How to lighten permanent hair color that is too dark?

from brunette to blonde

There are two ways to lighten a permanent hair dye that is too dark.

  • The first way is to use another hair dye.
  • The second way is to bleach your hair.


But which way is best for your hair?

Keep reading to find out!


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Help! I’ve dyed my hair too dark, and it looks awful!

When choosing a hair color at the store, we usually think we found the perfect color.

Who hasn’t seen a box dye and thought, “Now THAT is the color I want,” only to have their hair come our darker than expected -or as a different color entirely- after using the dye?


To prevent this type of mishap, it’s important to keep two key points in mind when choosing a hair color.

  • First of all, your current hair color.
  • And second, the color shown on the box.


Your current hair color.

Of course, your current or base hair color will influence how the dye turns out. For example, blonds should generally choose lighter colors, or they could end up with an unpleasant surprise after rinsing the dye out.


The color on the box.

 Those models with lustrous locks in stunning shades on boxes of hair dye? They’re usually digitally altered. 

So unless you’re dying your hair jet black, it’s not going to look just like the model on the box.


Instead of only going by the color on the box, it’s best to ask a store employee for help or look at some hair samples.

Each brand usually has a small binder with samples of hair that’s been dyed various colors.

This way, you can be sure to choose the color that’s right for you.


How to lighten your hair… without damaging it

ready on a table

Like we mentioned earlier, there are two ways to lighten previously died hair.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.


First, you dye your hair again using another color.


How to lighten permanent hair color with another dye

If you’ve accidentally died your hair too dark, you can apply another, lighter color over it.

This makes it possible to lighten your hair up to two levels without bleaching it.

 That, being said, you simply can’t use dye to lighten your hair more than two levels. 


Let’s take a look at an example:

If you used a level 5 dye, you can use a 6 or 7 level dye, this will lighten your hair.

But, if you try to use an 8 or 9 level dye, it won’t only fail to lighten your hair, but can also make it opaque with an uneven color.


Why is that the case? Well, box dye commonly uses 20 volume developer.

which merely not a high enough volume to significantly lighten your hair.

It can only open the hair cuticle to allows it to absorb the new pigment.

This is why 20 volume peroxide can’t lighten hair more than two tones.


When my clients want to lighten permanent hair dye, I always recommend that they:

  • First of all, allow the new color some time to settle. It will fade somewhat after five to eight washes, and it’s better to wait until after that happens before you apply a new color.
  • Use conditioner, as most have sulfates that can fade hair dyes.


It’s always best to wait at least two weeks before dying your hair again. If you can’t even stand your reflection, it’s better to simply bleach it.

Let’s learn more about bleaching died hair.


How to bleach died hair

Bleaching died hair is an excellent option if you simply can’t wait two weeks to dye your hair again.

Or, as sometimes happens after a bad box dye job, can’t even stand to look at yourself in the mirror.

Lastly, if you dyed your hair much darker than you expected, you can use bleach to lighten it before applying another color.


  • For example, if you used a level 3 dye but now wish to use a level 6, you'll have to bleach your hair first.

If you've decided to remove permanent hair dye using bleach, I strongly recommend going to a salon. That way, you're less likely to end up with orange or yellow tones in your hair.


  • But if you're determined to DIY, you can -very carefully- use a mixture of 30 volume developer and bleach powder.

Then apply it to all your hair evenly, so it removes all of the color at once.

Depending on what color your hair is afterward, you can apply another hair to achieve the desired result.


  • If your hair has orange tones, you might try an ash blonde.

If it's too ashy, you can try a mahogany shade.

If you're looking for platinum blonde, you can simply use bleach to lighten your hair to the desired level.


  • In either case, I always recommended a deep hydration treatment after bleaching your hair, as well as a deep conditioner or hair mask once a week.

Another way to help your hair stay hydrated and recover faster is to use coconut oil every other day.



And there you have it!

Two relatively easy ways to lighten an overly dark dye job.


 Just remember to write down the level of dye you used, so you don't dye your hair too dark again. 

But don't worry too much about it, it happens to everyone once.


So enjoy exploring all your hair color options.

And keep in mind what I always say to my clients…

No damage lasts forever, and hair grows.


Do you have more questions?

Are you still not sure which method is best for you?


Leave a comment, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

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