Last Updated on 17th August 2023 by Chauncey Morgan
As anybody who has ever dyed their hair red may know, red hair dye is very temperamental. On one hand, it washes out in the shower easily and has an unparalleled tendency to stain everything pink. On the other, when you really want it to go away because you are going from red to blonde… the red just won’t go away. Wondering how to go from red to blonde or how to fix orange hair after lightening naturally red hair? Here is how.
Table of Contents
You Will Need To Bleach
Whether you are a natural redhead or your crimson mane comes from a bottle, to go blonde means to bleach. Red hair has a lot more red pigment than ashier, colder tones. And so, when bleached it tends to turn an unflattering shade of orange rather than yellow.
Damage should be your number 1 concern when going from red to blonde hair at home. A bond builder such as Olaplex can be really helpful here, and allow you to bleach your hair enough to remove the red pigment from it.
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If you dream of pale blonde hair, you may need to do a bleaching session, tone and then wait a few weeks before bleaching again. This is particularly true if you have been dying your hair red, as lifting red dye is usually a challenge.
How To Go From Red To Blonde, Before And After
As you can see in this instagram before and after by professional colorist George Papanikolas, going from red to blonde is possible. It also took 8h on a single sitting, using a bond protecting product from Matrix. And more toning and highlighting in the following weeks to keep the blonde bright and cool.
How to Dye Red Hair Blonde Without It Turning Orange
Red hair will, at some point of the bleaching process, turn orange. Maybe more of a peach colour, rather than bright pumpkin orange. However, the key step on going from red to blonde is learning how to fix orange hair so it becomes cool, sandy blonde instead.
This is done using a toner to remove the brassiness. Even if you are going from red to blonde hair at home, you will need to use a toner to cancel out the blonde. Do not just buy a blonde box dye, or your hair can end up an unflattering tangerine shade.
Going From Red To Blonde Hair At Home
If you are the adventurous type that isn’t afraid of bleach, going from red to blonde at home will save you a lot of money. If you have never bleached your hair before, or are unfamiliar with the process it pays to have a friend to help you.
If you have dyed red hair, it is a good idea to do a strand test to see how your hair reacts to the bleach. You never know which colors will reappear as the bleach works its magic on your hair.
Start by bleaching your hair. You will need:
- Bleach powder
- 30 volume Hydrogen Peroxide
- Gloves, a bowl and a hair dye brush
- And old t-shirt you don’t mind staining
Apply the bleach from the middle of the hair to the tips, and then close to the roots without touching your scalp. Leave about an inch, you don’t need to touch the scalp because the bleach will travel up the hair shaft. Your roots will lighten much quicker than your ends, so always apply the bleach there last.
If you want more details on how to bleach your hair, we have a more detailed tutorial here.
Do not just put a shower cap and go watch TV. You can do that with box dye, but not with bleach. And not when going from red to blonde hair at home. Bleach will keep lightening your hair as long as it’s on your hair, so keep an eye on the mirror. Every 5 to 10 minutes look at your hair, is it yellow yet?
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A strand test is useful because it will tell you how long to leave the bleach before your hair is irreversible damage. If you have delicate, fragile or color treated hair, please do not overdo it. Even if your hair still doesn’t look light enough. Wash the bleach off after half an hour to an hour, and evaluate the color.
Wash your hair properly and make sure to scrub until all the bleach is gone from your hair. Really scrub your scalp so there is no bleach residue that could cause irritation.
Your hair will be either a very unflattering shade of rust, a bright chicken yellow or anything in between. Not ideal, but that’s fine because we are going to fix the orange hair away.
If your hair is not light enough, you will need to apply protein treatments and rebuild your hair strength. Olaplex step 3 is great for this. Once your hair is healthy enough, you can bleach again. This is particularly likely to happen if you previously dyed your hair dark red or auburn. Wait at least a week or two in between bleaching sessions, a month is even better.
Going From Red To Blonde: Toning
Toners are deposit only dyes designed to cancel out unwanted tones in hair color. They act like a semi-translucent layer that doesn’t change your hair color radically, just ads a filter to it.
There are many different toners depending on what desired result you are after. In our case, we want to cancel brassy and orange toners so we want to use a purple toner.
Toner after bleach is applied straight afterwards, with no conditioning in between. Wella Hair toners are really popular as they give very good results against brassy hair. If your hair is light enough and you want white blonde or platinum blonde hair, T-18 White Lady can be used on already very pale yellow hair. For darker blondes, a medium smokey ash toner or a medium ash blonde will work best.
Remember, toner won’t lighten up hair, so choose one based on your current, post-bleach, hair color. You can always bleach again in a few weeks or add highlights if you want to go lighter.
If your hair feels very damaged, or you just don’t want to bother with a semi-permanent toner, purple shampoo can also help. Purple shampoo should be part of the routine of anybody learning how to go from red to blonde anyway, as it will stop the brassiness from reoccurring.
Apply the purple shampoo and leave it on your hair for about 10-15 minutes, so it can deposit color effectively. This will wash out quickly, so you will need to repeat this treatment several times a month every time your hair looks brassy.
Afterward, give your hair some love and use a nutritive hair mask or deep conditioning treatment so it doesn’t feel like straw.
Not sure which type of blonde to choose? Check out our guide on picking the best blonde for your skin tone.
How to Go from Red to Blonde: Maintenance
If you were originally a natural blonde, your blonde may take a while to turn brassy. Redheads have often a more difficult time keeping blonde hair from going brassy. There are many things you can do to stop blonde from going brassy, but eventually it will happen.
There are two must-haves on any red to blonde maintenance routine:
- Purple shampoo
- Deep conditioning mask
I would add a heat protectant spray if you heat style your hair, and a hair oil to keep frizz at bay. But it really depends on your hair type and styling preferences.
Violet, purple or silver shampoo should be used at least once a week to cancel out brassy tones and keep your blonde bright. Do not overuse it, though, or your hair may end up with a strange violet tinge.
On the days when you are not using purple shampoo, a nourishing sulphate free shampoo will help your blonde last. Your hair will be feeling sensitive and lacking in protein, so be kind to it.
Going from red to blonde hair at home can be challenging the first time, so if you are unsure about how to go from red to blonde consult a professional. If your hair is fine, very damaged or sensitive, they may suggest other options such as highlights or balayage. You can go from red to blonde, but don’t sacrifice the health of your hair doing so. Be sure to visit our main page on hair colors, where you’ll find our hair color charts and guides.