Why is my black hair colour not lifting?

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I recently wanted to change my hair from black which I was dying for some time. I tried having it stripped twice but it didn't do anything apart from make it look brassy. I finally had it bleached several times and a light brown colour applied all over but that has not worked either!

I am currently conditioning my hair and giving it lots of TLC. What do I do next?

Anon, UK

Hi Anon,

If you've been colouring your hair for quite some time, then you're bound to have quite a build-up of colour in the hair. And so if you're still looking to go lighter then this isn't going to be a quick or easy process; repeated gentle colour removal is needed if you want to maintain condition and not damage the hair any further. I'd recommend focusing on condition first by having a regular treatment in your local salon, and then once the hair is feeling good again, ask your colourist to gently strip it again with a gentle bath.

You can then colour it with a semi-permanent shade and leave it about eight weeks before repeating the process. You can do this again until you reach the required shade and lightness of colour that you're after. It takes patience, but you'll have much healthier hair and better colour as a result. Good luck.

Hannah de Frateschi, Stylist & Colourist at Simon Webster Hair, Brighton


To get a nice light brown that will take to your hair without being damaging, I'd recommend using an oil-based colour like L'Oreal's Inoa or a semi-permanent with lighter peroxide. Oil-based colours actually improve the condition of your hair and have lovely depth. 

Alice Gazagnes, Senior Stylist & Colourist at Simon Webster Hair, Brighton

Artificially coloured black hair can look beautiful, shiny and rich. However it is the bane of many a hair colourists life when the person wants it lightening. If you have been dying it black for a while and applying it over and over then the hair maybe stained so intensely that it will only lighten to a red or orange and nothing more. This can in theory be toned to create a brunette colour, but only by a highly skilled technician.

You must decide what you want to do with your colour long term. If you want it lighter then that can happen but only with lots of patience and keep-up with the TLC. 

Go speak to a colourist who is experienced in colour correction work, go armed with pictures of what you like and what you don't. Also you have to give the full history of what colours have been applied to the hair. They should be able to give you a good opinion and a plan of action.

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

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