Dyeing your hair can be an exciting change in life – but it can be challenging. A change in hair color for permanent results starts with bleaching the strands. But what if you don’t want any extra hassle of color-treated hair care – or miss your old tresses? That’s when you may want to dye bleached hair back to its natural color.
But is it even possible to reverse the results of bleaching? Unfortunately, no. Bleaching strips away your hair color pigments, which won’t return on their own as time passes. But you can dye your bleached hair in a shade that matches your original hair color. Meanwhile, your mane will grow naturally and blend with these portions.
The entire process needs a lot of care, practice, and patience – and maybe some expert advice from time to time. So here’s a guide to help you at every step!
Can You Get Back Your Hair Color After Bleaching Naturally?
Once you bleach your hair, the original color will not return to the bleached portions naturally. That’s because hair bleaching is a cosmetic process. It removes pigments from the hair strands using a chemical bleach to lighten hair color.
The combination of oxidizing and alkaline agents in hair bleach breaks down the color molecules in the hair shaft. It quickly removes your natural color and the shade added during previous hair coloring treatments. Thus, you can’t reverse bleaching.
Why People Want to Go Back to Their Natural Color
After bleaching, many people want to go back to their natural hair color. That’s because it is much more convenient and cost-effective to maintain natural hair color. Here’s why it might be a good idea to go back to your original hair color –
a) Regular Salon Visits
Bleaching, dyeing, and post-care require specialized non-toxic, and gentle products. Doing this regularly or using improper techniques can leave your hair weak, rough, and dry. You’ll need regular touch-ups to cover discolored roots. Thus, you end up spending a fortune on salon visits and pricey post-care products. Plus, it’s time-consuming.
b) Not the Right Look
When you bleach your hair, you may enjoy the look at first. What’s even more fun is dyeing your hair. But eventually, you may realize that the flat white bleached look – or the rainbow hair color is not the right look for you. You may even find that a sophisticated and muted hair color is not right for your skin tone and personality.
c) Hair Dye Fading Due to Regular Activities
Alkaline agents like ammonia, present in swimming pools, open the hair cuticles to enhance fading. Plus, the melanin or dye particles dissolve due to degradation when exposed to oxidative agents like hydrogen peroxide iron in the air, water, or UV rays. So it would be best if you avoided regular activities like swimming, regular hot baths, or a walk in the sun.
Steps To Dye Bleached Hair Back To Natural Color
Now that you have a brief idea of how hair bleaching works, it’s evident that the impact of the process cannot be reversed. So you can regain your original hair color only by dyeing. The process involves the following steps –
a) Research and Find Your Color
Since you aim to return to your natural hair color, the first step is to analyze your hair color. Unless you identify your hair shade, you won’t know what color you want. For that, do the following –
- Find Your Undertone
Undertone is the subtle hue underneath the thin layer of your skin. It can be warm, cool, or neutral. A warm undertone means your skin has a yellowish or orangish hue, while a cool undertone refers to a bluish or pinkish hint.
A neutral undertone means a hue between warm and cool hues, similar to the top skin layer. Find your undertone and match your hair dye color. Otherwise, the color will seem unnatural and overshadow your features or give you a washed-out look.
There are many ways to determine your undertone. But the simplest method is the wrist test. Start by checking the color of the veins on the inner side of the wrist under the palm.
If the veins appear blue or purple, you have a cool undertone. If the veins are green, your undertone is warm. But what if you can’t tell if the veins are blue or green or if both types of veins are present? It means you have a neutral undertone.
- Grow Your Hair Out
The only way to know your real hair color is by letting your hair grow out a little. The newly-grown portions of the strands near the roots will have a natural color. This is a helpful technique even if you have had previous color treatments.
If your hair is fully bleached, you may need to grow your hair out for up to a month or two. But this wait is unnecessary if your hair is not fully bleached and you have had treatments like balayage, ombre, highlights, or lowlights as the roots are visible anyway.
Hair growing out in a drastically different color can create a dramatic look that you can rock. But if you’re not up for it, you can use a temporary hair color spray for a temporary touch-up. It can be washed out easily with a single wash.
b) Prepare Your Hair
Preparing your hair is essential to achieve even color results and maintain hair health. For that, you need high-quality products – and proper care.
Get started with the process of preparing your hair and complete it a day before dyeing your bleached hair. This will give you enough time to rewash if required – and dry your hair completely.
- Removing Pigments
The first thing to do is check your bleached tresses for residual color. If required, you may need to bleach your hair properly again to remove permanent dye pigments.
You should only attempt to bleach your home if you’re an expert. Bleaching is a complex process that can go wrong at any point and cause severe damage. So we suggest going to a salon for this.
Next, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any buildup from the scalp and hair. You’ll easily find anti-residue clarifying shampoos developed for pre-coloring washes.
Frequent use can fade semi-permanent color quickly. But it can be quite harsh, so it needs to be used in moderation and not like regular shampoo.
Remember to deep-condition your hair, especially if you have curly hair. Bleaching, using a clarifying shampoo, and color treatments expose your tresses to chemicals and make them dry. Deep-conditioning will restore lost moisture, reducing frizz or breakage.
When purchasing your shampoo and conditioner, make sure to pick products for color-treated and bleached hair. These are specially formulated to handle all possible weaknesses and dryness while detoxifying your hair and scalp.
You’ll easily find color-depositing conditioners and hair masks that hydrate your colored or bleached hair. Such products will also ensure that the following steps don’t do much damage to your precious mane.
c) Tone your Hair
Bleaching may sometimes leave a yellowish or orangish tone in your hair instead of giving you a pure white base. This happens when the bleach can’t remove all the hair pigments, especially due to a poorly-done bleach job.
Applying dye to it will make the color less vibrant. Neutralize your bleached hair by toning it. And the simplest way to do that is by using a purple or blue shampoo. These toning shampoos can be used like regular shampoo to eliminate the brassy tones.
You can also use a semi-permanent color or gloss to do the toning job. You must be careful about choosing the right toner color to get the best results.
British hairstylist John Freida explains how different hair colors may turn out after bleaching – and the neutralizing toners you should use –
Source – JohnFeida.com
Apply the toner in the right shade to your hair like any dye – after mixing it with the developer. Leave it in your hair for the time mentioned in the product’s instruction manual, usually 10 minutes.
d) Choose the Right Dye
You must consider two factors while picking a dye – color and formulation. Both are essential for your hair’s look, feel, and health.
Start the color selection process by checking the roots and picking a shade that matches the roots as closely as possible. This will give you seamless results as your hair starts to grow.
But choosing the appropriate color can be a bit of a challenge with bare eyes. You can get confused and end up picking the wrong shade. That’s when your research on your skin undertone will help you.
You’ll need to pick a warm, cool, or neutral shade according to your skin’s undertone. For instance, honey blonde and copper brown can be perfect for warm skin. And ice or ash blonde or sandy brown are great hair color examples for cool skin.
In this video, celebrity hairstylist Brad Mondo shared his thoughts on picking the right color based on your skin’s undertone. And if you don’t want a drastic change, you should also pick some lighter shades for highlights, balayage, etc.
A dye is more than just the right shade. You must pay attention to product quality and formulation. Make sure to pick a dye formulated for bleached or color-treated hair. You must also consider whether you want a permanent or semi-permanent dye.
Moving from dyed hair to natural hair color
e) Perform a Strand Test
A strand test is just your hair dyeing process – in miniature form. It allows you to test the waters and find out how your hair color will turn out. A strand test will also allow you to gauge if you need to make changes for the best results.
The process is simple. Take a small amount of the color and developer in a non-metallic bowl and prepare the dye as instructed in the manual. Then, take a small bundle of hair from a hidden zone and apply the dye.
After leaving it for the time mentioned in the instructions, wash the bundle properly – and check the results. If you like the results, use the same color on the rest of your bleached hair.
But make sure to use the dye within the next 48 hours from the strand test. That’s because once you open the pack to take a small amount, the chemicals in the dye may start reacting to air contact.
f) Apply the Hair Dye
You will have developed a basic idea about preparing the dye during the strand test step. Follow the instructions given in the manual for mixing the developer and the color.
Remember to wear gloves – and apply vaseline on your skin around the forehead, cheeks, back of the neck, etc., to prevent staining. Then, apply your hair color in sections.
If you don’t want to change your hair drastically, you can transition slowly with the help of highlights and lowlights, balayage, and other styles of coloring. Once done, cover up the entire dyed hair with a shower cap to prevent staining your clothes or skin.
g) Wait for the Dye to Work on Your Hair
Timing is an important factor in getting the right results. Leave the hair dye in your mane for a duration recommended by the product.
Remember that the time may vary depending on the type or hair dye you use. But do not attempt to leave the dye in your hair for more than the recommended time. Otherwise, you may damage your hair.
h) Rinse Your Hair Properly
As soon as the recommended time is over, rinse your hair. You can use lukewarm water to do that. Continue to rinse your hair until the water runs clear. But do not apply shampoo at this stage.
i) Apply Conditioner
After rinsing, apply a color-protecting conditioner to your hair. You can use the same product that you used before dyeing. Doing so will repair any damage that may have been caused during the bleaching, cleaning, toning, or dyeing process.
Conditioning your hair will also nourish it and leave it looking shiny for a long time by locking in moisture. Rinse off the conditioner using cold water for a smooth texture. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner after that.
j) Style and Maintain your Hair
Once your hair is dry, style it as you want – but make sure to take proper care. Remember that dyed hair needs extra care. Do not wash your hair for 72 hours after dyeing; use a color-locking shampoo and deep conditioner when you do.
Also, avoid washing your hair too often. If you ignore these factors, the color will fade quickly. If you apply homemade masks, avoid ingredients like honey, lemon, cinnamon, and cardamon, as these are known to lighten hair color.
Also, avoid heavy use of heating tools and stylish products. Make sure to use conditioners regularly instead of using shampoo only. Cover your hair when there are chances of exposure to UV rays, i.e., sunlight, or ammonia, e.g., pool water.
k) Repeat the Process if Required
If you use semi-permanent dye, the color will fade within six weeks, while permanent hair dye will last for six months. But if you have damaged or porous hair, you will lose the dye faster.
Accordingly, you will need to repeat the process of dyeing. However, dye sparingly, as it can cause permanent damage to your hair and change its texture. So dye your hair only when the color fades – until your hair grows out.
A Word of Warning –
Bleaching and dyeing are complex and need care and expertise. So don’t hesitate to consult a professional hairstylist. Take proper guidance regarding the right products for dyeing and maintenance. It’s a good idea to do a patch test before dyeing your hair, and if you experience any allergic reaction, stop immediately and wash your hair properly.
Once your hair grows to a significant length, you can chop off as many dyed portions of the hair as you want. This will reduce repeated hair coloring and give you back your original color.
Get proper guidance and recommendations for the best products and techniques for your hair type. Being confused about how to dye bleached hair back to its natural color is normal. If you’re not confident, feel free to get it done at a salon.