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Getting Back To Natural Hair Color

My e-mail challenge this week:
I received a note from Lisa, who has been lightening her hair to a pale blonde for a few years but now wants to return to her natural shade of dark brown. How can this be done? I gave her some suggestions.

While it is possible to simply stop using hair color, letting her natural hair color grow out, it can take months while being somewhat unattractive.
She has a few other options.

  1. Cut It Off:

  2. She can cut her hair into a very trendy, very short style that is about one to one and a half inches long. When this is done with new growth (un-tinted hair) that is at least one half inch long, the new hairstyle will have a look that is "tipped" with blonde. While being very stylish, this length is not for everyone.

  3. The Tint Back:

  4. This is applying a tint of her natural shade over the entire body of her hair. This can be unnerving unless one is accustomed to making drastic changes. I advise her to be aware that even if the tint back is a perfect match, it may appear to her to be too dark.
    I recommend consulting a hairdresser in choosing the shade to be applied. Lightened or bleached hair often needs to be prepared to accept the tint or will require a shade with more red or gold pigment than her own color to achieve a natural look.
    I warn her to be prepared for many comments from those who are accustomed to seeing her as a blonde.

  5. Low-Lighting:
  6. As the name implies, this is much like highlighting but in reverse. Putting darker strands through the blonde blend the new growth and gives the same effect as highlighting. The blonde strands and natural color can then be grown out painlessly. This technique is done by applying a tint using a highlighting cap, foils or other method. As the color often fades over time, it is advisable to use a tint in a darker shade than her natural color.

  7. Slow and Easy Does It:

  8. Lisa can start by applying a slightly darker shade or "toner" such as medium blonde over her hair. When retouching the new growth, you will not have to lighten it as much. The next month she should go to a darker shade. Depending on how much darker her natural shade is than the blonde, this will take three to twelve months. The benefit is that she will avoid the shock of having blonde hair one day and dark hair the next.

One more consideration before we leave this discussion. If Lisa has been graying over the years, her skin tone may have changed also. Therefore, the natural dark hair color of her youth may be too harsh for more mature skin tones. In this case it is advisable to only darken to a light or medium brown for a softer look.

You will find more personal stories in the Hair Forum.

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