Here's What You Should (& Shouldn't) Do If You Have Hair Color Regret

First, don’t panic.

by Sienna Fantozzi and Kui Mwai
Originally Published: 
Wondering how to fix highlights that are too light? If you want to recolor your hair because you don...

Coloring your hair is a lot of fun, but it comes with its risks. It's not like a cut, which, if it goes wrong, can be hidden with styling, or even a tiny bit of growout can fix — the color is there, and once you've altered your hair’s natural color, it's altered, and no kind of up-do is going to hide that. But don't worry — there are a few things you can do if you don't like your hair color before you call the salon in a frenzy (or, like, cry).

If you have a colorist you trust, that's great, but sometimes things happen — you move and have to find someone new, or something just gets lost in communication and you end up with a dye job different than what you had envisioned. Even the best colorists have off days, and when you're working with chemicals, it's sometimes tricky to get exactly what you want.

For those who have had the unfortunate experience of leaving the salon upset, you’ve probably wondered how to fix highlights that are too light, how soon you can recolor your hair if you don’t like the color, or maybe even how to ditch the hair color at home. Remember that your colorist wants you happy, and if something is wrong, then you should definitely go back and get it fixed.

Before you make any hasty decisions, try these five things at home if you don’t like your hair color. It might be an easier fix than you thought.

1. Wait (But Not Too Long)

Seriously. Just chill and do nothing. If you made a dramatic change, give yourself time to get used to it before you decide you don't like it. In addition, if you got highlights and they're feeling too bright, you definitely want to wait several days to a week, because highlights can be brighter fresh out of the salon. "Highlights can be brighter and more vibrant right out the salon, depending on the type of toner that your stylist used. The right toner can cool down a platinum blonde, or add a buttery golden to all over warm brunette," celebrity colorist and Color Director for eSalon, Estelle Baumhauer said.

Just make sure you don’t wait too long. “Most salons have a one-to-two-week window to allow for adjustments,” celebrity hairstylist and colorist Cory Aaron Scott explains to Bustle via email. He suggests booking another appointment ASAP to see what your stylist can do to adjust your color.

2. Wash Your Hair With The Right Shampoo


Washing your hair with tinted shampoo can help cool down your hair’s tone, especially if it’s brassy. Ian Michael Black, Global Artistic Director of Hair Color for Aveda, tells Bustle via email that “after a few shampoos and a few days, the highlights will settle in and look a little bit more blended. [Use] a good conditioning shampoo like Aveda Botanical Repair Strengthening Shampoo because it will help keep the condition of your hair great.”

Make sure you “look for a product claims to enhance your color (blonde, brunette, reds and so on) as opposed to products trying to add creative colors such as pinks, purples and aquas,” Michael suggests.

Excessive washing is not a good fix for highlights that are too light. “If your highlights are brighter than desired, washing won’t help,” Michael says. “If anything, excessive washing will only make them brighter.” According to Black, that’s because shampooing your hair starts to wash away that toner. “The coolness of the tone will slowly fade away and your hair color will get a little bit warmer,” he adds.

3. Don’t Turn To Box Color

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It’s tempting, for sure, but resist the urge to pick up a box color to try and fix your current color. “More often than not, it ends up complicating everything. It will end up costing more to fix in the long run,” Michael says.

4. Try Switching Your Part

If your highlights feel too heavy, switch up your hair part. Colorists usually place highlights according to your part, so chances are, switching to a different part would have less-heavy highlights and reveal more of your natural hair color.

5. Go Back To The Salon

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Color correction is a tricky process, so the best option is to leave fixing your hair color to the professionals. “I would always recommend going to a professional salon,” Michael says. “Sometimes when you try to fix your color yourself, you may cause more problems and it could cost you more money because you’ll need to seek a professional to sort that out.”

To change the tone of your highlights, colorists can apply a glaze to eliminate brassiness or deposit semi-permanent color on top of them. If your hair is too dark, they can add some highlights or use something stronger to soften the color.

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