Skip to Content

How do you go from orange to brown?

How do you go from orange to brown?

Going from orange to brown is a common hair color transition. Many people with naturally blonde or light brown hair who color their hair orange eventually want to go darker into the brown family. The journey from vibrant orange to rich chocolate brown is possible with the right hair color products and techniques.

When going from orange to brown hair, there are a few considerations. First, orange hair has warm undertones while brown hair can be warm or cool toned. This means the orange pigment needs to be counteracted to neutralize unwanted warmth before depositing the brown color. Second, color does not lift color so the orange has to be lightened before going brown. Finally, the hair should be properly prepped so the brown shade lasts as long as possible.

How to Transition from Orange to Brown Hair

Here is a step-by-step guide to go from orange to brown hair:

Step 1: Use a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup

Clarifying shampoo cleans the hair and scalp of styling products, oils and minerals that can prevent color from depositing properly. Clarifying before a color service ensures even results. Focus on the mid lengths and ends when shampooing as this is where the most product buildup occurs.

Step 2: Lighten the orange with bleach

Since orange has warm underlying pigments, bleach is needed to strip the unwanted warmth and lighten the hair. Lightening to a pale orange or yellow enables the new brown shade to take evenly. Apply bleach to mid lengths and ends, leaving the roots alone to create a shadow root.

Step 3: Tone the hair to neutralize brassiness

Once lightened, the hair needs toning to cancel out any remaining brass or orange tones still present. Use a violet based toner to neutralize unwanted warmth. The level of toner should match the level of lift achieved in order to properly neutralize brassiness.

Step 4: Add highlights if desired

For added dimension, place foil highlights before toning. This creates contrast and prevents the hair going one solid brown shade. Focus highlights around the face and ends.

Step 5: Apply permanent brown color

When the hair is pre-lightened and toned to a neutral base, permanent brown color can be applied. Choose a brown shade that complements skin tone. Cooler brown works well on fair, pink skintones while warm golden brown flatters peachy complexions.

Step 6: Rinse, shampoo and condition

Once the time is up, rinse out the color thoroughly. Use a sulfate free shampoo and deeply conditioning hair mask to lock in moisture and shine. Blow dry and style as normal.

Maintenance Tips for Brown Hair

Once the orange is successfully transformed to brown, maintaining the new shade is essential. Here are some tips:

– Use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner made for color treated hair
– Wash hair in cool water to prevent fading
– Limit washing to 2-3 times per week
– Use a hair mask 1-2 times a week
– Avoid chlorine and salt water that can strip color
– Get a gloss treatment every 4-6 weeks to refresh tone
– Use heat protectant before hot tools to prevent damage
– Get trims every 8-10 weeks to prevent split ends

Correcting Color Mishaps

If the hair comes out the wrong shade of brown or still has orange tones, more corrective work is needed:

For uneven or splotchy results:
– Even out color with a toner in the missing shade
– Add highlights and lowlights to blend

If still too orange:
– Rebleach mid lengths and ends avoiding roots
– Use a stronger violet toner
– Go darker brown if hair is resistant

For too light of brown:
– Use a demi-permanent darker brown

If too dark:
– Lighten with bleach focusing on mid lengths and ends
– Follow with a lighter brown toner

For fading:
– Use a brown semi or demi-permanent glaze

Best Brown Hair Colors for Orange Hair

Here are some of the best brown shades for orange hair:

Caramel Brown

A warm golden brown with buttery caramel hues. Flatters light to medium complexions with yellow/olive undertones.

Level: 6-7

Mocha Brown

A rich neutral brown with subtle hints of chocolate. Perfect for fair to medium skin with pink or neutral undertones.

Level: 5-6

Chestnut Brown

A cool espresso brown with ash undertones to counter brassiness. Ideal for very fair to light skin tones.

Level: 4-5

Honey Brown

A glowing light golden brown full of warmth and dimension. Complements light to dark warmer complexions.

Level: 7-8

Caramel Balayage

Buttery caramel brown concentrated on mid lengths and ends that melt into the natural root color. Gorgeous on most complexions.

Chocolate Brown

An intense neutral brown that borders on black. Stunning for olive to dark skin tones.

Level: 3-4

Brown Shade Undertone Level Skin Tone
Caramel Brown Warm 6-7 Light to medium, yellow/olive
Mocha Brown Neutral 5-6 Fair to medium, pink/neutral
Chestnut Brown Cool 4-5 Very fair to light
Honey Brown Warm 7-8 Light to dark, warm
Chocolate Brown Neutral 3-4 Olive to dark


Transitioning from vibrant orange hair to rich brown is totally achievable with some planning and TLC. The keys are lightening and toning the orange before depositing brown pigment, choosing a brown tone that suits skin tone, and maintaining the color with sulfate free haircare and gloss treatments. With the right method and products, orange hair can become a beautiful brown shade that looks natural, multidimensional and healthy.