How Long to Leave Dye on Hair to Cover Uneven Color?

Updated on April 13, 2011
N.K. asks from Miami Beach, FL
4 answers

Help! I need a hair guru. I have asked this same question on yahoo and got odd answers ("dye your hair red, then black" or "bleach your entire hair"), which is not only very damaging to hair but I am also not willing to do, so I am hoping someone can give me better advice or even suggest a better at-home hair dye if the one I am leaning towards is not the best, so without further ado, here goes my question:

I had caramel highlights added on to my ashy brown hair (mousy brown hair) and I got sick of them due to the fact I came to my senses and realized they washed me out and looked unnatural, since I am a true brunette with dark eyebrows; I look like Katy Perry's long-lost twin (try to imagine her with blonde hair, not nearly as striking as with her dark hair, right? So I took the same approach). I decided to go somewhat back to my true roots and went dark as I now realize it is such a striking color to have when you are of a fair complexion. What I mean by "somewhat went back to my roots" I mean that I wanted something similar to my true color but with richness and shine, rather than my dull shade.

I went to a professional salon recommended by my friend and paid $100 for a single process hair color to cover all the blonde streaks, the price of which is ridiculous considering the box of dye is less than $10 and the highlights cost almost as much. The stylist was so overworked and overbooked that he pointed out (admitted) to me when he was drying my hair that the blackest brown Wella Charm hair dye that he used did not take to certain parts of my hair and he had me leave the salon with almost-black hair with a few lighter brown thick streaks, from where the color did not take. I was upset (and shocked) that he didn't even offer to re-touch the lighter parts before I left (now, because it's 30 miles away, I am unwilling to drive all the way back and ask for a re-do) and so I decided that I will no longer go to a salon and pay all this money for an uneven color job that I can do myself at home for much less.

When I step out in the sun, the middle and bottom part of my hair has reddish tones ("warm"), but the roots are a bluer shade ("cool"), so I am embarrassed about this multi-tone, and I am especially embarrassed to admit paying so much for this unimpressive result. I just want the color of my hair to be even and I feel that maybe he should have added something to the dye to make it stronger (at the suggestion of a hairstylist in Michigan that was in Florida for a week and saw my hair).

My color is fading already, even though I have only washed it 4 times since, with a sulfate-free color shampoo, so I am starting to become desperate to cover these light brown patches now emerging from where I had my highlights covered. I am looking at the Revlon Colorsilk dye since it has no ammonia and has good reviews about leaving hair shiny and soft. I am planning to get a natural black shade, something like a leather black, and dye it at home, hoping that this will not only cover the lighter parts considering it is a bit darker than the original color I had done at the salon, but that it will stay dark even if fading occurs eventually. I know a lot of people leave the dye on their roots for like 20 minutes (since this is where the greys are) and then run it through the rest of the hair in the last 5 minutes for the required 25 minutes, but if you have the opposite problem (needing coverage in the middle and bottom part of your hair as opposed to greys), how long would you go about leaving the dye on that part of the hair without incurring a lot of damage but for it to fully catch the color? Do you recommend Colorsilk? I know it's supposed to be better for your hair being ammonia free and all, but is there a trade off, such as the color not lasting? I am open to suggestions from anyone who has been there, done that or professional colorists.

Let me add that I use Artec color depositing shampoo in blue orchid (a bluish/purple pigment shampoo for those who have dyed dark brown or black hair that helps retain and refresh color) in addition to my sulfate free, sodium free shampoo so fading should not have occurred, yet it did. I want the color to hold in order to avoid having to dye my full head in the future every month or two, except to touch up new root growth and the occasional pesky greys. Thanks in advance and sorry this turned out to be so long!

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So What Happened?

Well, I decided to get Revlon Colorsilk Luminista's Bright Black, which is supposed to have midnight tones. I was expecting to get something like a blue black shade but it looks like an Oriental Black, exactly like the color of black Asians have in their hair, so it is natural looking and very pretty. I dyed it at home and left the dye in my entire head for about 30 minutes and it came out even, like I wanted, dark, and shiny. Funny that I got better results with a $4 box of dye than with a professional stylist! I will probably do my own touch up at home as well in a month or two, although I am contemplating using Bigen dye powder instead of these dyes as they still contain hydrogen peroxide even if they are ammonia free. I recommend Luminista black though to anyone wanting true black hair with a nice dark violet sheen to it.

More Answers



answers from Boston on

I would call the owner of the salon and complain and request a new appointment with the owner to fix the bad results. Doing more on your own could damage your hair more. Stand up for your rights and complain and do not take no for an answer. Be polite but firm.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I am a hair stylist, let me start by saying this, the longer you leave the dye on won't make a difference in coverage in the way your thinking. If your using a brownish color it will get darker until it stops oxidizing and then it won't change at all, the chemical process is done. You most likely will need to go dark, and wait for it to grow out. because those strands that were lightened will always be lighter than everywhere else, always. Until it has grown out. I recommend going to see a hairstylist and talk with them in a consultation, and see what they have to say and if you like what their suggesting, and make a choice then, Or you can go to a drugstore or Sally beauty and purchase a color and just throw it on yourself and wait for it to grow out. (Sally beauty- try clairol cream dyes). Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Visalia on

Would you consider cutting ur hair? i personally would not use black hair color. maybe 2 shades darker than what u have now. use a colorant that is for grey hair, usually the instructions say to leave it on 10 more. these grey coverage colorants usually color the whole hair in one solid color. stay away from hair colors that offer streaks of shininess, you can do that later.

my solonist/cousin told me never use hair colorants with 'ash' or reddish hues. for some reason they are hard to get rid of.



answers from Denver on

Dying hair can be tricky. Once you get it where you want it, I would think you could find a do it at home semi-permanent color (much more gentle on the hair). BUT first you need to get it where you want it. I would bite the bullet and find a stylist you trust to fix it... trying yourself may only damage your hair and prolong the expense. I might not go back to where they messed it up.,. but I would call them and ask what can be done.... then you can decide where to go. I too have mousey brown hair and highlighted it - then hated it.... so now I do an all over semipermanent (at the salon). HOWEVER, it does lighten and get red, so you do have to do your entire head periodically to keep the rich shiny color - esp as you get older - I'm 40... good luck

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