When lightening hair, the biggest fear is rinsing off the product, combing, drying and looking in the mirror to see a bright glowing carrot orange reflecting at you. But orange is very much a misconception colour fail. With many people believing the product used has malfunctioned. In truth, orange is just a stage of colour lightening and not reactionary result.

So why does orange hair happen?

There are several reasons why unwanted orange hair occurs when lightening. But the following are the top 5….

One: Hair lightener or bleached rinsed off too early
You have timed the lightener on your hair and observed the dark transition to an autumnal brown, followed by a rust orange, to what now appears to be a perfect tonable pale yellow. That’s it! You think. But don’t be too sure! If you wash off bleach too soon, you can often discover the hair still hasn’t lifted past that yellow-gold pigment stage. Bleach (as a white or blue cream) can often dupe you into believing the hair is blonde, when in truth it’s the bleach cream itself you are observing as pale hair.
TIP: Correctly check lightening progress, by always using a damp cotton wool bud and wiping off the bleach from a small section of hair. Once the bleach is wiped away from the section, you can truly see how pale the hair has become, or if indeed it is still looking quite gold and more development time is required.

And never lighten at night!!
A major mistake is lightening hair at night time under artificial light. Some artificial lights can neutralise orange and yellow tones in hair, making it appear you have achieved a good blonde. So, you rinse the bleach off, dry and go to bed… only to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and discover your hair is glowing! Daylight gives an accurate view of gold tones remaining in the hair during bleach development, meaning you can extend development times if need be.

Two: You have applied a bleach or lightener to hair artificially coloured with a darker shade.
Permanent darker (synthetic) colour molecules can be very stubborn to lighten. You can apply a bleach or lightener and find the hair will only lift to a deep orange before the lightener runs out of steam and stops working. If you have very dark brunette, or black artificial colour, you should always use a hair colour remover one week before attempting to use a bleach. This way, all those synthetic colour molecules will be removed, and any lightener (subsequently applied) has a good chance of lifting the hair past that orange stage.

Three: You have henna on your hair
There really is no easy way to say this, plant henna cannot be removed from the hair. Henna is a ‘stain’ as opposed to a hair colour. Therefore, when applied to hair, henna will irreversibly stain the cuticle and hair fibres making it impossible to remove. What’s more, henna can react with some chemicals used in haircare. It is therefore never advisable to attempt to bleach hennaed hair. If you do bleach henna and are lucky not to obtain a reaction, you will only find the hair becoming more and more orange as the depth lightens but the henna staining remains in place. Ultimately, you will be left with bight fluorescent orange hair that is almost impossible to re-colour.

Four: You have used a blonde colourant, designed for lightest brown and blonde natural bases
Permanent hair colourants can lighten natural hair, but only up to four levels. Therefore, if you attempt to use a blonde lightening hair colourant on brunette and dark hair types, it is almost certain the colourant can only lift the hair to a deep gold. For dark bases to go to a pale blonde, the hair must be pre-lightened before using a permanent blonde colourant.

Five: You have applied a gold-based hair colourant.
You might have the perfect light brunette or dark blonde (natural) hair colour for lightening, but you have selected a blonde colourant that contains a gold or even copper pigment. If your hair is prone to displaying warmth when lightened, this warmth may be intensified to orange if you have selected a gold-based colourant. Due to the fact you are adding more gold pigment to the hair.
TIP: Do not buy colourants solely based on the shade name (eg California Blonde, Honey Blonde, Champagne Blonde), but instead refer to the secondary descriptive. Shades referred to as: – Light Golden Blonde or Medium Copper Blonde etc will add warm tones to hair. Instead, if you need neutralisation of natural warmth (in your colourants), look out for descriptive such as ‘ash’, ‘platinum’ or ‘silver’ in your box colour choice (eg Medium Ash Blonde). Shades referred to as ‘natural’ (eg Natural Dark Blonde) will display neither cool nor warm pigments. However, if you are prone to displaying warmth in hair colour results, a natural based colourant may also cause warm hues, because it contains no neutralisation tones to counteract the underlying gold exposed in the hair when lightening.

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