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I'm dyeing my hair every two weeks due to my grays, how can I combat this?

Hey peeps!

I really need some advice. I have been dying my straight, thick, chest length hair at home black for nearly 15 years! My natural colour is a medium dark brown and has natural red tones too; it’s really dry and damaged also.
I’ve had grey hair since I was a teenager, but over the past six years it has got progressively worse (the majority of it is all at my roots and fringe area). It’s got to the point that I’m dying my roots every two weeks because it’s so noticeable and it’s driving me mad! I wish someone had warned me as a teenager not to dye it black because I heard somewhere that black dye bleaches and dyes your hair at the same time – is that even true?
I really love my long hair, and I know it grows really quickly (I’ve had inverted bobs and short spiky hair in the past), so I would be open to cutting it, but what I really want to know is how I can get the black out of my hair and get a more manageable colour to deal with the grey?
I fear my hair would snap and fall out if I tried to get it stripped and no other colour will go over the dye, it just dyes my roots! I tried to dye it red once and had red roots and black hair! Not a good look! I am an adult teacher so it’s not like I could wear a hat for weeks etc whilst it’s being done, but I do have two weeks off at Xmas that I could deal with bad hair for that!
Any suggestions welcome!!
Thanks, Gem, Scotland

Hair that has been dyed black (especially over a number of years) is notoriously difficult to lighten. The mechanics of permanent hair colour is that once the mixture is applied it opens the hair shaft, removes the natural pigment from the hair and then the artificial pigments are forced into the hair. These artificial pigments then expand and get stuck inside the hair fibre. The only way to remove these super dark pigments from the hair is by using a hair colour stripper or a bleaching type product.

The gentlest way to start the lightening process is to build a relationship with a confident colourist who can gradually lighten the hair little by little. But that's once a strand test has been completed to see whether the over dyed hair will actually lift at all. If you have the guts, then I would suggest over the Christmas holidays going for a radical chop and getting rid of as much of the black hair as possible. This will then possibly give the colourist more freedom and options to lighten the hair without damaging the already dry lengths and ends.