How to Fix a Reddish-Orange Dye Job at Home

December 15, 2023
Jessica Harrington
By: Jessica Harrington | by L'Oréal
Close-up picture of reddish-orange hair

Dyeing your hair at home is intimidating, no matter what shade you’re going for. There are a number of things that can go wrong during the process, one of them being accidentally turning your hair a brassy orange or red shade. Looking for a way to fix hair dye that’s too red or orange? We turned to Matrix celebrity colorist George Papanikolas to find out how to prevent the mishap, what to do if it happens to you (don’t panic!) and for his best DIY dye tips.

What Causes Hair to Turn Orange or Red?

“There are two primary causes of your hair color turning out too red or orange,” says Papanikolas. “Either the color you chose was too light, or you picked a color with warm undertones. Any time you go lighter than your natural color, you will bring up your natural underlying pigments.” Brown and black hair have darker orange and red underlying pigments than naturally blonde hair, which is why these hair colors tend to turn more brassy once lightened. 

How to Remove the Orange and Red Tones at Home

Dye It With an Ashy Hair Color

“This is a relatively easy one to fix at home by going a shade or two darker and choosing an ash-based shade,” says Papanikolas. If you decide to go this route, we recommend picking up a box of the L'Oréal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color in a shade with the words “cool” or “ash” in the name — this will counteract some of the brassy tones in your hair. 

 L'Oréal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color

Try a Cool-Toned Color-Depositing Conditioner

If you’re worried about compromising the health of your hair by dyeing it again, you can try balancing out the color with a cool-toned color-depositing conditioner or hair mask. Try the evo fabuloso Color Boosting Treatments in shades Cool Brown, Light Beige or Platinum Blonde. Cool Brown and Light Beige are best for brown and dark blonde hair that’s too red or orange, while Platinum Blonde will work best for very light hair that’s too yellow. 

evo fabuloso Color Boosting Treatment

Strip the Color With a Color Remover

You can also remove unwanted hair color with a product like the L'Oréal Paris Colorist Secrets Haircolor Remover. Note that this product does not revert your hair to its natural color — it’s best for prepping your hair to dye again.

L'Oréal Paris Colorist Secrets Haircolor Remover

How to Prevent Your Hair From Turning Orange or Red

“If you want to go lighter, stay within two shades of your natural color to get the most flattering tone,” says Papanikolas. “Also look for ash-based colors (blue or green) to neutralize the underlying red/orange pigments that everyone has.” 

Once you reach your desired hair color, it’s important to have a hair-care routine to help maintain it. Those with ash brown hair can remove brassy tones with a blue shampoo, like the Matrix Total Results Brass Off Shampoo, while those with blonde hair should reach for a purple shampoo, like the Kérastase Bain Ultra-Violet Purple Shampoo

The Best Way to Achieve Your Desired Hair Color

The safest way to keep your hair from turning orange is to go a maximum of two shades lighter at home — if you’re after a lighter all-over color, your best bet is to head to the salon. Highlights can take your hair up to four to five shades lighter than its base color, says Papanikolas, but they can be tricky to paint on with the same precision as a hairstylist. If you choose to give yourself highlights at home, reach for a kit like the Garnier Olia Highlights, which comes in shades for blondes and brunettes. 

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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