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The Most Common Hair Color Mistakes—and How to Fix Them

November 20, 2020

7 Min read

If you’re considering coloring your own hair at home, it helps to have some tricks at the ready in case things go awry. So, we compiled a list of the most common DIY dye job missteps, and expert tips on how to tackle them.

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“This is the most common complaint I hear,” says Candy Diaz, a hair pro in New York City. For new at-home colorists, finding your best shade right out of the box (pun intended) is tricky. That’s one reason many pros recommend picking a box of color that’s a smidge lighter than you think you want because, more often than not, DIY color will process darker than expected. Stay on the safer side, and you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

(Plus, it’s easier to deepen, rather than lighten, color if you don’t get it right the first time). That said, lightening up a too-dark dye job is not impossible. The key, says Diaz, is to wash your hair right away with dish soap to strip out those fresh color molecules. 

“This should help fade the color pretty quickly,” she says. “Just be sure to follow with a good, nourishing conditioner because using dish soap can be very drying”.

Our custom conditioner can include the ingredients you need to support your hair’s overall health. If you are trying to remove a darker color, and your hair feels damaged, let us know. We will formulate a conditioner that can help restore moisture to your hair.


What does your hair need to thrive? Take the consultation to find your formulas.

Your roots are brassy

Frequently referred to by pros as “hot roots,” an orangey tint near the scalp is usually the result of using a dye that is too warm or too red for your natural hair color. Why this mismatch only shows up at the roots is because your virgin roots are less resistant to the dye than your previously-colored lengths. New hair growth is much more reactive to dye than previously dyed hair.

The fastest fix: apply an anti-brass, at-home gloss (it’s usually purple or silver and can be found at a beauty supply store) to the orangey areas for the recommended time, then rinse. If that still doesn’t do the trick, try recoloring just the regrowth with a permanent dye the same color as the rest of your hair and labeled ‘cool or neutral’ (never ‘warm’). 

Blue toners can also cancel out orange tones, and purple toners work really well to cancel out yellow tones. We also offer a custom anti-brass conditioner that can reduce the yellow or orange tones in your hair. We recommend using this conditioner a few times to truly see the effects. Your hair will be moisturized and brass-free in no time.

Your roots are lighter than your lengths

Similar to the orangey issue above, when your regrowth ends up a shade lighter than the rest of your hair, it is typically because virgin hair reacts differently to dye than previously colored strands. The latter is more porous than regrowth and thus quicker to absorb color molecules. 

To avoid two-toned tresses, many color pros suggest applying permanent color only to the roots for the full recommended time. Then, for the final five minutes of processing, combing the color through the rest of your hair for a quick refresh. 

As for those lighter roots? A root touch-up kit (you can use one with permanent color—or temporary dye) will help deepen the shade until it’s time to color again in six or so weeks.

Your ends are dried and fried

Typically, dry, split-prone ends that are the result of over-bleaching can be hydrated back to health, though Diaz says usually the best, most effective fix is a trim. Just have your stylist snip off the most damaged areas to keep those splits from traveling up the hair shaft and weakening your hair further. This trim could even mean a light dusting for your hair, so that you aren’t losing too much length. 

Then, commit to a weekly hair mask, look for ingredients like silk proteins to strengthen; collagen, lilac extract and hyaluronic acid to repair; and argan and jojoba oils to deeply hydrate.

Pro Tip: Deep conditioning right after your color is a smart strategy, as it acts as an instant antidote to the drying, damaging effects of any bleach or ammonia in your hair color formula. This can quickly combat any harsh effects on your hair, and hydrate your strands and ends.

Looking for hydration? After you fill out the free consultation, we can provide specific products and recommendations. Your hair may do best with our curl cream, leave-in conditioner, or hair oil. Once we learn more about your hair, we can provide specific recommendations to support your hair.

Another product that may help bring your hair back to its natural state is our custom hair supplements, also known as Root Source™. These personalized supplements can help to soothe your scalp and encourage hair growth.

Your red tint is more fire-orange than auburn

When your new red hue is as subtle as a screaming siren, the best fix is usually brown. Choose a boxed color that matches the predominant brown tones in your hair, minus any warmth (look for ‘cool’ or ‘neutral’ on the box). 

Then, rather than applying the dye for the full recommended time, leave it on for between five and ten minutes—and rinse. This should be long enough to cut the red without over saturating your hair color. This will help minimize the intense orange color, and leave you with a more auburn tone. And don’t forget to use a nourishing conditioner to help prevent over-drying from the double dye sessions.

Our custom leave-in conditioner can help to bring intense moisture and nourishment to your hair. A leave-conditioner or hair mask are wonderful for helping give your hair life and restoration after dyeing your hair. 

Our custom hair mask has your strands in mind. Recommended for pre-shampoo use, this hair mask hydrates and smoothes hair lengths and ends. Your custom hair mask could include ingredients for color protection, deep nutrition, anti-breakage, or fiber repair. Better ingredients for better hair.

The wrap up

If you still can’t find the right solution for your hair, reach out to your stylist and create a plan. Afterwards, complete our free consultation. In the consultation, we ask you questions about your hair type, specific problem areas, as well as goals you might have. 

We then use this information to create custom hair products for your hair needs. We will also recommend supplementary products that will support your custom hair care.

If you’re looking for a way to help your hair, Prose has products that can be catered to your hair specifically: custom products with natural ingredients. Our in-house chemists put the product through its paces to guarantee its safety, quality, and efficacy. 

We create products to help nourish, replenish, and strengthen your hair. Tell us more about your hair’s health, and we will craft a hair recipe for you.

Whether you’re looking for a product for your ends, or shampoo for color treated hair, we formulate the best recipe for you. Hair mistakes don’t have to be forever, and we have products that can help revive your hair after any color gone wrong. Start your free consultation today. Our unique formulas couldn’t exist without you.


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The Prose Staff is here to share the best hair tips and tricks to help you achieve all your hair goals with custom hair care, breakthrough innovation and more

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  1. I’m new to this product, just used it twice. I am used to using a leave in conditioner after. Do you have one available, do I not need it, or is there one you recommend?

    1. Hi Michelle! Excited to hear that you’re new to Prose and I hope you’ve had a great experience so far! As far as your leave in conditioner goes, Prose plays well with other styling products! While many of our customers find that they need to use less styling products when washing with Prose, we expect that many will also want to continue using products to finish their style, so feel free to keep using your leave in. We currently don’t offer a leave in conditioner, but stay tuned as our R&D team is constantly hard at work developing new and exciting things!

  2. My beautician colored my hair and my roots have a red Nd lighter than my color. Whe used a color of 7NnA , i haVe some red she was trying to cover with the ash in 7NnA+. Tne color was okay for ends but scalp,color waz redish At the roots. Can you tell us what we can do to cover roots at scalp?. The product was joico vero color with 20 volume developer.

  3. I tried GivIng my friend a reverse baYalage. Her hair is naturally light brown so i used a 3N to darken her roots and put dark pIeces around her head and after i washed and dried it, nothing happened. Its still a light brown color…why?


  5. 80 yrs I am fair with freckles. My roots now r white. I want to keep my hair auburn/copper but everything makes the roots PINK/Orang. I’ve tried blue neutralizer mixed every combo and still not happy. A Lt Brown was way to dark for an elder. Help I’ve used every product known to man. What to do ???

  6. All of my hair is “virgin” not previously colored. The roots come out light red and I want all my hair that color😞

  7. The picture at the top of this article showed up in an Google query. Even though it’s unrelated to what I’m working on, I still clicked because it looks like an example of the anti-orange thing in the hair stylist field. I’ve wondered since I was little why people want to be rid of it, and instead want flatter, colder hues instead. All colors are great, it’s the aversion from orange that’s strange. The picture got me thinking… Did this originate in an effort to conform to Caucasian norms? I’m not political and I would have asked this same question 20 years ago – it’s just an honest anthropological inquiry. Is it not people with darker hair and skin that experience the “brassy” tones when lightening? Are the strong avoidance and multitude of “anti-brass” products not aiming to be more like people who have less melanin in their skin and hair? For reference, I’m a middle aged white woman with naturally black hair and green eyes. My hair will lift above orange only after destroying it (my last foray into bleach was pre-Olaplex though). The people who were black, brown, Asian, and from other backgrounds that I grew up around always (always) lifted orange. My cousin who’s German-white and the hundreds of clients at her salon that looked like her always seemed to go from the darkest being “dishwater blonde” to platinum with very very little or no orange stage. They are beautiful the way they are and the way they look with their hair changed. That said, the cooler the hair tone, the less healthy people look, in my opinion. I wanted my hair silver over a decade ago in my 20’s and my stylist (cousin) refused to do it. I wanted to do it because I wanted that semi-dead goth look. I’m rambling now… but it’s just something to think about. Especially those of you with hair that’s lifted orangey – that vibrant, glowing, beautiful color.