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How to Gracefully Transition Back To Natural Hair Color

woman with side swept curly blonde hair

There are several reasons why you might want to transition back to your natural hair color, whether you’re over platinum blonde maintenance cutting into your budget or you’re longing to reunite with your dark brown roots. When it comes to giving your mane a breather from salon color, you have two options—dye your hair to match your natural base shade, or gradually grow-out your salon hue. If you choose the latter, it’s essential to find ways to gracefully transition your mane to its virgin state (while avoiding harsh grow-out lines and brassiness).

According to Nick Stenson, Matrix artistic educator, when deciding how to get natural hair color back, it’s best to determine the best course of action with your colorist.

“To avoid going “cold turkey”, it’s helpful to partner with your stylist and talk about ways to take subtle steps so that you don’t feel shocked with the change,” Stenson says. “Based on my experience, while some deal well with sudden or extreme color changes, some don’t, and the transition can be traumatic.”

Whether you’re a salon blonde transitioning back to brunette or growing out a fantasy hair color, Stenson breaks down his top tips and advice to consider before making the change. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.

Good hair day by @hairbyamybee.

For blonde transitioning to brunette

There’s no better time to go brunette (it is the year of the brunette, after all). If you’re transitioning back to dark after a stint on the lighter side, however, Stenson recommends starting with a few subtle changes.

“The best way to start the process is to partner with your stylist and ask about adding lowlights to your hair or using a toner with more depth,” Stenson says. “This is also a great time to talk to your stylist about ways to soften the “line” and continue the grow-out a little more subtly.”

These steps can help you to find your comfortable level of darkness to transition back to without doing too much too soon—particularly if you’ve been blonde for a while. Stenson also emphasizes the importance of keeping your mane hydrated during the transition.

“Because you were blonde, your hair will be more likely to fade, especially if you’re not properly caring for it,” Stenson explains.

Add a weekly hair mask like Biolage ColorLast Deep Treatment Multi-Use Hair Mask into your routine to nourish color-treated, dull, and damaged hair.

Good hair day by @omareskini8.

For brunettes going back to blonde

If you’re considering going back to blonde, Stenson says it’s essential to be clear about your end goal.

“When your stylist understands your desired end result, they can make recommendations that help avoid unnecessary damage to your hair,” Stenson says.

Asking your colorist for a blonde balayage or highlights is a great way to ease back into blonde (without opting for a full head of bleach). These techniques will create a natural-looking color that will aid in a smoother grow-out process.

Since damage and overly brassy tones can happen when making these transitions, you’ll want to invest in a color-toning shampoo like Matrix Total Results Brass Off Shampoo as well as a reparative hair mask like Biolage Advanced Deep Treatment Recovery Pack.

Good hair day by @coryhoffmanhair.

For growing out a fantasy hair color

Ah, fantasy hair—as much as we love shades of pastel and neon, they’re the opposite of subtle when it comes to transitioning back to virgin hair. That’s why when it comes to growing fantasy shades out gracefully, Stenson recommends asking your colorist for a rooted look like ombre or balayage to soften any harsh grow-out lines. Stenson also suggests keeping your mane healthy during the growth process with a leave-in treatment like Biolage All In One Coconut Oil Infusion Leave-In Spray.

With Stenson’s tips in mind, you can make the most effortless transition back to your natural hair color.

Interested in more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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