Best Blog Design

How to fix orange hair

When bad hair colour happens to good wives-in-waiting…

One minute you’re excitedly waiting for your hair dye to develop and the next you’re in tears searching for a bag to stick over your satsuma-streaked hair-mare until you can get it sorted. But will piling on more colour just make it worse?  Here’s how to emergency fix this common DIY dye disaster. Just pray you don’t turn tango just before your wedding….

‘When it comes to giving out hair advice, how to get rid of unwanted orange tones is probably one of the biggest issues I’m asked about,’ says pro colour expert Scott Cornwall.  ‘Firstly it’s important to understand why this has happened.’ Hold onto your lab coats ladies, it’s about to get quite techy…. Over to Scott. ‘Hair is made of Eumelanin and Pheomelanin pigment. Eumelanin pigment is black and brown and can be easily removed via hydrogen peroxide. So even a semi-permanent colourant will lift out Eumelanin pigment leaving the Pheomelanin pigment to show through. These pigments are red and orange and there’s more of them. Therefore, lifting the dark Eumelanin pigment will cause the hair to take on a ‘rusty’ or ‘orange’ tone.  The more the hair is lightened (with bleach), the more Pheomelanin pigment will be removed, however the hair goes through many lifting levels all of which are warm, going from bright orange, copper, copper-yellow and yellow.  Hair can only be toned to blonde once the hair has lifted to yellow.  Orange tones are too deep to be toned to a blonde shade. In order to remove unwanted orange tones, you need to add a blue molecule to counteract the orange to achieve a neutral shade.’ Okay, but why did it happen in the first place? Could be…

The problem: I tried to go blonde but my hair turned orange. 
The fix: Your hair wasn’t lightened enough. If you’re trying to turn dark hair blonde but scored satsuma, you’ll need to lift it again to get it to a yellow-er shade that will achieve the blonde shade you crave. 

The problem: Trying to cover up greys in my brunette hair have ended up orange.
The fix:
The colourant you used probably contained both ammonia and a strong peroxide developer so as well as covering greys it’s stained your brunette. Go for a no ammonia colourant containing an ash pigment (ie. medium ash brown) to counteract the warmth in your hair. 

The problem: I only use tone on tone colourants, but my hair keeps going orange.  
The fix: This is happening because the peroxide in the developer of the colourants you’re using is continually lightening your hair. With every application it’s lifting out more and more of that dark Eumelanin pigment and exposing more and more of the orange Pheomelanin. Your best bet is to stop using tone on tone shades and try a permanent ash based colourant instead.  

The problem: I’ve been using the same colourant for ages but my hair is going orange now.
The fix:
That’s because you’re colouring your whole hair each time rather than just covering the roots. With every helping from the developer bottle the already lifted hair lightens again, causing more orange to show through. Whenever you’re out to just cover regrowth, use a tint bowl and a brush to keep the developer away from previously coloured hair. 

Orange crush!
Because typically, orange is the toughest tone to neutralise (after red) it may take several attempts to shift it. Scott has created Colour Restore Cool Ash Hair Toner, a blue-ash semi-permanent that’s suitable for any hair type to counteract orange tones. Peroxide-free, it should be used initially as a 20 minute treatment then as a regular two minute conditioner after every shampoo. ‘Effectively, you need to double the cool tone for all the orange tone that’s currently there,’ he says. Here are some other pro tips:

1 Only ever use a blue based shampoo to help the continued neutralisation of warmth
2 Avoid colourants boasting golden tones as these will make your hair appear really orange.  When selecting colourants, only use shades that feature the ash descriptive on the box
3 If you’re aiming for a cool light brown colour yet have a natural dark base don’t attempt to achieve your desired shade with block colouring. Instead add lots of fine bleach highlights and tone them to a deep ash. Your end result will be a flattering natural light ash brown.
4 If you’re quite dark and don’t like that ‘rusty’ orange hue on artificially coloured hair, try a purple based semi-permanent to score a cool mahogany shade.
5 Sounds scary but if you like a very dark or black hair hue but are seeing warmth, try using a peroxide-free fashion colour in green as a two-minute rinse. The green will neutralise the red shade that’s responsible for the warmth you can see and create a flat, cold colour. Just don’t try this if your hair is lighter than dark brown otherwise you’ll end up with ugly algae hair…!

Orange Aid: Your hair colour rescue kit 

Bleach London Silver Shampoo, will keep your hair colour ashy not rotten apricot 

Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Cool Ash Hair Toner, with an anti-orange infusion to fade the fanta

Nice’n Easy No Ammonia Shade 75 Light Ash Brown, ticks the ammonia-free and ash-toned boxes for heavenly-hued semi-permanent colour

Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Black Cherry Hair Toner, tints very dark hair a cool mahogany colour


So has this ever happened to you?

Sarah x

Follow on Bloglovin


  • I’m not that much of an internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. fixing bleached orange hair

    1 year ago : ankit
  • It’s never happened to me (thank god) but i loved your tone so read to the end. ‘fade the fanta’ and ‘orange aid’. so funny. though obvs not if your hair’s turned tango!

    3 years ago : iris
  • Better tips than the old ketchup as conditioner one!!!!!!!!!!

    3 years ago : Dionne
  • I found this post because my hair has gone orange as a result of a bad dye job. Scott Cornwall to the rescue…. fingers tightly crossed!

    3 years ago : hattie
  • I find that using certain colour enhancing shampoos gave my hair a really strange orange tinge. Thankfully it faded – or washed out – but I was really embarrassed. I couldn’t bare for it to happen on someone’s wedding day!

    3 years ago : celia
  • Yes, this happened to me. Right before my graduation on the day of my driving test. I’m scarred for life!

    3 years ago : marsha
  • Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
    the only post in a google search that has actually offered me straight forward advice . not just ‘go to the hairdressers’ or ‘put ketchup on your head’

    3 years ago : brionie
  • Shudders. Yep, my brunette has def taken on a tango tinge to quote you. I’ve seen the Scott Cornwall products but couldn’t really understand what they were for. Thank you for this post. I’ll use the advice. Lonnie x

    3 years ago : Lonnie