How to Fix Home Hair Color Mistakes

Most women have tried home hair color! Sometimes it turns out great, but sometimes it’s a fiasco. Trying to fix hair color can be challenging too, but there may be hope. Most of all, don't panic. There are some options to help with your mistakes.

Many women try a new color or cut when they get frustrated with life. You may think that blondes have more fun, but if you end up with orange hair instead, you may not be having too much fun! Few people can actually wear orange hair and look good! 

orange hair image You can fix home hair color boo boos with more color, but to do that you’ve got to understand the color wheel. There are some other options for special circumstances, so keep your options open.

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If you've ended up with bad color that looks horrible, try and calm down. Breathe and remember that life is full of blunders. Most hair color mistakes are fixable! It may take a few more colors to reverse your color disaster, but have patience. After all, good things come to those who wait!

If you can afford to go to a professional, that may be the safest route! However, you’ll need to do this in the first 48-72 hours. After that, color locks into your hair and is much harder to remove. If you can’t afford to go to a hairdresser, you might consider calling your hair color manufacturer for assistance. (i.e. Clairol, L’Oreal, etc.)

Most of the major companies have toll free consumer help lines printed on color labels. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they're not. It largely depends on the problem you have.

Aside from those things, there are a few other things you can do. There are color removers on the market but these shouldn't be used very often.

The best way to remove really dark permanent home hair color is with a color removal product or bleach. Depending on the color that you selected, you may be able to cover permanent color temporarily with a semi-permanent color. This is especially true if the color you used is a lighter color. Its much easier to cover mistakes quickly on lighter colors where it is virtually impossible to do so on most darker colors.

orange hair image

Home Hair Color Fixes

Chlorine Removal

Blonde hair that has turned green from too much time in the pool responds well to the ketchup treatment. It is easy as 1, 2, 3!

Directions - Apply a generous amount of ketchup (or tomato juice) directly onto your hair. Work it into your hair with your fingers. Cover your hair with a shower or plastic cap and leave it on your hair for 20-30 minutes. Shampoo, rinse and dry your hair.

  • Depending on the amount of green this treatment may need to be done twice.

  • The down side to this treatment is that the smell can be a little, er, well, smelly! Or, you may have a mysterious desire for a plate of French Fries or pasta when you finish! This method is also be a bit messy, but hey! It works great!

    Hair Color is Too Dark

    If your home hair color turned out too dark, you might be able to remove some of the color using cream peroxide. This refers to the peroxide you use when you color your hair, not the peroxide you use to clean wounds or brighten teeth! Liquid peroxide is too unstable so don't use it. Cream peroxide can be purchased at any Beauty Supply Store and is very inexpensive.

    Directions - Use a mixture of three ounces of shampoo, 3 ounces of 20 Volume peroxide and 1 oz. water. Blend well and apply it with a color bottle where hair color is at its darkest. (If you need more you can mix it) Use latex gloves and blend the mixture into your hair with your fingertips. Cover your hair with a shower cap. Sit out in the sun or use your blow dryer with a diffuser to help heat your hair up.

    If both of these options are inconvenient, the heat from your head should work very well too. Just be sure to stay warm while you are waiting. About every five minutes, check the color until you are satisfied, then shampoo and condition hair as you normally would. Do not leave the peroxide on for more than 10-15 minutes though. You don't want to damage your hair too!

  • You can repeat procedure more than once if your color is too dark. However if you do this more than two or three times, it can start to hurt your hair.

    oil on hair image

    Henna Removal

    Many people have home hair color disasters with henna. Not only does henna coat the hair, it can be highly unpredictable. If a horrid shade of henna is haunting you, reach for good old fashioned alcohol and mineral oil.

    Directions - Saturate hair strands with a mixture of 70 percent alcohol applied with a spray bottle. Avoid your scalp. Wait five or ten minutes then saturate your hair with mineral oil. Apply it on top of the 70 percent alcohol. Do not apply to your scalp. Cover your head with a plastic cap. Sit under a hooded dryer for 30-45 minutes, sit in the sun, use your hair dryer, use a heating cap or simply stay warm.

    To remove the oily mixture, apply a little shampoo to the palms of your hands and then pat onto your hair BEFORE you rinse with water. Wait a few minutes, then rinse with water. Wash your hair again with a clarifying shampoo. You may need to shampoo more than once to remove all the oil.

  • If necessary, repeat as needed.

  • Once you have removed the henna, be sure to perform deep conditioning treatments to restore moisture to the hair.

  • Do not use hair color removal products on henna. Henna is unpredictable and can leave you with unusual results!

  • When in doubt about henna, don't do it. Take your time and do lots of research to be sure you are on the right track for the desired color results.

    Color Removers

  • L'Oreal Colorist Secrets (This product is getting harder and harder to find)
  • Developlus Color Oops
  • Jheri Redding Color Fix
  • The Uncolor System Haircolor Remover – A semi-permanent hair color remover that Clairol says is gentle, quick, and easy.

    Getting Rid of Reds

    Try L'Oreal Colorist Secrets to remove red home hair color. This product has gotten some pretty good reviews. You can buy one of two types.

    Pick from two color choices for either blonde or brown hair. This product seems to be a minimally invasive way to tone down the red colors you have.

    The only way to completely remove unwanted dark red colors is to bleach your hair or use a color remover, then add color or a toner. You can do this yourself at home, IF you have the right information.


    Try Clairol Shimmer Lights for blonde or white/gray hair. Shimmer Lights is a purple shampoo that is specially formulated to eliminate brassiness or orange hues.

    * I've used this shampoo for medium brown colors with some fairly good success, so don't dismiss purple (often called silver) shampoos just because they are formulated for blonde and gray/white hair only! One size does not fit all!

    Fading Colors

    Hot water is notorious for fading chemically colored hair but is my least favorite option. Hot water is alright once or twice. Longer than that can really damage hair though, not to mention what it does to your sebaceous glands and skin! More than that and you are asking for damage. Damage plus a bad home hair color is double trouble!

    Some root lifters and volumizing shampoos made by Matrix Amplify, may also help fade color faster because it is designed to blow open the hair cuticle, which sometimes helps remove colors. Heated extra virgin olive oil and some hot oil treatments will also help to slowly eliminate colors.

    Optionally, you can also use dish washing soap (like Dawn) to remove some color if you use it immediately following color application. Prell shampoo is notoriously harsh on your hair so you could try that too.

    These methods won’t remove the all your home hair color mistakes, but they can help fade them, which may or may not be a good thing. Fading colors can sometimes actually accentuate a bad color shade. This happens less often but is something worth considering.

    Give it Time

    Although you may hate your new color, if neither home or professional correction are an option, consider cutting your hair and starting over. There are a lot of cute short hairstyles! I had to cut mine when I got out of beauty school. (We experimented on each other to learn. I guess I should have been flattered cause everyone wanted to practice on my hair!)

    If cutting your hair is not an option, remember that most colors fade in time. Give yourself some time to let the color fade. Once it's faded, you can apply another color to help correct your color faux-pas.

    Personally, I like to use permanent color to correct bad hair colors. Why? Because they work! It may take a few times of coloring to get the desired result but it’s usually possible as long as you understand the laws of color. Home hair color is a lot easier if you have a guide to follow that makes sense! (The exceptions are henna colors or strong mahogany/burgundy colors in your hair, which are the hardest to correct!)

    In order to be successful coloring your own hair, you need to understand a few basic things about hair color. You can't just look at a boxed color, decide that's the color for you, take it home, use it, and expect that your hair will look like the picture on the box. Hair color strand tests are the ONLY way to know if a color's going to give you good results. They should be a regular part of home hair color applications.

    I also suggest that everyone should grab a copy of my inexpensive hair color ebook. Its written in layman’s terms so it’s easy to understand. Read more about it here. You might actually learn a few things about color that you didn't know before and be able to make better decisions about the hair colors you choose to try!

    These home hair color tips should help you with many of your home hair color mistakes. Life is too short to worry too much. Most home hair color boo boos are fixable! It may take some time to get your hair the right color but in the end, it'll be worth it! You'll also have a greater understanding of what NOT to do the next time!

    Related Pages on This Site

    Taking Care of Chemically Treated Hair – Before and After

    Tips for Coloring Your Hair - Advantages and Disadvantages

    Best Hair Color Shades to Compliment Your Hair

    Your Haircut and Your Face Shape

    Your Facial Shape and Your Hair Style

    Your Haircut and Your Face Shape

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