• Tue, May 1 2007

Reader Question – What To Do When Hair Color Grabs

pink-hairDo you know what grabbing means? It is when your hair is particularly dry, and you color it, and you get the shock of your life when your color job is done, because it is WAY darker than it was supposed to be in the dry areas, or it can have a green, orange or purple cast to it. You can even see this happen pretty subtly, when your hair color is darker at the bottom than near the roots, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic problem. Color gone wild. What’s a girl to do?

Tracy asks me: I used Sun-in lightener about 3 weeks ago, with not a lot of effects. After 3 weeks I used a semi permanent color, and my hair is now pitch black (was light brown). Is there anything I can do?

What happened? Your hair was extremely dry and porous after using the Sun In, and it soaked up a lot more hair color than it was supposed to.

How do I fix this? You have a few options here – none of them are particularly fun or easy – try them as soon as you can after your color job, the longer that color is in your hair, the harder it will be to remove, just like a stain in your clothing. First, try to find Prell Original shampoo. This is the only one that will work. Wash your hair in the hottest water you can stand, as many times as you can until when you shampoo and rinse, your water is totally clear. If you can’t find Prell Original, try Tide laundry detergent. The last resort method is: you can buy some powdered bleach and 20 volume peroxide (this is what comes in bleach kits at the drugstore), and mix them in with your shampoo (use a bottle). Use about 3 tablespoons of shampoo, 1 tablespoon each of bleach and peroxide. Shampoo it in GENTLY, don’t rub too much, just distribute it through your hair and leave it on for about 10 minutes then rinse out and repeat your shampoo (without bleach). Do NOT do this with Prell. Use your regular shampoo.

After all of this, your hair is gonna look and feel awful. Condition it WELL. Very well – several times over a few days if you can do it. Use something really good and deep like Paul Mitchell Hair Repair or Biolage Cera-Repair, leaving it in for a few hours or even overnight. After that, you can work on evening out your color again. Choose something a shade or two lighter than what you want, and you can mix it half with water/half with peroxide. The purpose of this is to even it out the best you can without causing any more grabbing to occur.

How can this be prevented in the future? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! We all do damaging things to our hair that can make it more dry and porous. Simple everyday things like blowdrying and straightening and curling will do it. Even lots of wind can blow the moisture right out of your hair. Use products to protect your hair from heat styling, condition it regularly with a moisturizing conditioner (as opposed to the repairing conditioners listed above), and if you are planning on coloring it, a few days before you do, be sure and really deeply condition it. If you are impulsive like me, and decide you want a new color and you want it NOW, mix up a spray bottle with a medium viscosity mixture of conditioner and water, and mist it onto the dryer parts of your hair – most likely the top layer which is exposed to the elements, and the ends of your hair. If your hair is porous, it will grab onto the conditioner and there won’t be any room in the hair shaft for the color to grab.

Just for grins and giggles, this tendency of hair to “grab” can be used for good. My hair used to be the color of Pink’s in the above picture (yeah, way back in the glorious 80′s!). I used a temporary hair dye to do it, but first I bleached my hair out so light that it was so porous that it grabbed that pink color, so it became a permanent fixture. Well, until my grandmother passed away and I had to try to cover it up for her funeral, but thats another color story for another day. ;)

I sure hope that is helpful Tracy, and anyone else who may have dealt with this. I sure have, and I sure know lots of other folks who have as well, so don’t feel alone. :)

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