I recently came across a product called Color Oops Hair Color Remover which is supposed to remove dyed pigment from your hair without damaging it. I read a lot of successful reviews online and decided to give it a shot myself. My goal was to lighten my dyed dark brown hair and get to a light brown so I could put some blonde highlights in and journey back to a blonde. The catch: my hair underneath the dark brown dye is not virgin (heh heh). It's a bleached out blonde, and I'm not really expecting a product to remove months of color to get me back to that color. Would my hair turn orange? Would it simply lighten? After a bunch of research, I decided to jump in, and I'm really pleased with the results.
What I started withYou might recall from a previous post that my style icon is Gwen Stefani. For nearly a decade, I've been bleaching my hair to that gorgeous platinum color that she pulls off without looking like a stripper. My hair hasn't been it's natural dirty blonde since. I have gotten the itch to go darker, usually in Fall. (My first time found me with green, then purple hair, all of which broke off and left me with a very, very unflattering, unintentional pixie cut.) Since then, I've gotten better at doing my hair myself. This Fall I went to a red color, which I looooved, and then to my standby dark brown a couple of months ago.
|From the left: my beloved platinum blonde, the red I went to this Fall, and my most recent dark brown.|
I wanted to lighten my hair, but didn't want to harshly bleach my hair and end up looking like a ginger scarecrow. I was hoping Color Oops would remove a lot of the dark brown pigment to get me to something lighter that I could work with, sans damage. I knew there was a good chance I could end up with orange-ish undertones, but I decided that I could work with that.
What you'll need
- A box of Color Oops. If you have a lot of hair, or are messy when applying this stuff, you might want to buy two boxes. I used ALL of one bottle and my hair isn't that thick, although it is long. I've read CVS sells it, and I know that Walgreen's does as well. Our Walgreen's was completely out, and I've heard that others ran into the same problem (I get this image of people wearing baseball caps running into Walgreen's and snatching up a bottle, haha). Luckily, our K-Mart had it as well - I bought the last box for $14. Our Walmart does NOT carry it. Don't buy L'Oreal's Color Remover - it is NOT, NOT, NOT the same product.
- An old shirt and pair of pants. The product is reallllly runny and doesn't stay on the gloves very well. Wear a shirt and pair of pants you don't mind ruining in case something happens.
- A follow-up color. You will want to do the strand test (See below) beforehand so you get an idea of what Color Oops will do to you hair. This way you can decide if you'll follow up with a new color or not. Developlus (the makers of Color Oops) also recommend a color filler since your hair will be porous after the process, but I didn't use one.
- A timer and somewhere to rinse your hair.
The strand test
I read sooo many reviews about people who were mad about their results because Color Oops left them with orange hair. My advice is to do the strand test before you put it on your entire head. It takes all of a half-hour, and then you know how it's going to react to your hair. No surprises. There are instructions in the package, but I'll briefly describe it.
- Cut a small section of hair from an inconspicuous area of your hair. Less than the size of an eraser... no giant chunks here. Just enough to make a swatch, but not so much that you're going to leave yourself with a crazy random short piece in back.
- I taped mine together at the "roots" so it would stay together.
- Mix equal parts of the two components.
- Spread mixture on the hair - I placed mine on a couple of paper towels while it processed.
- After 20 minutes, rinse thoroughly.
- Let dry.
Now you'll see how Color Oops is going to react to your hair. Some of you might notice it took all of the artificial pigment out, and some of you will notice something else. Mine turned lighter, but also had an verrrry slight orange tint to it. I decided to buy a box of dark ash blonde in case I wanted to try to counteract the orange once I saw how my entire head looked. I tried the dye on my test strand and decided to keep the box around just in case. Since you've done the strand test, you can anticipate what you're going to do. The biggest mistake I've run into while doing my own hair is screwing up, panicking, trying to fix it, and screwing up more. You can screw up your test strand all you want, at least it's not your whole head.
Putting it on your head
One of the biggest things I read was how horrible this stuff smelled. I think someone compared it to a dying whale's ass? It's not a pleasant smell, but I guess it wasn't that bad. All noses are different. If you've ever been in a hair salon in the 90's and remember what it smelled like when someone got a perm, it's kinda like that. Only not as intense.
I also read about people have trouble with blotchiness. My guess would be these people applied it incorrectly and missed spots as they were going. As I mentioned before, it's super runny. You really need to section your hair off and saturate small parts of your hair before moving on. If you have a lot of hair, you really want to have two boxes. You might lose some solution due to it running off of your gloves. I watched this video by BeautyByElsa before I applied it. The application part of the video is sped up, but you can see how she sections her hair and makes sure she gets everything. I did it her way and had no blotchiness.
Finally - rinse, rinse, rinse. As mentioned before - it's stinky, so you want to make sure you get as much of the solution out of your hair as you can. I used the kitchen sink and changed positions... top, bottom, sides, etc. I shampooed a couple of times using Tresemme's Deep Cleaning Shampoo.
My hair ended up exactly like my test strands. Who knew? ;) So I was not in the least bit surprised to see that my hair was lighter, and slightly orangey. Truthfully though, it was so close to what I was going for, that I could almost ignore the orange tint. And you couldn't really notice it except in a certain light. Since I was going to put in blonde highlights, I almost left it as it was. But, I knew I might regret the top of my head looking like some sort of summer treat rather than natural-ish looking, so I decided to go with the ash blonde after all. Developus warns that your hair will be super porous after using color oops (meaning it will grab color really quickly), so that dye should not be left on for more than five minutes. They're not kidding. According to my test strand, two minutes was more than enough to take out the orange. It even went a little darker than I intended, but I'm ok with that.
|What I started with, again on the left, and what Color Oops left me with, (pre ash blonde dye).|
As someone who has gone the route of doing my hair at home many times, I would recommend Color Oops for lightening hair. I have never successfully gone to an intermediate color from my dark brown, and always just ended up bleaching my hair back to the platinum. Color Oops left me with something lighter, although slightly orange, so that I could work from there. And the best part - it did NOT DAMAGE MY HAIR! Even if I didn't have any results, I would feel like I was basically out nothing, except maybe $14. (I've ruined my hair for a lot more than that) I'll more than likely be going back to platinum once Summer hits (I can't resist it... I know), but I know I'll be right back to "I miss my dark hair!!" again next Fall. When it's time to go lighter again, I'll be going this route for sure. It's the closest I've been to my natural hair color in ages.
Nearly all of the reviews I read online had comments: "What is this going to do to my hair??!" My answer would be, read about other's experiences and then do a test strand for yourself. I've had professionals mess my hair up because they didn't anticipate the results. It happens. If you do a test strand you'll know what will happen and can decide what you're going to do from there.
Good luck and happy lightening!