What Is Hair Color Correction? Tips On How To Fix A Hair Color Gone Wrong

Get rid of all hair coloring faux pas and achieve your dream tresses with easy hacks.

Reviewed by Madison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist Madison Dufour Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA Experience: 5 years
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Caps, ponytails, or dying your hair black to hide the undertones are a thing of the past. Instead, try hair color correction to neutralize brassy streaks. Ideally, we suggest you seek professional help, but if you are pressed for time, you can try hair toners to get rid of orange or yellow hues from your colored or bleached hair. Therefore, it is important to choose the right toner and volume to get the correction right. Do not fret! We have researched everything you need to know about color correction. Keep reading this article to learn more about how to fix hair color gone wrong. Scroll down for more information.

What Happens In A Hair Color Correction Process?

Hair color correction process neutralizes the hair color
Image: Instagram @blondesby_ic

Unwanted hair discoloration results due to botched hair coloring techniques like hair lowlights. These processes introduce undesired warm hair pigments leading to a difference in the hues. Hair over-processing or improper hair pre-lightening processes are some of the most common reasons behind brassy hair undertones.

In the process of color correction of hair, toners and purple shampoos or hair conditioners are used to neutralize or change the hair color. Usually, it is done to lighten a dark shade or vice versa. In some cases, it is used to remove the brassinessi  Unwanted warm tones that appear in colored hair as a result of exposure to sunlight, use of the wrong shampoo, etc. from blonde hair color.

Once the problem is detected, your current hair color can be changed and improved through restoring, removal, or neutralizing. As I mentioned earlier, toners are used to neutralize brassy and yellow hues in hair correction process. For example, if you have brassy blonde hair, it can be changed to something ashy. But note that if you want to lighten a dark shade, the process may take more than one sitting. Which begs the question – how long does it take to correct your hair color?

protip_icon Trivia
Hair color correction works on the principle of the color wheel in Color Theory. Colors placed on the opposite ends of the wheel balance each other out.

How Long Does A Hair Color Correction Process Take?

Hair consultation with an experienced hair colorist can solve all your troubles. They can understand the source of this hair unevenness and plan out a proper hair restoration strategy. The process may take weeks or months, but it all depends on the results you desire. Some stylists can complete a color correction in 6-8 hours. It is essential to consult a professional stylist since hair correction process can be strenuous for fragile hair. The harsh chemicals that are used in this process also need proper supervision. They can affect your hair stripping them from its essential protective cover. Hair moisture levels might also take a hit. Thus, hair maintenance and hair repair should be done after speaking to a professional.

Stylists might take hair swatches and then decide whether to opt for hair blending, hair glazing, or hair toning to correct the hues. For some hair types and hair colors, the correction process extends to more than 2 to 3 sittings. Factors like hair type, hair texture, hair elasticity, hair porosityi  Your hair's capacity to absorb and retain moisture , the condition of your hair, the permanency of your current hair color, and the choice of toner to be used go into determining the time period for this process.

Now that you know what happens in a hair color correction process and how long it takes, let’s get to the point and talk about how to fix different hair colors.

How To Fix Different Hair Colors

1. How To Get Rid Of Yellowish Hue

Before and after correcting the yellowish hue
Image: Instagram @nicolekopp_beauty

Blonde can be high-maintenance. After all, it’s one of the coolest hair colors in the world. But it comes with a downside. A common concern for those who don blonde hair color is the shabby yellowish tinge it tends to develop. This problem can worsen if taken for granted.

How To Fix It:

If you are familiar with the color wheel, you’ll know that the color opposite yellow is purple. Hence, to fight a yellowish hue, you need to use a purple ash toner. This will lighten the warm tone and give your hair an even distribution of ashy color. It also adds shine to your hair.

2. How To Get Rid Of Brassy Orange Tone

Before and after correcting the brassy orange tone
Image: Instagram @the.notorious.w_i_g_

Have you been noticing a strange orangish shade in your hair? Well, that’s your hair color turning brassy. A nightmare for those with light hair, this unwanted warm tone can be terminated with just a little extra care and effort.

How To Fix It:

The perfect way to get rid of brassiness is by using a blue tinted shampoo or a conditioner. This works well as it lifts the depth of your color and banishes the red or orange hair undertonesi  The color beneath the skin surface that influences your hair’s overall hue (the three undertones include warm, neutral, and cool) successfully. Cool toned products are best for preventing the brassiness from reappearing. Follow it up with a glossy neutralizeri  A product that acts to counteract unwanted warm tones in the tresses and produce a cool-toned hue . This keeps the sheen intact and prevents your hair from drying out.

3. How To Get Rid Of Ashy Blonde

Is the blonde shade that made you look like a diva fading away? Is your fading hair devoid of warm tone? Has it turned out too light for your preference? Don’t stress. Here’s a way to adjust the tone.

How To Fix It:

To cancel out the cool tone, you need to add a little warmth to it. Colors like red, yellow, and sun-kissed orange help in removing ashy tones. Use a red shade toner along with a developer. Using a warm toner on certain sections or all over your hair can evenly distribute the color.

4. How To Get Rid Of Stripey Highlights

Before and after correcting the stripey highlights
Image: Instagram @bubbleliverpool

Those super embarrassing highlights are taking a toll on your reputation? Don’t worry, here’s a way to fix those loud lines.

How To Fix It:

To tone down the hair highlights, you need to use the base color of your hair at the roots. This will soften the highlights and make them blend in with your base hair color. For the base color, choose a shade that is close to your natural hair color or no more than two shades lighter. For example, if you have brunette hair with light blonde stripey highlights, use a medium or light brown shade as the base color. This will give you a natural looking hair color.

5. How To Fix A Dip-Dye Gone Wrong

Before and after correcting the dip-dye hair color
Image: Instagram

When the ombre hair color of your dreams goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Here’s a way you can change that disaster into something beautiful.

How To Fix It

Dyeing a dark color over dip-dyed hair will leave you with a blocky finish. If you have naturally dark brown hair and got yourself a blonde dip-dye, you can cover up using a semi-permanent hair color in a warm-toned shade. Using this from the mid-length to the tips will help you get a gradual ombre. If coloring is not an option, go for a toner to blend out the harsh line. This will give you an evenly distributed ombre.

6. How To Lighten Dark Hair Color

Before and after lightening the dark hair color
Image: Instagram @blonde_over_everything

Did you end up coloring your hair a shade darker than the expected shade? Or do you wish to just change the dark hair color to something light and fun? Here’s a way to fix the hair-darkening problem and get to a shade to suit your preference.

How To Fix It:

To get a lighter shade, you can start with bleach. Note that in a single sitting, your color should not be lifted more than two hair shades. Remember, hair brightening takes time and patience. If you have dyed your hair blonde and it turned out darker than expected, you can use a clarifying shampoo as a quick solution. A clarifying shampoo can lighten the color in just three washes.

For a long-term solution, you can bleach your hair and dye it with a lighter shade or simply tone it.

7. How To Fix Unevenly Dyed Hair

Before and after fixing the unevenly dyed hair
Image: Instagram

Were you shocked to see patchy results after coloring your hair? Hold on! Here’s what you can do to fix hair patchiness.

How To Fix It:

Usually, when you dye your hair at home, the lighter sections tend to catch the color with greater intensity, thus giving you an uneven look. The easiest way to tackle this problem quickly is to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo. This will get you a little closer to the solution but will not solve the issue. Next, use the same hair color as before but reduce the leave-in time. Try applying it evenly on the sections of hair that did not catch the color and on the visibly darker sections. Then, buy a darker hair color and color your entire hair with this new color.

8. How To Fix Fading Hair Color

Fading hair color correction
Image: Instagram @cuzapparentlyineedthis

Is your gorgeous hair color fading away quickly? Are your lack-luster locks crying for some vibrancy? You’re not alone! Hair fading is the most common setback of colored hair.

How To Fix It:

Toner is the magic potion! Toners can restore the vibrancy and sheen of your hair.

You can also use color-safe shampoos to keep your hair color intact.

An unconventional way to protect your hair color is to mix a bit of your color with your conditioner. You can seek a salon expert to get this done.

For a long-lasting solution, you can opt for color-refreshing. Color refreshing is a semi-permanent process that helps revive your current hair color. Be sure to wash your hair less often to make the tone and color last longer.

9. How to Fix Green Hair Color Mistake

A girl with green hair tone
Image: Shutterstock

How To Fix It:

The best approach is to counterbalance the green hair color with warm tones. Warm tones counteract cool green tones and can help neutralize it. You can reintroduce warm pigments to your hair to counteract the effect of unwanted green tones. You can also use a semi-permanent hair color with warm golden tones for them. Make sure to use a developer to achieve a semi-permanent color result. This will help balance the overall tone of your hair.

protip_icon Quick Tip
The hair coloring process, in general, is damaging to the hair. Therefore, always look for gentle, ammonia-free hair color formulas.

Color correction can be a godsend when your hair coloring adventures go drastically wrong. However, you can commit some serious mistakes here that are easily avoidable. Read the next section to find out what they are.

A Few Mistakes To Avoid When Coloring Your Hair At Home

1. Avoid The Sink

Washing your hair in the kitchen or bathroom sink can be a quick way to finish off the coloring process. But the faucets in these sinks do not have enough pressure to rinse out the hair dye thoroughly. Therefore, it is advisable to step into the shower to wash away the product completely. If you’ve stained your sink, bathtub, or bathroom floor with hair color, you can use some bleach to get rid of the marks.

2. Analyze The Description On The Box Carefully

The shade indicated on the box might not turn out the same on you! Color swatches or online research on the tone or shade you desire can provide you with better results. Most brands mention which skin tone and natural hair color will be most compatible with a particular hair dye. Look through these and consider your options!

3. Do Not Color Beyond The Line

Your hair color may turn out to be absolutely beautiful. But stains on your hairline and ears? A big no-no. The best way to avoid this is to apply petroleum jelly all along your hairline and on your ears. In addition to that, put on some old clothes and keep a couple of napkins handy. If you do end up staining your skin, use makeup remover oil to get rid of the stains.

4. Look Out For The Right Shade

This should be on top of your priority list! Knowing if you are warm toned or cool toned can really help you choose the right shade. Women with warm skin tone can look great with cool toned hair and women with cool skin tones can go for something dark like red or auburn. Women who fall in between warm and pale skin tone can opt for either cool or warm shades.

5. The After Care

Correct hair treatments and proper hair care will prolong the longevity of the color. Never wash your hair with hot water after coloring it. This can open up the cuticles and result in fading. Hair nourishment is key since coloring can dry out your hair. Apply a conditioning hair mask to moisturize it. This will maintain your hair hydration levels and keep your hair soft. Look for hair serums formulated for treated hair or natural, plant-based hair oils as well.

Infographic: 5 Tips To Fix Hair Color Mistakes

Whether your color experiment has failed, or it looks brassy, or it has turned out to be uneven, whatever the reason may be, we bet you are haunted by regret. But don’t panic, we are here to help you by suggesting a few tricks that can help you cover the mess you are in and make you look more appropriate. So, breathe, relax, and check out the infographic below to learn how to fix it.

5 tips to fix hair color mistake (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The hair color correction process helps you correct the hair brassy tones that ruin your hair color. This process uses toners and purple shampoo to remove any brassy orange, yellow, or green tones from your hair, making it look amazing. It is important to note that if you want to tone a dark hair color, you might need more than one sitting. Depending on your desired hair color, the process could take a few sittings or months. Different toners and pigment shampoos can be used to correct various brassy hues. Scroll back up to check which one would better suit your hair color. Keep these tips and techniques in mind for the next time you face a hair color mishap. Now that you know what to do, you don’t have to panic!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a color correction last?

It depends on the degree of work. A hair color correction session can take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 6 hours. You may also require multiple sessions.

Why is hair color correction so expensive?

Hair color correction is expensive because it takes a lot of time, skills, and precision, along with many products.

What is the difference between color correction and grading?

Hair color grading refers to the system that determines the depth level of your natural hair, while toning, dying, and lightening hair to achieve the desired look is called a color correction.

Key Takeaways

  • Hair color correction is a complex process which is why it is best that you look for some professional help to restore the color effectively.
  • It is an expensive and time-taking affair and depending on the severity of the color, can take multiple sessions to achieve.
  • The entire process can be incredibly damaging and harsh on the hair and can cause hair breakage and dryness.
  • You will need to use moisturizing hair care products and avoid heat styling to keep the corrected color and minimize hair damage.
What Is Hair Color Correction? Tips On How To Fix A Hair Color Gone Wrong

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Transform your brunette locks into beautiful blonde tresses with this easy-to-follow color correction video tutorial! Learn the techniques to get the perfect blonde shade.

Madison Dufour

Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist

Madison Dufour is a licensed and practicing barber and cosmetologist with 10 years of experience, as well as an entrepreneur running several hair businesses, including MadisonD Barbering and The Exquisite Find Hair Blog. After working behind the chair for several years, she felt the calling to start the non-profit Barber in a Bag that teaches basic hair cutting skills in...read full bio

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