I Coloured my Hair and It Went Orange. Why?

The most common colouring challenge colourists encounter is unwanted warmth.

It happens often enough that there are more than 5 million results for the google search ‘dyed hair blonde turned orange’.

Why does hair turn orange?

Hair colour is a combination of various colour pigments, including the visible colour and underlying colour. The darker your natural colour, the more pigment it contains.

All hair has red within its base colour. Black has a large quantity of dark red base pigment, brunettes have an orange base pigment.

When you lighten your colour you reveal pigments which usually are not visible in hair, and which are all predominantly red or orange.

The cool toned colour pigments within your hair are the smallest and they are the first to be lifted out of your hair during the lightening process. There are more warmer (red and orange) molecules than cool colour molecules, and the warmer pigments are larger, so they are the last to be lifted out of hair. Natural Contributing Pigment is the brassy, warm pigments which are visible in hair which has been lightened.

Lightening or bleaching your hair is the process of breaking down these smaller colour pigment molecules in your hair. Once they are lifted out there is a yellow colour base, which is the base for your new blonde colour.

If all of the warmer pigments are not lifted out during the lightening process, then you will be left with reddish/orange hair colour.

Your hair turns orange when you lighten it because the warm colour molecules are the last to be lifted during a lightening process.

For a successful, balanced lighter colour outcome, you need to first lift out all the warm colour pigments.

At The Shade we use a 20 vol developer which can lift or lighten natural hair two colour levels. If you select a colour which is 3, 4 or 5 colour levels lighter than your natural colour, then you are likely to see brassy tones. Our developer is not strong enough to cut through 3 or 4 colour levels worth of pigments in your hair.

How do I get rid of unwanted orange/brassiness?

If you have brassiness in your colour, you can either:

  • Lighten your hair further to remove all the warm pigments and recolour your hair,
  • Add some depth and cool secondary tones, or
  • Neutralize the unwanted tones by using a cool based toner.

An option for lightening is a bleach wash, which you can do at home to lighten your hair by more than two colour levels.

It is essential to select cool based colours to recolour your hair after a lightening process as they can neutralise warm colours.

A cool based toner will also be effective in counter-acting and neutralizing unwanted warm tones.

How can you prevent orange colour outcomes in future?

Select a colour within two colour levels of your natural hair colour. We have a ‘recommended for’ range listed with all our lighter colours to help you work out if that colour is an option for you.

Cool based colour selections very important to stay on top of any unwanted warmth. Choose cool colours when lightening for their blue/violet undertones which will neutralize unwanted warmth.

I can’t stop recommending your product!! The Shade is incredible, my colour is amazing, pure, clean blonde. No brassy overtones and not a hint of purple. This is a superior product and the results I get are so much better than I was getting for $120 a month at a salon! Congratulations on an amazing product!

R. Waterhouse

The colour is excellent, and true to the images on the website, not brassy at all and I have a lot of red pigment in my hair naturally.

K. Ndaira

I was after a more ashy blonde as my blonde was starting to look a bit brassy. So I tried the San Remo after consulting with (colourist) Camilla. The result looks like I’ve had a toner put on my hair – it’s definitely more ashy so it has delivered. Also my hair feels lovely. Will continue using 😊

S. Katharine

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