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How can I lighten my hair without it turning red and orange?


Are you looking to lighten hair but are scared of those unwanted red and orange undertones? 

Do you know why they happen? 

And would you like to color hair without that happening?

In this article we will explain why hair turns red and orange.

And we'll give you some very simple recipes to deal with them.

Let's go!

Why does hair turn red and orange when I lighten it?

<br />levels and undertones

The hair gives off different colors according to the hair color level.

As you lighten hair, it will give off different colors.

This is entirely normal.

It's not just your hair or your client's hair that pulls orange and red!

All hair works like this.

See the chart above. It shows the exact color that your hair (or your client's hair) will pull to according to the level.

When you try and lift brown hair (level 3-4), the color that you will see is red.

When you try and lift light brown and dark blonde hair (level 5-6), the color the hair will show is orange.

When you try and lift medium blonde hair (level 7-8), you will see a lot of yellow-orange.

And when you try and lift blonde hair (level 9 and up), you will start seeing a very bright canary yellow: the color of banana peel.

Finally, when you get the hair all the way to extra light blonde, you will see palest yellow.

These colors that you see are called "undertones".

What should I do about red hair and how do I get rid of the warmth?

Red hair level 4

Red hair

This hair is red. It has clearly been lightened in the past.

The roots have since grown out and are darker.

But the lightened hair is at around level 4.

Hence the red.

Recipes to deal with red hair

If you have hair at this level, you have a couple of choices.

Go for brown

If you are happy to go for brown, and are looking for a rich brown look without any underlying red, you will be needing green or ash based colors to neutralize the red.

At the same time you will need to combine that with a base which will give you a rich, full 3D brown color.

We are now going to give you 2 recipes which will do that.

Use Green or Ash Grey Additive mixed with a level 5 color

Use an inch of Ugly Duckling Green mixed with a full tube of a level 5 color: either 5N, which is a base color or 5.73, which is a Mocha Brown.

Alternatively, if you wish to go a little darker, use an inch of Ash Grey Additive mixed with 5N or 5.73.

Use these colors with 20 Vol and process for 30 minutes, then rinse.

You should find that the green will neutralize the red perfectly and will allow the 5.73 Mocha Brown to shine through correctly.

And if you use the Ash Grey Additive, you will find that it is a highly effective red killer and you will get a really dark brown color.

Both of these recipes will work very well!

Go medium blonde

If, on the other hand, you want to go a little lighter (level 6-7 medium blonde) you should use any of Ugly Duckling bleaches, Brilliant Blonde or Brilliant Blondexx.

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

Both have excellent lifting power compared to most store bleaches. If there is a lot of color build up, you will need to use them with 30 Vol.

Otherwise, for normal situations, 20 Vol will do perfectly well.

Saturate very well and lift until you don't see any more red, and no orange.

Ideally the color should be pale yellow, level 9 at least.

As in the picture below:

Bleached hair

Bleached hair level 9/10. Hair by Ashley Kirk

Then at this point, you should use the following recipe:

Ugly Duckling 6.1b7.1b or 8.1b. These are blue based ash blonde colors.

Only Ugly Duckling makes these colors.

The blue will neutralize yellow-orange and bright yellow and give you a medium blonde color, as in the picture below:


Toned with blue based 7.1b after some lifting with Ugly Duckling Bleach.

Hair by Elona Taki.

What happens if I get orange in my hair? 

Orange hair

Orange hair

2 cases of hair with orange in it.

Once again, refer to the chart showing the hair color levels and their undertones.

If you are seeing a orange or orange-yellow in the hair, it means that the hair his around level 5-6.

Recipes to deal with orange hair

Once again, you have a couple of choices depending on what your end goal is.

It mainly depend on whether you are ready to use bleach or not.

Using blue based ash blonde colors to neutralize and go a medium blonde.

If you don't want to use bleach, then using Ugly Duckling's blue based ash blondes would be a very natural thing to do.

Use Ugly Duckling 7.1b or 8.1b. These will neutralize orange very well - that's what they are made for.

And if there is really a lot of orange, consider adding in an inch of Ash Blue Additive. It's a known orange killer.

Ash blue additive and 7.1b

Blue based 8.1b mixed with Ash Blue Additive.

Hair by Elona Taki

Lifting all the way up to level 10

The other solution would be to lift the hair really well all the way up to level 10 first before toning.

In order to do this, apply your Ugly Duckling bleach.

Use Brilliant Blondexx bleach.

It has Bond Protect built in and gives incredible scalp comfort when you apply due to its gentleness.

Mix with 20 Vol - you should not need anything stronger if the hair is already level 6 orange.

Saturate really well and lift all the way to level 10. The hair should be the color of the inside of a banana - not the outside!

Once bleached, you can apply any of the Ugly Duckling colors given below.

All of them will give you stunning extra white blonde results.


10.1b Extra Light Blue Based Ash Blonde.


10.2 Purple based extra light cool blonde

10V Pearl Blonde Toner

10V Pearl Blonde Toner

Intense Pearl Blonde

100V Intense Pearl Blonde toner.

Maintenance Tips for All Hair Levels

Purple Shampoo and Purple Mask

If the hair is level 9 or higher, you will. find that purple shampoo and mask will help to keep off the yellow.

Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo and Mask are both acidic, meaning that they will help close the hair cuticles and return it to its natural position.

They are also sulfate-free.

Brilliant Blondexx Anti-Breakage Hair Care

The other haircare range you should use is Brilliant Blondexx. This contains Bond Protect and will help strengthen hair and prevent breakage.

This is always important after you have colored and bleached the hair.

Brilliant Blondexx also contains maximum hydration and deep conditioning treatments thanks to Argan Oil.

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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