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How do you fix orange roots with dark brown hair?

Having orange or brassy roots with darker brown hair is a common hair color problem many people face. It occurs when the artificial hair color starts to fade or grow out, revealing the natural underlying warm pigment of your hair. While it may seem like a disaster, there are several effective ways to neutralize orange roots and help your hair color look natural and harmonious again.

What Causes Orange Roots?

Orange or brassy roots appear when the artificial hair color you’ve applied starts to fade or grow out. Here are some of the main reasons this happens:

  • Oxidation – Exposure to the sun and elements causes the hair color molecules to break down and fade over time.
  • New hair growth – As your natural hair grows in at the roots, it reveals your original warm hair pigment.
  • Build-up of minerals – Minerals from hard water and residue from hair products can make hair color fade faster.
  • Using permanent color on regrowth – The regrowth area processes permanent color differently than previously colored hair.

The natural underlying pigment of hair can range from dark blonde to light brown to black. But in most cases, there is some amount of orange/red tone present naturally. As the artificial color washes out, those warm undertones are revealed – especially at the roots where regrowth occurs.

Can You Use Toner on Orange Roots?

Using a toner is one of the most effective ways to neutralize orange roots and eliminate brassiness. Hair toner deposits blue and violet pigments onto the hair strands that counteract the orange and yellow tones. This helps blend the roots seamlessly with your darker ends.

Choose a toner that is specifically designed for use on hair roots and is one to two shades lighter than your target shade. For example, if your hair is dark brown, use an ash brown or natural brown toner.

When applying toner, focus only on the orange parts of your hair – usually the 1 to 2 inches of regrowth at the roots. This will help tone down the brassiness and prevent the toner from making your ends too dark or ashy.

Some toners that work well for fixing orange roots include:

  • Wella Color Charm T18 Lightest Ash Blonde Toner
  • Schwarzkopf Igora Royal Toner in Cool Ash Brown
  • Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Toner in Brown
  • Matrix Total Results So Silver Color Depositing Purple Shampoo

Using a toner can help neutralize orange roots in between salon visits. Always follow the instructions carefully. Leaving toner on too long can result in an ashy or violet tint on the hair.

What About Color-depositing Shampoos?

Color-depositing shampoos, also called toning shampoos, work similarly to hair toner but with much less pigment. Each time you shampoo, the product deposits a small amount of color that helps counteract orange and yellow tones over time.

This is a more subtle approach that’s great for maintaining your color between full toning sessions. Look for color-depositing shampoos that specify they reduce brassy or orange tones. Some popular options include:

  • Aveda Blue Malva Color Depositing Shampoo
  • Fanola No Orange Shampoo
  • L’Oreal Paris EverPure Brass Toning Purple Shampoo
  • Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo
  • Redken Color Extend Brownlights Blue Shampoo

Use the shampoo a couple times a week in place of your regular shampoo, focusing on the roots and areas with unwanted orange tones. Rinse thoroughly as too much product buildup can make hair appear violet. This works best as color maintenance, not necessarily to fully neutralize very orange roots.

Can You Dye Over Orange Roots?

If you have significant regrowth and brassiness at the roots, trying to dye directly over top won’t give you the best results. The lightened porous roots will soak up more of the artificial color than your previously colored mid-length and ends. This can lead to dark roots and an obvious demarcation line.

Instead, your best bet is to fill the roots with a demi-permanent gloss or glaze first. Choose a shade that matches your natural regrowth color. Brown is ideal for filling in orange roots if your natural color is dark blonde or light brown. Apply the filler roots-only and process for about 15 minutes before rinsing.

This helps even out the porosity and prepares the roots to accept the permanent color more evenly. Once the roots are filled in, you can apply all-over permanent color in your desired shade as normal to cover any remaining discoloration.

How Can You Neutralize Orange Roots at Home?

If you want to get rid of brassy roots at home between salon visits, here are some effective methods you can try:

Baking Soda and Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Mix equal parts baking soda with an anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head & Shoulders. Massage the mixture into damp hair, focusing on the orange roots. Allow it to process for 3 to 5 minutes. Baking soda helps remove brassiness while the zinc in anti-dandruff shampoo further helps tone down orange. Rinse well and follow with a deep conditioner.

Vitamin C Powder

Crush up vitamin C tablets into a fine powder. Mix to form a paste by adding just enough water. Apply this directly to orange roots and leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing. The vitamin C works to lower the pH of hair and remove brassiness.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Create a rinse using 1 part apple cider vinegar diluted with 2 parts water. Shampoo hair as normal then pour or spray the rinse onto orange roots. Massage in and let sit 1 to 3 minutes before rinsing. Repeat 1 to 2 times a week. The acetic acid in vinegar helps remove brassy discoloration.

Blue or Purple Food Color

Add a few drops of blue or purple food coloring to your conditioner. Work the conditioner into your hair as normal, coating the orange roots. Allow it to process for 5 minutes before rinsing out. The color mixes with the conditioner and temporarily tones down orange. Avoid getting the mixture on light ends.

Blue or Purple Hair Mascara

Hair mascaras provide semi-permanent color that easily wipes away with shampoo. Apply a mascara in a blue-based shade only to the visible orange roots. Allow it to set then gently blend with fingers. This quickly neutralizes brassiness without mess or commitment.

How Long Does it Take for Roots to Show?

On average, roots will start to visibly show around 4-6 weeks after hair has been colored. However, the timing varies based on your natural hair growth rate, the shade you’re coming from and going to, and your hair type. Here are the general timelines:

Hair Type Time Before Roots Show
Asian, Caucasian hair 4-6 weeks
African American hair 6-8 weeks
Curly, coily hair 8-12 weeks

As you can see, curly and coily hair types that grow slower can go longer without visible re-growth. People also tend to notice dark roots growing in on blondes first. Plan to get your roots touched up somewhere within the above timeframes to keep your color looking fresh.

When to Use Permanent vs. Demi-Permanent Color

Knowing when to use permanent versus demi-permanent color can help you avoid problems like orange roots. Here are some guidelines:

Use Permanent Color For:

  • Your initial all-over color and for re-coloring your roots every 4-6 weeks.
  • Making significant changes to your hair color (lightening, darkening more than 2 shades).
  • Longer-lasting, fade-resistant color.
  • Covering a large percentage of grey hair.

Use Demi-Permanent Color For:

  • Refreshing your color and blending away roots between perms.
  • Darkening your color by a shade or two.
  • Adding subtle highlights or lowlights.
  • Conditioning and adding shine to hair.
  • Experimenting with hair color.

Sticking within those guidelines will help prevent overlapping chemical processes and keep your hair in better condition. Use permanent color sparingly only as needed to touch up new growth.

Tips for Longer Lasting Color

To extend the time between root touch ups and keep your hair color looking vivid, follow these tips:

  • Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove mineral and product buildup.
  • Alternate with a moisturizing, sulfate-free shampoo to prevent drying.
  • Rinse with cool water instead of hot to preserve color.
  • Limit use of heat tools like blow dryers and straighteners.
  • Protect hair from sun exposure with hats or scarves.
  • Avoid chlorine by using a swim cap and rinsing after swimming.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner and hair masks to boost moisture.
  • Get regular trims to remove split ends and keep hair healthy.

Making those small adjustments to your routine can help lock in hair color and allow you to go longer between root touch ups.

When to See a Professional

While you can take steps to cover your roots at home, visiting a professional salon is recommended in the following situations:

  • You want to make a major color change like bleaching, adding highlights, or changing your base shade.
  • Your regrowth is more than 2 inches long.
  • You have a lot of gray hair to cover.
  • Your roots are resistant or keep showing through toner and color-depositing products.
  • You want a seamless root transition with no obvious lines of demarcation.
  • Your hair is damaged and requires restructuring treatments.

Seeing a skilled colorist helps ensure proper application and even results from roots to ends. Professionals also have access to higher quality toners, developers, and techniques that can transform your look. Don’t be afraid to ask for help getting your color back on track.


Dealing with orange roots and brassy regrowth is frustrating but fixable! Now that you know how to neutralize orange tones using toners, color-depositing shampoos, DIY methods and pro techniques, you can keep your roots blended seamlessly. With a consistent color maintenance routine, you can rock your beautiful brown hair with confidence.