Aura Friedman, who is celebrity colorist at Sally Hershberger in NYC and LA who dyes the hair color of celebrities like Felicity Jones and Lady Gaga, shares why some color choices can work against you and how to make your hair — and you — look totally rich instead.
1. You colored your hair so far from your natural shade.
If your hair color is naturally a light brown and you have dyed it to be an unnatural-looking, solid blue-black hue, it's going to be obvious. Not that you can't go darker, but choose the right shade (i.e. a deep chestnut brown over the blue-black, for example), so it doesn't look forced and not real. In general though, "the most important thing to do when coloring your hair is to emulate your natural shade as much as possible and only go one to two shades darker or lighter," Friedman says.
2. You went crazy with the highlights and they look not real instead of sun-induced.
Highlights are meant to do just that: highlight, so your hair shines, has dimension, and makes your facial features and skin color pop. They're also supposed to look like they were caused by the sun, so when you over-highlight your entire head or go too light, not only will they look not real as soon as you step out of the salon, but also the lines of demarcation near your roots as the highlighted pieces grow out will be more severe. "To get a natural look and seamless grow-out period, ask your stylist for a nice balance of highlights throughout your hair so it grows in softer," Friedman says. Or request balayage (when a colorist paints on highlights) instead of foils (where strands are folded up into aluminum foil sheets). "Balayage is a technique that has a more organic look overall because the closer the dye is to your roots, the softer the line is when your hair grows in," she says. "Plus, with foils, the bleach is only applied to the hair that goes into the foils, whereas balayage is more diffused, since it gets on adjacent hairs as it's painted on."
3. You asked for a few super-chunky highlights and now you have tiger stripes.
If having prominent highlights is what you asked for, talk to your colorist first to be sure she uses the veining technique, which mixes up thicknesses and makes highlights thinner toward the root and thicker by the ends, Friedman says. "This creates a clear highlighting effect that still reads as natural-looking."
4. You dyed your roots yourself, became too dark, and now your hairline looks shoe polish-y.
"The hairs along your hairline are finer than the rest of your strands, so they tend to absorb hair color quicker and can look darker," she says. So, whether you are covering grays, just want to richen your natural color, or altering your hue altogether and going a little darker, choose a second box color that is about one shade lighter for the face-framing pieces, and match your natural color the best for the all-over shade.
5. You totally disregard your complexion when selecting your hair color.
Sure, you could just choose a hair color and not base it off of anything, but if you think your complexion, it will look more natural and suit your skin tone better. Nobody knows what look best on your coloring like a pro, so even before you pick a box shade, book a consultation with a colorist to get an idea of all your color options based on your skin tone, eye color, and brow color.
6. You're using one color to dye your entire head of hair.
Applying one shade of, say, dark brown all over your head each time you dye it can cause your hair color to look flat. It could even alter the ends of your hair to a darker shade, like black, without you intending on it (since they're so porous and absorb color quickly). To make sure you create dimension, even if you are using one color, Friedman suggests applying hair color starting at the back of your head first, not the front. "If you apply the dye at your hairline first, it'll sit on the thin face-framing pieces longer and over-absorb," she says. "Plus, the darkest part of your hair is supposed to be in the back, since the sun usually bleaches out and lightens your hairline, which naturally leaves the hair toward your crown darker." If your hairline has a few stray grays, don't touch them with color until the last 5 minutes before you have to rinse out the dye, because they'll grab too dye much otherwise.
7. You dye your hair from roots to ends every single time you color it.
If you have regrowth, you are only supposed to coat the roots with color, diffusing it slightly into the rest of your hair about about an inch or so past the regrowth. "If you apply dye from root to end every time, the result will be that your mid-shaft to ends will continue to get darker and darker, and over time will look too heavy," Friedman says. When it comes to highlights, be sure your colorist does not coat the entire length of strands with bleach every time you get a touch-up. Because eventually, the ends of hair will become not only super light but also more damaged, which will cause tips to look dull and fade faster than the rest of your hair.
8. You bleached your brown hair and now it is orange.
When trying to go from super dark to really light, a pro is necessary. That's because box color isn't able to fully lift dark pigment out of strands. Plus, when you're at the salon, a colorist will know the exact amount of peroxide needed (and how long to leave it on for) to get your natural hue past the orange phase. "A colorist can decide on the precise peroxide level to use to get the target color and factor in how damaged your hair is, which you can't take into account when your doing it yourself," Friedman says.
9. Your blonde has become one solid color and now it looks fake.
"You always want to make sure has dimension, which is what keeps it more natural-looking," Freidman explains. "On the other hand, you don't want to overdo highlights and need to balance out blonde with some darker lowlights too." It's a healthy blend of both light and dark that will leave you with gorgeous Gisele Bündchen-like color.
10. Your blonde converts to orange and brassy, or gray.
Orange-y highlights typically happen when you apply an all-over blonde kit at home, which doesn't have a strong enough level of peroxide to fully lift the pigment in your hair like a pro can at the salon. Blondes can also look gray on the ends due to toner buildup after several coloring sessions. To avoid this, ask your colorist to save your blonde one level brighter than where you need it to be and to use less toner on the ends of your hair.
11. You have gone so color crazy for so long, your hair is a hot mess and breaking off.
Four words: "Stop coloring your hair," Freidman says. Then, use a super-hydrating treatment mask. It is also a good idea to consult a colorist for other ideas on how to get your hair back to being healthy. If you absolutely don't want to stay at the color you're at, ask your colorist to go darker and deposit color only — it is way less harsh on hair than going lighter and using bleach.
12. You have layer upon layer of rainbow-inspired dyed hair.
"If you are making it by yourself, avoid doing too many colors at once," Friedman suggests. That is because not all shades are color-matched. "Certain colors, when blended together, can make an undesirable color — as a gross brown — it is why talking to a professional who knows the color wheel is best, especially when you want something that has much different shades." Your safest bet: If you want to go, say, pink, purple, or blue, stay just one hue and keep this tip in mind: "Keep the hairline lighter and closer to your real color, and concentrate the vibrant color more toward the ends," Friedman says.