BLONDE TO BRUNETTE LIKE CAREY MULLIGAN: HOW TO DIY AT HOME

You'd think going from blonde to brunette like Carey Mulligan would be easier than going in the other direction, but it really isn't – the struggle not to go green instead is very real! But with tips from our celebrity hair-colour experts, we'll have you going disaster-free dark in your Salle de Bain Salon.
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You'd think going from blonde to brunette like Carey Mulligan would be easier than going in the other direction, but it really isn't – the struggle not to go green instead is very real! But with tips from our celebrity hair-colour experts, we'll have you going disaster-free dark in your Salle de Bain Salon.
Actress Carey Mulligan has switched back from blonde to brunette

Actress Carey Mulligan has switched back from blonde to brunette

Carey Mulligan has returned to the dark side; she's switched back from blonde to brunette. The actress showed off her shiny new colour Saturday night at the NYC premiere of her new movie Inside Llewyn Davis, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes 2013 and co-stars Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Garrett Hedlund. We're impressed with the cast, but we're distracted right now – we think this hair hue suits Carey so much better than blonde.

brunette is better

Carey Mulligan as a blonde: her pale hair makes her brown eyes look quite dark. Hair-colour legend Christophe Robin (he works with Catherine Deneuve and a host of other A-listers) says light hair with dark eyes can emphasize dark circles and under-eye wrinkles.

Carey Mulligan as a blonde: her pale hair makes her brown eyes look quite dark. Hair-colour legend Christophe Robin (he works with Catherine Deneuve and a host of other A-listers) says light hair with dark eyes can emphasize dark circles and under-eye wrinkles.

Now that she's reverted from blonde to brunette, Carey's complexion looks warmer, creamier – healthier. The rich, warm deep brown brightens her dark eyes, too. Legendary colourist Christophe Robin, a hair-colour pioneer and celebrity favourite would approve (his strong opinions on hair colour + eye colour here). This change means Carey can ask less of her makeup. When hair colour and complexion work well together, makeup doesn't have to work so hard to make the face look fresh. (Look how hard her makeup tried to work here... with less successful results.)

Carey Mulligan as a brunette: now that her hair colour is a shade darker than her eyes, her eyes seem to sparkle more, reflect more light.

Carey Mulligan as a brunette: now that her hair colour is a shade darker than her eyes, her eyes seem to sparkle more, reflect more light.

A Beautygeeks reminder: if, like Carey, you want to go from blonde to brunette, don't try it at home without professional help. #greenhair

blonde to brunette at home

As hair lightens from brunette, it goes red before it goes blonde. To take blonde hair to brunette, you need to put red tones back in, or you'll end up with green.

And you can do this at home with help from home-colour customer-service. Just call the 1-800 number on the side of a box of your favourite hair colour brand. The reps on the other end of the line really know their stuff, as my then-editor Susan and I found out when I wrote this story for Canadian Living magazine.

Of course I've asked our favourite hair colour experts to share advice, too.

diy blonde to brunette with Clairol

Pro recommendations from Clairol consulting colourist Luis Pacheco, owner of Hair on the Avenue in Toronto:

In order to achieve a darker look like Carey Mulligan, you first have to "fill the hair" to avoid it turning green. Filling the hair means you are putting back the foundation that was taken away with lightening -- you're re-applying the underlying pigment. To go as dark as Carey has, the underlying pigment should be an orange. So STEP ONE is a demi-permanent hair colour such as Clairol Natural Instincts (from $9.99) in an Auburn or Red. My personal favourite is Clairol Natural Instincts #16 - Light Auburn. Apply the colour, let it sit for 10 minutes, wash and towel-dry your hair.

STEP TWO is applying your desired shade to the foundation you've just created. Since you're subjecting your hair to a double process in one day, it's best to use a product like Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice 'n Easy ($15.99) as your second colour because the advanced colour creme formula is less damaging to the hair surface, and it does the job in just 10 minutes.

How to go from blonde hair to brunette with Clairol

How to go from blonde hair to brunette with Clairol

Opt for a warm brown shade if you have a warm skin tone, a neutral shade if you're in between, or a cool shade if you have a cool skin tone.

Carey Mulligan's new hair colour is a warm brown, like Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice 'n Easy #5G Medium Golden Brown. If you want to achieve a less golden/copper look, because you've already put red back into your hair, you can safely choose more of an ash brown, such as Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice 'n Easy #5A Medium Ash Brown.

diy blonde to brunette with l'oréal paris

L'Oréal Paris colour pro and official hair artist Eric Del Monaco, owner of Del Monaco Hair Studio in Toronto, offers a slightly different approach. He confirms that blonde hair needs a hit of red before it can accept brunette without going green, but simplifies the process for the at-home colourist:

First and most importantly, blonde hair must be in optimal condition to achieve this transformation successfully. STEP ONE is the preparation process, which you want to begin about three weeks prior to the colouring. Get a trim to make sure the ends are in good shape. Use the right shampoo and conditioner -- and conditioning hair mask -- for your hair type, especially if hair is damaged or dry. You want to ensure even distribution and absorbtion of new colour from root to tip.

How to go from blonde to brunette with L'Oreal Paris

How to go from blonde to brunette with L'Oreal Paris

STEP TWO is applying two boxes of warm or warm-ish brown, such as L'Oréal Paris Preference Mousse Absolue Original Medium Brown #500 ($18.99 at drugstores in November; read about this brand new no-mix formula here). This shade has enough red to allow you to skip a fill colour; a double-dose will completely saturate the hair for uniform results and help minimize the risk of going green.

Note: at-home colour varies from brand to brand and from formula to formula. Prevent mishaps by reading the instructions carefully before beginning and following the directions precisely.

diy blonde to brunette with john frieda

John Frieda creative consultant Alain Larivée, owner of CAJH Maître Coiffures in Montreal, offers yet another angle on going from blonde to brunette at home.

If you want to achieve a drastic colour change similar to Carey Mulligan's, do it gradually in a two-step colour treatment process to avoid damage and poor colour results. To get from light blonde to medium brown, STEP ONE is going for a darker, warmer blonde shade, such as John Frieda Precision Foam Colour in Dark Golden Blonde 7G ($14.99, drugstores).

STEP TWO is the transition to brunette with John Frieda Precision Foam Colour in Medium Golden Brown 5G ($14.99, drugstores). Always choose warm shades -- anything with "golden" in the colour name. Avoid ash-based shades because they remove warm tones, and in this case would result in a greenish-charcoal tinge.

How to go from blonde to brunette with John Frieda

How to go from blonde to brunette with John Frieda

After colouring, maintain your vibrant new shade with colour-enhancing care, such as John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Colour Protecting Moisturising Shampoo ($11.99, well.ca) and Conditioner ($11.99, well.ca). Follow with John Frieda Full Repair Perfect Ends Deep Infusion ($15.99, well.ca) to improve the condition of your hair and protect it from heat-styling damage.

I love, love, love that requests for advice from three different experts yielded three different approaches, each as valid as the next. You get to decide which one appeals to you most.

Do you prefer Carey Mulligan as a blonde or as a brunette? Would you handle this colour switch at home or at a salon?