If you try to apply color over hair that’s already been dyed, it’s only going to get darker. To dye over a dark hair dye, you’ll first need to lighten your current hair color. You can do this by lifting the color using special shampoos or color removers — this method will work for lightening your hair color just a few shades. For a more drastic color change, you can use bleach, making sure to use extra caution so that your hair doesn’t become super damaged.
EditLifting the Color a Few Shades
- Wash your hair using a clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo will help reduce the intensity of the dark color, but this will only slightly lift it, not completely remove the color. Shampoo your hair with the clarifying shampoo at least twice in the shower for the best results.
- If your hair wasn't colored recently, this may not have a huge effect on lightening your hair.
- Apply heat to your shampooed hair for better results. If desired, you can get out of the shower and use a hair dryer to heat up the clarifying shampoo on your head before rinsing it out. This will help your hair cuticles open up to release even more color. 
- Tie your hair up with a hair clip and put on a shower cap. Heat your shampooed hair with a hair dryer for about 1 minute.
- Be careful not to melt the plastic of the shower cap, and never use the hair dryer in the shower.
- Spray lemon juice or Sun-in on your hair to lighten the color. Use a bottle of Sun-in or a fresh lemon to spray lemon juice all over your hair. Use a brush to spread the liquid evenly throughout your hair, and use a hair dryer or the sun to create the desired effect.
- The more heat you apply to your hair while it has the spray in it, the lighter your hair will become.
- You can do this process multiple times, but don't be surprised if your hair doesn't lighten as much as you would like.
- Your hair may feel dry after using lemon juice. Condition your hair with a moisturizing conditioner to hydrate it.
- Lift the color with a color remover or lightener. Color removers will help strip your hair of the dye so that you can start to return to your natural color. Color removers can be a bit harsh on your hair, so try to use them sparingly and read the directions carefully to ensure you use the color remover properly.
- Condition your hair deeply after you’ve used a color remover.
- Try to wait a couple of months before using a color remover a second time to keep your hair from becoming damaged. However, some color removers are safe to use immediately after one use. Check the package to be sure, and consider the condition of your hair as well.
- These products can be found at many drug stores or beauty supply stores, as well as online.
EditBleaching Your Hair
- Deep condition your hair before bleaching it. Try using a deep conditioning mask on your hair a week or 2 before bleaching it, conditioning it several times. This will help strengthen and rejuvenate your hair, getting it ready for the bleaching process.
- Protect your work surfaces, clothing, and skin. Do the bleaching in a place that will be easy to clean up and wipe down, like a bathroom or kitchen. Wear clothing that you don't mind getting ruined and a towel around your shoulders. Wear gloves so that the bleach won't damage your hands.
- It's best to use a white towel or a towel you don't mind getting bleach on.
- Mix bleach with a developer to start bleaching your hair. Purchase a bleach kit for your hair, which will most likely also require a developer. Mix the bleach and developer together in a bowl, reading the instructions carefully to determine the exact measurements.
- A 20- or 30-volume developer will be best for your hair.
- Divide your hair into sections to make bleaching easier. Tie up the top layer of your hair using a hair tie or plastic clip so that you can easily reach the bottom layer. If you have really thick hair, you can separate the bottom layer of hair into 2 or 3 additional sections using plastic hair clips.
- Make sure that you only use plastic clips when you are bleaching your hair.
- Apply the bleach evenly to your hair, doing your roots last. Use an applicator brush to apply the mixed bleach to strands of your hair evenly. The bleach kit should provide you with the best strategy for bleaching your hair, but make sure you apply bleach to your roots last.
- Your roots heat up the fastest, so if you bleach your roots first they will turn lighter than the rest of your hair.
- Wear gloves over your hands and a towel around your neck to keep the bleach from damaging your hands or clothing.
- Wrap your hair up and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Use a shower cap to keep the bleach settled on top of your hair, allowing the heat from your head to remain trapped in the cap. Most bleaches will stay on your hair for 20-30 minutes, but keep checking your hair to see how the color is turning out.
- You shouldn't leave bleach in your hair for more than 1 hour.
- Rinse the bleach out carefully after the allotted time is up. Once the 20-30 minutes are up, or if you decide you like the color of your hair before that time, rinse the bleach out with clean water. Shampoo and condition your hair afterwards.
- Wait 2-3 months before bleaching your hair again to avoid damage. Bleach can be very rough on your hair, especially if you’re going from a dark color to a light one. To prevent your hair from breaking off or becoming brittle, wait 2-3 months before bleaching your hair again if it didn’t get as light as desired the first time.
- You can also deep condition your hair again to help keep it healthy in between bleaching sessions.
EditApplying the New Color
- Pick out a hair color that will complement your skin tone. Choose a hair dye that will look good on you and your current hair color. Make sure you've gotten your hair light enough so that it will accept the new hair color.
- When choosing a new color, opt for a dye that's 1 or 2 shades lighter than what you're actually going for. When you dye your hair at home it often comes out darker than you anticipated.
- Mix your chosen hair color with a developer. Many times your hair dye kit will come with the developer, but if not, pick up a 20-volume developer from a drug store. Follow the instructions that come with your hair dye to mix the dye with the developer proportionally.
- You can also purchase developer at a big box store, beauty store, or online.
- Separate your hair into sections to make dyeing your hair easier. Pull together the top layer of your hair and secure it with a hair tie or clip. Divide the bottom layer into 2-4 sections for thicker hair.
- If your hair is thin, you can easily dye the bottom layer of your hair without sectioning it off.
- Use the applicator brush to apply the dye to your hair. Just like you did with the bleach, use the dye applicator brush to apply the dye to sections of hair. Remember to do your roots last.
- Make sure your shoulders are covered to protect your clothing, and wear gloves to protect your hands from the dye.
- You can tie your hair up and put a shower cap on once your hair is covered in dye, if desired.
- Read the dye instructions to know how long to leave the dye in your hair. Each color and brand of hair dye will have different instructions, so read them carefully to determine how long you should leave the dye in your hair before rinsing it out.
- Use a timer to ensure you leave the dye in long enough to have the desired effect.
- Don't leave the dye in longer than the allotted time on the box — it may damage your hair or skin.
- Rinse the dye out after the allotted time is up. Once your timer has gone off or the time is up, rinse the dye out of your hair under cool running water. You can use a shampoo and conditioner appropriate for colored hair to get rid of any extra dye residue.
- Once the water runs clear, you'll know the hair dye has been washed out.
- Professionals will have the best method for coloring hair that's already dark, so visit a salon if you're able to.
EditThings You'll Need
- Clarifying shampoo (optional)
- Hair dryer (optional)
- Lemon juice/Sun-In (optional)
- Color remover/lightener (optional)
- Deep conditioner
- Hair ties or clips
- Bleach (optional)
- Applicator brush
- Shower cap
- Hair dye
- Dye Your Hair Brown After It Has Been Dyed Black
- Remove Blue or Green Hair Dye from Hair Without Bleaching
- Go from Black Hair to Bright Blonde
EditSources and Citations
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