Bleach Gone Wrong? How To Fix Orange Hair
So, you were ready to go from dark hair to blonde hair, and it went all wrong?
I grabbed that colour off the Target shelf thinking that there is no time for the salon, or I can’t afford it right now. OMG, now how do I fix orange hair?
Now is the part where we sit in the corner sobbing asking the killer question:
Don’t stress. I will tell you how to fix your orange hair in a jiffy.
There are many different ways to fix orange hair, and it just depends on how serious it is and what route you want to take with it.
So, let’s take a minute to answer the age-old question first.
Why does your hair turn orange when you bleach it?
Everyone’s hair is made up of keratin protein and pigment. Each of us has our unique mixture of the pigments, but there are a few factors that are always the same:
What it boils down to is that bleaching your hair is the process of breaking down those molecules. The smaller molecules will break down first, leaving broken pieces of the larger warm toned molecules.
There you have it; your hair turns orange when you bleach it because the large gold molecules are the hardest to break down enough to get rid of them without breaking down your hair in the process.
The darker your hair, the more pigment it contains.
When lightening your hair, the cool pigments are smaller molecules so they will be the first to go, while the warmer (gold and orange) tones are larger molecules, and there are many more of them so they always remain the longest.
How do I get the orange out of my hair?
So- the trick is not necessarily getting rid of the orange or yellow. It’s figuring out how to neutralize the unwanted tones.
Let’s say that you did the box bleach on your black hair because the picture showed a beautiful blonde right?
The thing that those boxes don’t show or tell you is that it does not work that way. Many different factors contribute to the results when you lighten your hair.
- Natural colour
- Underlying pigments
- Product Build-up
- Previous Colours
- The PH of your hair
If you don’t know how these things factor in, you won’t get your desired results.
The thing about box colours is that they are made for the general public and not highly regulated. They just throw in the strongest mix and away you go. It’s a dangerous combination because it can leave you with the dreaded orange, or hair so damaged you lose your shit and have to cut it all off.
The top 3 options on how to fix orange.
1.Find someone who specializes in corrective colour.
In college, stylists get taught how to handle these situations. Not only how to combat the orange, but how to maintain your hair in the process. The box colours don’t mention much about hydrolyzation and turning your hair into over-processed mush…
The stylist will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to fix it, and know-how they are going to do it.
It may not be what you want to hear but trust the process. If you find a good stylist, they will be able to tell you each step and why it needs to be this way.
Not only that, but a stylist can save you from irreversible damage. As a stylist, I can attest to the crazy amount of education we go through to learn how to handle hair while maintaining its integrity properly.
Just remember, find a stylist that specializes in corrective colour. Someone who specializes in a specific area is going to have the most knowledge and experience on how to fix that situation.
Going to a stylist is the option I highly recommend. While it may seem expensive, it is worth it. It will save the integrity of your hair and a lot of heartaches.
2.Apply a toner.
If you have your mind made up that you are going to fix it yourself, use a toner on your hair.
Toning gets a little bit more complicated and in-depth, so please make sure you understand what you need before you dive in and throw something else on your hair.
The first thing I want you to do is to take a look at the colour wheel and determine how orange or yellow your hair truly is.
Ok. Got it. So now look at the opposite side of the colour wheel, whatever you see there is the tone that you need to neutralize your hair colour.
For example, the opposite of red is green, so you need a green undertone, so you need a straight ash colour.
- Red – Green
- Orange – Blue
- Yellow – Purple
Let’s say that your hair is SUPER red-orange looking, I mean like a pumpkin that is ready for Halloween, you want an Ash/Green toner. You may look at it and think, “Gross, I don’t want that colour on my hair!” But I will tell you, it won’t end up that way, it will neutralize the red-orange, and you will end up with a neutral colour.
When you are looking at this, you also need to consider how light or dark your hair is. If you are entirely red-orange, your hair is likely not light blonde and will not turn platinum with just a toner.
Remember when I said to trust the process before? It applies here too.
Even if you don’t get that perfectly white platinum the first time, don’t just throw more bleach on your hair right away because you will regret it. Your hair will hate you, and you will probably be crying in the shower as clumps of mushy hair go down the drain.
Platinum takes time.
As you figure out how orange or yellow your hair is, it will give you a hint about what level of lightness your hair is. If your hair is red-orange, you are probably around a level 6 which is considered a light brown/dark blonde. If your hair is more on the pale-yellow side, you are probably a level 9 or 10 light blonde.
Now we pick out the toner that will work best. Next question:
How long do you leave a toner on your hair?
The amount of time you leave the toner on your hair varies according to the brand.
The max time for toners is typically about 20 minutes.
I recommend timing by visual. Get the toner on as fast as possible, and watch it. It may take all 20 minutes, but it could tone after 5 minutes. You will see your hair change, so once you notice the orange or yellow disappearing, rinse it out.
3.Use a toning shampoo.
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones, and your hair has a minimal yellow or orange tint to it. Awesome! Barely their warm tones are where toning shampoo comes in.
Purple and blue toning shampoos are for minimal discoloration. They are not going to be a miracle fix, but they will get rid of a slight yellow or brassy tone.
What does purple shampoo do?
The purple shampoo will maintain blondes and cancel out some yellow tones. It goes back to the colour wheel once again. Purple is the opposite of yellow so that it will neutralize it.
Blue shampoo is the next level up from purple. It’s a little bit stronger, so it will help neutralize slightly darker yellows or light oranges.
Using purple or blue shampoo once or twice a week will help eliminate yellow tones and maintain blondes. Add it to your routine but not daily.
What Is Brassy Hair?
Brassiness is the unwanted warm tones that occur in coloured hair. When your hair turns several shades of red, orange, or yellow, it means brassy tones are setting in. You can notice warm hues spread throughout your hair unevenly.
How To Select a Toner?
If your hair has more yellow tones than orange ones, use a purple toning shampoo or a toner, such as Wella Colour Charm T18. This violet-based toner eliminates light yellow tones from your hair.
If you have more orange tones than yellow, you will have to use a blue toning shampoo, like Joice Colour Balance Blue Shampoo. This toner contains violet-blue undertones that can cancel out yellow-orange tones from your hair.
How To Apply Toner
You Will Need:
- A toner
- An applicator brushes
- A plastic bowl
- 20-volume hydrogen peroxide
- Mix the toner and peroxide in a 1:2 ratio.
- Start applying the toner and developer mixture to your hair with the applicator brush.
- Once all of the orange bits are covered, leave the toner in your hair for not more than 45 minutes.
- Rinse with a toning or sulphate-free shampoo.
How To Fix Orange Hair with Box Dye
If your hair has gone patchy with bits of blonde and orange, the problem was probably that you didn’t use enough dye or bleach. The solution to this problem is to re-colour your hair, and get a friend to help you out this time. Section your hair and make sure that the dye/bleach is evenly applied. Follow the steps below to fix your orange hair with box dye.
- Get sufficient dye to cover your entire hair.
- Divide your hair into thin sections that are easy to cover.
- Apply thoroughly to ensure even coverage.
- Let the dye sit for the recommended amount of time.
- Finish with shampooing and conditioning.
How To Turn Orange Hair to Light Brown
Using a medium ash blonde hair dye is another good way to tone down the orange in your hair to a cool light brown shade. Using an ash blonde dye on dark orange hair will neutralize the orange while not lightening your hair too much, leaving you with a nice light brown shade.
- Buy a lighter ash blonde colour than the one that gave you your orange hair.
- Apply it evenly, following all the instructions.
- Let it sit for the recommended amount of time. Wash off with shampoo and condition your hair.
How To Turn Orange Hair to Blonde
The best way to go from orange to blonde is to re-bleach your hair after two weeks to bring it down to yellow tones that are easier to neutralize. Once you reach yellow tones, you can let your hair be if you are happy with the colour. You can also use an ash blonde box dye to neutralize and lighten your hair colour.
- Buy a good bleaching powder, a 30-volume developer, and a platinum or ash blonde box hair dye.
- Mix the bleach and developer in a 1:2 ratio in a plastic bowl.
- Apply it to your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Wash your hair and wait for two days before applying the box dye.
- Follow the instructions on the box dye to neutralize the yellow tones in your hair.
If you like doing things the natural way, here are two methods you can use to tone your hair using natural ingredients.
How To Prevent Orange Hair
There are two main causes of orange hair: build-up and loss of colour. Avoid these to prevent orange hair:
- Products with silicone and parabens
- Hard water with minerals
- Constant UV rays’ exposure
- Repetitive dying
Why should you use blue toner for orange hair?
On the wheel colour, each colour has an opposite one. For example, blue will remove orange tones, green will remove red, and purple will cancel out yellow tones. That means that if your hair turns orange colour after bleaching or colouring, you should use a blue toner or shampoo.
Both blue shampoos and toners will completely get rid of your orange hair, but opting for the right one for you is challenging. Depending on how bright your orange hair is, you will apply more or less blue toner to cancel it out completely.
Also, it is recommended to utilize blue shampoos or toners after you bleach or use a copper-coloured hair dye. This helps tone your coloured hair while preventing your hair from turning orange.
Now that you know why hair colourists advise you to use blue toner to cancel out orange tones on your head. Now, we’ll show you which is the best blue hair toner for orange hair.
How to create blue hair toner for orange hair DIY
You are worried about brassy orange tones on your mane. Here is a common way to make a DIY blue toner for orange hair. You have to prepare:
– Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
– Coconut oil
– Blue liquid food colour
ACV is mildly acidic that works to lower the pH level in dull hair and restore balance to your hair. Also, it helps remove orange and yellow brassy tones. Coconut oil acts to moisturize and nourish bleached and coloured hair, avoid dryness and damage.
You mix four tablespoons (tbsp) of ACV with water, blue liquid food colour, and coconut oil in a jug. Blend them together then you pour the mixture through your mane. Wait for 15 minutes and rinse it away with lukewarm water. Repeat this homemade recipe and rinse it three times per month to get rid of orange tones.
Besides, you can use hair dye boxes and food colouring to cover and remove orange and yellow tones. They work by neutralizing and toning the warm tones on your mane.
The homemade blue toner for orange hair might not work completely for everyone. Also, most of them are a slow process, it requires your patience. Hence, it’s best to choose a commercial blue toner for fast and good results.
Q: WHAT IS THE COLOR WHEEL? HOW CAN I EVEN UNDERSTAND IT?
A: THE COLOR WHEEL IS JUST AN ARRANGEMENT OF THE NATURAL COLORS OUT THERE WHICH SHOW WHICH COLORS CANCEL OUT WHICH.
Each colour has a relationship with every other colour. The Hair Colour Wheel is a way of showing this relationship.
Colours which are on opposite ends from each other will tend to cancel each other out. You probably remember this from Grade 1 Primary School.
In Hairdressers’ parlance, certain colours neutralize other colours.
Look at the Colour Wheel Chart Below.
As you can see, purple is the opposite of yellow. Purple will neutralize yellow.
Blue is the opposite of yellow/orange. Blue will neutralize yellow/orange.
Red is the opposite of green. Red will neutralize green.
How Long Does Hair Toner Last?
This is particularly important because toner often lasts only an average of 4 to 8 weeks, depending on how well you take care of your hair colour. Some toners do last longer, so if you’re curious, just ask your colourist.
Toner can be reapplied at the salon, if desired. During regular services, toner application usually includes an up-charge. Prices of the application vary depending on the salon and stylist. Some salons include application in their service charges, but others don’t. Ask your stylist if toner is included, and what the added charges are any time you have a highlight performed.
What Neutralizing Tone Do I Need?
No amount of toning will correct dark orange hair to blonde because the overall pigment is still too dark. Should you wish to tone your hair to correct the orange, you’ll end up with a light brown colour as a result.
While this might not give you the blonde hair of your dreams, it can be worth it to avoid any further damage to your hair if it’s already at its limit. Settling for a darker colour with toning is a choice you’ll need to make based on the condition of your hair and the amount of time and effort you have available to fix the problem.
Other Ways to Correct Orange Hair
There are a couple of other reliable ways to even out brassy, orange tones in hair, and these are:
- To dye your hair again
- To bleach your hair again
Dye Your Hair
Another easy way you can correct orange tones in your hair is to dye over it again with a box dye.
You can either dye your hair back to a dark shade to cover the orange, or you could look for a medium ash blonde shade with a blue or purple base to even out the brassiness.
This is an easy and instant way to deal with your orange hair.
Lighten Or Bleach Your Hair
The trickier option is still a good one if you’re willing to be patient. You can re-bleach your hair again, but only after waiting a week or two so your hair gets a breather. So yes, that does mean having orange hair for a bit longer, if you can face it.
Once you’ve re-bleached your hair, it should be a pale shade of yellow. From here, you can use a purple toner or use an ash blonde box dye to neutralize the yellow tones in your hair.
This way you can finally get that light platinum blonde you were aiming for.
Don’t forget to care for your hair after and in between bleach sessions with a deep conditioning mask.
How to pick the best toner
The basic colour of the toner isn’t everything as you’ll need to decide which hair colour you want to end up with. For example, Wella makes a variety of toners for orange hair. Some are ash toners for orange hair and not will help you achieve platinum tresses. Meanwhile, others lead to a warmer shade of blonde.
Best Toners for Orange Hair in 2021
Why we like it
Where to begin with Manic Panic? All-natural ingredients, intermixable colours, and it doubles as a deep conditioning mask.
This particular shade also serves as a toner for light blonde hair to eliminate brassy tones. Oh, and it’s ready to use, with no developer required.
It lasts 30% longer than one of their Classic Cremes, lasting 6 to 8 weeks on average.
In addition, all Manic Panic colours are vegan and not tested on animals.
Why we like it
This super popular blue shampoo and conditioner combo works to neutralize brassy orange tones in hair from the first wash. Suitable for both brunettes and blondes, levels 5-7. It uses a colour depositing formula to enhance cool tones in the hair, leaving your hair sleek and shiny.
Ideal if you’re looking for something a little gentler and you don’t want to use a toner on your hair. It would be a good option, say, for balayage.
This blue shampoo works a treat on intense orange tones in the hair, removing them in just a few washes. Formulated to be used twice a week, leave it in for 3 to 5 minutes for best results.
Why we like it
This shampoo and conditioner set is especially designed for naturally dark brunette hair with highlights or ombre. It will tone down orange or red tones in your hair and repair your hair from root to tip. It’s corrective blue tones bond to every hair strand to give you a cool colour.
It’s also formulated with a Multi-Spectrum Defense Complex to help fight fade and preserve your colour. Expect to be left with hair that’s cool-toned, soft and shiny.
Why we like it
This ‘clenditioner’ is a low-foam shampoo that gently cleanses and conditions your hair while depositing colour. The silver shade will neutralize brassy tones in your hair and give hair vibrancy.
All Keracolor products are vegan and based on keratin to promote strength and shine. They are also free of parabens and sulphates. Colour results will last 10 to 15 shampoos.
If you’re looking for a product that will keep your hair in good condition while neutralizing brassiness, this could just be it.
Why we like it
If you’re not very experienced with using toner, this is a great product to use because there is no risk of over-depositing (i.e., your hair won’t turn blue).
This blue toner will remove orange and yellow tones from light-coloured hair with the minimum of fuss, leaving you with your ideal platinum or silver blonde.
Why we like it
Fanola No Orange Shampoo is specially designed for dark and brunette hair with orange and red reflections. It will neutralize brassiness while gently cleansing the hair, leaving the hair shiny and hydrated.
It should be used as a normal shampoo, but left in the hair for at least 3 to 5 minutes before washing out. It can be used as a pre-toning treatment before using toner.
Why we like it
The Redken Brown lights blue shampoo is perfect for both natural brunettes and lightened brunettes, such as balayage and highlights.
The formulas feature a colour deposit technology that works to prolong cool tones in the hair by depositing just the right amount of blue pigment with every wash.
With daily use, this colour deposit builds up to prevent the brassy tones from creeping in a few weeks after your colour service. Clever, right?
Why we like it
The name ‘power toner’ is well deserved: with this long-lasting formula, you get brass-free hair for up to 3 weeks, after just 1 application.
It will neutralize orange and yellow tones from the hair in as little as 5 minutes, leaving your hair soft, smooth, and conditioned.
It’s ideal for all hair types and textures that have been bleached blonde, highlighted, or had balayage or ombre effects.
At some point, everyone will hear about Fanola blue shampoo. It’s exactly what you need to combat orange tones in brunette, dark blonde, platinum, and Gray hair. Every third time that you wash your hair, use this shampoo to maintain your hair colour.
It features tiara flower and coconut oil, a blend known as Monoi oil. It’s a Polynesian secret for gorgeous hair. It prevents breakage and seals the hair cuticle to keep it smooth, glossy, and strong. That’s just what you need to pamper colour-treated hair.
When you shampoo with it, leave it on for up to five minutes before rinsing. The manufacturer highly recommends using gloves to keep from staining your hands because it’s loaded with blue pigment.
We’ve heard people say that after a couple of washes with it, it works as well as using a toner. The only issue is having to continue to use it twice a week.
- The famous blue shampoo with so much pigment that you’ll need to wear gloves to use it
- Has Monoi oil to strengthen the hair and leave it glossy
- Only needs to be used every third wash
- Takes five minutes or less to neutralize brassy tones
- Remember to get the matching conditioner