Color Correction: What Is It and Most Common Color Mistakes

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Don’t we all know the fuss and hassle of having a hair dye job gone wrong? Yes, it can happen to all of us—you wanted to lighten your hair to an ashy blonde color at home or some debatable hair salon, but you ended up with uneven hair color and unwanted orange tones. What do you do then?

Well, you call color correction to the rescue (and it’s not as complicated as some of you might think). We’ll cover all you need to know about the color correction process.

What Is Color Correction?

Hair color correction is, well, a hair color correction—no mystery about that! You’ll resort to it if you want to fix the mess of a color job gone wrong (correct the tone or correct the color).

You’ll mostly opt for color corrections when you want to make really light hair much darker or really dark hair much lighter. And no, buying a light box color and applying it to your hair won’t make your dark color lighter!

You need to go through the color correction process. But remember, not every shade will manage to manipulate your natural hair color the way you want; it’s important to consider color theory.

However, before you make a color correction appointment, there are some things you need to know!

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get Your Hair Color Corrected?

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If you end up with a bad hair color, whether that’s bad highlights, a bad ombre, or just a bad shade in general, you would want to fix that ASAP. But think about the overall health of your hair before making any hasting decisions!

Let the professional stylist determine the damage and help you come up with the right color correction plan to fix the mess. If the damage is minor, you can have a hair color correction done immediately—a quick dye job, and you’re good to go.

But sometimes, you need to wait a few weeks before starting the process or make multiple sessions spread out over a couple of weeks, ensuring the hair has time to rest and recuperate. Remember, bleaching and toning can be quite harsh on your hair. So, be sure to consult the right stylist before you jump into “damage control.”

How Long Does a Hair Color Correction Process Last?

The process can take anywhere from a few hours (3-8) to several weeks or months (rarely, but possible).

Of course, some color corrections, such as fixing unwanted brassy tones, roots, or ends only, are quite simple. One session and your hair will be transformed. But, when lifting dark hair color or getting rid of the enjoying patchiness, be prepared to put in the time!

The health of your hair is also a crucial factor that affects all color correction jobs! It’s highly recommended to consult a colorist since the harsh chemicals and the dye itself can be strenuous for fragile hair. Hair type, hair porosity, hair texture, and the permanency of the current hair color determine the time required for the desired transformation.

Once again, let the stylist feel and see the hair! Only then you’ll get a real insight into what to expect.

What Can Go Wrong: Most Common Color Mistakes

It’s time to get down to business!

Now that you’ve gathered the basic knowledge about color correction, it’s time to talk about damage control. Although there are many scenarios of hair dyeing gone wrong, we’ve highlighted the ones most common.

Lightening Hair That’s Naturally Dark or Dyed Brown

Dark color to blonde color—the transition isn’t easy! You’ll need a minimum of 2-3 color correction salon appointments, and the only way to get that dramatic change is by using bleaching products.

To lift the hair properly, choose slow processing and use low peroxide volume since it’s gentler and much safer for the hair. Hence, to achieve the desired blond look, you’ll need to be patient; it can’t be done in just one sitting!

Bad Blonde Hair Color Correction

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Of all hair colors, blond is the most demanding and hardest to achieve. Color correcting blonde hair can be difficult, even for the best colorists out there! Be prepared to spend about six hours in the salon—your hair needs to be cleaned, bleached, and toned to fix the uneven shades and brassiness.

Note: leave this job to professional stylists!

Spotty Bleached Hair

Nobody wants spotty bleached hair! But sadly, it happens quite often since you need to use bleach in almost all hair color scenarios!

To fix the bleachy mess, you need to find a reliable stylist who’ll preserve the health of your hair (bleach strips the pigments from your hair strands, leaving the hair dry and dull) and manage to achieve the color you want. Therefore, pick a good colorist and opt for a healthy hair care routine to gain the desired results!

Unevenly Dyed Hair

This is often an “at home” mistake we all make. It’s best to quickly wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo (but that won’t entirely fix the unevenly colored hair). Then, opt for a semi-permanent dye (usually with purple pigments) to neutralize the dull hues!

Color Correcting Unwanted Tones

Color correction involves toning out unwanted tones such as yellow, ashy, and brassy orange.

  • Yellow Tones in Blonde Hair: If you think about the color wheel, you’ll know that the color purple stands opposite to yellow. Therefore, use purple shampoo to eliminate unwanted warmth and the underlying yellow tones. Also, opt for a toner with lift after bleaching to ensure that a warm tone doesn’t come sticking out.
  • Brassy Tones in Darker Hair: We go back again to the color science—blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel. Hence, blue shampoo is your number one pick—it’ll help you tone and fight the brassiness in dark hair colors. No more unwanted orange and red tones!
  • Ashy Tones in Light Hair: Not all ladies want to have that platinum-blonde and ash shade. Maybe it doesn’t go with their skin tone or they simply wish to highlight the warm pigments. If that sounds like you, wash your hair a couple of times, and the ashy look will probably fade on its own.

Color Correcting Bad Highlights

Many seek color correction due to bad highlights. So opt for root melt as it’s the safest option. You can also choose a semi-permanent dye, but for the best results, make an appointment with your stylist (a good one!). You’ll have the problem fixed much faster!

Color Correcting Bad Ombre

A bad ombre can leave you with a look that’s everything but natural!

There’s an option of using a semi-permanent hair color with a warm pigment and then curling your hair to hide the mess. You can also choose a toner to blend out the unwanted line. But hair color correction might not be the best option here since it’ll take a lot of time and money; hence, think about cutting the ends.

Unwanted Orange Roots

If you rinse the hair color too early or use too weak peroxide developer, you’ll probably end up with underprocessed orange color. Going for a lightening product will most likely damage your hair even more (remember, bleach and most dyes are considered harsh chemicals).

Instead, tone the hair color down with an ash semi-permanent dye and give your hair time to rest before going to the salon.

Green Hair Color Correction

Blue and yellow make green! If you want to neutralize the golden shade by using blue pigment, you’ll probably end up with unwanted green tones. Also, if your natural hair color is blonde and you dye it blue, it’ll fade into green!

Sadly, it’s quite hard to get rid of the green tone. Therefore, think twice when going blue (unless you like to have green hair strands) and always choose a shampoo with purple pigment (not blue).

Color Correction by Using Bleach

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Many underlying pigments, such as red, orange, and yellow, form the hair color you see. So if you tried to lighten your hair but saw the brassiness or the yellowish tint popping out, chances are you didn’t leave the bleach in long enough.

The best color correction solution is to get your hair bleached at a salon by a professional stylist (you might need more than one appointment to achieve a light shade).

However, bleached hair is stripped of essential proteins and nutrients, meaning it’s not recommended to use bleach often. So, a stylist has a crucial role in maintaining the health of your hair by choosing the right products and treatments.

Color Correction With a Toner

The right toner can help you get the exact shade you desire! By toning the hair, you’ll adjust the brassy tones as well as the yellow ones.

Depending on the shade you’re left with after the bad bleach process, you can go for either purple or blue toner. If you have darker hair, you should choose the blue one to fight the brassiness, and if you have light hair, go for toners with purple pigment as they’re the best at combating yellow tones.

The good news is you can do this at home—no salon appointments are needed!

Color Correction With a Dye

For badly bleached hair or for hair that’s too light, the best color correction solution is to dye it darker. If you don’t want to risk it by dyeing the hair yourself, reach out to your stylist—you’ll ensure the hair keeps the desired warmth and depth (You’ll also keep it from becoming flat and dull).

How to Preserve Your Hair Color Longer?

There are a few tips that could help maintain your desired hair color longer. Note that properly looking after your hair at home is as important as choosing a good stylist.

To keep the color looking fresh:

  • Don’t wash your hair with hot water after you color it! The heat opens up the cuticles, which results in fading.
  • Always apply a conditioner mask after you’ve color corrected your hair to ensure it stays nurtured and strong.
  • Don’t overwash your hair! Combine dry shampoos with your regular ones to avoid overwashing.
  • Apply a toner occasionally to prevent the unwanted shades from emerging: blue toner for brunettes and purple toner for blondes.

Is Hair Color Correction a Good Thing?

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Absolutely yes!

Color correction can help you fix almost all hair color catastrophes. Although it may sometimes take a couple of weeks to achieve the “new look,” it’s surely worth investing the time. Whether you want to treat your hair at home or go to the salon, it’s reassuring to know there’s a solution to all potential problems.

So feel free to start the pursuit of the perfect hair color. Go wild and don’t panic because the color correction will come to the rescue!

Paulina Romain

Paulina Romain is an entrepreneur and artist in the beauty industry. She is the founder and owner of The Art of Ink Studio, where she provides services such as permanent cosmetics, microblading, and artistic ink, focusing on personalized body art. Additionally, she owns Mill Pond Salon, through which she aims to deliver big-city salon services in the comfort of a small town. Apart from her hands-on work in her studios, Paulina Romain is also active on social media platforms like TikTok, where she showcases her fine line and cosmetic tattoo work. Furthermore, she's been in the salon and beauty industry for over 14 years and operates Team True Beauty with Sam Romain. This platform includes a blog on various beauty-related topics and marks the opening of two beauty brands by the couple.

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