What can I use to tone down my hair color?

Updated February 21, 2017

Toning down hair colour often feels like an emergency, since most people do not want to pay a second time for salon colouring. Fortunately there are ways to do it successfully. Whether you have highlights that are growing out and making your hair look multicoloured or just want to change the overall shade a bit, here are some options at a reasonable price.

Working on Highlights

To soften highlights you can get semi-permanent colour at least one shade lighter then the shade you want your highlights and a semi-permanent colour or a rinse lighter than your natural colour. Semi-permanents tend to come out a little darker at first. To avoid your hair looking greenish, avoid shades like "Ash" or "Cool" and buy one that says "Warm" or "Natural." Semi-permanents tend to wash out or fade on lightened hair but should not affect the colour of your natural hair. Some people find using a darker colour in a semi-permanent colour also works--by reducing the contrast between the highlighted hair and the rest.

Working with Red Hair

Red colour tends to fade more quickly than other tones, so it requires considerable upkeep. Make sure to do the colour on clean hair, and do not wash your hair for at least 48 hours after colouring. This will help to set the colour. Some hairdressers prefer semi-permanent colour for reds. Also some advise using a cellophane gloss (which is vegetable based) about a week after having your hair coloured. Once applied, sit under the dryer for about 20 minutes. Your salon can do this, but it can be expensive, and you can do it at home with the right equipment.

Colouring Gray Hair and Hair Care

When colouring grey hair, it is OK to exceed the usual time and leave it on a bit longer. To get adequate coverage when colouring grey hair, you must use a permanent colour. Many women with blonde or light brown hair use a colour close to their own as they go grey and get a very nice look as though they had highlights since some hair is lighter than other parts.

Once you have coloured your hair and/or corrected the colour, you want to use very gentle products. Choose shampoos that are formulated for coloured and/or permed hair. Kiehls in NYC makes wonderful products that they ship worldwide. Conditioners that are rich are the best bet for coloured hair and can be used after shampooing and rinsed off. Then a leave-in conditioner can keep your hair from getting frizzy when it is styled or dried. Most salons advise not washing your hair every day--a couple of times a week is sufficient.

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About the Author

Wanda Bershen has been writing for over 20 years on Fundraising, Marketing and Planning for arts organizations, including newsletters, proposals & planning documents, and articles for leading art and film publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Philosophy from Yale University.