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Home / Blog/ How To Fix Hair that Turned Yellow or Orange after Bleaching
Home Blog How To Fix Hair that Turned Yellow or Orange after Bleaching
Orange Hair in need of lightening

How To Fix Hair that Turned Yellow or Orange after Bleaching


Hair Color Levels

Why does my client's hair turn yellow, brassy or orange when I bleach or lift? 

Bullet point summary for fixing yellow, orange or brassy hair


Hair Color Lifting Levels After Bleaching

  1. Check using this lifting chart (see above) what level your client's hair is. The chances are you have not lifted the hair enough when bleaching. 
  2. If the hair is very yellow or orange (level 6 and below), use a good quality bleach such as Brilliant Blondexx. All bleaches are not equal and it is possible that your existing bleach is not lifting very well & is doing a disservice to your client's hair.
  3. Use only 20 Vol developer if you are using our recommended Ugly Duckling bleaches as they lift very well without high strength developer.
  4. If the hair is still very yellow after bleaching (level 7 or 8) use Ugly Duckling's intense pearl blonde 100V or intense silver blonde 100B toners.
  5. These have a special booster ingredient and they will kick out any remaining yellow.
  6. If you have successfully reached pale yellow (level 9 or level 10) then you can use Ugly Duckling's no lift pearl blonde toner 10V or silver blonde toner 10B.
  7. These are intensely pigmented toners and they will cut out and neutralize yellow.
  8. The following colors also work well depending on your preferred final result: silver grey, violet based extra light cool blonde 10.2 and blue based extra light cold ash blonde 10.1b
  9. If you have a dark base or shadow root or low lights that you do not wish to lift, then use Ugly Duckling's liquid ammonia free toners - Blondify. They come in Natural Ash Blonde and Natural Violet Blonde. They will cut out yellow without touching the base.
  10. For those wishing to tone down yellow hair (not go blonde, in other words), then instead of bleaching, just select the appropriate blue based or ash based colors from the following: 7.1b, 6.1b, 5.11.
  11. For added neutralization, you can also add in these additives into the tone down colors mentioned above - but only squeeze out an inch of these, because they are very strong: ash blue additiveash grey additive.
  12. Purple Shampoo and Purple Mask make a great product to use for the final toning stage and to keep hair ash blonde.



Hair by: Elona Taki

Products Used: Brilliant Blonde Bleach, 10V Pearl Blonde Toner, Developer, Purple Shampoo & Mask.

1. A little bit of color theory:

Hair has a natural undercoat, or secondary pigment, which becomes visible when you lighten it or even if you stay in the sun for very long. 
When you lighten hair to a dark brown color, you get a red undercoat or tone.
When you lighten hair to a medium brown color, you get an orange undercoat or tone.
When you light hair to a blonde hair color, you get a yellow undercoat or tone.

This table below illustrates the undercoats which occur at every hair level.
These undercoats often represent a challenge for colorists and their customers as generally speaking these undercoats are not very attractive nor desired by clients. 

What makes hair brassy

So in other words, you get yellow, orange or brassy hair after bleaching because you did not lighten enough. Lighten more, all the way to level 10 palest yellow, and most of your yellow hair problems will vanish away. 

The first thing you need to check, therefore, when you end up with brassy hair, is ask yourself the question: did I lift the hair color enough?

2. What color is your client's hair exactly?

Use the chart below to assess the current level of your client's hair:

Hair Color Levels

It is really important to make a very accurate assessment of your client's current hair level, at the roots, mid-lengths & at the ends. 

If the hair at any of these places is level 5 or 6, that's not even yellow. That's orange and brassy and it just means you did not lift it enough, You're going to bleach again, and you will need a very good quality bleach before you attempt to tone it.

If it's level 7 or 8, we would in general recommend that you lift some more, especially if you are targeting a super white blonde look with no yellowness.

However, if you are dead against further bleaching, you can use Ugly Duckling's intense pearl blonde & intense silver blonde toners with 20 Vol. These toners have lift built in them (booster) and they are good at kicking out extra yellow. They should give you a very good hair color result.

If the hair is level 8, 9 or 10, that means you have lifted very well. Now you just need a good quality ash toner.

For full head blonding on level 9 and level 10, we would suggest Ugly Duckling's no-lift pearl blonde toner, or no-lift silver toner, once again with 20 Vol developer.

For highlight correction, however, and where you do not wish to touch the base, use Ugly Duckling's Blondify toners instead.

These don't lift dark areas and they are ammonia free.

Use either Blondify Natural Ash Blonde or Blondify Natural Violet Blonde

3. How Can I Fix Brassy, Yellow or Orange Hair? Our Fool-Proof, 3 Step Technique.

The following is the ideal way of getting rid of yellow, orange or brassy hair and taking it to a beautiful ash blonde, white blonde or platinum blonde:

STEP ONE: Use a Quality Lightener & Lift the Hair to Level 10 

  • First, you need to lift the brassy parts up to a very pale yellow color (Level 10).
  • Look at the picture above to see what Level 10 looks like.
  • For this, we would advise you to use a quality bleach and developer.
  • We recommend Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect. It's gentle and it lifts up to 7 levels, avoiding breakage.
  • Not all bleaches work the same and for this reason we do not recommend that you use any beauty store bleach.
  • Make your mix with 20 Vol Developer for the root area and 20 or 30 Vol for the lengths depending on how brassy it is.
  • Aim to saturate the hair really well and rinse when the hair gets to level 10.
  • When the hair has reached level 10, rinse.

STEP TWO: Chose the Right Toner for the Blonde Hair You Want

  • Toners provide the color neutralization which allow you to get rid of any remaining yellowness and brassiness.
  • Ugly Duckling toners are very fast acting, and allow you to get ash blonde, platinum blonde, pearl blonde or silver blonde results.
  • These toners are some of the best you can use for orange, yellow & brassy hair.
  • If your hair is lifted to a level 9 or 10, use No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner 10V, No-Lift Silver Blonde Toner 10B.
  • If your hair is lifted to a level 7 or 8, use Intense Pearl Blonde 100V or Intense Silver Blonde 100B 
  • If your hair is level 6 or below, you need to lift with an Ugly Duckling lightener, then tone.
  • You can also color instead of tone for a fuller and more deep color result.
  • For example, you can color grey: Silver Grey or Smoky Blue Grey 
  • You can also go for a blue-based ash blonde color result: either Extra Light Cold Ash Blonde 10.1B or Very Light Cold Ash Blonde 9.1B
  • If you do not want to touch the base or lowlights, opt instead for Ugly Duckling's new liquid ammonia free toners: Blondify Natural Ash BlondeBlondify Natural Violet Blonde.
  • For all of the above results, the better you pre-lighten the hair, the better will be the final result.
  • These colors are all shown below.
  • Mix with developer - refer to the mix instructions for each toner and color.
  • Aim for a good product saturation
  • Leave on for 10-15 minutes in the case of all toners.
  • Leave on for 30 minutes in the case of all colors.
  • Rinse.

STEP THREE: Finish with Purple Shampoo & Mask

  • Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo and Mask are low pH sulfate-free products that will help close the cuticle after coloring.
  • Thanks to their intense purple pigments they will help neutralize any remaining yellowness or brassiness.
  • So although they are not strictly necessary if you have done your bleaching and toning well, they are certainly a nice to have.
  • For best results, use plenty of product and massage in very thoroughly.
  • The more these products are in contact with your hair, the more they will transfer those pigments.
  • With the purple mask, leave on for 10 minutes under a plastic cap and, if possible, some gentle heat.
  • You can use both products regularly after coloring to keep the hair from turning yellow or brassy again.

4. I want to tone down. What is the best ash toner for yellow hair?

  • If you are not looking to lighten you can use blue based ash blonde colors.
  • Blue based colors and toners are good at killing yellow and they should be your first choice in such situations.
  • Use Ugly Duckling's blue based ash blonde colors (anything ending in "1b").
  • Blue cancels out yellow on the color wheel.
  • Because they are blue based, they are particularly effective at neutralizing any yellowness in the hair.
  • Aim for level 6 to 8 if you are looking to down down brassy hair.
  • Use Light Cold Ash Blonde 8.1bCold Ash Blonde 7.1b or Dark Cold Ash Blonde 6.1b 
  • For extra strong "yellow killing", we recommend that you squeeze in some Ash Blue Additive.
  • Just mix these colors with 20 Vol developer and apply to tone down yellow hair.
  • The shades are shown below. Click on them to learn more about how these tone down colors work, use instructions etc.
7.1b Cold Ash Blonde 8.1b Light Cold Ash Blonde 7.1b Cold Ash Blonde 7.1b Cold Ash Blonde Dark Cold Ash Blonde 6.1b 6.1b Dark Cold Ash Blonde ash blue additive Ash Blue Additive

5. I want to tone down. What is the best ash toner for orange hair? 

  • If the hair is orange, and you don't want to lift the orange out with a lightener, then you can consider going for Ugly Duckling ash colors, which are some of the strongest ashes on the market.
  • Use Ugly Duckling's regular ash blonde colors are anything ending in .1
  • These ash colors are green based, and green cancels out orange on the color wheel.
  • These colors are particularly effective at neutralizing any orange in the hair.
  • Ash Blonde 7.1and Dark Blonde 6.1 and Light Deep Ash Brown 5.11 are the ideal go-to colors for toning down orange hair.
  • For extra strong "orange killing", squeeze in some Ash Grey Additive.
  • Once again, please note you will not be able to go lighter. You will need to go down a tone with this technique to cover up your yellow without lifting.
  • Just mix these colors with 20 Vol developer and apply to tone down orange hair.
  • The shades are shown below. Click on them to learn more about how these colors work, & use instructions.
7.1 Ash Blonde 7.1 Ash Blonde 6.1 Dark Ash Blonde 6.1 Dark Ash Blonde 5.11 Light Ash Brown 5.11 Light Deep Ash Brown Ash Grey Additive Ash Grey Additive

6. I don't want to use lightener but I still want to tone yellow hair and go blonde! Will light ash blonde cover orange and yellow hair and allow me to do this?

  • If you use a good quality bleach, such as an Ugly Duckling bleach and you follow the steps indicated, you will not damage your hair.
  • However, if you are dead against using a bleach, there is a work-around.
  • It will work when the hair is not too dark - at least level 7 and above.
  • Look at the chart higher up on the page on hair color levels to remind yourself what level 7 looks like.
  • If you are level 7 and above, you can use either of Ugly Duckling's high lift toners, either Intense Pearl Blonde 100V or Intense Silver Blonde 100B.
  • These our Ugly Duckling's fastest acting toners and they are the strongest toners in the market.
  • They contain special boosters which get rid of extra yellow and lift up the hair.
  • Use them with 30 Vol if the hair is really really brassy and process them for 10 minutes extra (40 minutes).
  • Apply to the brassy areas.
  • Let it process until it gets as light as possible.
  • Ideally, it should be at least level 9 (see picture of hair color levels above)
  • Rinse.
  • This should allow you to achieve an acceptable or even good ash blonde hair color result - provided your hair is not too dark or brassy.

7. I don't want to use toner. How do I get yellow out of the hair without toner?

  • Just use our bleach, then apply Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo and Mask.
  • Lift with Brilliant Blondexx. Make sure you get it all the way to level 10 - see the picture at the top of the page to see what level 10 looks like.
  • Then use our purple shampoo and purple mask. It will give a good toning result.
  • Note that in general we prefer to recommend these products as maintenance products rather than as toners.
  • But they do contain a lot of purple pigments and they will do the job well if you don't have our regular toners handy.

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.