growing out dye successfully

If you have been dyeing your hair for decades, growing out dye might seem like an impossible task. "Where to start?" and "how to cope?" or "will I have the discipline?", you may ask yourself.

I have been growing out red henna dye for 2 1/2 years, and would like to share some advice, that really helped me growing out.

1. there is just as many types of dye as there is types of people that want to get rid of it

Much of my advice is directed towards the long haired, wanting to be even more long haired and natural crowd, but of course it is also somewhat relevant to anyone that does not want to take drastic measures to get rid of color (cut, bleach). I will try to include some ideas for everyone.

How hard it will be to grow out/ get rid of your dye depends on a) your natural hair color, b) the type of dye you used. To a degree some dye can be faded, or you can adjust the lengths somewhat if you are willing to dye your hair once more. However, that is not always an option. Some color simply won't fade, no matter what you do and another dye job or even lightening can be harmful to your hair (especially when long).

Here are some scenarios:

2. You want to fade the dye
Many have used color oops with great success, but a great deal have also reported damage from it.  Some had no problems whatsoever. I would only recommend it if you have very strong hair AND would be okay with some possible extra damage. It is unlikely your hair will be breaking off, but it is a harsh product that removes dye by lifting your hairs cuticle.

3. You want to dye to adjust
If you want to adjust with chemical dye, this is actually best done at a salon. Simply because they can mix and match the color better than any box dye you will purchase.
Keep in mind that if you dyed your hair darker, bleaching it would be the only way to go lighter again. Keep in mind that bleaching is very harsh and you may want to think about it twice before you bleach long hair.

If you want to use plant dye or henna you can test the dye on balls of shed hair to make sure it comes out the way you want it. Henna, Indigo and Cassia can be mixed to achieve any blondish, brownish, blackish, reddish shade IF it is NOT lighter than your hair color. Henna never goes lighter, just remember that. To have a mix look more ashy you can add Amla . So if your hair is medium brown and you dyed it reddish you can use 50% henna + 50 % indigo to go back to brown. The red can still peak through a bit, but it can look much more even that an actual two toned look. For mixes see here - Mixes by

4. You want to actually grow it out

There is many reasons to bear it and grow out the dye. You might not want to damage your hair in any way, nor shorten it, and even adjusting with henna is not an option for everyone. In my case it seemed impossible to match the color, even though I never actually dyed my hair lighter or darker, just redder.

It would not have looked any less obvious for me. Since growing out happens on its own and you don't need "how to..: advice, let me just throw a few tips out there.

* Be positive
Don't dread what is ahead of you. Look forward to seeing your very own, very custom, unique natural hair color. Nowadays, where most women dye their hair, this can really make you stand out. Appreciate every new inch of virgin healthy, natural hair. Don't think of years ahead of you, take it step by step...reaching ear length, fitting your dyed hair into a bun, growing it past your shoulders...once past your shoulders you may actually not even care anymore ;).
* Be patient
Easier said than done, I know. But patience is better than any radical solutions you might regret later. If you feel like cutting or dyeing, don't act on it right away. Wait at least two weeks to see if you are still dead set on doing something drastic. Most likely it was just an impulse. It can help having a "hair color idol" to look up to. This can be another person with long hair, a celebrity, model...whatever inspires you.
Don't try to judge your roots. When your hair color first comes in it will most likely look grey and lifeless in comparison to the dye. But that is not the true result. You need to wait much longer to be able to really see your natural color. Best is face framing or even longer. Even with virgin hair at shoulder length it will look different again.
* Love your natural color

Think about it this way - why would you even have to dislike your natural hair color? Who said it was bad in the first place? Does hair color always have to "pop"? Be vibrant? Intense?
A nature given fact is that your hair color will harmonize with your skin tone, eye color, your overall look. Hair dye can be too intense (it contains a LOT of pigment) for your face. Especially when not wearing make up. I personally don't want to look good after leaving the house, I want to wake up and look good. Not worry about having to change anything. So if your hair dye was not quite the right color and overpowered your face, be sure that your natural color will give your eyes the chance to shine. Are you going gray and people are urging you to dye? Keep in mind gray hair can be so flattering and soft looking on a mature face, unlike some harsh dye. Constant root touch ups are also needed with dyed hair.
You can also think about it as classic chic. There is many models that don't dye their hair, and they send the message "I don't need that, I am naturally gorgeous". You can do that too, there is much more to looking good than your hair color. Reinvent your style if you feel bored.
* Ignore the haters
I know, they are freaking EVERYWHERE! But learn to ignore them, not give a shit, or even question their views. Germany is a good example, the majority of people has dark blonde hair here...or "dishwater blonde". I wonder who ever came up with that term, but it must have been an idiot, or maybe a jealous brunette...who knows lol. However, there is not many dark blondes seen anymore, because they usually lighten or darken their hair, sad but true. Dark blonde, like any color, is a great color, ashier tones included. If you are a dark blonde you are not light, you are not dark, you are right in between the two, and so are your features. Another term would be "mousy brown", to refer to cool brown shades, completely ignoring the fact that some skin tones go best with cooler shades...I could go on an on. But just know that haters are very influenced by commercial beauty ideals, that were born from selling products to "improve" women, even the ones that don't want a change.

My story

I have dyed my hair a lot in the past. Out of boredom with my own hair color. That is nothing wrong, many will get to this point and want to experiment before they know what they like best.

My biggest love has been red hair dye, and so I have experimented with semi permanent reddish brown dye or lightening my hair a bit to a coppery shade as a young teenager. Then there was my gothy/ metal phase (which is actually not a phase since that is still me today ^^), where I felt I wanted to wear my hair black, even midnight blue once.

However that was the first time I was also not happy with my dye, but because I was afraid to grow it out I had my hair stylist apply a slightly lighter shade with every visit and ended up with a brownish black. I kept it this way until I decided to grow my already waist length hair even longer. I started seeing some damage due to the dye and I kept asking myself if a "prettier" hair color is really worth damaging my hair.
Yes, at that time I was already not liking my natural hair color anymore, because judging from my roots, it looked like a grayish dark brown (but I'm actually warm!).

For one year,I did not dye my hair, then I gave in and used some henndigo on my hair to even it out a bit, which I immediately regret, because it turned out too dark. I let it grow out again and decided to try red henna, hoping I will look less two toned. I loved the result (henna red is soooo pretty), my hair looked burgundy,and I stuck with it until some henna frustration hit. I was not sure anymore if henna is really the best color for my complexion, I am certainly not a natural red head type, I am a brunette, with brunette brows, I have light yellowish skin with some pink, that does not harmonize with red as well as it does with my natural color. And I am not 18 anymore, it is not unusual for women in their twenties to get some grays. I was thinking I can always dye, but my natural color won't always be there. And so I gave up the henna, and never looked back.

For me it did not look obvious at first, because my natural color is just as dark/light as my dye. But once a few inches were grown out the shade was much different. I was expecting my natural hair color to be a neutral dark brown to black brown, but I was wrong. It was colorful...golden...with orange...dark brown with golden shimmer and orange reflexes...what the heck??
I am quite happy with it now though, it really DOES always harmonize and I can't wait for all of my hair to be natural. I might never dye again. Of course I can not know it for sure, but I do like the thought of gradually going gray eventually.

If you want some inspiration, take a look at these natural *looking heads of hair:
Naturhaarfarbe est en vogue

Last but not least, some things to know when growing out:

*with many colors you will notice a demarcation line. That is where your dye ends, and natural color starts (or the other way around haha). With chemical color it can be a lighter part (orangey on brunette hair for example) with henna it can look yellowish.
The reason for that is that your scalp absorbs much more of the dye than you think, and the first few bits to inches of regrowth can still have some of the dye in their system. However, the color is weird since only part of the dye stuck around, in chemical dye it is hydrogen peroxide or ammonia, which can lighten hair in henna and henna based natural dyes the lawsone molecule (which is yellow) can give you a yellowish demarcation line (which I have big time btw.)
*your top layer will take visually longer to be dye free. That is because face framing hair grows at a slower rate and the top layer has a longer way down the hair at the nape of your neck. Take a look at my pictures, on the first own on top you can see the bottom layer peek out and it looks like I have very little dye left, whereas in other photos it looks like a good amount is still covered with dye. There is not much you can do about it, but it is good to know ;)
*your virgin hair may be a different texture. It can be healthier and silkier if you have suffered damage from the dye or dryness from henna. But it may also be less shiny or slippery because dye can give that illusion, chemical dyes contain silicones which are not good for your hair but can cover your hair in a thin layer of silicone. Henna 'can' increase shine for some because of how it deposits in hair and reflects light.

Natural hair color galery:
My hair in different light, with its natural color looking like a warm dark brown to amber to golden to more thing that is unique to natural hair is the many different facettes it comes in. My henna faded to a lighter red and my henndigo faded to what my henna once looked funny. (pictures are large just click)

 *of course we can never fully know if the color is natural, but many look very "undyed" :0

- above you see actress Helen Mirren and model Chanel Celaya with beautiful natural heads of hair.
- all pictures are clickable

Happy growing! :D


  1. Great post! Your natural colour is *so* beautiful!

  2. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :)

  3. Hey Emi. Ich bin immer wieder begeistert von deiner tollen Einstellung gerade zu Themen wie Haar- und Hautfarbe...und du bringst es absolut selbstverständlich und einleuchtend rüber, liest sich toll und man merkt: Du lebst es auch. Bin noch dabei mir eine Scheibe davon abzuschneiden ;-) LG Williamsbirne

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  4. Danke Birne! Da bin ich aber froh dass es Sinn macht *puh*, ich neige naemlich dazu abzuschweifen ;)

  5. Thank you for writing this! It is a very inspiring entry.
    I have tried to grow out my henna twice and failed twice, now I'm on my third try so I hope I'll be able to stick with it, especially since I learned from my past mistakes and downfalls.

  6. Adelina,
    I failed a few times too at growing out dye. Maybe that is what it takes sometimes to finally understand why you want to do this ;)
    I always tell myself that I can always have hennaed hair, but my natural color won't stick around forever. It is part of my youth. Good Luck growing out your henna!

  7. This was just what I needed to read to reaffirm my resolve. I have been dying my hair since I was 14 and have had a whole host of colors and levels of damage done to it. I've tried to grow it out/go back to my natural shade once before when my hair was growing back from shaving off my mohawk but I couldn't stick with it. This last year I decided to try again because I was just so tried of the expense, the upkeep, and damage of keeping my hair red but I have what I like to call Hair ADD and its hard to fight the urge to dye it red/dye some crazy color/shave it all off. My hair is naturally "dirty blonde", and it was the intense hatred of that color name that prompted me to dye it in the first place so I really appreciate how your words changed my perspective on my natural color by pointing out how common it is in Germany, how rare the sahde has actually become, and why there is commercial beauty influences that affect how we view our own natural color. Thank you for inspiring me to stick it out.

    1. I am glad you found this inspiring. It seems like you have been through a lot and sometimes it just takes all that to be sure of what you want. The important thing is that you are happy. To know how you will truly feel about your natural color it takes some patience though because it will only show how it truly looks once it has grown out a considerable amount. I hope you can continue to find inspiration. Pictures of women with their natural hair color really helped me. I have changed the settings of this document, it should be open to everyone now (it was locked by mistake)

    2. You sound just like me. My mother started my hair dying/bleaching syndrome... calling my hair dirty dishwater blonde, because my younger sister's hair was very light golden blonde naturally and mine was multicolored. I wish I could go back and never dye it all my life. It's been nearly a year since you posted this and I hope you're still encouraged. In the movie Tristan and Isolde, Tristan's mother, whom we see very little of, just a few seconds here and there in the beginning of the movie, has beautiful dark ash blonde hair, and very long. I really appreciate this blog!!!

    3. Hi! I'm glad you like my blog :) I have been thinking about doing another post on natural hair colors and the perks of it. Within the past years of having my natural hair color, I have noticed so many great things like the highlights and low lights, how the ends bleach a bit and get warmer...the difference in color when the light changes. Natural colors are so alive. Btw. my fashion blog also features lots of hair pictures because I feel long, naturally colored hair is rare. Maybe it will encourage also. :)

  8. I am addicted to your blog! Great Post! Looking forward to get more information from you. I have an older home with so many ideas in my head, but I also have 2 little ones that make doing things difficult. So for now I will decorate myself vicariously through you! hair accessories online

  9. Hi, I'm 17 and I've dyed my hair a couple times. I have grey hairs (from dyeing I think) and my natural hair color is black. My question is, if I grow out my (currently permanent hair coloured) hair, will I have grey hair and black/brown hair forever? Or will the greys go? Thanks! note that Some of my hair strands were grey at the roots but black/brown at the ends, which is why I dyed it permanent.

    1. Hi Claire!
      Dyeing your hair does not cause grays, sorry. The reason for your gray hairs must be something else. It could be stress-related...stress can offset other problems. A deficiency can be a reason, especially if you lack copper. There is also said to be a Gluten connection. It is hard to figure out which of these could be the reason. I would suggest you read a bit more to see where you could make changes or improvements. One thing I can say for sure is that you have the best chance at getting rid of the grays by changing your diet. Here are some links:

  10. I can't find your name here so I will say Dear Writer, I could hug you! Every time I have tried to grow my dye out, my roots look green to me. Makes sense now, seeing as how the scalp absorbs the dye more than we think... this information makes so much sense. The lawsone is yellow, ash hair has blue in it and the combo looks green for a couple of inches, and this always made me go back to dying but deep down everything you have said (except this part I didn't know about before; the why of the green cast) has gone through my head many times but I just couldn't stick with the growing out having my mother's abusive voice in my head always criticizing me for 'letting myself go' as she puts it, every time I try to go natural. Great advice: ignore the haters. Thank you SO MUCH!!! I will read this every day until I've got it memorized. Much of a blessing to many more of us than I ever thought existed. xxx!

    1. Glad it helped you so much! It is true that growing out the first few inches is hard, but the more you grow out the easier it gets. It is sad that not dyeing your hair (or not wearing Make Up) is often seen as "letting yourself go". That pretty much implies that in order to look good, you need to look different from how you naturally look...But that is assuming that there is something wrong with natural, but there isn't. Society just got very different beauty ideals into our heads and at the moment, many are not accepting different beauty ideals *sigh* :(

  11. Much great and real resourceful blog for hair dyeing as it requires pretty sophisticated tips on how to take care of you hair. Thanks Emi your blogs are real inspiring.

  12. Hi Emi, I am getting ombré hair so my hair will be blonde at the end but I have brunette hair so when my hair grows out and the dye fades will my hair become brunette again or will it be orangish?

  13. Great inspiration. I used henna with indigo to try getting a more natural brown, I'm a light brown/goldy (I think), but I realize all the attempts to harmonize with new growth are just sacrificing the virgin growth. New Years res is no more dyes natural or otherwise. I also second that your natural color seriously beats any dye out there. Jealous!

  14. thankyou so much i stoped dieing my hair black ,,,now its light brown/red at the back and white/blonde at the front it natraul know i got weid gens mums ireland and dads english werid combo mum had long black hair dad had light brown i got the weid combo

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. i dieing my hair few years back due to some itching problem now reading this some of my myth are gone european hair wigs

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  18. Thanks for posting these pics! Just today I shaved the last of my hair -- I'd gotten a buzz but now that I'm 3 wks after 1st chemo it's just a mess. Your pics give me encouragement and a realistic view of what to expect.Keep up the wonderful work and if you want more info about this topic then visit How long does it take for hair to grow.

  19. You should try!!! At least before it all turns gray noh. It's just hair, it'll grow back. But make sure that you use good products that won't destroy your virgin hair. For more info look at here now



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