5 surprising things that happen to your hair when you dye it darker

Dyeing your hair is a great way to change your look to match your mood. But there are things that happen when you dye hair darker that make it more of a commitment than going platinum blonde. There are basic things to consider, like whether you want to dye your brows to match your new shade, whether your complexion will look different with dark hair, and whether you need to stock up on different lipstick shades that wouldn’t have worked before with your previously lighter hair. Basically, dyeing your hair darker is a pretty big deal and shouldn’t be done lightly.

HelloGiggles talked to Laura Estroff, the head colorist Kennaland salon, who broke down for us the actual changes you can expect and plan for. Here’s what she said:

"Think about a roof and all the shingles; that’s what your hair cuticle looks like. So when you lighten your hair, you open up all of those shingles and sort of peel them up and pull  all the color molecules out of them. So that’s why your hair is damaged, because those cuticles never lie flat again like they used to—at least in most cases."

Here’s what else happens to your hair when you go darker:

1. It will look shinier.

Like Estroff said, you’re just lifting up the cuticle and adding color molecules to it, so it’s not just an optical illusion: Your hair is actually a little thicker and bouncier. Those color molecules also add shine to you hair that a lighter look won’t. When you’re going dark, you’re adding something and when you go light, you’re stripping away. There are tons of ways to get even shinier hair, and an easy way to give your strands an extra boost is by using a hair gloss once a week in place of your favorite mask.


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This clear gloss works well with all hair colors since it doesn’t have a tint. For best results, use after you shampoo and condition, squeeze out all excess water from hair, apply the gloss with your hands, then leave it on for at least three minutes.

2. Your hair might feel  damaged.

This really depends on your hair type, according to Estroff. “Everyone is different and everyone’s hair reacts differently, but going darker is far less damaging than lightening it,” she said. At the same time, remember that your hair might feel dryer at first, since either way, you’re chemically altering it. “There will be a difference no matter which way you look at it,” Estroff said. To nourish your hair, apply a hair mask twice a week.


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This hair mask uses mongongo, hemp seed oil, and apple cider vinegar to help transform damaged locks into shiny, soft, and frizz-free strands. Because it has protein in it, don’t use it more than twice a week (too much protein can damage your hair). Apply for five minutes after shampooing and conditioning your hair, or for a deeper conditioning treatment, apply to dry hair and cover it with a shower cap, then use your hair dryer and blast moderate heat onto it for up to 30 mins, then rinse out.

3. It will be hard to go light again.

Because you’re adding all of these color molecules to your hair, you can’t change your mind once you go dark and switch back to a lighter color right away. Estroff said, “When you lift your hair from being dyed dark, you have an extra layer of hair color that you have to break through. It will get lighter [eventually], but it will likely be darker than your target.”

This also depends on how you got to dark in the first place. If you go darker from already dyed hair, Estroff says it’s near “impossible” to go super light again. If you dyed your natural hair color darker, there’s a better shot. You’re going to have to go through a lot of layers of color molecules to get what you want, so you really should think carefully before you go dark and think about what kind of in-between shades you can live with in case you ever decide to go lighter again. 

4. Like, really, really hard. You’ll need to color correct your hair.

But it won’t happen overnight, according to the professional colorist. “You’re entering a whole new realm of color corrections,” Estroff said. She added that at Kennaland she’ll as her clients before they go dark under her watchful eye if they’re sure. “I can’t take you lighter in a month,” she said. “[You] really need to manage their expectations and be patient. You can get there eventually, but it’s not a one-time thing. It can be a year before you get to what you want,” Estroff added. 

5. There’s more upkeep.

After you go darker, you’re going to want to stay away from clarifying and volumizing shampoos, since they tend to lift up your hair cuticles and make the color fade faster. But so does being out in the sun and with spring break and summer around the corner, you’re going to want to ask your colorist about a color depositing conditioner.

Estroff says that there are tons of conditioners out on the market that will do the trick, whether you want to grab a one from the drugstore or treat yourself to a luxe product. Most colorists will most likely be able to send you home with color depositing conditioner/mask made specifically for your color. Hair color is personal, and it’s always best to talk to your colorist about how to maintain the color between visits.


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The Morrocanoil hair mask is available in seven colors, so you can choose whichever one fits your shade best. Leave it on damp hair between five to seven minutes, depending on the color intensity you desire.

Dyeing your hair is a fun way to switch up your routine, but it does take some thought and planning. When you dye darker, there are just a few more things to consider than when going icy white. But don’t let that stop you from being all the brunette you can be.

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