What's the best way to strip dark dye from my hair?

Hi Hair Doctors,

I have dyed my hair lots of different dark shades, from black to purple to red, sadly they were all permanent so now I can't get rid of this dark washed out colour.

I have tried to dye my hair lighter with lighter colours but still can't get it out, I have long hair which is down to the bottom of my ribs and is in good condition. I now really want to remove this dark colour and have a nice light brown shade put in.

I have visited my hairdresser but she just keeps telling me I am going to have to let the dark colour grow out, surely there must be another solution? I can't wait for my hair to grow out!

I also have spoken to a chemist, who suggested striping it. I want to know will this damage my hair badly and will it need to be cut? I basically just need to know what to do because I don't want to have this dark colour, however I don't want to strip it and end up with short ginger hair?!
Please help!!

Anon, Ireland

You sound like a colour chameleon! If I was you I would book in a consultation with a colourist who enjoys performing big colour corrections as this will be a big job! Firstly by the sounds of what you said, your hair has seen a lot of colour, plus most of it was permanent so it may be very tricky to remove it (especially from the lengths of the hair).

When we colour our hair, the pigments get deposited into the main structure of the hair and expands to stay in there. Now, when we do it over and over the hair starts to get a thing us hairdressers call "cuticle stain". Which means that the over colouring has made it impossible to remove and nothing will get it out other than with scissors!

One golden rule to remember when colouring hair is that colour doesn't lift colour. So if you have tinted dark hair and apply a blonde colour on top of it, the blonde will have no effect at all other than damaging the hair slightly. The only product to remove colour from the hair is bleach or remover and this is most certainly best left to the professionals.

Have a test strand done to see if it is possible to get you to the lightness you want and see how it goes. If it is not what you are after, then I would suggest having a little patience and have regular trims until the most of the colour has gone. Hope it goes well!

John Clark at Brooks+Brooks

Your hair dilemma is quite common and is something we see a lot of in the salon, so rest assured you are not the only person to experience this problem. In order to remove the layers of dark you will have to cleanse them out. This is a gentle lightening mixture, it does contain bleach, but done properly you shouldn't find condition wise it suffers because of it. This should only be done by a professional and I definitely wouldn't advise you trying to do anything yourself.

I would say to you to be patient and do this process gradually, giving your hair a rest in between. Consider having a bit more cut off the length of your hair, this will remove a lot of the oldest, over-coloured hair and will result in the new colour being even from roots to ends. Expect to go through a variation of rich warm chocolaty tones as you go through the process. 

Crombie, Head Technician at Browns