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


Are you looking to lighten red hair or dark colored hair but are scared of getting orange undertones? 

Do you know why this happens? 

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 3 approaches and some very simple recipes to deal with them.

Let's start...

Why does red hair turn 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 red-brown hair (level 5-6), the color the hair will show is orange.

When you try and lift medium  and dark 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 lighten it?

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.

3 approaches to deal with red hair

If you have hair at this level, you have several choices. 

Either you can cover the red hair over and go dark blonde.

Or you can cover the red hair and go medium blonde.

Or you can lift the red all the way up and go a light level 10 blonde.

We will now give you recipes for these 3 approaches now.

1. Cover over the red and go dark blonde

Ash Grey Additive

Ugly Duckling 6NN mixed with Ash Grey Additive mixed. Hair by Elona Taki

If you are happy to go for brown, and are looking for a rich brown look without any underlying red, you will need to use a rich, full 3D brown color. 

For that we would recommend Dark Natural Blonde 6NN, which is an extra coverage base shade. It contains a lot of brown pigments.

Or you can use Dark Chestnut Blonde 6.7, which is from the Ugly Duckling brown series.

Either of these colors will give you a very rich dark blonde color result.

In addition to that, we would recommend that you add an inch of either Ugly Duckling Green or Ash Grey Additive to your full tube of dark blonde.

These products are real red and orange killers, and hairdressers use them with excellent and immediate results.

Use 20 Vol developer, process for 30 minutes, then rinse.

You should find that the red and orange has been perfectly neutralized and that you are left with a stunning rich dark blonde result.

2. Cover red and go medium blonde


Ugly Duckling 7.1b mixed with Ash Grey Additive. Hair by Elona Taki

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.

Add in an inch of Ash Grey Additive to your full tube of either of these colors. That will help tone down and neutralize red.

And if instead or red, the color you are seeing is more orange and orange yellow, then use instead an inch of Ash Blue Additive. It's another known orange killer.

Ash blue additive and 7.1b

Blue based 8.1b mixed with Ash Blue Additive. Hair by Elona Taki

3. Lift out the red and go level 10 blonde.

If you want to lift out all the red and go lighter, then you should need to use this bleach: Brilliant Blondexx.

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

We recommend that you ese Brilliant Blondexx bleach.

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

It also has 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, and also no bright yellow - only very pale yellow.

The hair should be the color of the inside of a banana - not the outside!

See the picture below:

Bleached hair

Bleached hair level 9/10. Hair by Ashley Kirk

Then at this point, you need to tone. We would recommend either of the following toners:

10.1b Extra Light Blue Based Ash Blonde.

10.2 Purple based extra light cool blonde

10V Pearl Blonde Toner

100V Intense Pearl Blonde toner.

Result shots with these toners are given below:


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 your hair

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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