Again today, a young woman verging on desperation came to us for help after trying to colour her own hair at home.

I won’t go into detail about this specific case, but this happens all the time. After attempting a home dye job, clients turn to a professional to “fix the disaster” they’ve made of their hair.

In the most typical situation, a young woman wants to go darker. She goes to the pharmacy, usually with a friend in tow, does her best to choose the right shade from among the dozens of boxes on the shelf, and opts for a “semi-permanent” product that allegedly fades after a few weeks.

I’ll spare you the drama that ensues in the bathroom, which will end up stained from floor to ceiling, to get to the heart of the matter:

“IT’S WAY TOO DARK. I HATE IT!”

Her first instinct is to go back to the store, pick up a lighter colour and redo it. Unfortunately, that fails, so our pseudo brunette has no choice but to call the nearest hair salon.

WHY DOESN’T IT WORK?

One of the basic rules of hair colouring that’s very simple but that very few people know about is you cannot use hair dye to lighten already coloured hair. You can use hair dye to lighten your natural colour by a few shades but it will never have the same effect on already dyed hair.

YOU NEED TO USE COLOUR REMOVER, NOT BLEACH!

So, what’s the difference? It comes down to artificial pigment versus natural pigment. In a nutshell, bleach removes natural pigment, and colour remover removes artificial pigment. Sure, bleach can lighten artificial pigment, but it will also strip away your natural pigment, leaving your hair looking yellowish-orange and badly dried out. A good colour remover will protect your hair and leave your natural pigment intact.

So, remember, if you decide to go for a dark colour like brown or black, bear in mind that you are making a long-term choice, and that only a professional can lighten your hair if you change your mind.