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Growing out your hair color doesn’t have to be an awkward process. Whether you’re simply over your summer highlights or letting your grays come in for the first time, there are ways to ensure a seamless progression. Stephanie Brown, master hair colorist at the Eddie Arthur Salon in New York, shares her top tips for looking good at every stage.

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woman going from light to dark hair
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If You’re Going From Light Back to Dark…

Cut your dead ends off first, as they are the most porous. “When your hair is porous, it can grab too much dye, which can look muddy or inky,” warns Brown. The best way to prevent this is to layer a warm hue (usually a deeper yellow or orange) before adding any dark tones over it. To maintain the color at home, swap in a weekly gloss. (Brown recommends dpHue’s Color Boosting Treatment.)

woman going from dark to light hair
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If You’re Going From Dark Back to Light…

“To go back to blonde quickly, I would highlight the hair every few weeks. If you don’t mind taking your time (which is recommended to minimize damage), I would let the hair grow in and add highlights every couple of months until you reach your desired lightness,” says Brown. To ward off brassiness in-between appointments, use a purple or blue shampoo. Purple is best for lighter blondes; blue works for warmer, buttery blondes.

woman sitting with her hair in foil
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If You’re Growing Out Highlights…

A combination of lowlights and gloss (in a slightly darker shade) will blend the colors so you get a more even grow out (read: less stripe-y). “I don’t like to take away highlights all at once because that can be too drastic of a change,” explains Brown. “If your highlights are pretty close to your natural hair color, even just a gloss can help blend the color,” she adds.

irene kim with purple hair
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If You’re Growing Out Pastel or Bright Colors...

You need to strip the color out of your hair first (which can easily be done in the salon) before adding any additional color over it. Again, if you’re going back to brunette, it’s key to layer those warm tones first to get an even (and not inky) shade of brown throughout. And remember: Colored hair is weaker and more susceptible to breakage, so make use of a weekly conditioning treatment.

woman growing our her gray hair
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If You’re Letting Grays Come In…

Stick with it. “Eighty percent of the women who tell me that they are going to go gray come back a few months later because they initially hate it,” explains Brown. The best way to grow out a single process (that is, when your hair is one shade) is to add lowlights. This will help blend in any lines of demarcation between your dyed hair and your natural roots. During this time, try parting your hair the opposite way. You may find that you have fewer grays in a different section,” advises Brown.

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