How Long Does Color Correction Take?

hair coloring and color correction

We’ve all gotten used to perfecting digital photos with a few swipes and taps. Pale face? Swipe right for an instant tan. Wrinkles under the eyes? Tap to fill them in. Dull hair? Tap to brighten it. Before you know it, there’s a beautiful Instagram profile picture. 

Unfortunately, that’s not how beauty in the real world works. Undesirable hair color takes time to fix, whether it’s too light, too brassy, or a color you never expected to see on your head. A professional stylist knows that correcting hair color requires multiple steps, and those steps could take hours, days, or even weeks. The important thing is to get it right so you end up with a beautiful look you’ll love. We promise the end result is always worth the time.

What Exactly is Color Correction, and Why Would I Need It?

In many cases, correcting hair color means fixing hair that’s too dark, too light, too warm, or too cool. Unwanted color is often the result of a hasty dye job, in which someone didn’t take the proper steps during the coloring process. This can happen whether you use a box color yourself, or if a stylist isn’t experienced enough to know better. 

Brunettes who went blonde will turn brassy if warm tones weren’t lifted during the color process. During a color correction, a stylist will use toner to get rid of that yellow or orange hue that’s popping through. Toner is a semi-permanent dye that plays an important role in correcting color because it can either deposit pigments into hair to cancel out undesirable tones, or it can bring out muted tones to reveal the shade you were going for. 

Blondes who went brunette too quickly won’t get the color they desired if their natural hair wasn’t first filled with red dye to hold the dark color. That type of color correction could take multiple steps. 

Color correction is also the process of changing hair from very dark to very light, or from very light to very dark. It doesn’t sound like something that needs to be fixed or “corrected,” but because it’s an extreme transformation, it’s considered correcting the color. 

Why Correcting Hair Color Takes Time

It’s tough to put an exact time on color correction because every correction is different. In some cases, fixing it takes just a few hours. But if a client has severe damage from a botched color job or is seeking a drastic transformation, it will take one long day or several sessions spread out over weeks. Stylists who know how to color correct hair will do everything they can to keep the hair healthy while delivering beautiful results.

Here are a few examples of the amount of time that goes into color correction:

Changing Hair From Dark to Light

It’s never a good idea to walk into the salon, show your stylist a picture of bleach-blonde hair, and have her get to work. In fact, if your stylist agrees to that, you should probably turn right back around and walk out the door. There are a few very important steps colorists need to take when transforming hair from brunette to blonde.

First, during a color consultation, your stylist should discuss whether your chosen hair color will compliment your skin. For instance, sandy and platinum blonde are good for cool skin undertones, while honey, golden, and strawberry blonde suit warm undertones. If your stylist recommends you choose a different color, your best bet is to take her expert advice. 

Next, it’s important to assess how your hair will handle your desired color. Instead of testing it on your whole head, a colorist will test the dye on a small hidden strand. This shows elasticity (how fragile the hair is) and porosity, which tells how much the hair will lighten. If it breaks easily or doesn’t lighten to the level you want, it’s going to take a longer process to achieve your goal.   

Changing from dark to light requires lifting all the color out of the hair with bleach. Bleach strips the hair of protein and essential nutrients, so it’s imperative to allow the hair to recover between bleaching sessions. We recommend four to six weeks. Once all the color is removed, your stylist will apply the shade of blonde you requested. The entire process can take from two to four months.      

color consultation with hairstylist
Image by Samotrebizan by

Fixing Brassy Hair

Blonde hair becomes brassy when red, orange, or yellow tones weren’t lifted during the bleaching process. Natural brunettes become brassy when red tones creep up, while blondes turn brassy when yellow or orange shows through. 

Stylists who know how to color correct hair refer to a color wheel to fix brassiness. The wheel has warm colors such as yellow, orange, and red on one side, and cool colors like purple, blue, and green on the other. Basically, warm and cool cancel each other out. In order to neutralize a warm color from popping up, stylists add a toner in the color directly opposite on the color wheel. For instance, adding violet toner gets rid of yellow, adding green gets rid of red, and adding blue cancels out orange. 

The time it takes to fix brassy hair will vary depending on the condition of your hair, but it often only takes a day in the salon. 

Can I Try to Fix My Hair Color at Home?

If you’re wondering how long color correction takes after coloring your hair from a box at home, you will understand why it’s not a good idea to fix it at home. There are a number of reasons why correcting hair color should be left to the experts.

Choosing the right toner. Identifying which color to use on the color wheel requires an expert eye. If you think you need blue to neutralize orange, but you actually need green to neutralize red, your hair could turn out looking worse than it did before. And while there are some drugstore toning shampoos that can slow fading, they can’t correct a bad color job.  

Messing with bleach. Bleaching at home with a low-quality product can lead to brittle, frizzy hair. Stylists use professional-grade bleach that’s not as harsh, and they know how long to leave it in to minimize damage.  

Exercising patience. It’s easy to act irrationally when your hair turns out differently than expected. You may be tempted to run to the store and buy a box of hair color or color-correcting shampoo to fix it fast. But trust us, that could backfire. The right way to correct color takes time. Stylists know which steps lead to healthy, beautiful hair. And they will take all the time necessary to achieve it. 

If you’re ready to love the way your hair looks in real life – and not just in your filtered profile pic – we’re ready to offer our expert advice. Schedule a consultation with Vakkar by calling or texting us at (314) 648-3121, or book online by clicking here

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