How to Get Rid of Red Tones in Hair Color

When your dye job looks more Raggedy Ann than ravishing red, tone it down with home treatments.
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If you've wanted to try out a new hair color only to end up with too much red in your locks, you're not alone. Whether you're dyeing at home or going to a salon, the red in hair dye can look more pronounced depending on the texture and color of your natural hair. But fear not -- a little time, TLC and some creative color correcting can help remove red tones and get your hair back to a hue that's right for you.

Wash as soon as possible with a clarifying shampoo. Lucky for you -- and unlucky for those who want vibrant tresses -- red hair dye tends to fade faster than other colors. Resist the urge to scrub your hair or wash it more than twice in a row, as this could dry out and damage your hair.

Add one to two drops of green food coloring to your favorite shampoo bottle and shake well. Since green is opposite on the color wheel to red, a very light green tint in your shampoo can help tone down the redness.

Wash and dry with your tinted shampoo and check the color. If your hair is still too red, add one to two more drops of food coloring to your shampoo and try it again at your next washing. You want to neutralize the red, but if add too much food coloring at once you'll end up with a greenish hue -- and a whole new set of hair woes.

Apply an ash shade of semipermanent shade of hair dye in the shade closest to the color you want -- ash brown for brunettes and darker hair, or ash blond for lighter heads. Follow the box directions for home color, or get to a salon for foolproof correction. Semipermanent shades sit on the hair rather than sinking in like permanent dye, making them less damaging on your color-treated locks.

Use your clarifying shampoo once a week if your water is heavy in minerals or iron-rich. Iron in your water can make red tones in your hair even brighter. Consider investing in a shower filter if the problem persists. Mineral buildup can turn hair brassy over time, and a filter can help stop the red tones before they ever touch your head.

  • Consider visiting a salon if you see significant dryness or breakage in your hair, which indicates damage from overprocessing. If you experience any itching or irritation around your scalp or hairline, you may need to consult a dermatologist to address a possible allergic reaction.
  • If you hair is blond but brassy -- which indicates too much gold or red in your hair -- try a shampoo specifically for blond hair color. Shampoo for blondes is often tinted purple, which helps to neutralize the color in the same way that green food coloring battles red.

Lindsey Robinson Sanchez, from Bessemer, Ala., has written for the "Troy Messenger," "The Alabama Baptist" and "The Gainesville Times," where her work was featured on the AP wire. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes style, beauty, fitness, travel and culture.