Q: My daughter started with a few highlights, but one mess after another led to a new color every few weeks. How can she get back to her original shade? — Kathy, Downers Grove, Illinois
Going back to natural can be one of the most difficult things to do with haircolor, says Jennifer J. First, your daughter should let her roots grow in so she can see her natural color. In the meantime, using a very sudsy shampoo (like Pantene Pro-V Purity Clarifying Shampoo, $5; drugstores) will fade the existing color, says Robert Ramos, a celebrity colorist in Los Angeles. When her roots are at least an inch long, she'll be ready for this three-step plan: 1. Apply a semipermanent dye one shade lighter than roots to dyed hair only, starting on just the left side and working from front to back. Leave the dye on for ten minutes (it's viscous enough that it won't bleed into the roots during this time), then rinse only that side (if you get the rest of the hair wet, just towel-dry); repeat on the right. Applying the dye in sections will give you more control over the color and avoid a multitonal look. 2. Shampoo, condition, and blow-dry to check the color. Repeat the process if it's not quite right. 3. Once you like the color, add shampoo to the leftover dye and work it through the hair, including roots, then rinse. This blends the roots with the ends, letting the natural shade grow in seamlessly.

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