7 Colorist-Approved Ways To Fix The Most Common Hair Disasters



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Being forced into lockdown earlier this year meant that many of us took our hair into our own hands, and ever since, colorists have been plagued with correcting countless botched dye jobs from at-home color kits gone wrong. I mean, what were we supposed to do with salons being shut down for the unforeseeable future? Desperate times call for desperate measures and yes, that includes DIY’ing our roots while watching a YouTube video on a third glass of wine. It happens.

If this was you, hopefully your self-inflicted beautification process went well, but if it didn’t, read on!

“Getting a perfect base color is not only an art, but a science, since the difference between perfect and disaster can be as little as picking one shade too light (or too dark) than the ideal tone,” says MATRIX celebrity colorist George Papanikolas. Info we could have used before we took the video cam test to match our head to a swatch. Nevertheless, there’s hope. We dialed up the pros to do what they do best: fix it.

From hot roots and uneven color, to inky ends and white streaks, these guys have seen it all. Luckily, they also know how to reverse the mess. And that’s why we consider them superheroes. Heed their advice below.

The Nightmare: Hot Roots

“If you end up with orange ‘hot roots,’ then you picked a color that is too light,” explains Papanikolas. “If your hair is previously colored and you apply a lighter color, the only color that will change will be the virgin hair. Previously colored hair doesn’t lighten unless you bleach it.”

The fix: Simply adjust the color shade darker to match the hair. “Adding ash tones to hot roots will cancel out the unwanted orange,” he adds. “Also, be sure to follow up with a blue-based toner mask, like the MATRIX Total Results Brass Off Custom Neutralization Mask, $24, which also neutralizes unwanted orange tones.”

The Nightmare: Uneven Color

“Even if your colorist was generous enough to give you your salon formula to take home, there are no guarantees,” warns NYC-based master colorist Tiffanie Richards of Nunzio Saviano Salon. Apparently, if you don’t use the exact brand (and amount during application), it could be game over. And if you think all color lines are created equal – think again. “They are pretty similar, but there are different tones and slight variations to the lightness or darkness of a color,” says Richards. “Therefore, color pulling too dark or too light is a huge possibility.”

The fix: If it pulls too light, it’s not the end of the world, but too dark will require highlights. “To fix too-light color, you can use a slightly darker formula and overlap onto the lighter bits; if it pulls too dark, however, you may want to book a professional appointment to lift the pigment out,” she adds. Another pro tip from Tiff: Masks are your friend when dealing with correcting. “Healthy hair always cooperates best, so keep it moisturized with Nunzio Saviano Argan Oil Deep Hair Mask, $55.”

The Nightmare: White Streaks

As Richards points out, it’s very easy to over-process your hair while trying to highlight at home. When this happens you can be left with damaged (or white) highlight streaks, which obviously no one wants unless it’s Halloween.

The fix: You may not like what you’re about to hear, but Richards regretfully informs us that the best solution is to leave it be and allow the streaks to grow as you get regular trims. “Your professional may be able to blend it into a proper color, but if the highlights have been highly overdone there’s a chance they won’t absorb color at all.” Time to rock a ponytail or bun until you’re able to achieve your color correction. Super cute scrunchies can be your BFF and headbands help to hide a botched hairline.

Nightmare: Loss of Dimension in Your Curls


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“When a client with curly or textured hair wants to go lighter, via all-over color or balayage, they forget that curls need dimension,” explains famed colorist and R+Co Collective member Richy Kandasamy. “When the hair is straight, it’s great, but when it’s naturally curly, painted-on color can make your hair frizzy with no shape to the curls. That will make a ‘natural curl’ client go into a panic mode as it’s too light and needs more dimension to make coils move.”

The fix: To keep curls from frizzing up or falling flat, Kandasamy suggests adding lowlights, which will add dimension. “Strands of darker color can give the illusion of volume, depth and texture, but, between balayage and all-over color or highlights, some lowlights on curly hair is always needed,” he adds.

The Nightmare: Pitchy Hairlines

According to Jennifer Aniston, Shakira, and Kate Hudson’s colorist Michael Canalé, another setback when you’re doing color at home can be pitchy hairlines. “Hairlines grab at least one to two shades darker than the actual base color you’re working with, so take this into account when playing Picasso,” he explains.

The fix: Go down a shade. If you’re trying to achieve a light brown, Canalé recommends using dark blonde around the hairline. “When creating a red tone, use the red that’s in the hair so it never fades pass the point you lifted it to. If you are making a dark brown, use light brown around the hairline, as it should match up perfectly. In creating black, I use medium ash blonde for the hairline since that’s how much color it grabs.” And by all means – gloss! Gloss and color maintenance go hand in hand. We like the new Color By Canale Cool Blue Signature Gloss, $59, to refresh and preserve your hair color while providing UV protection from the sun.

The Disaster: Inky Ends

Inky ends can happen when you apply the same color all over — or leave it on for the full processing time or longer.

The fix: To avoid this, Papanikolas says to choose a shade two to three shades lighter than the root color when refreshing the ends, and use a gentle semi-permanent color. Do not attempt to correct this at home though. “Applying a lighter color all over will have no effect other than drying out your hair. If you need it lighter, you will need highlights or to strip the color and this should be handled by an expert.” In the meantime, keep the ends from sucking up the color by using Biolage HydraSource Deep Treatment Pack, $15, to balance out the hair porosity for a more even color result.

The Disaster: Over Toning

Toning is essential in part of the hair coloring process – see above for proof! However, one of the most common mistakes that can be made when coloring your hair at home, is over toning, according to Adrienne Small, a master colorist in Bartlett, TN. If you go to lighten your hair, and you know your stylist uses a toner after your lightening process, but you aren’t quite sure which one to grab, you need to pay attention to the base undertone of the toner,” she says. “If you see ‘lightest blonde’ and you think you’re good to go, your hair could come out the most prettiest LAVENDER ever, by over toning!” And that’s probably not your goal…

The fix: “As an educator for Celeb Luxury, we always have tricks up our sleeve. Their Colorwash and Colorditioner system is great for not only maintaining and creating color, it’s also amazing for fixing color. Going back to high school when learning the color wheel in art class, most of us know that yellow cancels out lavender. Celeb Luxury’s Gem Lites Colorwash, $35, and Colorditioner, $35, in Sunstone are key for removing any unwanted lavender tones, leaving you with the ideal shade of blonde,” she adds. We’re also fans of their vegan and cruelty-free formulas that have bond builders added, to repair and counteract damage from bleaching and over toning.

Did you guys have a hair coloring disaster during lockdown? Let us know in the comments below!