We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourself type or ready to save some money, dyeing your hair at home can be an option. But it’s not without pitfalls.
Key chemical processes are at play when you dye your hair. These can lead to hair color woes, including the dreaded orange tint that may occur when you color your hair a lighter or blonde shade.
If you’re seeing some unanticipated orange tones after dyeing your hair, keep reading for some steps you can take to correct your color.
While modern technology may make it look easy, dyeing your hair is actually a significant chemical process.
The chemical process of dyeing hair
Going from brown or a darker hair color to blonde involves applying a mixture of ammonia and peroxide (bleach) to the hair.
The process is called “lifting” because the chemicals dilute melanin, the darker brown pigment in hair. In addition to diluting or removing a portion of your existing hair color, the dye deposits the desired hair color.
Colors fade with time
The chemical dyeing process can initially create your desired hair color. However, as the weeks creep on, you may notice a transition. Your hair may start to appear slightly orange or brassy.
This color transition is somewhat of an expected process. Hair dye contains three pigment colors: blue, red, and yellow. The blue molecules tend to fade away faster, which leaves red and yellow. What do these two colors make? Orange.
Not all people experience orange color tones
Of course, not all people who dye their hair experience orange tones.
“There is no definitive answer to why someone’s hair would turn brassy while coloring because there are so many factors to take into consideration why brassy hair happens,” said Ally Samouce, stylist at Blonde Faith Salon in Austin, Texas, and “The Blonde” behind the Beauty & The Blonde blog.
Some of Samouce’s top reasons why hair may appear orange include:
- the chemistry of the hair color
- the hair not “lifting” enough during the highlighting process
- a person’s overall hair health and dyeing history
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent brassiness as well as correct it.
Don’t panic if your hair has a brassy tone after a DIY dyeing session. There are a few at-home steps you can take before calling an expert.
Use purple or blue shampoos
“A purple shampoo for blondes definitely helps keep a blonde ashy at home,” said Marissa Martin, a stylist and blonde hair color expert at Parlour 3 salon in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s a must for my blonde clients.”
Martin especially likes Fanola No Yellow for banishing orange tones.
If you choose a balayage look or have darker orange tones to your hair, Martin recommends a blue-toned shampoo to keep brassiness at bay.
“Just make sure there’s no blonde in there, too, because yellow plus blue makes green,” Martin said.
Consider color glazes, professional shampoos, and shower filters
Samouce also has a few additional recommendations to reduce orange-toned appearance:
- Apply a hair color glaze or get an in-salon glaze about six weeks after you last colored your hair to reduce the likelihood that hair color will fade.
- Use professional shampoos and conditioners formulated for color-treated hair. These shampoos may help extend the life of your color.
- Invest in a shower filter, which can help to remove minerals from shower water. Some shower heads also add ions to adjust the water’s pH levels.
Have a salon apply a professional toner
You may also consider contacting a salon and having them apply a toner to your hair. A toner can deposit additional hair color that may help to correct the color. However, you can expect the toner to fade after a few weeks.
Dye your hair a darker color
While dyeing your hair a darker color is one option to dialing back the orange, you may want to consider calling a professional. Sometimes trying to correct your color at home could result in the need for a trip to the salon.
“Never ever grab a color from a store to correct this,” Martin said. “A $5 fix could be a $200 nightmare color correction later.”
Some of the ways you can minimize brassy hair color on the front end include the following:
- Choose your hair color wisely. Lighter, cool-toned hair colors will typically deposit greater blue pigments onto the hair. This means fewer warm pigments (like yellow and red) will show up. Words like “ash” can indicate the hair color is cooler.
- Follow the directions carefully. You have to give each step of the process time to work and sufficiently lift the hair. Cheating or rushing a step will affect the outcome.
- Be realistic. You usually can’t safely or effectively change your hair color too dramatically, especially at home. Trying to change your hair by more than three tones decreases the likelihood of your success.
Samouce has this reminder for those who color their hair blonde: “Everyone’s hair turns yellow or brassy at some point,” she explains. “Every single person’s hair will fade, no matter what. Nothing in hair color is completely permanent — just like tattoos fade. It’s important to keep this in mind and have realistic expectations.”
Bleaching helps to remove pigments from your hair so you can deposit new hair color. Unfortunately, it also has some unwanted side effects in the form of weakening hair strands. As a result, you may see changes in your hair including frizziness, dryness, or hair breakage.
If you’re seeing damage from hair bleaching, it’s important to give your hair some TLC quickly. Examples of these treatments can include:
- Hydrate. Reintroduce moisture into your hair through hydrating products. This can include natural oils, such as almond, organ, olive, or coconut oil. Applying even a few drops to your hair can help, as can deep-conditioning treatments.
- Protect. Heat styling can further damage your hair. Avoid it if at all possible. If you do use a hair dryer or other styling tool, apply a heat protectant to your hair.
- Extend. Bleaching your hair too frequently can result in damage. As a result, you will usually need to wait 8 weeks (sometimes more if your hair is very damaged) before bleaching again.
If you continue to experience problems with hair breakage and dryness, you may need to speak with a salon professional who can advise about other treatments that can protect your hair.
Hair coloring can be a complicated process. When you lighten your hair, sometimes orange can be an inevitable destination.
Taking steps such as using purple shampoos may help to banish brass for as long as possible. Resist the urge to try and reapply more bleach, as that could further damage your hair.