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The Uncolor

By Amalah

Hi Amy!
A little while back I was one of your Alpha Foxy moms on the plus size beat.And now I need a little advice myself. Firstly, my husband is in Afghanistan for a 15 month tour… this in and of itself causes me to take any requests he makes of me very seriously, and I try to do any little thing I can to give him joy, given what he’s doing. In light of this, I am growing out a short, veeery short hair cut. I was going to do that anyway, and that process is going fine.
However, I have another issue related to hair: I have been coloring my dark blond hair red for years and years. Currently, it has a highly pigmented, gorgeous ruby red in it, of a German brand that is known for being hard to get rid of. Husband also has a yen to see me with my natural hair color in addition to it being longer (next thing you’ll know he’ll be asking me to drop fifty pounds and be as thin as I was when he married me, bwahahaaa). What can I do? Is it reasonable to try to color/bleach over it and have the stylist color it back to its original state? H
Honestly, if it wouldn’t be absolutely awful, I would buzz this shit down to the scalp and have it grow back in natural, but I can’t do that, lol. What do I dooooo?

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I dyed my hair hot purple? I can’t remember.
Well, if I did tell you this story already, I apologize. Don’t think of it as a rerun, but…more of a clip show, perhaps.
So one night I was wandering around CVS. It was very late. After midnight, at least. I was buying Pringles. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about my state of mind.
I happened upon the haircolor aisle and at that very moment decided that I TOTALLY WANT TO BE A REDHEAD. So I grabbed the nearest box of red dye and then look! Twizzlers! I TOTALLY WANT SOME TWIZZLERS.
And then I went home and dyed my hair. Just like that.
Yeah. My hair turned a horrible, angry shade of reddish/pinkish/purple. One look in the mirror sobered my ass up right then and there and I panicked and cried and started shampooing repeatedly for dear life.
In the morning I flipped through the phone book until I found a salon that advertised “Color Correction” services. (Because OF COURSE at this stage of my life I didn’t have a stylist I trusted, but even I knew not to trust this hot mess to someone at the Hair Cuttery.)
It was a long day at the salon. The stylist (who very nearly fainted when I arrived and sheepishly removed my hat) opted against bleaching or stripping my hair, since it is so fine and would most likely break under the stress. She applied toners, then some more toner, then a ton of brunette highlights, then a deep-conditioning treatment and some blond highlights. Then she chopped my hair off, making it about as short as I could possibly bear to live with.
In the end, my hair was still entirely too dark for my skin tone, but she’d successfully banished the purple. I went back for more blond highlights and another cut about as often as my hair could stand. Eventually she lightened it to a goldish strawberry blond, and within a year I was back to my natural color.
All told, that $9.99 box of L’Oreal Feria ended up costing me about $600 to fix my hair. I never, ever colored my hair at home again either.
So back to your question, Lydia, after one hell of a tangent. The moral of my story is that you MUST NOT MESS WITH THIS YOURSELF. No at-home bleaching. No random experimenting with dyes on top of dyes. (That was really my downfall — I put red dye on hair that was already colored blond.) Go to a stylist and tell them what you want to do. Have them examine your hair texture and figure out the best course of action.
If you have really strong and healthy hair and really want results fast, they might suggest bleaching or stripping the color out, but since this isn’t any kind of emergency, they’ll probably suggest a more gradual approach. Sort of like what I ended up doing, but without the initial shock-and-awe of that first visit. I’m guessing they’ll try toners and highlights, with more frequent salon visits to follow.
Now, there are a ton of at-home color removal tonics and shampoos, but I’ve never used any of them. I’ve never heard any recommendations for them, either in magazines or at a salon. Hell, my own personal magenta-hair-savior never once told me to try anything at home to speed the process along, other than a really good deep conditioner to keep my hair from splintering into a million pieces. Here’s a whole list of them, and maybe your stylist would be able to give you some guidance there.
The only remaining problem is that you’re trying to do two things at once, and they kind of work against each other. Keeping your hair short makes it easier to grow your color out. And so I’m tempted to say, since you recently had a very short haircut, that you might want to go back to that for now.
If your hair was as super-short as I’m imagining, you’ll be able to grow that color out lickety-split. Then you can get back to the serious business of letting your hair grow long. But trying to do both at the same time is going to drag out the color problem, cost a lot more money AND will leave you with long, yet ultimately over-processed and possibly damaged hair. On behalf of those of us who have ever had to grow out haircolor but who cannot pull off a “veeery short” haircut, I’m serious here: one thing at a time, baby.
And now, because I am nothing more than a ridiculous performer monkey, I present the TWO photos left in existence that document the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad thing that I did to my hair.
Home from the salon with dark and crunchy brown hair, a general sense of shame and a husband who woke me up, snapped this picture and then ran gleefully from the room.
About five or six months later, with brassy, orange-blond hair and the worst Mom Cut of my entire life. I’m 21 years old in this picture, and yet MY FOLLICLES HAVE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I have nothing to add, except that I totally had that sweater in the first picture(GAP circa late 90s)!


If you want to let it grow out, keep it short for now and then start growing it out after all the red is gone. It’s one thing to go between black and platinum and every color in between (guilty!) if you are keeping your hair very short, but to grow out over processed hair…yuck, yuck, double yuck. Put down the chemicals!


My Lawd! I never pictured Amalah would be the type to sport a Dorothy Hamill-esque hairdo!
And is that a younger, thinner Max? Or a completely different kitty altogether?

Amy Corbett Storch

Yep, that’s Baby Max. He was about five or six months old there, I think.
My GOD, I look EXACTLY like my mother in those photos, and it is creeping me out.


Hey guys, I’m the gal with the color problem. I did opt to cut it quite short, in a style that I’d had for a long time previously and always loved. Still love… looove… I will probably grow it out at some point anyway, but for now, I’m very happy with the short. Also it did cut out a LOT of red, so great success. Thank you, Amalah!