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What color cancels out green?


Why did my client's blonde hair turn green?

Let's face it. It's a pretty horrible result, and almost certainly not what your client wanted.

Almost certainly, the hair was too yellow in the first place, and you were trying to tone it. And it turned green.

Is that what happened? 

Then read on...

Learn why it's gone green & what you can do to fix it.

And also, why tomato ketchup does not work & is not recommended!

Green Hair - how do I cancel?

What is causing the hair to go green?

Unless you or she actually colored it green, the reason why hair turns green is actually pretty simple. It's all to do with the Color Wheel.

If your client's hair was blonde but very yellow, and you tried to fix it by applying a blue or a blue based toner, then the rules of Color Theory automatically start working:

Yellow + Blue = Green.

See the chart below.

Look at where yellow is and look at where blue is.

As you can see, the mix of the two is green.

In the same way, the mix of yellow and red is orange and the mixture of aquamarine and purple is blue.

Hair Color Wheel

What should I do to cancel the green?

You cannot and should not dump more color onto the hair to "cancel" it - color on color does not work & no stylist should do that.

Instead, you need to lift very very well, using a good quality bleach. Then tone.

That would be the correct way, and that's the way a good hairdresser would do it.

How much do I need to lift with my bleach? And how long should I leave it in?

Use a good quality bleach with good lifting power. We would recommend Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blondexx. It has Bond Protect built in and will protect the hair and the roots as it lifts.

Brilliant Blondexx

Make a mix with 20 Vol developer in a ratio of 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

Stir extremely well until the mixture is a smooth, rich, oily cream. This is the texture that Brilliant Blondexx has.

Then apply quickly, saturating the hair really well and working in nice, orderly sections. 

For full head applications, start at the back where the hair is the thickest and work your way around.

For very long hair, leave the root area until the last to stop it over-processing at that part.

When lifting, make sure you lift all the way to level 9/10 and all the color build-up has been removed.

Peel back the bleach mixture while the mixture is processing to check and be absolutely sure.

Peel back bleach mixture

Once lifted, correctly, and rinsed, this is what it will look like when towel-dried and combed. 

Note there is far far less yellow in the hair. There is some, but not so much that it will interfere with a blue-based or a purple-based toner.

Now you are ready to tone (and not get green)

Bleached hair level 10

How should I tone the hair once I have bleached?

After you have bleached correctly & fully, go ahead and use any of these Ugly Duckling toners.

Intense pearl blonde toner 100V

Intense silver blonde toner 100B

Pearl Blonde toner 10V

Silver Blonde toner 10B.

If there is still a lot of yellow in the hair, or you believe it should be lifted by at least one level more, then use the intense toners.

Otherwise, use the non-lift regular toners.

All these toners contain a lot of blue and purple pigments. They tone yellow hair very well. But they are formulated in such a way that they won't stain.

And because you have lifted the hair up really well, it won't turn green either.

Hair which has been lifted & toner

Can't I just use tomato ketchup or any other red-based food pigment? I heard that red is the opposite of green on the color wheel and that should work.

Putting tomato ketchup on your hair to get rid of green is one of the least intelligent things you could possibly do!

People learn the color wheel in cosmetology school and they think that you can dump color on top of color to cancel.

This only really works if you are happy going down and darkening.

And if for some reason your client has colored her hair green in the past and it is just not coming out, then applying red is what you need to do.

But you would be better off using a permanent red (like our ruby red, for example), mixing with developer and doing a regular oxidative color application in order to neutraliize green.

Rather than just dumping red on top of the hair shaft, on top of the cuticle.

So don't be a lazy hairdresser. Lift the yellow out, or lift the green out if it has not turned green. Use a quality bleach when doing so.

And then tone. 

And you will be fine.

About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.