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How to Slightly Darken Bleached Hair at Home: Step-by-Step DIY Guide

African American lady with a "too" blonde hair color and smooth, cool skin tone wearing a colorful head scarf.

Bleaching your hair is intended to lighten it, but sometimes the results turn out lighter than you expected. If you’re not happy with the shade you’ve reached with the bleach, there are ways to remedy this situation.

You need to slightly darken your color to get the perfect shade. In this article, we’ll teach you how to slightly darken bleached at home with 6 easy methods.

How to Slightly Darken Bleached Hair at Home

Attractive black woman with sunglasses wearing ombre brown and blond hair styled with African head wrap.

So, you’ve bleached your hair and it came out too light, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it. There are a few tricks that you can use to darken bleached hair without inflicting too much damage on your precious curls.

Purple or Blue Shampoo

Purple and blue shampoos are similar to toners since they reduce brassy hues post-bleaching. They eliminate unwanted orange and yellow shades and can even darken your hair a bit, though it won’t be a drastic change. 

The reason why purple and blue shampoos can make your hair look darker is that yellow and orange tones in your hair are inherently bright. So, removing those tones with the tinted shampoo will leave you with slightly darker hair. 

To use a purple or blue shampoo, just replace your regular shampoo with one of these once or twice a week to make your hair darker.

Check the instructions on your shampoo to see if it requires you to leave it on your hair for a couple of minutes before rinsing it out. Over time, you’ll notice that your bleached hair is getting ever-so-slightly darker. 

Note: You can use the color wheel to determine how to cancel bright undertones. For example, if your hair has a green or orange hue, you’ll need a red toner (for green) and a blue toner (for orange) undertones. There are also products specifically designed for gray hair. Toners are a great way to darken hair and counteract warm tones.

Purple Dye and Conditioner

Another way to use purple pigments to alter the color of your hair involves purple dye, which can help neutralize those bright yellow tones for an overall darker hue. 

For this method, combine a bit of purple dye (about an ounce) with a large amount of your favorite conditioner (3 ounces for more). Then apply it to your hair, coating it completely. Leave the mixture on your hair for about 15 to 30 minutes. Then rinse it out using warm water. 

You shouldn’t need to shampoo afterward since such a small amount of dye was used. The conditioner also moisturizes your hair as the dye works, so you’ll likely have softer hair when you’re done.

Adult female with reddish hair dye on bouncy 4A natural curls after lightening hair with bleach and lemon juice.

Toner

If you’re looking for a more drastic change than a tinted shampoo can offer, using a toner is the next step. In addition to removing brassy tones, it can darken those light hues for a more natural look.

Toners are generally ammonia-based, though there are more natural options available if your hair can’t handle the harsh chemicals.

When choosing a toner, be sure to pick one that is only a shade or two darker than the color you’re already sporting. If you aren’t sure what color your hair is, check a color wheel or swatch where you’re buying your toner.

You may also want to wait at least three days after bleaching to use the toner. Doing so gives you time to moisturize and strengthen your hair. 

For this method, you’ll need the following:

  • Toner
  • Developer
  • A plastic bowl
  • Tinting brush
  • Color-protect shampoo and conditioner

Mix the Toner

To begin, combine the toner and developer according to the directions on the toner’s packaging. Most experts recommend using a 1:2 ratio but be sure to read the instructions carefully to be sure. Mix them thoroughly in the bowl using your tinting brush. 

Apply the Toner

Section your hair to make it easier to apply the toner (4 to 6 sections work well). Then use the applicator brush to apply the toner over every strand of hair.

Be sure to cover them all for a uniform color result. Then let the toner sit for the recommended amount of time, which could range from 20 to 45 minutes.

Rinse and Wash Your Hair

When the developing time is up, rinse the toner from your hair. Don’t leave any residue behind since this could cause unnecessary damage to your hair cuticle structure.

When the toner is gone, use a color-protect shampoo to wash your hair. Rinse this away and add some conditioner to moisturize and rejuvenate your strands.

Black women with 4A natural curls styled by dyeing bleached hair with light blonde Overtone.

Semi-Permanent Dye

Semi-permanent dye is another option for darkening your hair slightly after bleaching. Just like with the toner, you should only go a shade or two darker than the color you already have.

Doing so will ensure that you don’t need to bleach it again to get it back to a lighter shade later. You can also try a darker color later if you aren’t happy with the results of the first dye treatment.

Semi-permanent dye is much gentler than permanent dye, so you can use it right after bleaching. 

Dispense the Dye

Semi-permanent color does not need to be mixed with developer. So, dispense the dye into a mixing bowl and lightly mix it with your tinting brush. You could also apply the dye directly out of its container if you don’t have a bowl around. 

Apply the Dye

Use your fingers or a tinting brush to apply the dye. Saturate the hair to ensure even coverage. Once the dye is applied thoroughly, leave it on the hair for the specified amount of time on the dye packaging.

Rinse and Condition

Once the processing time is up, rinse the dye from your hair. Be sure the water runs clear to avoid staining your clothing or pillowcase. Then apply some of your favorite conditioners. 

Coffee

The methods described above are the most commonly used options for darkening bleached hair. If you prefer a more natural method, a good one to try out is coffee.

It will only darken the color a couple of shades, so you should only need one application. The results of coffee dyeing sessions last about 2 to 3 weeks, so this is a temporary solution. 

Brew coffee

Brew about 3 cups of coffee. You can use any brand or roast you’d like for this. Once it has brewed, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Apply the Coffee to Your Hair

There are a couple of options for coffee applications. First, you can pour it into a bowl and then dip your hair into it. Let it soak for a few seconds.

This application method can be a bit awkward, so a better method may be to pour the coffee over your hair. You can do this over a sink or in the shower. Repeat this process three times, then rinse the coffee from your hair. 

Cute African American female with dark hair with orange and yellow tones wearing rose-colored glasses.

Walnuts

Walnuts are also a good option for darkening your bleached hair a shade or two. You can use any walnut type except black walnuts – these may darken your hair too much. The more of the crushed shells you use, the darker the finished color will be, so start with just a few.

Prepare the Shells

Crush 10 walnut shells. You can also use walnut powder instead of crushing the shells yourself. Place the crushed shells or powder into a pot of water. Let it boil for 30 minutes.

Then allow the water to cool. You can place it in the fridge to speed this up. Once the water is cool enough to touch, strain it to remove the crushed shells.

Apply the Tinted Water

Using an applicator brush or a cotton ball, apply the colored water. Try to coat every strand for the evenest results. Leave the water on the hair for an hour or more. Be sure to check your hair often to avoid darkening the hair too much. Then wash your hair using your normal shampoo and warm water.

Related Articles

When you’re bleaching your hair, it can sometimes turn out lighter than expected. If this is the case for you, don’t worry! There are ways to remedy this situation and darken your color a few shades if needed.

We hope these 6 easy methods will help you get back on track with the perfect shade that you love so much!

Any of these options will darken your hair color a shade or two for a more natural look you’ll love to show off. Good luck with your hair!