Yellow Hair After Bleaching? Fix it yourself

Wanted to go icy blonde, and ended up with yellow hair? This is a very common problem when using bleach to lift colour on dark hair. If you are after a platinum or ashy blonde, yellow and golden tones can totally spoil the effect. Sadly, depending on your original hair colour it can be quite a challenge to fix them. There are several ways to fix yellow hair after bleaching, even for stubborn brassy highlights that won’t go away nicely. Keep reading to learn how to prevent and fix yellow hair when lightening your hair.

Why Do You Get Yellow Hair After Bleaching?

Most people can’t get platinum blonde hair just by bleaching or using high-lift dyes. This is because in order to reach platinum all pigments need to be removed from hair. Bleach removes pigments from hair, but at the same time it weakens it so reaching white from dark hair is often too risky. As the bleaching process goes, hair turns several degrees of orange and, after a while, yellow, pale yellow and almost white. If your hair is naturally brown or black, the red and dark pigments in the hair are almost impossible to eliminate just using bleach, and you will end up with brassy, yellow and gold tones in your hair, or with very damaged hair.

Depending on the porosity of your hair and the strength of the bleach used, this can be an overall yellowing or restricted to some areas of your head. It is important to be careful not to over-bleach your hair to try and get rid of the yellow because you may end up with a chemical haircut instead of glossy platinum locks. So it’s better to try alternatives to bleaching first, to see if you can fix the yellow without damaging your hair.

Your hair needs to be light enough for purple color depositing products to do anything. If your hair is not yet at the desired lightness level you may want to use a bleach bath to bring it just that bit lighter. Sometimes you need to bleach your hair to a lighter level and then apply a toner to darken it and remove any remaining yellow.

Even if you have your hair done at the hairdresser, yellow tones can appear after a few washes as the toner used to remove the unwanted yellow tones fades away. Purple shampoo and toning products are the best friend of any blonde that wants to keep their color bright and not yellow or brassy.

What Is a Toner And What Does It Do?

A toner, also called a gloss, is a product designed to remove unwanted colours in your hair, fill in areas with excess porosity and give your hair a glossy finish. This of it as a topcoat for your hair. After bleach lifts the colour, a toner will fix unwanted brassy or red undertones and give you the perfect ashy or platinum colour you were after. This is known as Two-process colour. A toner can be a permanent or semi-permanent colour which has the right undertones to cancel the yellow tones in your hair. However, after bleach semi-permanent colours are preferable because they are less damaging to the hair.

Depending on which colours you want to cancel, you can use different toners and here is when it gets fun: to cancel reddish tones you would go for a green colour, whereas yellow tones require violet and brassy tones are cancelled by green and blue tones. However, be careful not to overdo it or you may end up with green hair! If you are trying to figure out how to fix orange hair, a greenish toner will be the solution.

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A toner is not always necessary: if you have naturally blonde hair, a high-lift permanent hair colour in a platinum shade may be all that you need, without the use of bleach. However, if you have dark hair, bleach will pre-lighten the hair to a degree that applying permanent hair colour in a platinum / ashy shade will create the desired results. Semi-permanent toners generally wash out from hair after 2 to 8 weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair.

Can You Do At-Home Toning?

There are products sold in supermarkets and beauty stores that can work as a toner, as they deposit colour on your hair which cancels the yellow and brassy tones. You can also use a permanent or semi-permanent hair dye but they sometimes have unexpected results as the undertones aren’t clear and you can end up overcorrecting with unwanted blue or green tones in your hair. This can happen if you are learning how to fix orange hair, and you choose a toner that is too green for the amount of orange in your hair. I have written in more detail about how to tone your hair and which toner to use here.

Hair that has been bleached is more porous than usual, which means even a semi-permanent hair colour (no ammonia hair colours) can take longer to wash out or even not wash out at all. For this reason, it is important to be aware of hair color levels and dye codes so you can pick a dye that fills the color in without adding unwanted overtones or making your hair too dark.

How To Fix Bleached Hair Without Damaging It

The first step towards fixing bleached hair is avoiding further damage. Bleached hair is very porous, and lacks protein. If you keep applying toners with developer you will eventually burn your bleached hair. If you want to fix yellow hair after bleaching, a conditioning mask with purple pigments (such as a mix of Manic Panic and a deep conditioning mask, left on your hair for half an hour) can be a non-damaging solution to try.

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It is also important to choose the right toner for your hair level and desired blonde hair color. There are as many blonde hair dyes as there are blondes, and while you may think the problem is yellow in hair, maybe your actual issue is brassiness instead. To fix bleached hair you need to first make sure it has been lifted to the right level: You won’t get platinum blonde hair from hair that is a level 7 even if you use Wella t18 toner. Try to look at your hair and decide first if it looks like a banana yellow, like the color inside the peel of a banana, or if it looks more like old gold or brass. If it’s the first, perfect, you need to use a purple toner or conditioner to fix it. If it’s the later, you will need a blue violet toner instead.

Keep in mind porosity as well. When you try to fix bleached hair that has turned yellow or brassy you need to be careful not to add too much toner, or leaving it for too long. If you do, your hair may absorb too much toner and end up with a greyish or greenish cast. This happens a lot with people who have very dark hair, and bleach it to light blonde or platinum. Keep an eye on the toner as it develops, it is better for your hair to have to tone twice than to have to wash with baking soda to remove excess toner.

Colour Depositing Shampoos

A safer alternative to fix yellow tones after bleaching is using colour correcting shampoos and conditioners. For example, Redken Blonde Idol Custom Tone for Cool or Platinum Blondes deposits variable amounts of purple in your hair depending on how long it was since you coloured it, keeping brassiness away. Other “Silver” shampoos and conditioners are designed to be used once a week or even every day, but pay close attention to the usage instructions unless you want to end up with bright purple hair.

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This kind of shampoo have usually a very bright or purple colour, but don’t worry, your hair will look platinum after using them because the amounts of dye deposited are just enough to cancel the unwanted brassy or yellow tones on bleached hair provided you use them correctly. Some favourite shampoos for blondes are Nexxus Aloxxi Platinum Pro Colour Toning and Clairol Shimmer Lights Silver Blonde, combined with a sulphate free shampoo to keep your blonde hair looking bright and fresh.

44 Comments

  • I added color after lightening but the color only last 1 or 2 shampoos and I use purple shampoo. Why is that? I used Revlon lightest summer blonde and loved the color but it didn’t stay

    • Hello!

      Is your hair very porous/bleached? It should really last more than one or two shampoos, really. Are you following the instructions in the package? Have you tried a different brand? If your hair is not light enough after bleaching that could be a reason but it’s difficult to tell without pictures.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Have you tried the tips on the article? The toner or possibly a violet shampoo (depending on how bad the yellow is) can help.

  • I bleached my hair a week ago, but it didn’t lift enough. Probably my fault for not leaving it on very long, but I got scared! After I bleached, I used a toner but there is still has a lot of yellow/orangish hue toward the top and middle of the shaft (the ends look pretty good, at least a tolerable color). Overall it is still darker than I wanted and it is way too yellow. I waited a few days and washed with purple shampoo with a little developer mixed in to try to lift the yellow tones, but no such luck.

    Should I bleach again? Or can I use a semi/permanent high lift color at this point? I’m not sure if I can use a tint over a toner. Would that cover the yellow tones, or just make it worse?

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    • Bleaching again after a week it’s probably too soon, unless you have exceptionally healthy hair or are using Olaplex or similar during colouring. I would use a light ashy blonde color on it as a toner, and then wait about a month and then bleach again. And give your hair loads of TLC.

      High lift is probably not going to work because dye doesn’t lift dye. You can do a strand test though, as I don’t know which toner you used. I would not do anything to my entire head without a strand test first, as bleached hair is fragile.

  • I bleached my hair three times in the span of 2 days because my hair doesn’t rly take well to bleach. My hair was really healthy and isn’t really that damaged. I have toned it twice now and it still kinda looks yellow I used the wellness toner in the shade T11 and was wondering if I should go back to Sally’s and get T10? Because it has a more vilotet undertone and will cancel out my yelloness ??

    • It really depends on what is the level of your hair at this time, how porous is your hair, etc… T10 is for very pale hair for example, will cancel orange but it won’t do it on a dark blonde hair.

  • I had my hair done professionally but I ended up not liking the colour so I went back to my hairdresser and we really did it but it’s gone a bit yellowy! Can I use silver shampoo right away or do I HAVE to wait?

    • You can use silver shampoo right away, as it only deposits pigment and doesn’t harm your hair. But be careful not to put too much too often and end up with a blue head 🙂

  • Please help…. I cant seem to find the answers anywhere. I bleached my hair 3 months ago.. I had growth in my roots and my blond was turning brassy so I grabber a toner. Wella T18 and 20 developer. And threw it all over my head… i was told it would only lighten my new growth.. instead it turnes it yellow/orange. Purple and blue shampoo is not working. I am wondering about a few options. Which one if any would work.
    1. Can I retone it with wella t18 and developer to turn the yellow orange to blond.
    2.can I use a darker toner on just my roots to get a darker root.
    3. Can I add purple to my hair to have lilac hair without it going green.
    I want to do option 2 if it will work.

    • Toners aren’t really supposed to lighten hair, so I would really consider doing #2. But if you are unsure, get professional advice, is really not a one-size-fits-all thing and each head of hair is different.

  • Twicerrr I have coloured my bleached blonde hair and both times the top of my head and under the top layer of hair is totally yellow I had purple shampoo on my hair before I had dyed it what can I do the last one lasted months it wouldn’t go x

  • I really really need some help here, 1st off I thought I could get away with store brand bleach and a bluish silver. I’ve used that bleach before to take out black and was blond, however I was about 18 and had dyed my hair 2-3 x’s. I’m 41 and have been dying my hair black for years. Still I thought, this is the stuff, let me say I had cut off 8″ of black and most of my hair was my natural color. Or so I thought, so I go to salon after salon they say my hair looks ambrege, I had no idea what that was. They showed me a picture I looked like a tree with multi colored reds, anyway I thought I’ll do it myself, so carefully following a brown to silver I went. Color correction , blue tent bleach w 40 dev x2 1x w step ion color protection and 1/2 bottle of ion color sealer, next 1 bottle of T14 wella tint 1.4 oz -2.8 oz 20 dev. along w 1 bottle of O50 Silver additive 1.4 oz – 1.4oz 20 dev. It did not specifically give an amount for the additive. It started off looking whitish grey then turned gelish grey. I don’t know if that is where I went wrong, when I started I had some blonde, some brassy colors. Problem is I got some grey still have a bit of brass just a bit, and a bit of blond, but my roots. The one thing I thought for sure would turn silver are blonde? Some were still a darkish red, I’m done bleaching my question is what do I do from here do I try silver again? Do I get the gel by Ion I think in metallic, you just rub on for an hour wash off and maintenance with purple or silver shampoo? I start my job back to school after a 2.5 month break Monday. I need to do something, and something fast. Please help!

    • Hello,

      It does look like something complicated that can’t be fixed with advice given without a picture. I honestly would go to a hairdresser for color correction. The reason your roots are blonde is because they were the most untouched by dye so the only pigments the bleach had to remove were your natural hair pigments.

      If you don’t mind darker colors and really don’t want to go to the hairdresser you should try with an ashy brunette but it’s really difficult to color correct hair that is all sorts of different colors by yourself and without damaging your hair to oblivion.

      Maybe somebody else can chime in, but I am not comfortable giving advice without having seen your hair in person because I don’t want to make problems worse! 😀

      Best of luck!

  • Hello, I bleached my hair twice in one sitting about 2-3 weeks ago and since then have been putting bleach london non permanent cream dye on it. It’s in relatively good condition as I’ve been putting loads of treatments in it; its a pink/peachy colour. I want to go to a quite light blonde so was thinking using a shampoo brand known for removing hair dye to completely rid of the non-permanent dye, then wasnt sure whether to tone it or if I need to bleach it again? It’s not that yellow but I wondered how much lighter toner really can make your hair? Thanks ! 🙂

    • Toner won’t make your hair lighter, the developer you use with the toner will (but you are supposed to use a low volume developer, so it won’t lighten it up a lot in any case). If you want to lighten naturally blonde hair you can use a lighter blonde dye, but if you have dye on it already it won’t be lifted by more dye and you will need to use a lightener.
      I have an article about removing rainbow hair colors that may help more, you may be able to tone out the pink but if you want to go back to platinum you may need to rebleach 🙂

  • I have platinum blonde hair with blue tips. I used a color out to try and get the blue out of my hair and it turned my roots yellow. So then I put an icy white toner on my hair and the yellow did not come out and I have spots of yellow and icy white Platinum all over my head. Help please

  • Hi, I recently dyed my daughters hair. She had a fairly dark brown colour hair and wanted to go to bailiage platinum blonde. We bleached it then we added a blonde dye onto it and it turned out ginger then we used a toner and bleached again then it went yellow / ginger then we used a purple shampoo , well we have for 2 days now and nothing’s happened? I’ve ordered a silver toner or dye to put on her hair, will that help it go platinum can someone help ?

    • Toners won’t lighten the hair, so you would likely need to bleach it to a level 9 or 10, and then apply a toner to make the end result platinum or icy blonde. This is not really kind to the hair unless you use Olaplex or a similar product, so I would wait for a bit and use a dark ash blonde dye to get rid of the ginger, and wait a few weeks before bleaching again.

  • I am almost 43 years old, born a VERY LIGHT blonde and at 13 started bleaching my darkening hair…. so I am very experienced in “doing my roots”… UGH, this time.. I picked the WRONG color. I ended up with yellow, brassy roots.. the purple shampoo has turned my hair purple in the past, can you tell me a specific toner I get at the beauty supply store?? I look crazy!

  • Hi, Thank you for your very informative article. Is it possible to send you a picture of my hair and ask for more precise recommendation? I am on tight budget and can’t afford to go to a professional, so I really appreciate your help.

    • Hello, I’m afraid I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving advice on something as important as bleaching and hair color without actually seeing your hair in person. Really sorry, but I would hate to give you the wrong advice!

  • Hi!

    I bleached my roots using a 30 developer and violet bleach. I am aiming for the ice blonde look. I used wella t18 with 20 developer for the length of my hair. I have some strands that are icy blonde and others that are more yellow. (I had brown/blonde highlights previously) What do I need to do in order to make all of my hair ice blonde?

    Any advice is much appreciated!

    • You will probably need to bleach the bits that are not light enough, while avoiding bleaching over the ones that are icy blonde already to prevent too much damage. It is worth waiting a few days and using masks and protein shampoos to try and repair your hair as much as possible.

  • Im a natural brunette. A year ago i got all over brown with lots of red tint in my hair. I had my hair bleached last week and at first it looked good but it is very yellow and brassy now. Can i use purple shampoo with my red undertones? If not, how should i fix the yellow and orange in my hair ?

    • Purple shampoo will help remove the yellow and brassiness, but it depends on how light your blonde is now. Bleaching removes most of the red undertones, leaving orange and yellow in place.

  • In my case I went to q salon some highlights were really blond others very yellow I dealt w with for a week or so but now is bothering me so much…. she didn’t left the bleach long enough can I get a bleach box from the drug store & get a better color? Or the kit ? Thanks

    • You can bleach again bleached hair, but I would go with a low strength lightener unless your hair is really really healthy. Probably go to the salon and have them correct it for you, many salons will do it for free as it’s about keeping the client happy.

  • Hey!

    My issue with this hair problem might be complex but i’ll try to explain it:

    I’ve bleached my hair a couple of times, at home, using half a package at a time (because i have short hair) to try and get myself to silver.

    At one point i might have overdone the bleach, as I was putting it in, but it was not, or very vaguely just removing the left over yellows. The bleach that I was using was Loreal preference 11.21. I think my problem lies in the fact that I may have added the yellow pigment bag in my hairdye, because when I tried dying my hair silver (it actually went this really nice, steel silver) the front part of my hair did not and it still looked vaguely yellowish, like I’ve had silver for a while and it started washing out.

    I have then used the silver dye twice more (you get it in a tube, and just apply it. it’s semi-permanent, and lasts about 20 washes) it was making the rest of my hair a bit purpleish, but the front of my head, and some other spots still had the same type of yellow hue.

    I have used silver shampoo, silver conditioner and the silver dye. It was producing results, but only in certain parts of my head.

    I have very strong, lush hair hair, so it survived for most of the process, i still treat it with oils and regenerator, but the tips are cracked and I don’t want to treat it anymore than I have to and I would appreciate some advice.

    I went to the store today, and got a new silver shampoo (supposedly stronger than the one I’ve used), a colorless color stripper, and silver hair dye.

    I don’t plan to use all 3, but I would like to know what my best course of action is.

    Is my hair not taking in the pigment, and that’s why it’s yellow? Or can the purple not override the yellow so it’s showing? Should I perhaps try stripping ALL pigment with the color stripper and re-dying it?
    Or should I maybe dye the silver over it and hope it covers it, which i doubt?

    Hairdresser at this point is not an option. I decided to go for DIY, and where I live it’s crazy expensive so it’s a nono.

    What my assumption is that the hair, because it’s split, is not taking in pigment, as I see some of the silver has already washed out after 2 washes. But I don’t understand why half of my head has exactly the color I want, and half of it just has this color i had before applying dye.

    I would really appreciate some help! 🙂

  • Hi, i just bleached my hair and its blonde with tints of green. Can i wait for 5 days before using purple shampoo or i have to use it straight away.

    • You can use silver shampoo at any point, as it will only deposit purple on your hair that would cancel yellow/orange. However, if your hair has gone green it could be that you have used a toner that was too blue on a base that still had yellow pigments. That won’t be fixed by purple shampoo (It can make it worse). Did you try to use an ash toner?
      Can’t tell without seeing your hair, but you may need to use red to cancel the green or even bleach again to a lighter color and then apply the ash toner that you wanted to use in the first place.

      • Thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, it didn’t turn green on it’s own , its because I told her to add some green to the blonde. Do I still need to use purple shampoo.

  • Hi there, I bleached and toned my roots at home, and I believe I took the bleach off too early. Near my neck the colour is pale and ashy, but at my part, my roots are yellow. They were orange before the toner (wella t14). I was wondering whether I can do a second round of bleach quickly, or whether I should get another, perhaps lighter, toner? My natural hair is medium brown, but has been bleached at the salon to a pale ashy blonde. Thanks!

    • It depends on the condition of your hair. I would be very careful not to use bleach over the areas that already have the right colour, as you may end up with hair that is too damaged. I personally would play with safe with protein treatments and low strength bleach, or even a lightening dye instead of bleach IF you are colouring natural hair. But it’s impossible to tell without seeing your hair in person I’m afraid. Better safe than sorry, though, I wouldn’t risk burning my hair and would be very careful.

  • Hi! My natural hair is black. Three months ago, it was dyed chocolate brown in a salon in Germany. Today, it was dyed dark brown with caramel highlights and the result was yellowish, orangey highlights and with some uneven patches! My hair looks dry now too. Shall I go back to the hairdresser and let her correct this? Or what can I do at home to correct this? The hairdresser was highly recommended and has won awards but maybe she’s not used to handling dark hair? Help please!

  • hi i’ve bleached my hair 5 time over a period of 7 weeks and its really yellow my hair is down to my waste,really thick and naturally dark brown…. i’m wanting a platinum look where do i go from here? thank you much appreciated

    • I would honestly not bleach it again for a while, give it a lot of love and protein treatments because 5 times over 7 weeks is very damaging. You probably want to bleach it one last time (impossible to tell without seeing it, but take a look at this article to figure out your current level. You want to go a level 10 for platinum). And I would use Olaplex for further bleaching because your hair will feel damaged otherwise.
      Once it’s at level 9 or 10, then you can tone it to platinum (a cool toner, like Wella T18.

  • I have (had) naturally dark brown hair (level 3) cool undertone. I have lived in a sunny climate for a number of years now, and the top op my head is turning yellow. I am also getting grey, the muddy kind, not the platinum kind. I am allergic to developer, so I just want to grow out the grey but I would very much like to get rid of the yellow. Any suggestions?

    • Hello,
      I would invest on a good purple/violet shampoo and conditioner and use it at least weekly to tone down the yellow. And there are non developer toners that you can use as well, but remember to do an allergy test first.
      In sunny climates I have found sun protection sprays for the hair help with the lightening issue and to keep hair in better condition, but they can be a bit of a hassle to apply every day 🙂
      Hope this helps!

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