Why doesn't my colourist lighten my entire head from the root up?

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I am a natural brunette. I have had several different colours of hair, and recently I went from a lighter brown to a darkest brown – carried out professionally.

I now want my hair lightened again to a nice medium brown. My colourist keeps putting streaks throughout and lightening the roots. I now have dark reddish streaks, reddish roots and dark brown hair!

Why doesn't she just lighten the entire head from the root up?

Anon, New York

Hello there in New York,

Your question is quite easy to answer. You need to find a reputable colour salon in New York and take some pictures of celebrities whose hair colour you like along with you. This will help to communicate to the colourist what you want.

From what you have written I don’t see why it would be difficult to get an all over medium brown. The process to lighten the ends and balance the red streaks and reddish roots will take a few applications. It may look quite orange during the process but don’t panic. When you see the different reds turning orange, know that it’s part of the process when lightening red and dark hair.

Once the colour is the same all over - meaning an orangey yellow blonde - only then can a permanent tint be applied to give you the medium brown you want. The application may differ depending on the condition and porosity of your hair after stripping the present colours. 

Please do not try doing this at home; especially with the different colours you have in your hair now. It may end up costing you more than having it done professionally. 

Once the new colour has been washed off it may need some ‘hair food’ to keep the colour in your hair, so that the new colour will last. Usually I recommend after such a procedure not to wash your hair for 72 hours, and only then with a gentle shampoo. Your colourist will advise you on what products you should use at home to keep the colour in your hair so that it does not fade.

Please do not buy your hair care products form a supermarket or any other place than your salon where you had your colour successfully done. In stores such as supermarkets or chemists, many shampoos promise to be gentle but can strip the colour right out of your hair.

Your professional salon will recommend how to look after your hair at home. There are many products available in salons to protect the colour and condition of your hair. If your salon stocks Phillip Kingsley, then they have a product called “Elasticizer” pre-shampoo treatment, which is an amazing product to help close the hair cuticles so that the colour is locked in and does not wash out. I think this product is available in the US. If your salon does not stock this product you can buy it online: http://www.philipkingsley.com/hair-treatments/philip-kingsley-elasticizer.html?gclid=Cj0KEQjwiJiiBRDh3Z-ctPfS5MgBEiQAAlkbQuh3tjToN5MsMqYY6ABmG1OtauAM07HajmLE7uUNd04aAkea8P8HAQ

I do hope that my advice will help you understand the procedure better, and I sincerely hope you’ll soon be a beautiful happy medium brown.

Pierre Alexandre of Pierre Alexandre, Manchester

Some colourists are a little bit shy when performing colour changes. They often think that using a highlighting technique will give a better result, when in actual fact it may not be the best option. Gently lightening the base colour by one level and then colouring it with your chosen shade would to me be the simplest and best method of going a little lighter. Speak to a confident colourist and go armed with some photos of what you like and hopefully they will be able to assist you. 

John Clark, Head of Colour at Brooks+Brooks, London


Unfortunately getting hair to lift from a dark brown to a light brown isn’t quite as easy as you would imagine. I think your technician will be doing this to preserve the condition of your hair.

However if the condition of your hair is good, you could possibly have a light colour cleanse through the mid-lengths and ends to gently lift out some of the depth, then add a lighter colour throughout the full head.

I hope this helps.

Trae, at browns in Dumfries

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