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Does stripping your hair turn orange?

Stripping hair color to go back to your natural shade or prep for a color change can definitely turn hair orange if not done properly. The orange tones are caused by underlying pigment being exposed when the artificial dye is removed. However, with the right hair stripping process and toner, orange hair can be avoided.

Why Does Hair Turn Orange When Stripping Color?

Hair can turn orange when stripping color because the hair dye removal process exposes brassy, orange pigments in the hair shaft. Here’s a more in-depth look at why this happens:

  • Hair dye opens up the cuticle layer of the hair and deposits artificial pigment inside the hair shaft.
  • When removing dye, the cuticle layers lift again and the artificial color molecules are washed away.
  • This leaves behind the natural, underlying pigment in the hair – which tend to be warm orange and yellow tones.
  • Natural melanin pigment gives hair shades of blonde, brown, and black. Very light blond hair has less pigment while darker hair has more melanin.
  • Those with darker hair have more orange/red pigment undertones. Lightening or stripping hair exposes those brassy tones.

So in summary, stripping away artificial dye molecules reveals the natural orange and yellow pigment left in bleached or color-treated hair. The lighter and more porous the hair, the more those brassy tones will show through.

How To Avoid Orange Hair When Stripping Color

If you want to remove hair dye without turning your locks orange, here are some tips:

  1. Use a color remover, not bleach. Bleach further lifts the cuticle and exposes more orange pigment.
  2. Select a color remover with anti-orange tones, like L’Oreal Effasol Color Remover.
  3. Remove dye slowly over a few sessions if hair is very dark or has accumulated lots of color.
  4. Use a toner or glaze after stripping to neutralize orange tones. Pick a blue-violet toner to cancel orange.
  5. Opt for a semipermanent toner rather than permanent dye if you plan to redye hair.
  6. Rinse with cool water and use sulfate-free shampoo to keep cuticles sealed and color true.
  7. Use a weekly glossing treatment to boost shine and neutralize brassiness between stripping sessions.

Best Toners for Orange Hair

Using a toner is crucial for avoiding orange hair when lifting or removing dye. Here are some of the best toners to neutralize orange:

Toner Why It Works
Wella Color Charm T18 Toner Blue-violet tones counteract yellow and orange
Schwarzkopf Igora Royal Toner Cool nuances neutralize warmth
Redken Shades EQ Gloss Deposits soft color; many shades available
MATRIX Total Results So Silver Purple pigments brighten and reduce brass
Overtone Extreme Silver Uses blue, purple, and violet to tone
Celeb Luxury Gem-Lites Toner Counteracts yellow and orange tones

These and other violet/blue-based toners are excellent for getting rid of orange shades after stripping hair dye. Using them regularly keeps brassiness at bay between coloring sessions.

Does Stripping Damage Hair?

Stripping hair to remove color can damage strands, but there are ways to mitigate it. Here’s an overview:

  • Stripping opens the cuticle and lifts color meaning damage can occur.
  • However, color strippers are less harsh than bleach which destroys pigment and causes more damage.
  • Damage happens most when hair is over-processed from stripping too often or back-to-back.
  • Always use a nourishing toner or mask after stripping to close cuticles and restore moisture.
  • Also, give hair a break between stripping sessions to minimize damage.
  • Bond-building treatments like Olaplex can repair bonds broken during stripping.
  • Using restorative products keeps damage controlled and hair healthy.

While stripping can cause some harm, keep in mind permanent dyes also damage the integrity of hair over time. Taking good care of hair and not over-stripping helps combat potential damage.


Stripping hair to remove dye, whether temporary, semipermanent, or permanent, does risk turning your locks orange. That said, by using the right stripping products and techniques, orange hair can be avoided. Be sure to use a toner after stripping to neutralize any brassiness and keep porosity in check. This allows you to successfully lift color without unwanted orange hues. With some caution, planning, and TLC, you can strip hair colorant and achieve your desired shade.