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Last updated: March 07, 2022

Removing Red Haircolor: 3 Things To Know

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What Would You Do: Transition From Red To Brunette Balayage 

COLOR CONUNDRUM! You’ve been coloring your client’s hair with a pure red additive for YEARS, and now she wants to be a balayaged brunette. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? One stumped stylist reached out to the BTC Community for some professional advice! Scroll down for their need-to-know advice for helping clients get rid of red! 


Here’s the full dilemma:

I’ve been seeing this client for about two years and I’ve colored her hair a real deep, beautiful red with a pure red additive about five times. She now wants a Level 5/6 brown to blonde balayage but without the damage—and her red has hardly faded. What can I do to lift out all that red, keep the integrity of her hair and give her what she’s asking for? Any recommendations are truly appreciated! Thanks!” 


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1. It WILL Be A Process




“Promise less, deliver more! It’s going to be a process and you both will need a bit of patience! If you can show her photos of what to expect during the entire process, that will be helpful so she has a visual of each step. BTC has tons of pics like this so get your scroll on! I would also have her in for a strand test using your preferred lightener on one strand and Malibu C CPR on another. Take a before photo, a processing photo and an after photo. This will give you both a realistic timeframe and end result without getting in too deep. Also, plan for this to be multiple visits and over time to maintain the integrity of her hair!” – @cuomocromeans


“Be honest with your client and let her know that it will be a process. You can neutralize her tone as much as possible by lifting her to her maximum level, but she may still have warmth and that’s where you need to be honest before the service. Who knows, she is probably open to the process more than you think ☺️. Don’t stress yourself crazy! Have that open and honest convo with her and see where it goes. ♥️” – @annwilsonhhair_


“I always tell these types of clients that it’s going to be a ‘see and assess’ process. I tell them I can’t guarantee anything until I see how the hair lifts, and that if they’ve had multiple layers of color put on their hair that they want taken out, it’s going to be a 4-5 session process minimum. It all depends on how their hair lifts while keeping it healthy. With these types of clients, you have to under promise because they will have an image in their mind of being bright blonde after the first lightening session, and if you don’t tell them it’s not possible they WILL be upset afterwards. 🙌” – @lizzydoesmyhair 


“You’ll have to work backwards away from red and it won’t be  brown and blonde in one visit. You can do her hair all day and charge over a thousand dollars but realistically— you should get her auburn, then brown while doing highlights on several visits. With color corrections, you have to learn what’s worth taking on. I personally wouldn’t try and get it all the way out in one visit, speaking from experience I would do a test strand before anything else! Trust me, a strand test will give you an answer immediately as to what the outcome will be, rather than possibly wrecking her whole head of hair.” – @eliasfocused 


“Low and slow is my motto. Use a low volume developer and leave it on as long as possible. Otherwise, you could push the red pigment even deeper into the hair and then you are really screwed. Also try a green toner to counteract the red. ” – Kristie Griff 


2. You WILL Need A Color Remover & Bond Builder




“Try a bleach wash to get past the red and use a bond protector. Then tone down (best to do this on wet hair)  to what she wants. Redken Shades EQ M series is gorgeous to cool down with and has a blue/green base to help neutralize. You won’t get that red out without it.” – @hairdesignbyjessicad


“Try Malibu C CPR, that will take out a lot of the red without altering your client’s natural color. It’s very gentle in comparison to every other color remover. From there, you’re going to want to use something like Wicked Ash from #mydentity by @guy_tang, which has a dark emerald green base to counteract the red. As for the blonde balayage that will require lightening, go low and slow and aim for a Level 7 to begin with. If your client doesn’t want to damage their hair, they should avoid going lighter.” – @badasshairbear 


“Try CPR by Malibu C or Blank Canvas by Pulp Riot. To tone, add a bond builder using B3 Brazilian Bond Builder or Olaplex to keep the integrity of her hair. Let her know this will take at least 2 visits! Under promise and over deliver! This happens all the time!!! You got this!” – @hillman1187


“I would tell her ‘one step at a time.’ First, I would use a color remover, then apply her overall color formula (with Olaplex added in) to the deserved level. Then, I would send her home with Olaplex No. 3 and instruct her to use it two to three times per week, depending on the health of her hair. At her next appointment, I would introduce the process of balayage.” – Danica Meek



3. Always Keep a Sense of Humor! 




“Ahhh memories! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣– @hair_by_sue


Put a Level 4 on it LOL!” – Steve Talley


“‘I still see yellow’ 💀” – @mipiangel 


“A wig! 😂 But you can’t remove red and lighten without damage. I recently did a massive correction where the client had a deep permanent red color (not done by me), some of her natural and bright red on the bottom. I used a color remover, bleached the whole head and then used a good demi permanent with a few highlights of the same demi color, but two shades lighter. There was damage of course, but you’re not a magician!” – @erkiaswagner


“Tell her there’s a great salon down the road! – Sally Hancock


Click Here To Read Why You Should Be Using A Color Remover For Creating A Clean Canvas!