If the beautiful new hair color you envisioned when you opened the color kit at home turned out more like the color from a cartoon, you aren't the first. Hairdresser Shelly Power has seen it all.
"I got a call one time from a girl who had tried to color her hair at home, but instead of auburn, it turned out raspberry. I call this a 911 hair emergency call."
Coloring hair and repairing colored hair are jobs for the professionals. You see a lot of boxes and commercials, but "it's not one size fits all," Power says. "There are so many variables. Hair dying is very customized to each person. Hair types take color differently, and you can't just look at a box and know what color you're going to get. Some people can't even recognize their natural color. Some people will see reds where others see golds."
Then, once it has gone wrong, it's pretty impossible for anyone but a professional with color experience to know how to fix it. "You can't just recolor, because you need to know which colors will work with the existing color to get what you want.
"There's a very big difference between processes where color has been deposited (added) and color has been lifted (removed), too. Then, if there are highlights or lowlights, that's another problem," Power adds.
Power has seen some pretty bad home dye jobs and can fix just about anything. First of all, Power says, "don't put anything else on it. Don't try to strip it. Just stop right there. I've had people come in who have put crazy things on their hair -- peroxide, dish soap, crazy things -- trying to get the color out."
Make an appointment, and be honest and thorough when you get there so the hairdresser knows what you've put on your hair and can help you get to your color goal. "There are so many variables, depending on what you started with, what you did, and what you want. I will watch to see how your hair is responding to what I'm doing along the way.
"It may take more than one visit, though. Depositing color is easier and safer than lifting color, which may take a few separate treatments either that day or different days over a few months. Going from black or very dark brown to a light brown is one of the worst," says Power, shaking her head.
"But the metallic dyes are the toughest. Pinks, greens and blues can really damage your hair, and they're hard to get out, very tough."
Do yourself a favor, Power concludes. "Treat yourself to professional color. You deserve it. But if you don't want to spend the money, just be natural. I'd rather have a good natural color than a bad dye job," says Power.