Is There Any Going Back After Box Dye?

Have you been box dying your own hair black since you were 14?

Or perhaps you were having a bad hair day and decided Tesco’s finest would sort that out.

Never fear! Here is what we can do.




I have seen many MANY clients come in the doors with box colours in their hair that they just don’t know what to do with. They want a change but they have been doing their own hair for years, and now there are so many layers of dye in there its starting to resemble the local panel beaters floor.

First of all, we’ve all done it. So don’t be embarrassed. Here is what to expect.

There are usually two colours that come through the doors of my salon that have been box dying for years. Red & Black! There is a different process for both of these colours and a different level of patience and commitment is needed for each.

The other thing you will need to do, is get SALON shampoo & conditioner for keeping your hair strong in the process AND a deep conditioning treatment. Supermarket or Chemist (and even some salon products!) won’t do it, they are too soapy and dry out your hair and the conditioners and treatments aren’t strong enough. It is false economy to spend a decent amount of lightening your hair and using cheap shampoo to save a few pennies. You will end up with damaged hair that we can lighten quickly enough (or at all) and the whole process will take much longer….so believe me it is worth it!

My clients that have the good, strong products get lighter a lot quicker because their hair is in good conditioner AND their hair is healthy at the end of the process, which means its much more manageable!

Firstly Red: Red is much easier to get out of the hair than black. But can be still a bit tricky. Most redheads that come in are dealing with faded bits, orange and different tones running through the hair from years of DIY.

Most box red colours slightly lighten the hair, hence the patchiness that you can get sometimes….or if you’ve applied it all over from your roots to your ends, it explains the beautiful fluro red roots you now have.


It also layers up if you have been doing it a long time. Like both red and black, no matter how carefully you are applying it to the roots, box dye develops a lot quicker than professional colour and is made a different way, which is why it will grab onto the ends of the hair when you are washing it out. So you may think you are being good by just doing the roots, but its no making a lot of difference as its grabbing on and layering up on the ends as the water runs down from your roots anyway.

What we generally do for removing red is to use our gentle bleach technique (for all you hairdressers out there, its the low and slow method of using a low developer, 15vol and below, and leaving it on for longer, rather than slapping on the strong stuff and hoping for the best). We take the bleach right up to the start of the red so we can clean it out entirely. We also use a Bond Fusion treatment, newly developed in the last few years, that helps prevent damage, to a certain extent, while bleaching.

This process is much more gentle than traditional methods as it doesn’t dry out and damage the hair. And in turn, helps your new colour hold on to your hair for longer, because healthy hair holds colour a lot better than dry, damaged hair.

With this process we can usually get most of the red out in one go and colour you to your desired shade. If you desired shade is very light blonde, then it may take 2 appointments get that perfect clean blonde, unless your hair is healthy and you’ve let it fade out quite a lot already.

Here is an example of a red that has been let fade out. We were able to get it platinum in ONE appointment using our low & slow process. However most clients aren’t quite so lucky.


Here is a more typical result from red to blonde. You can see most of the red has completely gone and we have toned* the rest out using a slightly darker, more natural shade of blonde. We have darkerened her roots and blended into the blonde which gives her a balayage effect so that you don’t need to keep getting highlights as here wont be any regrowth.

*Toners: these are semi permanent colour that washes out of the hair but mask any unwanted tones such as yellow and orange that come through. They do wash out so they need re-toning every 4-6 weeks usually until the red is completely cleaned out.


Another popular idea to change your colour up from red is to go bright! These are much easier to do as can be achieved in once appointment, because the bright colour will mask any orange tones left over from the red.



BLACK OR DARK BROWN on the other hand, is a different story.

Getting out black or dark brown requires a little bit of patience and commitment.

If the hair is healthy and strong it can be done in a couple of appointments using the same methods as we use for our reds…however it can take longer if you hair is finer, longer or you have been box dying it for  long time.

Generally in the first appointment we can get it to lighten to a caramel type of tone. We use our semi permanent toners to make it a nice colour so avoiding the dreaded blorange or acid yellow. These do wash out so it makes it easier for us to lighten the next time without having to then bleach out a toner as well. But because it does wash out, it does need to be re-toned when the orangey tones come back through (this is relatively inexpensive, but saves you having to put up with horrible hair colours while waiting to go lighter!)

This picture below shows my client who has been box dying black for a few years. The first picture is after one appointment and this showing what it looks like after the toner has washed out (right before we lightened it again). It shows we were able to lighten it to a medium brown (this one was a little more stubborn to get out due to the length of time she had been box dying her hair and also because her hair was quite fine……BUT…..You can see a big different in the ‘after’ picture. While there is still a bit of warmer or coppery tones, it is much lighter.

The worst mistake you can make is to get impatient after the first bleach and just dye it back because you don’t see a bit enough difference…..DON’T DO THIS, YOU ARE NEARLY THERE!!!!




How light you can go in one appointment is dependant on what is in your hair and the health of your hair. We hear a lot that “my hair takes well to bleach”…..this may be true if you hair weren’t coloured, but how well the bleach lightens depends in this case on how well the colour or product that is in your hair will lighten.




The photo above shows a typical result of the first bleach on dark box dyed hair. As you can see, there is no avoiding the warmth or copper tones in your hair, but we have worked with it to product a nice colour. If you really don’t like much warmth at all we can tone it a shade darker to cover it with a more ‘coffee’ coloured, medium ash brown until your next appointment (which is a colour I personally love!)




Another beautiful option as you see here is toning it a rose-gold type of colour. This is very popular at the moment and comes in several shades. Its generally a blend of copper and pink tones to make a blush like tone. This works perfectly when you are lightening as it covers nicely any orange tones.

There are plenty of other options of ‘in-between’ colours from dusty pinks to purples or more natural colours. So its a good idea to discuss what you are prepared to do, once you have seen how light it has lightened.

We usually can’t give you an accurate idea of the outcome of the first bleaching process if we hadn’t done your hair before. As it is different with everyone, depending on what was used in your hair, professional or home-dye. So the best way is just to be patient and give it ago

Its well worth the wait, because once the dark colours are out of your hair, you are free to play with ALL THE COLOURS!!! 🙂

And as always, if you have any questions, comment below or message us on Facebook, we are only too happy to help at Goldirocks!

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