Whether its a DIY experiment, or change of heart, or your children cry every time they see your new hair, inevitably everyone needs a hair do over. Its easy to fall into with all the YouTube tutorials, movie stars that color their hair back and forth between dark and light and back to dark. This post is about the process of taking a client from light to dark and back to light again. I want to share with you the journey with all the bumps along the way and the realistic outcomes. This process is officially called "Color Correction" and it costs a lot. Hopefully, I can explain why it costs so much and why we should try to avoid it.
This is my beautiful client Vicky. She is Chinese and has think strong hair. The above picture is an ombre we did in the spring of 2015. It turned out perfect! It was a ashy/neutral tone, which means there was no red or orange color to it. The darker the natural hair color is the harder it is to keep those pesky red tones away. I always use Olaplex with Vicky because it prevents serious damage. Because her natural color is so dark and I took her so light, her hair did have some damage. Not a lot, but the ends were dry and tangled easily. Vicky loves her long hair so the damage is preferred to cutting.
This ombre lasted almost a year.
Once winter hit everyone was going darker and Vicky thought she was ready for her dark hair back. So we picked a really pretty eggplant purple. It looked the best right after we did it and for whatever reason the picture turned out a lot more purple than it looked in person. Its hard to maintain a solid color after such variation underneath. The purple fades to red and the light pieces always look lighter than everything else. Its hard to get color to stick once the hair has been taken so far from its natural color.
Blonde is addicting. Even after thinking you are over it and ready for a change, be careful. Its a really hard habit to break. There's something about it that is difficult to go without. If you are blonde and thinking about changing it up, go slow. Add a few darker pieces. Go just a shade or 2 darker. If you decide you want the blonde back after all the process is not an easy one.
After only a couple months of having the dark back, Vicky was back in The Salon wanting her blonde. She decided instead of ombre she wanted more of an all over lighter look. So the process began.
Doing any major color corrections I use Pravana Artificial Color Extractor. I have used others but Pravana's seems to work the best with the least amount of damage. Usually the hair is a little dry afterwards but a few moisture masks will bring everything back to healthy. The Color Extractor takes out any color that is sitting on top of the hair, so it won't do anything to the natural color. I was trying to get as much of the Purple color out of her hair as I could before I bleached it. The bleach would have taken it out as well, but much slower and left the hair much more dry and damaged. The above picture is after one Color Extractor application.
This picture is after 2 applications of the Color Extractor. See, it works really well! I love that stuff. However, each application takes around 45 min. The hair has to be scrubbed with shampoo a couple of times then the product is applied and the client sits under the dryer for 20 minutes. Then the products has to be rinsed for a few minutes then another round of scrubbing shampoos. So, if you are doing the math, Vicky has been in The Salon for over an hour and half and is only one step into this process.
The next step is the highlights. I didn't take any foil pictures because we've all seen girls with foils in their hair. Vicky looked like that. In trying to avoid as much damage as I could I took smaller sections and gave her what I refer to as "Babylights." This would give me lots of blonde color that would lighten more evenly. Its a slower process but the end result is more even and overwhelming. I also will tell you that I used a color and a bleach formula. The color was a level 7 and it was used to add dimension and depth to the over all look. Both the bleach and the color formula had Olaplex added to them because I knew we were going to need them.
It took me an hour to foil Vicky's whole head and only 20 min for her to process. Then I rinsed and toned which is another 20 min process. I used the Olaplex conditioner as a cutting lotion so it stayed on the hair while I cut it which was another 20min. Then the blowout!
As you can see the end result turned out so pretty! It was even and dimensional. The colors are lovely and soft. It is much more warm than the previous ombre but Vicky's priority is length so there was only so much I could do to those ends to keep them safe. As it is the blowout concealed the damaged ends. Hair can only take so much before it can't take anymore. We ended up trimming a couple inches but the last couple inches Vicky didn't want trimmed are pretty dilapidated.
"What was the point of the Olaplex and the long babylights process if the hair was going to be damaged anyway?"
Good Question! The ends are frazzled, absolutely, but just the ends. Lightening dark hair can leave the hair mushy and dead from root to tip. When that happens there is very little that can be done, other than the painfully long grow out process. And to be honest, Vicky never lets me cut as much as she needs cut so before we started this process her ends were pretty thrashed.
So to recap, after just over 4 hours and a $300 price tag, Vicky had her blonde back. Not the same blonde and not as light but that was just the foundation. In a couple months when she comes back I'll do regular highlights and it will be lighter. And each time after that it will come out lighter and lighter. Whatever you want to do or undo can be done, but its the consequences that need to be considered. The cost. The damage. The time it takes to get you there, sometimes a few months. Not every thing can be done in one appointment. However, the positive outlook says "Go ahead! Try it! What's the worst that can happen?"