Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fact: Fixing a Bad Dye Job


I was cursed (although my Grandmother says blessed) with glow-in-the-dark ginger hair, making the concept of hair dye a thrilling grown up ritual that I dreamed about every birthday until I turned 15. First stop after a night of testing my alcohol tolerance with straight vodka (including a run in with the police and subsequent hours spent huddled beside a friend’s toilet being violently ill) was a chemist to buy the darkest, deepest black hair dye I could find. Thankfully all I could afford was a temporary, "8 washes and you’re done" dye which sufficiently darkened my hair enough to feel less like a comic book character and more like a real, normal, non-ginger girl.

The only problem is that once you experience life without dyed hair, you get hooked. After that first $5 sachet of Napro came a glorious shade of (semi-permanent) purple, Feria’s chocolate cherry, a brief stint with green hair (which I still can’t explain) and finally permanent jet black. I felt it made me look edgy, moody, and rebellious and my skin porcelain perfect. However I neglected to include my pale eyebrows in the transformation, forgot that black hair turns fair skin sallow and that I looked like Wednesday Adams. If she was dead.

You would assume a person would learn their lesson and stick to a more natural palette. Not I! I tend to go through the following cycle. Close to natural colour, just a little more pigmented. Slightly more red, like burning hot embers. Chocolate brown with a tinge of red. Black. Then regret.

As a result I have spent countless hours working my way through various products and old wives tales, attempting to locate the holy grail of hair dye removal. I don’t believe in hair dressers (or more accurately, my bank account and intense stinginess doesn’t believe in hair dressers) so all attempts are home grown.
And so we begin.

Home Hair Dye Removal Kits→
If your hair is in good condition minus the bad dye job, these work a treat, smell bizarre and cost slightly more than a box of permanent hair dye. Don’t mess around with halving the measurements, even if you end up with too much for your hair length it’s not worth ruining possible good results with the wrong proportions of the chemicals.
Many of these kits advise that your hair will be lightened by a shade or two. I find that they make your original colour slightly wishy washy but there won’t be any drastic changes. It’s nothing a more subtle, less permanent dye can’t fix.
Use a good conditioner afterwards and lots of it. Rinse/shampoo out the dye removal mixture, put VO5 Hot Oil in your hair for a minute, shampoo out the hot oil, cover every tiny strand of hair with the most intense conditioner you can find and whack on your shower cap. (Intensive conditioning should be used after any of these processes.)
Exposing your hair to hot oil treatments and everyday hair conditioner will also help very slowly fade the colour.
Try L'Oreal Colour Zap (US)
MyHD Permanent Hair Colour Remover (Available in Australia)

Bleach/Peroxide→
If your hair can handle it and is fairly healthy, you can try straight peroxide. I recommend buying an all in one kit, where the measurements are simple (usually mixing together some powder and some liquid in a bowl) rather than the powder and liquid separately. New hair will lighten faster than old hair so start applying at the ends and carefully work your way to the root. Follow the directions. Seriously. The box directions know best! Careful of your scalp, you don't want to burn it with peroxide. You might need to apply a temporary dye afterwards, to even everything out and use the conditioner that comes with the kit. And your normal conditioner. And every other conditioner in the house.
You may need to put some toner through your hair (use after shampooing, lather up, leave it in for 5 minutes and rinse) to remove any brassy tones.
Try Decore Blonde No:2 Naturally Blonde which lightens (a nice way of saying 'bleaches') hair 2-3 shades. I definitely recommend going easy on the bleach, if it doesn't lighten your hair enough, try dandruff shampoo for a few days.
Also, Decore Blonde Hair Toner

Bleach/Shampoo Mix→
Almost like bleaching without the pesky scalp burning, watering eyes and fried hair. Dandruff shampoo is fairly well known for sapping hair colour, which in this case is exactly what you want, the more colour sapping the better! Mix 2 table spoons of bleach powder with enough shampoo to create a paste to cover your hair. Apply to damp hair (wear gloves, bleach powder will make your skin dry and flaky) and put on a shower cap.
This is the hard part; since everybody’s hair takes to colour and bleach differently you’ll need to keep an eye on the results. Take a peek at your hair every 5-10 minutes or so. My hair took about 30 minutes before it was a colour I was comfortable with.
Rinse out the mixture, shampoo, condition, condition, CONDITION. And remember that you’ve used bleach; your hair is going to be need some care and attention to get it back to a healthy state.

Bicarbonate Soda/Shampoo→
An Internet discovery, I saw this recommended and figured if bicarb is good enough for my face (more on that later), then it’s good enough for my hair.
Using about 2 tablespoons of Bicarb, a generous squirt of dandruff shampoo and a little bit of water, I massaged the mixture into my hair, donned my trusty shower cap and waited for half an hour. To be perfectly honest, this removed a small amount of colour, taking my hair from jet black to dark, dark brown, but it gave my hair the most amazing shine, like freshly cleaned glass. For a good hour I forgot that I had intended for the mixture to do anything other than blind people on sunny days with its astounding amount of shine.
This is a great method for slowly removing colour, gradually lightening it rather than removing colour all in one go.

Conditioner→
Conditioner and hot oil treatments are a very slow way to fade colour, but probably the kindest way to treat your hair. Sleeping with your hair slathered in conditioner with cling wrap or a shower cap will lightly remove colour. Follow up your conditioned sleep with a thorough wash with Head and Shoulders or a medicinal dandruff shampoo; make sure you get rid of all the conditioner or you'll feel like one of those poor penguins covered in oil after a tanker crashes.

Dandruff Shampoo→
The gentlest option of all, although you will work your way through a hefty amount of shampoo. Wash your hair with your dandruff shampoo of choice, leave the suds in your hair for 3-5 minutes (enough time to shave your legs or stare dreamily at the water running down the shower door), rinse and repeat. And repeat again. This will slowly fade the colour and following up each wash-a-thon should be a hefty deep conditioner.

If all else fails, it's time to pack it in and get to a hairdresser, pronto!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daughter has vibrant ginger hair, too- and I think it's beautiful. (Most people do!) I can see why you might want a change, though - everyone has times when they want to fit in with everyone else, and don't appreciate the things that make them different. So sorry you're having trouble 'fixing' the bad dye job, but take heart, the good thing about hair is it grows out...