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How to Dye over a Dark Hair Dye

If you try to apply color over hair that’s already been dyed, it’s only going to get darker. To dye over a dark hair dye, you can choose a simple method, such as adding highlights or color sprays to your hair. You can also lift the color using special shampoos or color removers — this method will work for lightening your hair color just a few shades. For a more drastic color change, you can use bleach, making sure to use extra caution so that your hair doesn’t become super damaged. After you've lightened or bleached your hair, you can apply a new color for your desired look.

Method One of Four:
Making Simple Alterations

  1. 1
    Highlight your hair to avoid dyeing all of it. If you want to lighten your hair without having to spend the time and money to dye all of it, try highlighting certain strands to create a new look. You can highlight your hair at home or have the highlights done.[1]
    • Choose highlights that are only a shade or 2 lighter than your hair color to avoid too harsh of a contrast.
  2. 2
    Add red tones to your hair for a change of color. You can have your hair stylist add red tones to your hair, or you can use a red hair dye to do it yourself. There are even ways to naturally bring out the red tones in your hair, which can be done at home. Bringing out red tones will make your hair appear lighter while giving it more dimension.[2]
  3. 3
    Use an airbrush spray designed for hair to add color. These are colored sprays that you spray directly onto your hair for a quick and easy lightening option. They usually come in colors such as yellow, pink, silver, green, and blue. Once you spray the product onto your hair, you can comb through your hair to blend it.[3]
    • The spray washes out when you take a shower.
    • These sprays work on even the darkest shade of hair.
    • By spraying on several layers, you can build up the color, if desired.
  4. 4
    Try out hair makeup to alter the color of your hair easily. Hair makeup is similar to an airbrush spray, but is a bit more subtle. It's a cream that comes in several shades, such as rose gold, copper, bronze, and red. Just rub it right onto your hair, or use a comb to spread it evenly.[4]
    • You can find hair makeup at some drug stores, beauty stores, or online.
    • Hair makeup isn't permanent and washes out easily.

Method Two of Four:
Lifting the Color a Few Shades

  1. 1
    Wash your hair using a clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo will help reduce the intensity of the dark color, but this will only slightly lift it, not completely remove the color. Shampoo your hair with the clarifying shampoo at least twice in the shower for the best results.[5]
    • If your hair wasn't colored recently, this may not have a huge effect on lightening your hair.
  2. 2
    Apply heat to your shampooed hair for better results. If desired, you can get out of the shower and use a hair dryer to heat up the clarifying shampoo on your head before rinsing it out. This will help your hair cuticles open up to release even more color. [6]
    • Tie your hair up with a hair clip and put on a shower cap. Heat your shampooed hair with a hair dryer for about 1 minute.
    • Be careful not to melt the plastic of the shower cap, and never use the hair dryer in the shower.
  3. 3
    Spray lemon juice or Sun-in on your hair to lighten the color. Use a bottle of Sun-in or a fresh lemon to spray lemon juice all over your hair. Use a brush to spread the liquid evenly throughout your hair, and use a hair dryer or the sun to create the desired effect.[7]
    • The more heat you apply to your hair while it has the spray in it, the lighter your hair will become.
    • You can do this process multiple times, but don't be surprised if your hair doesn't lighten as much as you would like.
    • Your hair may feel dry after using lemon juice. Condition your hair with a moisturizing conditioner to hydrate it.
  4. 4
    Lift the color with a color remover or lightener. Color removers will help strip your hair of the dye so that you can start to return to your natural color. Color removers can be a bit harsh on your hair, so try to use them sparingly and read the directions carefully to ensure you use the color remover properly.[8]
    • Condition your hair deeply after you’ve used a color remover.
    • Try to wait a couple of months before using a color remover a second time to keep your hair from becoming damaged. However, some color removers are safe to use immediately after one use. Check the package to be sure, and consider the condition of your hair as well.
    • These products can be found at many drug stores or beauty supply stores, as well as online.

Method Three of Four:
Bleaching Your Hair

  1. 1
    Deep condition your hair before bleaching it. Try using a deep conditioning mask on your hair a week or 2 before bleaching it, conditioning it several times. This will help strengthen and rejuvenate your hair, getting it ready for the bleaching process.[9]
  2. 2
    Protect your work surfaces, clothing, and skin. Do the bleaching in a place that will be easy to clean up and wipe down, like a bathroom or kitchen. Wear clothing that you don't mind getting ruined and a towel around your shoulders. Wear gloves so that the bleach won't damage your hands.
    • It's best to use a white towel or a towel you don't mind getting bleach on.
  3. 3
    Mix bleach with a developer to start bleaching your hair. Purchase a bleach kit for your hair, which will most likely also require a developer. Mix the bleach and developer together in a bowl, reading the instructions carefully to determine the exact measurements.[10]
    • A 20- or 30-volume developer will be best for your hair.
  4. 4
    Divide your hair into sections to make bleaching easier. Tie up the top layer of your hair using a hair tie or plastic clip so that you can easily reach the bottom layer. If you have really thick hair, you can separate the bottom layer of hair into 2 or 3 additional sections using plastic hair clips.
    • Make sure that you only use plastic clips when you are bleaching your hair.
  5. 5
    Apply the bleach evenly to your hair, doing your roots last. Use an applicator brush to apply the mixed bleach to strands of your hair evenly. The bleach kit should provide you with the best strategy for bleaching your hair, but make sure you apply bleach to your roots last.[11]
    • Your roots heat up the fastest, so if you bleach your roots first they will turn lighter than the rest of your hair.
    • Wear gloves over your hands and a towel around your neck to keep the bleach from damaging your hands or clothing.
  6. 6
    Wrap your hair up and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Use a shower cap to keep the bleach settled on top of your hair, allowing the heat from your head to remain trapped in the cap. Most bleaches will stay on your hair for 20-30 minutes, but keep checking your hair to see how the color is turning out.[12]
    • You shouldn't leave bleach in your hair for more than 1 hour.
  7. 7
    Rinse the bleach out carefully after the allotted time is up. Once the 20-30 minutes are up, or if you decide you like the color of your hair before that time, rinse the bleach out with clean water. Shampoo and condition your hair afterwards.[13]
  8. 8
    Wait 2-3 months before bleaching your hair again to avoid damage. Bleach can be very rough on your hair, especially if you’re going from a dark color to a light one. To prevent your hair from breaking off or becoming brittle, wait 2-3 months before bleaching your hair again if it didn’t get as light as desired the first time.[14]
    • You can also deep condition your hair again to help keep it healthy in between bleaching sessions.

Method Four of Four:
Applying the New Color After Lightening or Bleaching

  1. 1
    Pick out a hair color that will complement your skin tone. Choose a hair dye that will look good on you and your current hair color. Make sure you've gotten your hair light enough so that it will accept the new hair color.[15]
    • When choosing a new color, opt for a dye that's 1 or 2 shades lighter than what you're actually going for. When you dye your hair at home it often comes out darker than you anticipated.
  2. 2
    Mix your chosen hair color with a developer. Many times your hair dye kit will come with the developer, but if not, pick up a 20-volume developer from a drug store. Follow the instructions that come with your hair dye to mix the dye with the developer proportionally.
    • You can also purchase developer at a big box store, beauty store, or online.
  3. 3
    Separate your hair into sections to make dyeing your hair easier. Pull together the top layer of your hair and secure it with a hair tie or clip. Divide the bottom layer into 2-4 sections for thicker hair.[16]
    • If your hair is thin, you can easily dye the bottom layer of your hair without sectioning it off.
  4. 4
    Use the applicator brush to apply the dye to your hair. Just like you did with the bleach, use the dye applicator brush to apply the dye to 1–2 in (2.5–5.1 cm) sections of hair. Remember to do your roots last.[17]
    • Make sure your shoulders are covered to protect your clothing, and wear gloves to protect your hands from the dye.
    • You can tie your hair up and put a shower cap on once your hair is covered in dye, if desired.
  5. 5
    Read the dye instructions to know how long to leave the dye in your hair. Each color and brand of hair dye will have different instructions, so read them carefully to determine how long you should leave the dye in your hair before rinsing it out.[18]
    • Use a timer to ensure you leave the dye in long enough to have the desired effect.
    • Don't leave the dye in longer than the allotted time on the box — it may damage your hair or skin.
  6. 6
    Rinse the dye out after the allotted time is up. Once your timer has gone off or the time is up, rinse the dye out of your hair under cool running water. You can use a shampoo and conditioner appropriate for colored hair to get rid of any extra dye residue.[19]
    • Once the water runs clear, you'll know the hair dye has been washed out.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Do I need to bleach my hair to dye it maroon?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • This depends on how vivid you want the maroon to be. If you don't mind a darker shade of maroon, you don't need to bleach your hair. If you desire a lighter shade of maroon, but you have very dark hair, perhaps a level 1 or 2, you would need to bleach your hair first and then apply the maroon dye.
    Thanks! 4 1
  • Can I dye over a darker hair dye to lighten it up?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • No, color does not lift color. In order to apply a lighter dye, you would need to first remove the current dye by using a color remover kit, or by doing a bleach bath on the hair. Once you've removed the darker dye, you can apply a lighter dye.
    Thanks! 3 1
  • Can I put ash-blonde color over dark-brown hair to get a lighter brown?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes.
    Thanks! 22 4
  • I blended a brown color into my hair about 3-4 months ago to disguise some purple I had in it. If I dye it purple again, will that old purple show?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Not unless it is still visible within your brown hair, but if you're dyeing the entire segment of hair in which purple is visible, then no, that old purple will not show.
    Thanks! 7 1
  • How do I re-dye my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If your hair is currently a dark color, and you would like to re-dye it a lighter color, bleach it before coloring it for best results. If your hair is a light color (typically shades of blonde), you can go right ahead and dye your hair whichever color you like.
    Thanks! 7 1
  • My hair is black, and I want to dye it like red, but I don't want to bleach it or use a color remover because it will damage my hair. Will the color still show up pretty good?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No, it will not show up, and if it does, it will be barely noticeable. Think of it as trying to write on a black piece of paper with a red marker: you just wont see it. You will need to have lighter hair for the red to show up on your hair.
    Thanks! 16 5
  • How do I dye my hair when I have red hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If you want to dye it a lighter color, you may have to bleach it first. To go darker, you don't have to bleach first.
    Thanks! 6 1
  • I dyed my hair blue gray and it came out sort of blue black. Now I want to dye it light brown. What color should I use?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • I suggest bleaching it first, and then dyeing it brown so that the color will show.
    Thanks! 7 2
  • I've recently dyed my hair black, but I want a mousey dark ash brown now, so if I use a color remover on my hair will that take me to it?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No. You will likely have to use the color remover and then your will likely have to dye it the color that you want.
    Thanks! 8 3
  • How can I add purple highlights to my dyed black hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Bleach or use a light hair dye to highlight your hair, then dye your whole head with purple dye. The black won't take in any purple and you'll end up with purple highlights.
    Thanks! 7 3
Show more answers
  • What color will my hair be if I remove the extra strength color if it is dyed black now with gray roots?
  • What can I do if I don't want to wait for henna dyed hair to grow out to dye my hair?
  • How can I dye my hair without waiting for the previous henna hair dye to grow out?
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  • Professionals will have the best method for coloring hair that's already dark, so visit a salon if you're able to.
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Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Clarifying shampoo (optional)
  • Hair dryer (optional)
  • Lemon juice/Sun-In (optional)
  • Color remover/lightener (optional)
  • Deep conditioner
  • Towel
  • Gloves
  • Hair ties or clips
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Developer
  • Applicator brush
  • Shower cap
  • Hair dye
  • Comb

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Expert Review By:

Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Dye over a Dark Hair Dye was reviewed by Ashley Adams on March 16, 2018.

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Categories: Coloring Hair

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