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Can I tone my orange hair with blue dye?


Orange hair

Image by Ashley Betancourt @hairfactoryny

What happens if I put blue dye on orange hair?

While it might seem logical to apply blue dye over orange hair, this approach seldom produces the desired results. When blue dye is directly applied to orange hair, the colors might mix, resulting in an uneven, muddy shade that doesn't truly neutralize the orange. Moreover, the underlying orange undertones can still shine through, leading to a suboptimal outcome.

What happens if I apply blue shampoo instead?

Again, a common misnomer. Blue and purple shampoos and masks are excellent products - and Ugly Duckling does sell an excellent range itself - it's called Brilliant Blonde. These products do fight yellow and orange, But they operate on the surface of the hair and will not do anything permanent to get rid of your orange. Plus, they don’t lift. So they are best used as maintenance products, nor orange-correction products.

The importance of lifting out the orange before toning

Before applying blue-based dyes to correct orange tones, it's essential to lift out the existing orange color. You do this by lightening the hair using bleach. This is the correct thing to do. Lift until the orange is lifted out and it turns yellow. This step is crucial because it creates a blank canvas for your blue-based dye to work effectively. Attempting to apply blue dye without proper lifting can lead to unpredictable results.

Why is my hair orange, anyway?

Hair is orange for one reason and one reason only. You did not lift it enough. So the best thing to do (the first thing to do, in fact) when faced with orange hair is to bleach the hair some more.

But it was the bleach that left the hair orange!

So what bleach did you use? How did you apply it and how long did you leave it in?

Very often, we find that the reason people are left with orange hair after bleaching is that they used an inferior quality of bleach with poor lifting capacity, or they did not mix it correctly leading to insufficient hair saturation, or they did not process the bleach mix long enough on the hair. So please go back, try and analyze what you did wrong, and try again.

If possible, consider using Ugly Duckling bleaches. They are professional formulas and have some of the best lifting power among even the best professional bleaches on the market.

OK I did that but I still see orange. What should I do now to tone it away?

If and only if you have bleached your hair as well as you can, now we can begin to talk about toning. This is where Color theory comes into play. Color Theory (and the color wheel) is the foundation of any successful color correction process. 

What is the Color Wheel?

Hair Color Wheel

The hair color wheel - use the opposite color on the wheel to neutralize

In the world of hair color, the color wheel plays a crucial role in understanding how colors interact and counteract each other. See the chart below:

Opposite colors on the color wheel neutralize each other.

Orange lies opposite to blue on the color wheel, making blue an effective choice for counteracting unwanted orange tones in hair. 

So how do I use and apply blue dyes to my hair?

For a start, forget about using semi-permanent blue dyes.

You need to use oxidative blue based colors which will mix with developer and lift out the orange from the inside of the hair cuticle.

Ugly Duckling has created a premixed range of blue-based blonde dyes which we would recommend.

These dyes are designed to specifically counteract orange tones and are a valuable tool in the hands of color correction experts.

The blue-based dyes contain carefully balanced pigments that work in harmony with lifted hair to neutralize and correct unwanted orange hues.

How to use Ugly Duckling's Premixed Blue-Based Dyes

Blue Based Dye

Ugly Duckling Light Cold Ash Blonde 9.1b used on pre-lightened hair

These are the blue based colors that we would recommend you use:

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

This is a high lifting toner which will take your hair up a level and tone it with blue (the "B" stands for blue in Ugly Duckling's color naming system)

Silver Blonde 10B

This has regular lift, but is still pigmented blue. Use this if you are satisfied with the hair color level that you have achieved after bleaching.

Blue Based Ash Blonde Toners

Ugly Duckling has a specific pre-mixed range of blue based ash blonde toners. In other words, ash + blonde + blue.

They produce stunning, vibrant color results and neutralize very well.

It is important that you choose the level that your hair is at. Remember this is a toning process, you are going to be using 20 Vol and you will not be lifting the hair. So choose the appropriate hair color level.

10.1b Extra Light Cold Ash Blonde

Use this if you have pre-lightened the hair very well and you are aiming for an ultra white ash blonde.

9.1b Very Light Cold Ash Blonde

This would be the go-to toner for light ash blonde results. The blue ash blonde pigments will produce a very white clear blonde.

Again, use once the hair has been pre-lightened.

8.1b Light Cold Ash Blonde

This would be our recommended medium blonde solution to tone over orange hair. Consider mixing this with an inch of Ash Blue Additive.

7.1b Cold Ash Blonde

This color (see video below) is excellent at cutting out orange and producing a consistent medium blonde result.

6.1b Dark Cold Ash Blonde

Use blue based dark blonde toner this when there is a lot of orange to tone down. With ash blue additive below.

Ash Blue Additive

This is a pure ash blue additive that you should add to your color mix.

It will add in extra blue and help kill orange and warm tones.

You will find it particularly useful when toning down with, for example 7.1b or 8.1b.

Watch Video - Color Melt Using Blue Based 7.1b to Tone Down Orange

Hair by Elona Taki

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.

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