Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
Sure, that colorful hair may have seemed like a great idea when you saw it on Pinterest. But, after a session with an at-home box dye (or with your colorist), you're seriously starting to regret ever changing your hue. Before you run for the clippers, though, take note: You can fade your shade in a pretty way, and we chatted with celebrity hair colorist Rita Hazan to figure out how to do it.
Step one: Learn the difference between semipermanent and permanent hair color, as they do different things to your tresses and have to be faded slightly differently. "Semipermanent color — or wash-out color — doesn't have an activator like peroxide or ammonia in it," Hazan says. "It just stains the outer layer of your hair." Permanent color, on the other hand, penetrates the hair cuticle and changes its color long term.
"The healthier your hair is, the longer any type of dye will stay," Hazan says. "Damaged hair has split ends, which kind of act like potholes. This makes it harder for the color to adhere to the cuticle." So, if your strands are already damaged, your hair color isn't going to last as long.
Now, the main thing you'll have to come to terms with when fading your hair? You're actually doing some damage to it. "It's kind of a catch-22," Hazan says. "You can wash [the color] out in the first couple of days with a cleansing shampoo or a dishwashing soap, because that strips the hair. You can also go to the salon and have it stripped, but this will also lead to damage." If you're still bent on fading, Hazan suggests reaching for a clear gloss, like her Ultimate Shine Gloss, after the fact. "Since there's no color, it won't alter the hair. But, it will keep it from looking dull after you strip it," Hazan explains.
If you do come out of a dye job and have a mini panic attack, however, Hazan suggests taking a moment to relax. "Most color — even permanent dyes — will fade and settle after a few days," she says. "So, before you start stripping and damaging your hair, give it a few days. Style it away from your face if you're really scared." Give yourself some time to get used to it. And, if you're still not sold? Start stripping. At least now you know you can do it without looking like you've had a bad dye job — even if you have.
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!