While most people are amping up their highlights this time of year, you’re considering toning things down by ditching your blonde strands for brown. Switching up your hair color is no doubt exciting, so long as you turn to the pros to help you achieve your desired shade. But selecting a capable and credentialed colorist isn’t the only consideration you should make before diving into a deeper hue. Just like going from brown to blonde, the opposite transition requires a great deal of upkeep. You also want to be choosy when it comes to your at-home care since certain ingredients and brands might react differently on your brown hair than it did on your blonde.
To help ease the transition, we talked to master colorists who cover the grounds on what you need to know before booking your appointment.
1. Try on a wig first to be sure
A drastic hair color change can dramatically change the way you look. So if you’re really committed to going dark, NYC-based master hair colorist Stephanie Brown recommends trying on a wig first to make sure that you like how you look as a brunette. “Wear it around all day without makeup so you really get a feel for how you will look on a regular basis,” she says. Remember: Going back to blonde won’t happen with a snap of your finger, so you have to make sure you’re fully invested in the color change.
2. For best results, transition slowly
While you might think that you’re ready to make such a bold transition, you might find that you prefer somewhere in between blonde and brown. In fact, Brown sees a lot of clients who don’t like being brunette after they’ve been blonde for so long. For this reason, she suggests going darker slowly to avoid making the mistake of going too dark. “I usually will highlight a little and do a lot of lowlights to add some depth and darkness into the hair—that’s usually good enough because 90 percent of the time client wants to go back to being more blonde the next time I see them,” she says.
3. If you do want to go all in, it’ll take some time
How much time you’ll spend in the salon will depend on how porous your hair is, but Brown says to prepare for a solid two to three hours. “Blonde hair will usually need to be ‘filled’ with a warm color so that your hair doesn’t look muddy or gray or greenish,” she adds. This process is usually done with glosses, toners and semi-permanent colors. The initial color might not be as brunette as you’d like or might get a bit brassy in the beginning, so you might have to come back to the salon in a few weeks’ time.
4. Bring pictures so your colorist knows what you want
As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words, so don’t hesitate to bring photos or save images on your phone of the exact shade of brown you’re hoping to rock. “It’s hard to go in with an idea of what you want to look like and expect your colorist to have that same picture in her head,” says Sharron Dorram, master colorist and owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in NYC. “Also, if you have a fair complexion, know that the darker you go, the more you’ll notice fine lines and imperfections.” If you’re going for a more youthful look, she suggests opting for a lighter brown.
5. Continue using a gloss for colored hair at home
Aftercare is super important. If your hair is over-processed and bleached, a natural green tint can arise or the color can turn black and inky on the ends if the hair is too damaged, explains Dorram. While a quick trim can help, it’s also important to use nourishing products that will help mend broken strands and allow you to maintain your desired shade once you leave the salon. For medium brown tones, try dpHUE Color Boosting GLOSS+ Deep Conditioning Treatment, a 2-in-1 color booster that helps revitalize dull strands. Dilute it with your favorite dpHUE conditioner for less intense results.
6. Avoid products that might dry out your hair
Freshly colored strands deserve TLC. Instead of using products containing too much alcohol that can strip the hair of moisture, add in that nourishment with lightweight oils like dpHUE Argan Oil Therapy. “Just start with a dime-sized amount and run it starting from the ends of your hair and work your way up. I always avoid my roots with oily products,” says Brown. “If you need more you can apply it to dry hair as well. It’s great for frizz and shine!” she adds.
7. Try to stay out of the sun
The sun is no friend to your hair. “Sunlight oxidizes color, making it lighter, brassy or both,” says Brown. While you can’t get away with avoiding sun exposure to your strands, unless you wear a hat 24/7, you can help get rid of the brassiness it causes by using a clarifying hair rinse. Brown recommends dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse, which not only helps maintain color but also leaves your strands soft, smooth and cleansed. “I really like it for the summer because I feel like I need to shampoo more often because of heat and humidity—it’s a great substitute,” she adds.
8. Use the right shampoos and conditioners
It’s important to be choosy with your shampoos and conditioners, especially if you’re trying to revive color. Consider brands that are formulated for brunette hair, like dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo and dpHUE Cool Brunette Conditioner. “The shampoo is great for neutralizing brassy or orange tones and the conditioner is nice and light so it won’t weigh your strands down,” explains Brown.