Just about every woman who has attempted to color her hair blonde will end up with orange at one time or another. Why does this happen? Generally, store-bought haircolor simply does not have the lifting power of professional haircolor. In other words, that box of blonde dye is only recommended for those with naturally light-colored hair. If you have dark brown hair, for instance, no box of store-bought blonde haircolor is strong enough to lighten the hair to blonde. As a result, hair will usually turn brassy or orange.
In order to understand how to fix the problem of orange hair, one must understand the different stages of color hair goes through during the lightening process. Hair will go quite easily from brown to red-brown, and from red-brown to orange. Once hair is in the orange stage, a bleach is necessary to lighten the hair further. Once out of the orange stage, hair will lighten to yellow, and then finally to platinum. It is during these final stages of lightening when most chemical damage occurs, which is why it is always healthier to dye hair darker than lighter. When going darker, you are merely depositing molecules of artificial color. When you are going lighter, you are stripping natural color molecules from the hair.
There are three options for dealing with orange hair. The first option is to apply bleach to the hair in order to get it past the orange stage. The second option is to have a professional stylist apply a blue or violet-based toner to the hair. A toner is a semi-permanent color glaze that can be used to “cancel out” unwanted tones, such as yellow or orange. Blue and violet are used because they are the opposite of orange on the color wheel.
The third option is to apply a darker shade of permanent color on top of the orange, thereby covering it. When a haircolor correction is called for, a stylist will often steer the client to a shade of brown, since brown shades are predictable and easy to control. In order to neutralize excess warm tones (such as gold, red, or orange), a stylist might cover orange hair with shade of brown which contains cool tones (such as blue, green, or violet). If a warm shade of brown is applied to orange hair, the result will still have warm tones, which can result in an orange-brown.
It is always best to leave color correction in the hands of a professional hairstylist, since they know what colors need to be mixed in order to effectively remove the right amount of orange from the hair.