Lightening hair that has been dyed dark


Hi there,

I've not posted in this forum before, but have found this site useful so hopefuly someone here will be able to help me...

I've been dying my hair dark red/violet colours for about 7 or 8 years. I don't 'just dye the roots' i colour it all over, about once every six weeks. I usually use LIVE colours permanent colour that contains hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.

I would now like to lighten my hair so that I'm able to use bright/semi permanent/UV-reactive colours as they don't touch my hair at the moment, it's just too dark for the colours to show up.

Two salons have said no, they will not be able to lighten my hair. They took a few strands and used bleach, the result was a brassy copper orange type colour and it looked like straw. 

I'm sure loads of people have done this: Should I just bleach the hell out of my hair and then use a semi permanent colour on top straight away to cover the awful brass colour? Or will this make my hair fall out completely? 

It does get quite dry at the moment, probably from the years of colouring it, I use loads of conditioner but it's not really badly damaged, despite all the dye.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
May 31, 2011

I'm sure there has to be some stylist on here who you'll offer suggestions!

Here's what I know from my yrs of DIY hair. I do crazy colors all the time...but only when my hair is not too long. I always have a plan too, I start with bleach super short hair and work my way down the colors. Dark is last. Once I decide to grow it out I stop bleaching. Bleaching or stripping hair is really hard on it. I'm not an expert but if your hair is already pretty crunchy/dry I would not bleach it. If your ok with it, I would suggest cutting it short and starting fresh once you have new growth, if you want to go light. As long as you keep bleach and harsh chemicals off the scalp the hair wont "fall" out, but if you did bleach it, you could end up with super fragile hair that breaks very easily.
May 31, 2011

*in walks Nikki*

Color doesn't lift color... So once you've gone dark- the stripping process is hell on wheels. Veena hit the nail on the head. Also as a licensed stylist i wouldn't recommend it unless you want the crunchies- or your hair in the shampoo bowl :o/

Hair has 10 levels in coloring and trying to go from say 1 (Black) to 10 (Blond) is no go.. think blowing the cuticle out of it's frame- that's where you get the dry look from... Hair can only take so much. Either way- Veena is right. I'd be conditioning the heck out of my hair prior to coloring and certainly if you're trying to lift- but the real answer to the dark is shears.
May 31, 2011
tiggertail Previous Paid Member

I have learn the hard way that dark color is a nigtmare. I had color them black and after a while was not happy and wanted to go back to light color. Lucky for me my hair we're not too damage so i only did a few streak  bleach a little and color them red. gave me the feeling that my hair are less dark while they grow.

So now it's more darker at the end and under but getting better than skunk hair (black with light middle) lol
May 31, 2011



I agree with Nikki. However, I am also a licensed stylst and I can tell you that it is possible and there are ways to get around the "taking my hair home in a plastic bag" thing. It's correct that you must go through several levels of lightening to get it to the proper lightness and that when you go through this process, it's not pretty lol Natural human hair will ALWAYS pull brass when lightening. It goes from level 1- black, when it's lightened, it will go red. As you get lighter, so does the red tone. Going from red to red-orange to orange to orange-yellow to yellow to pale yellow. So you WILL have to color over it any point (unless you LIKE orange hair lol). If you have a "color correction" done at a salon, it can be quite costly (my salon charges $100 an hour, usually about 3 hours) but it is worth it. As you will have a professional watching and making sure your hair doesn't fall off. AND the color we use at my salon has HUGE amounts of conditioners in it to restructure the hair cuticle after such a procedure. I DO NOT recommend doing this at home. Box bleaching kits and box color is very dangerous when you don't know how to use it! If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!! Good luck! :)
May 31, 2011

Nikki :)  I dye my hair black from about level 7 blonde.  I used to be platinum blonde and gradually went darker to level 6 or so before taking the plunge and getting it professionally done black like I've wanted since I was a child.  My question refers to what you said about color not lifting color, what is the level developer that usually comes with black hair color?  I am curious but not going to find out what my 30 vol would do with the permanent.  IDK how long I've had the 30 either but it's moot b/c I'm not doing it.  But curiosity....


To Seratasmin, strictly based on personal experience, when I had blonde hair it would not grow past chest level, once I went black, it grew to my waist.  Maybe that's not important to you, not everyone cares about growing their hair, if I had short hair, like that's how I chose to have my hair for life, I would have a different hair color every month!  
May 31, 2011
Hey guys, stylist of 11 years here... I agree with both of the stylists who have already posted... (first time posting myself btw) it IS do-able, BUT definitely don't do it yourself... Box colour is most certainly NOT formulated for exactly your hair situation and will most likely just break it off or at the very least you will end up chopping a lot off to get it feeling normal again.

Not sure where everyone lives but in Canada we have a product called "vanish" it is an oxidative colour remover done by salon professionals it doesn't "bleach" the hair but removes permanent hair colour in a gentle way with no damage to the cuticle... (smells terrible but it works!) Now, that being said, any corrective colour is a gamble especially if you are trying to go drastically lighter. I can't remember if you had said that you were using box colour or not but IF you were... My best suggestion is to let the colour grow out as much as possible without coloring it and then chop as much of the colour out as possible. Box colour is a very scary thing to try and correct as a stylist and whenever I'm dealing with it in the salon I make clients sign a waiver because you can never guarantee it.

One other suggestion I have would be to buy some clip in pieces in as light a blonde as you can find them and put whichever colour you wanted on the swatches of hair (human hair of course as synthetic hair won't absorb colour) to give yourself a peek-a-boo effect in the duration until you can achieve what your looking to do.

Good luck! And keep us posted on the progress!

Cheers from canada's capital
Jun 1, 2011

Stylist of 11 years here! There are more of us on here that I thought! I do not recommend doing this yourself at all. You could loose a lot of hair and have to cut it short. This is something to be done in steps. It can be done. But I do it in baby steps for my clients to save their hair in the process. Letting your roots grow out is the best idea as mentioned before. If you are wanting to cut some hair, the process would be much easier.
Jun 1, 2011

Yay!  A hair conversation!

Semisweetdreams has a great point, and I actually used it yesterday.  I have been a hairdresser for 8 years and I have done everything in the book to my hair, and managed to keep it connected to my head.:)

My suggestion would be to head to your local Sally's Beauty Supply and pick up a box of Color fix


It's a yellow box and it's not bleach.  It removes oxidized color from your hair.  You apply leave it in for 20 minutes and rinse.  If you don't reach the desired level, you can apply again.

It doesn't burn or hurt your hair.  I use this on my own hair quite often.  Like SemiSweetdreams said, it smells awful, but it works.

KEEP IN MIND, It will not return your hair to your natural color, it will take you back to the underlying pigment (which is probably going to be orange or yellow) but it will do it safely.  Then you can put in your fun colors (Bright red would work really well)  Make sure you follow the directions inside the box.  :)



Jun 1, 2011

Hi, I'm not a professional hairdresser but I have been dying my hair every 1-2 months since I was 11 so I've got a lot of experience with it.  About 2 years ago I had cherry red really bright hair and then decided to go platinum blonde.  I was able to do this without once using any bleach lightener product (or going to a salon, I did it all on my own) it was just a really gradual and slow process.

I've uploaded a couple of photos so you can see what I did.  First with my red hair before I started:



I was on vacation then and the humidity was crazy, but you can see that it was really red then.

First I suggest you use a protein filler or repair product.  I swear by the Sally Ion Reconstructor:


I use it now twice a week and it's wonderful.  But to actrually get the dye out I used that Color Fix stuff ember suggested.  The trick i found with it (at least with my hair) is to put it on as the directions say, then wait at least a week before putting it on again  if it doesnt first come out light enough.  During that week I found that my hair kept get lighter (some sort of oxidation? again I'm not a stylist).  I used that color fix for about 8 treatments over 2 months and it got most of the red out.  Beware that it totally will turn your hair this bizarre orange color but I just tried to ignore that.

Once that was done I put on a medium golden blonde color and ended up with thisL


which wasnt bad but not what I wanted so over the next year I was using lightest golden blonde dye every 6 weeks (conditioning like crazy in between) and got it pretty light blonde. 

Here it is now


It's not quite the platinum I wanted but close enough and really is in decent condition considering all the abuse it's gotten.  I condition it in olive oil (yep) and use that Ion Reconstructor stuff a lot and I'm really pleased with the DIY results.

Again this is just my own experiences for my own hair, but I say it's highly possible but may take a very long time.  Hope this helps.

Jun 1, 2011

Sorry, it doesnt look like the pictures came through.  Im typing this using free coffee shop wifi so I'll try again later with them  :)
Jun 1, 2011
chemgoddess1 Paid Member

I have used the color fix from Sally on numerous occasions on permed and fried hair and did not further damage.  I always followed up with a protein or keratin treatment before dying again though.  You do not say what color your natural hair is.
Jun 1, 2011
Okay so I have a question, I've been dying my hair black for about two years and I'm naturally a dirty blonde color. I would like to lighten my hair and don't necessarily want to go to a salon to do it. can up just bleach highlights into my hair from home and do it gradually myself? I did a bleach wash on my hair not to long ago and it barely did anything to my hair. Most salons said they won't do it....and I'm impatient. Lol. Any suggestions?
Feb 9, 2012
If your hair is balck it will not bleach out to blonde right now. All you can do is go to sallys, get bleach and 30 volume developer. You will then need a dark blonde color and 10 volume developer to put over the orange the hilights pull. Everyone is different though and it is hard to tell without seeing tour hair.
Feb 9, 2012

I've had good luck using 30 vol with the kaliescopes blue(  I have natural dark, dark brown hair ) You'll need a hood dryer for it. Using a hood dryer means you get the heat you need to help the product work and it is on your hair for the shortest amount of time. The blue will help pull your hair up to a baby duck yellow and not orange.I've also used color opps( you can buy this at walgreens) and the color fix from Sally's. The color fix smells worse, but works better and seems less drying. I'm in love with the Ion keratin treatmeant and use the Ion color defense after color sealer. You can use the color sealer as a conditioner or after you use your regular conditioner. Also if you can find it ,Cortex has a wonderful shampoo and conditioner that will help keep the frizz down if you have fried your hair. It isn't cheap ,but is well worth it. I found some at my local TJMaxx and got all they had. I think I'm set for a year. :) Oh and a good trim will do wonders for how your hair feels and how well it retains it moisture.

P.S. when working with color remember your color wheel. Opposite colors on the wheel will help correct themselves. So red will correct ashy green colors. Blue will correct orangey colors and so on. This does NOT mean get a straight red color for your hair. This works for the undertones in the color.So if you bleach your hair the color you are left with is the udertone. So you'll want to find a color with the opposite undertone. Warm colors will more then likely have red/orange under tones. Cool will have blue or green undertones.

PPS if you've really fried your hair back off from using heat on. Let it dry naturally.Avoid using a flat iron or curling iron on it.
Feb 9, 2012

I should prolly mention I've been a barber for the past 14 years. I mostly work with men's hair and guys tend to be very simple with there hair and color choices.
Feb 9, 2012

I had been dying my hair black with Live XXL colours for year and my sister used the purple ones, we didn't just do the roots either. We both decided we wanted to go lighter so we used something called colour B4 that we got from superdrug in the UK. It shrinks the dye molecules so they can be washed out. Both of us ended up with very ginger/orange hair which she died over with a light brown and I chose to bleach my hair to a light blonde. I took me 2 bleaches (the first was cheap stuff I got from boots that didn't do anything, the second time I got professional stuff online and it worked amazingly) that I did 2 months apart, but I didn't mind having ginger hair. My hair was a bit dry afterwards but a haircut fixed that in no time. 

The only problem with the colour B4 was that it wasn't supposed to work with the Live dyes because they contain something that when heat is applied sticks itself into the hair and becomes almost impossible to remove. Though it worked for me perfectly and I have been straightening an dying my hair for 5 years now. 

How much you would have to bleach would depend on the colour you wanted to go so you might not have to bleach it as much as you think. I dyed my hair intense copper after a few months of being blonde, then died over it a few months later with bright red and it came out very vibrant. But lighter colours would need pale yellow hair first. 
Feb 9, 2012

HELPPPPP!!! i have been dying my hair dark brown for years my hair is graying now so i want to go sandy brown just to hide it a little how can i do this??
Apr 28, 2012
Well hello everybody im looking for some rather quick advice as I should be dying my hair this week . I want to go a light candyfloss pink , so right now im a darkish brown and ive most probably got still abit of colour build up underneath that , but ive ordered 30 vol bleaching creme and also the developer powder , so I already know for a fact that as soon as ive applied this bleach my hairs going to turn white at the roots and bright copper ginger at the middle section of my hair and a dark copper ginger mixed with a darkish brown at the ends , so if I was to do this and im trying to get it as close to being as lift as I would possibly need it to go to make sure the candyfloss pink turns out the way I want it to rather than it turning out a darker pink but a bright pink , its suppose to achieve the look of looking almost a salmon pink or as known a flamingo pink :) so if I bleach it a second time lets say the next day would this lighten my hair or would it just make it a brighter orange colour ?
Jan 28, 2013
Hi i m not sure if this helps you but if i understood you right you want the candy color by bleaching not by dying?
My ends are bleached ..they re nearly white. Afterwards i dye my whole hair bright red the bleached part is pink...but it fades out after a few times of washing so at the end it s like really blond which is the look i want to at the top with blonde ends.
Personally i d say bleaching down to a certain color is super hard .i would really recommend that you get your white first then apply a semipermanent pink color or a permanent red color (with fades to pink).
I dont think that a natural color can turn into a pink just by bleaching. But i m not an expert!
Hope i could help a bit..if not sorry
Ps you can mix semi permant colors to the shade you want :)
Jan 28, 2013

Does anyone have experience with Henna hair dye? I was looking into lightening my hair as it has gotten to a pretty dark shade from my henna but I am always nervous to even look at bleach. Does anyone know if the Color Oops would work on Henna dyed hair?
Jan 28, 2013
Medamaid Paid Member
If you bleach the hair the next day it will lighten it more. The only way it will go bright orange is if you take it off too early. The problem with bleach is that it dries out the hair so you have to be careful to not over process it.
For your first application I would suggest applying it to the midshaft and ends first, then once it starts to lift then apply to roots. ( more work but prevents your roots from going white and potentially breaking off while waiting for the rest to lift). I would also suggest using a plastic bag to cover your hair, it will keep the heat in, which helps process faster as well as preventing bleach fron drying out, which stops processing all together. Good luck!
Jan 28, 2013
Reyn, I've been a stylist for 10 years and in all of my experiences with henna color it is not recommended to use lighteners (bleach) over it. Since henna is a vegetable based color it can react poorly with other types of colors or lightening agents. I have seen several occasions where people have tried to lighten hair dyed with henna and the hair literally melted within 5 minutes of applying the bleach. If you really want to lighten your hair I suggest growing in as much of your natural color as possible and having the color done by a professional hair stylist.
Jan 29, 2013

I wonder if you know if the henna you've worked with is PURE henna? I have heard tons and tons of horror stories about mainstream henna that has added metallic salts and other reactionary chemicals, and every time people use it and try to dye their hair at all with it they have complications. But what I use is pure henna, and from everyone else who's used it I hear that it is fine to dye over it, though I expect some brassy undertones from the plant dye if I try to lighten it. I will definitely be doing a sample test before I try to do anything with my whole head (better safe than sorry), but I don't want to spend the money on Color Oops if it's really just bleach I need to use to lighten it. 


I don't think I've ever met a stylist who has REALLY looked into the henna I use, I would *love* it if I could finally talk to a professional about it who has done the research. If you DO want to learn more about what I use, go HERE:

Jan 29, 2013

Absolutely, Reyn. Henna from is all I will EVER use. I've henna'd my hair for years and I love it.

Keep me updated on your patch test. I've toyed with the idea of dyeing my hair with some bright semi-permanent color but don't know how it would go with henna, and then back to henna.
Jan 29, 2013
Reyn, my sister uses pure henna on her hair as a conditioning treatment since she mostly only uses natural products on her hair. When she finally decided to highlight her hair we did a patch test and her hair didn't melt, but it did heat up in the foil after a couple of minutes. As a result we decided to wait a while until her hair grew out a bit.

From the time a stylist goes to school to get licensed we are taught about the interactions of hair color with other chemicals and compounds commonly used on hair, henna being one if them. When I was in school we actually had to take swatches and do patch tests on hair to test the reaction. We tried hair with pure vegetable color, box dyes, chemical relaxers etc. I can't say that in every students' case the hair melted but some did.

Color removers are a safer way to remove color from hair since it causes oxidation without blowing the cuticle as wide open as bleach, which is what causes the fried feeling. If your going to lighten it yourself I recommend using a color remover, especially if you've layered your previous color (henna or other color) when touching up in the past. Depending on how much of the darker color has been layered it may be difficult to lift the hair past a red orange tone even with a bleach. Either way make sure to do patch test first to be safe. Also, remember that lightening dark hair can be a process that can take more than one day to do without completely frying the hair.
Jan 29, 2013
Elektra Vallens

Just a word of advice about henna: it's really hard to get out.  It binds to the keratin in your hair, and won't be taken out completely by using bleach, or anything else, to my knowledge.  It also doesn't come out very well over chemically processed hair, including bleached hair.  The best thing to do before you henna is cut out a small piece of hair from somewhere discreet, and do whatever you plan to do to it first, as a test patch.  Henna also takes a few days to oxidize, meaning it will turn slightly darker over a couple days, so be sure to let the test patch sit a while to see the final color.
Jan 29, 2013

Thanks guys. I don't want it removed completely I just want it a little lighter. I was hoping to just lighten it up a bit then reapply if necessary to bring it back to a not gross color =) 

Looks like I'll be patch testing the Color Oops =)
Jan 29, 2013

hey maybe some one can help me with my hair colour issue.... had it bleached proffesionally about 3 years ago then dyed it dark brown so bottom half of my hair is bleached but covered up with a dark brown and then had highlights running through it about 2yr ago but only to put purple on it which looked fantastic at the time, now its been darkest brown 2 shades off black for about under 18 month which is 4/6 shades darker than my natural hair colour, so my hair is real dark brown but bottom half has been bleached and about 1" above that has highlights (covered up) now i want to lighten it to a shade closer to my natural colour as im fed up of colouring it... but what can i do that doesnt involve bleach nor peroxide?????
Feb 7, 2013
If there was bleach under the black there's no way you can lighten it. If you use peroxide it will just snap off. You're going to have to grow it out and cut it off!
Feb 7, 2013

So I find it pretty funny that most of these posts are against it...I have dyed my hair many colors and have been from platinum to black and back. I have used peroxide, lemon juice, and bleach and have only had bad experience with the peroxide. Dried it out and some fell out but to me this is fine, I have very thick hair. I have done most of dying my hair by myself or with help from a friend at home. Hair salons have crazy prices these days. I've bleached my hair 3x from black. It was fine. And through all of that dying and the haircuts and straightening and blow drying, my hair has survived. Yes it takes a toll on it but only if you plan on doing it back to back. I do it about every three months. I've recently been to get my hair cut and they told me my hair was very healthy and bc I got two inches cut, no split ends right now. I'm bleaching my hair tomorrow and a week later, I will be dying it a light brown. I don't see why bleaching your hair seems to be put down as long as you have healthy hair.
Mar 28, 2013
My hair..also too recommendation is to put some highlights in it..slowly put in more and more then when you have a lot an all over toner over them if you want to give you overall lighter look..working on it mself..have dark brown hair and just added goldish/caramel highlights in ut..just a few to start.skinny ones. Highlights even around face wil brighten you up and slowly work your way up to lighter like I said by doing all over highlights and toner on top.
Apr 4, 2013
I Just went lighter from black and it wasn't easy. I used Loreal high color for dark hair only which is available at sallys.the colors seem to go from light blonde to red...(i went red) if you have really dark hair and its healthy use a 40v creme developer otherwise 30v is recommended. By a deep conditioner pack again for after, it did not Deandre my hair u love the color! The smell is strong though so good ventilation its a must
Apr 5, 2013
Sugar Tanqueray
maybe I can help.. I'm a licensed cosmetologist.. I don't understand why the salons turned you away! I can tell you that for every problem there is a solution.. it might be a long drawn out one.. but theres a solution. You CAN bleach your hair out. It will take two or three tries to get it the right color. In between each lightening you need to let it sit for about a week and put conditioning treatments on it every other day at least before lightening it again to the desired shade. The conditioning treatments will provide strenght to your hair so it won't be completly dead by the end of this. I even suggest doing them on your dark hair before you even start bleaching. It sounds like youre damaging it every six weeks with your all over color. I would spend two weeks at least doing conditioning treatments which by the way you can buy at your local beauty store in little packets.. I suggest henna n placenta or something with keretain and argan oil. You also need to wait ad do MORE conditioning after you bleach it all out to the desired lightness, after another week I'd then say you could go ahead and apply color. I suggest getting joico bleach if you can and a 30 vol. Apply to midshaft then roots and ends. Please use treatments! they'll save your life! 


Apr 5, 2013
I have some questions that hopefully someone can help with. I am new to hair color. For the past 4-5 years I have put highlights in once a year and then would cut it all off before the next time. This year I had low lights put in my red hair (I would describe my natural color as new penny red). I hated them so I decided to take the plunge and have it professionally colored to match the dark red low lights. Unfortunately it cam out waaay darker than expected. My hair grows pretty fast so I have dyed it twice over two months since I had it done. It is now a combination of dark red and dark brown. What can I do so that I can dye closer to my original color. Bleach? Color fix? And then dye? And if I use bleach\colorfix how soon after can I dye it?
Apr 6, 2013
With the color oops its made so you can dye it the same day just follow instructions in box
Apr 7, 2013
i used to be quite experimental with my hair, iv died it blond, dark brown, red, then brown, then blond again and even blue, but after dying my hair blond i decided i wanted to go darker, so foolishly i bought some dark brown hair dye from the $ store, and my hair ended up going blue black!!, i used color-before twice to try and get rid of the black but its still so dark, my friends so i have black hair and as im quite pale my grandparents say i look like an emo!, i dont want to bleach my hair because iv dyed it so much im scared it will fall out, but i need to do something?!?!?!
Apr 29, 2013
Hi, I need help. My hair is dyed black now for a few years, last year I decided to do a red and black ombre...and since doing it I went lighter on just the bottom portion of my hair. I used bleach and noticed my hair became very hard and broke very easily. I had a lot of fallout as well. When i let my roots grow out they are mainly Ive decided that I want to dye my whole head grey. Well the bottom part is bleached but the top part is still black and now with greys. I havent dyed it in about a month but the mix of colors is driving me insane. Is there any safe way to get the rest of the black out without further bleaching? Will the color fix work on my hair since the bottom is already bleached? I cant afford salon prices and the situation with my hair has me depressed. Plz any help is greatly appreciated
Feb 28, 2016
PoleAdventures Paid Member
Veena, I have to thank you very very much! I never thought I'm able to do pole dance because I was not very sporty, but with your great lessons I am. I'm so happy to found this website.
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