So you’ve decided to go lighter and your hair has gone orange? Whether it has been professionally done or attempted at home this is an issue we hear about all to often and although we wish it could be an easy fix, the solution could range from anything from a simple toner to a full on colour correction. We do always recommend seeing a professional for these services as incorrect applications and choice of products can be detrimental to your hair and the outcome but starting with why this happens can give us a better understanding of how to avoid it.

When we lighten hair, whether it’s natural or coloured, we expose what we call the underlying pigment. This can range from red to orange to yellow depending on the depth of hair we are working with. If the hair isn’t lightened enough it can leave the underlying pigment (or warmth as us hairdressers call it)  exposed usually resulting in the need for a toner. If the correct toner isn’t used to cancel out the warmth you can be left with the orange or yellow hair or worse left with a muddy green tone or even blue hair if it is over toned. Sounds confusing, right? As hairdressers we learn and are experienced with the effects of hair lightening and can determine a successful plan to get you to your desired result without the orange. This should include a reasonable time frame and what is required on how to achieve the hair colour you desire, an understanding of how to keep the integrity of the hair paramount and the correct home hair care regime to support this.

Your desired outcome or end goal is the result we are striving to achieve. This could be from simply correcting the orange with the appropriate toner or going lighter with more highlights or an all over lightener application which gets us into colour correction territory.  To assist your stylist in this we do need to know your exact desired colour and also your hair’s colour history as that may affect the outcome. For example if the hair has previously been chemically straightened or lightened or has a build up of store bought colour this may mean your hair condition is already compromised and lightening it further may not be an option or a strand test may be required to ensure your hair is strong enough to withstand further lightening services. If your hair is not viable for further lightening then toning it will be the best option to reduce the warmth in your hair and your stylist should recommend a home hair care regime to improve the condition until further colour services can happen. If you are going significantly lighter it may not happen in one process so making a plan is the best way to understand the process and not feel disappointed.

With all this talk of toners they sound pretty important don’t they? Toners are what we use to counteract that warmth or unsightly orange that the lightening process can produce. Most blondes do require a toner to give the lightened hair its final hue and these can vary from ash to golden and every other combination in between. A common mistake is just going straight in with an ash toner and this is where experience about how colour works is really important. Hair colour is based on the colour wheel so an ash toner generally has a blue base. If you did art in school you will remember that blue is opposite orange on the colour wheel meaning the cancel each other out or in hairdresser speak blue counteracts orange. But if only it were that simple. If the undertone isn’t correctly identified mistakes or disasters can happen. For example if it is more yellow than orange you could end up green because remember what happens when we mix blue and yellow?? We make green, similar rules apply to colour. Toners are an integral part of colour correction but you need to know what you’re doing to get the best result for your hair.

One of the most important factors in any colour process is your hair’s condition. There is no point in having a great colour if your hair feels like straw or is breaking off. Lightening hair incorrectly has the ability to cause breakage and what we call ” a chemical haircut”. This happens when the hair is so over-processed and the bonds of the hair have been destroyed causing the hair strands to snap. Often this kind of hair resembles fairy floss and it is exactly what you want to avoid, seeing a qualified experienced stylist is a must.  Lightened hair requires the very best home hair care regime to ensure your hair stays in optimum condition for each colour visit. Along with your regular shampoo and conditioner most stylists would recommend a silver shampoo to keep the brassiness out of blonde hair. These shampoos are not toners nor will they lighten hair in anyway but they do help counteract the warmth that sometimes comes through as the toner fades between salon visits. They will only work on hair that is lightened enough and are not a fix for the orange but more of a maintenance product when the desired blonde is achieved. Your stylist may also recommend to come for more regular toners. This helps keep the warmth at bay until further lightening can go ahead to get you to a cooler blonde.

Hair lightening is tricky business and it should always be undertaken by a professional. Between ending up with orange hair or possibly irreversible breakage it’s just not worth attempting it on your own as more often than not you will have to spend more to get it fixed. When we make a plan as hairdressers to take our clients from dark to light we will address the stages of lightening and explain the possibility of orange and how to overcome it throughout the colour correction process. Some orange is unavoidable in this process but when done properly we can get you to your desired result while keeping your hair in it’s best condition. If you are considering going lighter or have ended up orange give the team at Reds Hair & Co a call on 40320445 and organise a complimentary consultation so we can make a plan and get you to your dream hair.

Written by Kelli Jones, 2019.