Well you can do things to lighten your hair, it's just risky when you are using a box and aren't properly trained. Salons could probably manage it, but doing it at home can be difficult. Have you considered henna or natural dyes? I use that sometimes and it gives my hair a nice red-brown color when I'm in the right light & there are some great tutorials online.
Ha! That's what my other (male) roomie said -- that it didn't look too bad unless I was standing directly under a light!
But I should have said if I go the semi perm route, it would be the color I usually use. It's a darker one that is my real hair color, or maybe even a shade darker.
Also, my biggest issue is a huge event at the end of the month. I may wait about 10 days and then try it.
Semi-permanent might be ok, but be forewarned. Because you lightened your hair, it's going to be more porous, and may pick the color up MUCH faster than you are used to. Conditioning and babying your hair for a bit is a good idea.
I used to work for Sally Beauty and sell color, and the one thing that nobody ever seems to do, that everyone really ought to do, is a strand test. I know it's extra time. I know it seems like a filler step. But if you're doing it yourself, test it first. Even the exact color you were shooting for can be pretty shocking when you have a head-full.
And no, you can't lighten hair with a box color. Color doesn't work like paint, where the light covers the dark. It's a lot more like wood stain or watercolor paints. If the color is say, chestnut, you can darken it to walnut, but if you then want to make it chestnut again, you have to get rid of the dark thoroughly, or you just wind up with odd colors.