October 7, 2020


So, you want to dye your hair back to your natural hair color. Is it a full moon? Did you break up with your significant other? Are you interviewing for a new job?  Are you over the highlight grow out line? Tired of coloring your hair every month?

Yes, yes and yes! Maybe you have even more reasons to go back to your natural color or at least close to it…  Whatever your reasons, you’re ready for a change!

It looks easy in the hair color ads, BUT how do you know you’re choosing the right shade? All expert colorists know the key to unlocking fabulous, natural-looking hair color is to have a mapped-out plan and to follow the “4 Secret Rules of Color”.

Secret #1:  Identify Your Levels

This is the start on every colorist’s road map. Once you know it, it can take you anywhere. A ‘level’ will tell you how dark or light your natural hair (at the roots) is and how light or dark your colored hair is. Get in some natural light and take a really good look, they will look different from one another. Now, compare them each to the chart. Write down your natural hair color level and the level of your color-treated hair. NOTE: If your natural hair is lighter than your color-treated hair, you will not be able to lighten your color-treated hair using hair color alone; you will need bleach. For this, we recommend visiting a pro.

Pro Tip
Look at the level of lightness and darkness of your hair, think of it as a black and white photo. If you think its in-between two levels, choose the lighter level. It’s easier to make your hair darker than it is lighter.

Secret #2: Enhance or Neutralize Your Undertones

Every map has a key, and this is the key to color success. Undertones tell you what hue to choose so that you can achieve the end result you want to be. Undertones are warm and appear when the hair is lightened or anytime you are using a bleach or permanent hair color. When hair is lightened it changes its tonality, brown is reduced and replaced with red, orange and yellow. The darker your hair the more red will be exposed; the lighter your hair the more orange and yellow will be exposed.

Why is this important?

There are usually a few routes that you can take to get you to your destination. If your trip is local, you are staying within 1-2 levels of your natural hair, almost anything can be achieved with a single application.


If your destination is warm: gold, rose gold, copper, auburn or mahogany:

Let your natural warm undertones work in your favor and simply enhance them by adding in your desired shade. Reds will appear more vibrant, golds and coppers rich and honey-like.

Pro Tip
Use demi permanent color if you want a low commitment or less vibrancy. It’s gentler on the hair fiber and if you change your mind and want to go lighter in the future it will be easier to lighten.

If your destination is cool: pearl, smoke, sand, ash and beige:

The objective here is to neutralize or control any warmth your hair will naturally contribute to the end result. Although it may sound scary or unflattering, green is best to neutralize red, blue to subdue orange, and violet to keep yellow at bay.

Pro Tip
If you are choosing a shade that’s lighter than your natural hair, staying within 2 levels, will give you the best chance at beating the brass. Trying to go lighter than that may lead to unexpected results.

Secret #3: When Darkening Bleached Hair, Replace the Undertones

If you don’t put back some of the warmth that was removed you could end up with color that is flat, muddy, and possibly gray/blueish in tone. Basically, a color not found in nature. You need to make sure your hair color choice has the missing warmth that was removed when lightening the hair or risk having an unnatural color that will take unevenly, and possibly look green. Not a good look btw!

Buckle up, get some drinks and snacks, this road trip is making a few stops. A tint back service requires 2 back-to-back color applications. Remember, we have to replace the missing undertones first which have to be warm, then we will either enhance with another warm color or neutralize with a cool color, similar to applying a top-coat. There can be exceptions, but usually this is a two-step process.


  • First stop: Apply a demi-permanent color to replace the undertones. Always use a demi-permanent color. It’s ammonia-free, which is gentler to the hair and the color finish is sheer so it’s perfect to use under a second color application. Fully process and rinse thoroughly according to your directions.
Pro Tip
Use a demi-permanent shade that’s 1-2 levels lighter than your target to ensure your top-coat, the second application, doesn’t over-deposit.
  • Second stop: On dry hair, apply your top-coat. A second application of a demi-permanent hair color is optimal, but if you are looking to change your natural color at the roots or requiring gray coverage, a permanent color can be used.


Secret # 4: Trial Run

Who doesn’t like to know what will happen before it happens? The best colorists perform a “Strand Test”. Simply put, they use a small piece of hair, about the size of spaghetti, and do a trial run of the color application. This small mini-application can yield significant knowledge such as whether or not the shade you chose is right, if timing should be adjusted, and save a lot of heartache if anything needs to change. Use this opportunity to make sure you are REALLY ready to embrace your natural color and that you will be happy with the end result.


So, get your gloves on, have some fun and be empowered! Try the above secrets out for yourself and discover your inner colorist. Remember, we are only a phone call away and are the perfect road trip partner since we have been down this road many times.