By Erin Lukas
Updated Jun 08, 2016 @ 10:45 am
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There’s a whole list of good reasons to ease up on the hair dye. Going off the bottle can improve your hair’s health if it’s severely damaged from coloring it and using heat tools, save you some serious time and money, and will be a great change if you’ve grown tired of your current shade. Bleaching your strands to lift your current color or getting a dye job that’s close to your current shade may be the quickest way to return to your natural color, but the only way to truly repair your strands is to be gentle and make the change in small steps.

Grow Out Color - Lead
Credit: Getty

Needless to say, completely ditching the dye is easier said than done. Resisting the temptation to grab a box of dye when you’re dealing with months of awkward roots at their various stages can seem impossible. We turned to Rachel Bodt, colorist at Cutler salon in New York to find out what you should ask for at the salon, and what you can do at home to return to your natural color, no matter what shade you’re rocking.

If You Have Highlights

Ready to let go of your highlights? Bodt recommends gradually adding in lowlights to space out the lightness from your current highlights and let more of your natural color show through. To take the edge off the color and soften the contrast between the light and darker shades, she also recommends your stylist applying a gloss treatment. At home, you can treat your strands to a weekly gloss hair mask such as Gloss Moderne Masque ($65; to boost shine from roots to ends.

If You Went Lighter

Whether you went platinum or strawberry blond, heading back to your darker roots won’t be a one-step process. “If you have gone all over blonde, I recommend a base drop of your natural color,” says Bodt. “This is applied like a single process but pulling it through strategically so you break up the lines between the two drastically different shades, then an all over gloss to add softness to the blonde hair.” After you leave the salon, slather on a mask specifically tailored for dry and damaged hair such as Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask ($58; once a week after shampooing. Its sunflower seed oil, quinoa, lavender, and eucalyptus-infused formula will rejuvenate dull strands, and preserve color vibrancy.

If You Went Dark

Cut off some of the travel time on your return trip back from the dark side by subtly adding some highlights to your current shade. “Adding soft highlights by either painting or highlighting the ends will cut through the dark and add dimension to the hair so you don't see the strong line of demarcation,” explains Bodt. Between appointments, protect your shade with a few spritzes of a color preserving spray such as Phyto Phytomist Color Protect Radiance Mist ($29; Even better, this conditioning mist is packed with lotus flower to boost shine and softness.

If You Went Pastel

Pastel hues are a pretty way to experiment with hair color, but the cotton candy shades require major commitment and upkeep. Luckily, once the color has faded, going back to your original shade is too difficult. “Most likely it's [your hair color] super blonde under the pastels,” says Bodt. “Once they have faded out, you can apply a base drop or a combination of highlights and lowlights to get you back to your natural shade.” Faded hair color can make your strands appear dull, in order to rejuvenate your strands, run a nutrient-rich oil through your mane such as Briogeo Rosarco Oil ($28; to restore it to its healthy, vibrant state.