You’ve bleached your hair. Everything went well, and you didn’t fry any of it off. You’ve washed it, expecting to find a nice light blonde, or maybe even a soft yellow. Instead, you see orange.
How did this happen, and what can you do about it?
Don’t worry. Many people have experienced unexpected outcomes when coloring their hair. Orange hair isn’t uncommon, and it’s not difficult to fix. You can go to a salon for color correction, or you can learn to fix orange hair with box dye at home.
Why Is Your Hair Orange?
To fully understand why hair can end up orange, we’ll have to take a quick dive into genetics. The reasons for the orange color after an unsuccessful dye job usually involve the following terms:
- Genotype: the specific gene sequence you end up with as a result of the ones your parents have.
- Phenotype: the physical, visual manner in which a gene presents itself.
- Melanocytes: the cells that contain pigments, such as in hair, eyes, and skin.
- Eumelanin: the pigment largely responsible for brown and black. In small quantities, it causes yellowish-blonde and gray hair.
- Pheomelanin: the red pigment that causes red hair, and when mixed with small amounts of eumelanin causes blonde or strawberry blonde hair.
Most people have a bit of both eumelanin and pheomelanin present in their hair. The intensity of each one determines the visible hair color. When most of the pigment is stripped away in bleaching, what remains is a lighter version of the base pigment.
If your base pigment is high in pheomelanin, bleaching may result in orange hair.
Before Fixing Your Orange Hair…
Given the variety of phenotypes for hair color, how do you determine your major underlying pigment? You may be thinking that since you have very dark hair, obviously you have more eumelanin and will therefore have blonde hair if you bleach it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and it’s not usually that simple. There are many people with dark, even black, hair that have large amounts of pheomelanin. They often don’t know this as the eumelanin is more prominent.
One of the easiest ways to determine the base of your hair color is to merely observe. Go out into the bright sun and see what colors your hair reflects.
Does it go from brown to gold? Is it black with a red tint or blue? Have you ever found stray red or blonde hair?
If observing is not enough to tell you, try looking at your parents and family. Does your family have any redheads? Some blondes? Has anyone else ever bleached their hair?
If you are still unsure and want to know before you bleach it, collect a small bunch of hair from your brush and use it as a test batch.
How to Fix Orange Hair with Box Dye
“That’s great and all,” you’re thinking. “I know why it’s orange, but how do I fix it?”
Hold your horses because we’re not there yet. Before you can learn the solution, you’ll have to know why and how it works. The most basic principle that dictates the hair-dying experience is color theory.
A Quick Color Lesson
In color theory, there are what’s called contrasting colors. On a color wheel, contrasting colors are the colors that are opposite from each other. For example, red and green are on opposite sites, and so are blue and orange.
Depending on the medium, combining two contrasting colors often results in a neutral brown or gray. In the case of hair, you can use contrasting colors to achieve a silvery blonde.
Perhaps you’ve seen purple shampoo in the store? This shampoo strips yellow from bleached hair. It works because it is a contrasting color.
Will Box Dye Work?
The good news is box dye will work. So long as you take the time to find the right color and make sure to apply it correctly, there is no reason box dye can’t fix orange hair.
Depending on the intensity of the orange, it might be a good idea to try bleaching it again before you dye it. The lighter the orange is, the easier it’ll be to remove or cover over.
The most vital step in how to fix orange hair with box dye is finding the right color.
While fixing yellow with purple shampoo is simple, correcting orange hair with box dye is a bit more complex.
For starters, orange often has a brassier shine than yellow, and you need to take this into account when finding the right box dye color. Additionally, you went through all the work to bleach it, so you don’t want to be picking a darker color just to cover the orange.
The solution for orange hair is to find a light-colored box dye in the purple to blue range with ashy tones. The light color helps tone the hair without darkening it too much, the purple or blue color will cut the orange, and the ashy tone will help remove the brassy tint.
If your hair is very orange, pick a blue dye. If it is a yellower-orange, pick something closer to silver. If you’re unsure what it means to have an ashy tone, look for dyes that appear dull or silvery rather than vivid or golden.
Watch the below tutorial to learn how to fix orange hair with drugstore box dye.
While orange hair is lovely if that’s what you’re going for, ending up with orange instead of blonde can be frustrating. Not only does it feel like a waste of effort, but you have to spend more time and money fixing it.
Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to fix orange hair with box dye, and box dye doesn’t cost nearly as much as salons. As long as you’ve selected the correct color, phasing out orange hair is a breeze. And at the very least, now you know that you have more pheomelanin than you thought.