In order to achieve highlights and color changes in your hair, a chemical process is necessary. The methods used may include bleach, color or a combination of both. But too much of either can have disastrous consequences. Over-processed hair can become damaged, causing the hair to look extremely dry and coarse. Regular trimming of the ends can help reduce the look of damage, but hair may still show signs of stress. Sometimes hair can become so porous that any attempts to color it within the family of brown hair colors will cause your hair to look black. This is because the hair has become so damaged that it soaks up the darker hair colors, including their base color, very rapidly. Upon close examination, you will notice that the healthier root area has absorbed the color as expected, but the ends will have taken on an uneven, unnatural look. In most cases, your hair will also be much darker than what you had intended. Most people will try to use a bleaching process to correct the problem, but this is one of the worst things that you can do. Using bleach will most likely cause even more damage and will not take your hair back to a happy medium. There is a process to strip your processed hair, but it needs to be done carefully and with patience. Asking for a friend's assistance is also a good idea!
Condition your hair very well, because at this point your hair is probably in very poor health. Using a restorative conditioner will help to moisturize the hair before the next chemical treatment.
Rinse your hair well, removing all of the conditioner, and towel dry. Do not rub your hair with the towel to dry it! Blot it gently while trying to remove the excess water. Your hair should be damp for the next step, but not dripping.
Purchase a color remover instead of bleach. There are color removers on the market that will remove the dark color from your hair more effectively than bleach. A product like Clairol Metalex or Clairol Uncolor will offer a great result. These products can be found in your local beauty supply store for purchase.
Mix and apply the color remover as suggested by the manufacturer. For this step, having a friend's help can be very valuable! The color remover works rapidly, so another set of eyes can be very useful! Since damaged hair has the tendency to accept color at different levels, the removal of the color can be more successful in some areas than others. This causes some people to remove the color remover to soon. You may think that all of the color has been removed successfully, but somewhere in the back, it may not be completely finished. Your friend can help with this problem.
Don't panic if your hair turns a bright shade of yellow or orange! This is normal! The job of the color remover is to remove all of the dark pigment from your hair. This process will leave behind a bright, unnatural color. This is okay! Your toner will take care of it.
Rinse the color remover from your hair completely after the dark pigment has been removed. Do not shampoo, but rinse very well!
Apply your toner as instructed by the manufacturer. Toners can also be purchased from your local beauty supply store, and they come in an array of different shades to compliment your skin tone. They are non-permanent, which means that they will stain your hair without the harshness of permanent colors that involve a peroxide and ammonia mixture. It needs repeating that your hair is in a very damaged state, so you want to choose a color that is not too harsh. One in a light color family will work best, and since you have a an over-exaggerated brightness in your hair already, an ash color or neutral is best. Your options will be to stay within the range of dark ash blond and light neutral brown. Anything else will be too light or too dark.
Rinse out the toner, but do not shampoo. Rinse very well and follow with a good restorative conditioner.
Give your hair a break! Allow your hair to begin a healing process and stay away from chemical processes for a while. Give your hair a regular trimming and do not over-shampoo. Shampooing has the tendency to strip hair of natural moisture, so if you wash your hair daily, you may want to consider skipping the shampoo and conditioning every other day.