Changing Your Colour

So, you’ve decided to make a big hair colour change. This can be a really scary endeavor, especially if you don’t have a stylist who knows colour inside and out.  Colouring hair is a combination of chemistry and art, and we have the passion, patience, talent and knowledge to work with you and get your hair to where you want it to go.

Colour Corrections

Whenever you are working with trying to change previous colour, you are getting into colour correction work.  It’s difficult to determine the price of the service without seeing you in person, so a consultation is always necessary to figure out what needs to be done to achieve the colour you want, and to give you a quote. We will always try to work within your budget, so we will give you a few options of what we can do, which might mean breaking it up into a few appointments and doing it gradually. Sometimes it is not possible to achieve the desired colour in one appointment without breaking the hair, so you need to do it in stages anyway. Keep in mind that when you already have colour in your hair, your natural colour has been changed and the hair is starting off at a drier stage. The stylist’s job is to give you the colour you want but to keep your hair on your head, which means minimizing damage and breakage.  Following is a little rundown of some of the most common big changes:


The most tricky one, since it is more unpredictable when you are dealing with removing and changing unnatural pigments. You have to remove the old colour which means that you will likely have to use a lightener and the hair will be left very dry. Because you can only leave the lightener on for so long before you start damaging the hair,  you can have unwanted pigments left from the old dye that are difficult to remove…usually  a brassy, reddish tone.  Once the hair has been lightened as much as possible with the lightener, a toner (which is actually just a mild colour) is usually needed to counter these unwanted pigments. You have to remember that there is no miracle cure…sometimes it can take a few appointments to get your hair to where you want it. Also, it isn’t always recommended to do since some hair just will not be able to handle the lightening process and will snap off.  There is a chance your stylist will not want to do the service if he/she thinks it will be too damaging. It may be best to lighten it gradually over a longer period of time…sometimes months.


This photo demonstrates one incredible transformation from brunette with leftover red tones to perfect ash-platinum blonde, done by Gypsy. There were quite a few steps of lightening done and a good cut took care of the damaged ends. It’s usually recommended to do this in more than one appointment, but in this case she was able to get it done in one long appointment. That’s not always the case. The use of Olaplex in the colour formula helped to prevent breakage and lessen the damage, but the hair is definitely left more dry and dehydrated afterward. A toner was put on after the lightening to even out the colour and cancel any residual yellow tones.  The client will have to use the right products, recommended by her stylist, to restore the moisture that was lost. This is very important in order to ensure that the hair doesn’t get more brittle and break.  As for maintaining the colour, she will have to touch-up just the roots every few weeks, which should be fairly straight-forward. 




Balayage has become a standard technique for highlights. The reason stylists love it is because it allows them creative freedom with colouring. In case you don’t know what the term means: balayage is the technique of applying colour completely free-hand.  Sombre is the effect of  transitioning softly from dark at the roots to lighter on the ends.  Read more about this method here. Clients love sombre because, besides looking amazing when done correctly, it allows them to go much longer without touch ups.

 The Bad Ombre.
This is a very common problem and our most common correction service. We see a lot of clients come in who have had a balayage service done that did not turn out as they had hoped. Frequently, in these cases, the hair is left brassy and the transition is very blotchy with definite lines between the roots and the lightened hair. Kimberly’s client , on the left, had a previous colour that she was very unhappy with. It also kept getting more brassy with every wash. This usually happens when the hair is not lightened enough and it is left in the orange/gold stage. A toner is put on to cover that up, but toners fade out. You generally need to lighten the hair enough so that during fading it does not get overly brassy. The blonde was also too solid for her liking.  She wanted to have a softer, updated  look and get rid of the brassiness. They decided on a more neutral blonde tone that would not be so harsh and to create a better transition from dark to light. Kimberly added some dark hair colour down toward the ends to give more depth and tone down the blonde, while adding just a few highights closer toward the root. This gave the hair a more smooth transition from dark to light and the effect is closer to sombre. Afterward, a medium/light  toner tamed down the brassy blonde and softened the look. The result is a stunning rich sandy blonde. She may have to put toner in a couple more times, but with every application the amount of fading will be reduced and the brassiness will lessen.


There was  a time in the 90’s when striped hair was in. This is definitely not the case today, with softly blended hair being the  desired look. Fortunately, this is usually an easy fix when in the hands of an experienced, skilled colourist. Easy does not always equate to quick, but it is a fixable situation.

Yes, stripes still happen. This lovely gal ended up with silver stripes of blonde that were spaced too far apart, along with copper spots where the colour leaked onto the rest of the hair (called bleeding). This happens when the colour is put into the highlighting foils too close to the root and when the foil is closed too tightly. The colour that is supposed to stay in the foil leaks out and creates spots where it touches the rest of the hair. .In this case, there were spots pretty much throughout the head. The ends of the hair were a warm blonde and nothing matched or blended. Yikes. To correct this, the copper bleed marks were fixed by painstakingly going through the hair and brushing a dark colour onto the spots. Then some fine highlights were carefully added in between the streaks to break up and eliminate the stripy appearance. Lastly,  warm tones were added to the silver to create a soft, blended result.




Depending on how light a red you want, this can be relatively simple to do. Because darker hair colours tend to pull a lot of red when we lighten them, it is easier to achieve a nice red tone. The complicated part is doing this evenly since colour does not always lighten evenly from roots to ends. Sometimes there is more colour buildup in the middle of the hair shaft because of overlapping or multiple colour applications. The ends of the hair are sometimes dry, which means it may need an extra dose of pigment to get the vibrancy. If your roots are your natural hair colour, that will develop differently as well. We need to bring all those components together to create one cohesive, even colour tone.



Before, Jeremy’s client started off with hair that was her own natural colour at the root,coloured darker in the middle and bleached blonde at the ends. This means that he had to treat it like three different heads of hair….one colour formulation for the roots, another for the middle and one for the ends. The ends needed extra colour filling after because they did not absorb the red colour as well as the rest due to its dryness and lost pigment. A bit of patience and an extra process and voila! Gorgeous, rich red hair.



This can be a tricky one to do well, depending on what you start off with and what you want to achieve. As mentioned above, when you are changing the colour of previously coloured hair you are getting into colour correction work. If you have been colouring your hair blonde, it is stripped of natural pigment which opens the cuticle and leaves the hair strand porous. Because it will be more porous in some areas than others, the darker hair colour can end up blotchy and uneven. It can also end up way too dark because the hair absorbs it more when the hair cuticle is too open.  An opposite problem that sometimes occurs is that the ends of the hair are so dry and stripped that they can’t hold on to colour. This means the ends end up looking faded. Another potential issue is that the hair ends up too “flat”–too ashy and without any shine. These are mostly preventable problems when done by a qualified hair colourist and with a quality hair colour line, but it may mean a few processes. You need to have someone who has experience with colour corrections, who has the patience to work with your hair and its potential issues, and who cares about your hair enough to want to minimize the damage as much as possible.


Lora’s client, left, wanted to change her natural titian blonde locks to a more sophisticated, rich tone. With Organic Colour Systems there is no need to fill the hair first since their colours blend evenly from root to tip with the help of the natural oils in the product.  The right combination of tones in her colour formula helped to create the perfect, rich, red-brown hair colour. As the dark colour fades, elements of her original lighter colour will come through and her roots will show up lighter. It’s fairly easy upkeep to colour the roots again and pull it through to the ends to refresh it, probably every 5 or 6 weeks or so.

The trick to going from light to dark colour is to avoid getting a flat looking tone with no shine. You normally need to add some warmth, such as a gold undertone, to the colour mixture because that is always the pigment inherent in natural brown hair colour. Using an ash-based colour can leave the hair looking like a muddy brown. You also have to make sure you don’t use anything too aggressive in order to preserve and enhance the health of the hair.


If your hair has not been previously coloured, this is the ideal start. It is much easier to predict what underlying tones there will be and what colour formulation needs to be used to get you to your desired shade. If you want to go quite light, the hair can initially feel somewhat dry because the natural oils are removed along with your natural pigment. The hair should soften up once the natural oils return, as long as it has not been too damaged. It can be a good idea to do it a little at a time, in about two or three appointments, because it gives the hair a chance to replenish the oils between appointments. It also gives a nicer effect since it gives the hair more dimension when you lighten it a few times.

One thing to remember is that when you are lightening hair, the more levels of lift your hair goes through, the more damage you will have. If you have dark brown hair and want a very light blonde, lightener has to be left on much longer to remove all the pigment. Sometimes it takes a few applications, depending on what result you want and how much red pigment you have in your hair. Not all hair is created equal and some have much more warm undertones to fight through. To keep your hair feeling better, always make sure you follow your stylist’s care instructions after and use good shampoo and conditioner.