it cannot affect the natural pigments in the hair.
A colour stripper contains an oxidation agent and is designed to gently remove both natural and artificial pigments, so you can re-colour immediately to a different or lighter permanent shade.
2. Wash Your Hair Repeatedly to Fade Dark Shades
If you have applied a colourant and the result is too dark, wash the hair in baby or clarifying shampoo immediately, several times. Most home hair colours contain an after-colour conditioner, which is designed to help the colour molecules settle inside the hair. If you’re not sure you are happy with the colour, washing it will remove any barriers from the conditioner and unsettle the new permanent colour.
3. Act Fast to Remove Dark Colours
If a colour is too dark, try to remove it immediately or within 48 hours. The fresher an artificial colour is, the easier it will be to remove it from the hair, especially if you have already washed it several times with baby or clarifying shampoo. Newly applied darker hair colourants that you want to correct will only require a hair colour remover – they shouldn’t need a hair colour stripper.
4. Be Patient With Colour That’s Too Light
If a colour has come out too light for your liking, try to do the opposite and wait at least 48 hours before attempting to re-colour; ideally, wait one week before you make any changes. Lightened hair can look brighter when first coloured, and will often calm down over the following days, so give it time and reserve your judgement before attempting to go darker.
5. a Warm Shade Isn’t Necessarily the Wrong Shade
If a shade has come out too warm, golden, coppery or gingery, there are two possible causes – and you need to identify the source to fix it. You need to work out whether you have applied a colourant which contains gold, copper or red as one of its tones, or whether your hair has lightened in the colouring process and ‘kicked up’ your natural warmth.
If you have applied a neutral or ash-based colourant and are seeing warmth, it’s because your natural shade was too dark for the colourant applied, and possibly needed pre-lightening or stripping first.
6. Use Colour Remover to Remove Unwanted Tones
If you have established that it was the shade that has caused your hair to go warm, golden, copper or red due to the secondary tones featured in the product, applying a hair colour remover should rectify this issue.
7. Strip or Switch to Balance Natural Warmth
If you have established that your hair has gone too warm, golden, copper or red due to the lightening of your natural shade, you have a choice as to how you fix it. You can either strip the hair and apply the desired shade again (onto a lighter base), or you can switch to a slightly darker shade which would cover the unwanted warmth.
8. Hold Back on Using Peroxides After Colour Removal
Do not apply a peroxide-based colourant immediately after using a hair colour remover. The chemistry of colour removal and peroxide contradicts, so you need to leave the hair to normalise before attempting to apply a peroxide-based colourant; ideally, wait for one week. However, you can use peroxide-free semi-permanent colourants and toners, such as Colour Restore, immediately after using a hair colour remover.
9. Stripper Creates a Blank Canvas for Recolouring
Hair that has been stripped has had both natural and artificial colour pigments removed, therefore you should always have your chosen hair colour/shade at hand to achieve your desired result after the stripping process.
10. Retain a Good Base Shade for Great Colour
The key to successful hair colour is achieving a good base shade. If you are looking to go blonde, obtaining a dark blonde base shade can prove a good canvas for highlights. If you prefer darker or brunette hair, always ensure you only apply colourants to your regrowth and do not apply throughout the hair – this will prevent colour build-up. Using toners and colour-enhancing shampoos will also retain your shade.
Timing is also key; do not attempt to conduct several permanent colour processes on your hair within a one-month period. Frequent exposure to peroxides, ammonia and PPDs can cause the hair to become very porous and damaged. Once hair becomes damaged, it is then difficult to achieve a good colourant result, as the shade could grab initially and appear too dark or patchy, and then fade fast over subsequent washes.
11. Fashion Colours Can Be Difficult to Remove
Be aware that fashion colours such as pink, blue and purple, and often bright red, do not work on oxidation (peroxide) technology to evoke a long-term result; instead, they are a ‘direct dye’ which creates a temporary stain on the hair. If the hair is bleached, these direct dye molecules can deeply stain the hair and make the shade impossible to remove.
A hair colour remover is not designed to remove direct dyes. A stripper colour cleanse treatment can remove direct dye, but always strand test first to make sure the hair is healthy enough to withstand the treatment.
12. Clarify Your Hair to Improve Colour Results
Prior to any hair colour removal, stripping or correction, be sure to clarify the hair fully. Even if you have just conditioned the hair, there may be a barrier on the surface which will prevent removal, stripping or correction from working effectively.
If you see absolutely no hair colour change from a removal or a stripping treatment, it’s possible that your hair has silicone damage; this means the hair has been encased in a silicone which quite often has been moulded to the hair by heat.