I have dark brown hair with copper red tint.  I decided to dye my hair red a few weeks ago, and ummm... it didn't quite turn out the way I thought it would.  It still looks brown!  The first time I dyed it, it was literally like they did nothing to it.  I went back to the salon literally the next day and a different stylist said, "She dyed your hair red??? It's still brown!"  She said she would fix it.  And compared to the first dye job, it was more red, but it's still almost brown!  I was looking for more of an Emma Stone light auburn/copper color.  Instead they gave me some dark auburn.  I got tired of arguing about it, so I just left it alone. 

I have been thinking about dying it on my own, but I have NEVER dyed my hair on my own, and definitely not red.  It's a hard color, especially for naturally dark hair.  I mean, why did I spend all that money in the first place if it didn't come out the color I wanted???  Anyway.  I don't know what to do, but looking at my brown-supposed-to-be-red hair every day makes me mad.  My sister says certain store bought brands wash out really easy, but doesn't that depend on the kind of hair you have?  UGH this hair business is frustrating... Anyone have any suggestions??!! HELP!

Dear ThaPlatinumOne,

 Hey, girl. It's not your imagination. Here's the deal: Color doesn't lift color. What that means is if you're a level 5 (for example) which is a medium tone, and there's already color on your hair, lifting the hair to a lighter color, even to a 6 (high enough to accept bright or vibrant red) cannot be done with the strength of the developer and the chemical makeup of a permanent hair color. In other words, if your hair is already darker than the color you're trying to achieve, you need to bleach it to get it to accept that lighter color.

Bleaching I definitely don't recommend doing at home. A stylist can do this in a controlled way -- although I wouldn't go back to the first stylist by the sound of it -- and then redeposit the red. I know this sounds drastic because bleach is a scary word, but what will actually happen is that the hair will only be lifted slightly, just a level or two to be able to have the red put on top. It shouldn't destroy your hair.

As always with red, which is notoriously the hardest pigment to really keep in your hair, don't shampoo every day, and be sure you're not washing your color and all that effort down the drain with a crappy shampoo. After you get the hair red, a red rinse at home isn't a terrible idea to save you some money and keep your color looking fresh; just make sure it's not permanent. If it smells really scary or the color you're applying is milky in any way, it might have some lifting agent in it which will cause unnecessary damage. If you're nervous about that, your stylist can probably refresh your color when you get your roots touched up which, by the way, won't involve bleaching. Your roots are what we call virgin hair, and they will react beautifully to just a red permanent color.

Hope this helps!


Anyone else needing answers to hair quandaries can submit using the "Submit a Post!" link. Make sure to put "Ask a Stylist" in the title line!