Orange hair dye disaster - Blonde home dyeing goes badly wrong
I decided to try a home blonde hair dye kit, only to find myself with a full head of shocking bright orange hair. In this article I explain how I tried to repair the damage and how I eventually managed to eradicate the orange menace.
- Going blonde, or so I thought
- Orange disaster, super villan hair from the pages of a comic book
- Attack is the best form of defence
- Embrace compromise
- The final throw of the dice
- Final advice
Going blonde, or so I thought
I've used home highlighting kits before, but I'd never used a full head dye before. So I went with a good looking box from a brand I'd heard of (Schwarzkopf VITAL Colors "11 Light Blond").
The box made many impressive sounding claims, such as "Colour and Care without compromise". It all sounded good, and there were photos showing the color change for various hair shades. They said light blond, medium blond and dark blond would all end up a very light, slightly yellowly, blond colour. My hair is naturally a light brown, but it was a good match for the picture they'd labeled "Dark blond" so it all looked good.
What could possibly go wrong?
Orange disaster, super villan hair from the pages of a comic book
I followed the instructions in the kit to the letter and carefully timed the application with my watch. It didn't look right before I rinsed the dye off, and once the rinse was over it looked very wrong indeed. Bright orange would be the only way to describe it.
At this point I decided to hit the internet for some advice. It turns out that my orange hair wasn't a one off, plenty of other people had experienced the same problem. Most of the advice suggested that the problem was caused by using too little dye or leaving it on for too short a time.
Well I have short hair, considering that these products are marketed for women, but it is very thick and each hair is very thick too. As I'd left they dye on for the maximum time recommended by the instructions perhaps I just needed a double dose?
I checked the bottle and found a decent amount left. So applied it and started another timer, allowing the maximum development time again.
It came out slightly lighter, but still very orange. The photo above was taken after the second dyeing. Now I had a disaster to fix, orange hair to somehow repair.
Attack is the best form of defence
The dye I'd used came as a bottle of developer solution and a tube of colour cream. These are mixed before use.
Some internet comments suggested that these colour creams were not powerful enough to actually bleach hair, and they just tinted it. Although there didn't seem to be a lot of science behind these comments, more anecdotal than evidential, I decided to follow their advice and go on the attack.
I bought a more intensive sounding product - Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL 00A Absolute Platinum.
The models on the box looked like they were enjoying exactly the kind of high energy lifestyle me and my hair are known for. And they even had pictures on the box showing everything from Blond hair to Brown hair being blitzed into a bone white colour. This was sure to banish the orange.
Inside the box was another developer solution and cream colour tube, but this time there was also a sachet of white powder called "Blonde booster ultra plus". Sounded good.
I mixed it up and applied it for the maximum time permitted by the instructions. When washed off my hair was an ever so slightly lighter shade of orange.
Double disaster. This was the point at which I became seriously concerned that the orange might need to be cut out. Ouch.
The only obvious routes forward were a trip to a salon, to pay an expert to fix it, or to go dark again.
A dark dye would mask the orange with its own stronger colour. Another trip to the shop (this time wearing a cap so I didn't shock any passing motorists into an accident) and I had a packet of Schwarzkopf Poly Color 41 Medium Brown.
By this point I would happily have dumped Schwarzkopf for any other supplier, they'd hardly served me well so far, but the Poly Color line was extremely sharply priced and I'm a sucker for a deal.
The packet suggested that 41 Medium Brown was slightly darker than my natural colour but by this point I'd become incredibly skeptical of the packaging claims. The ubiquitous before and after pictures were confident I'd end up a lovely shade of brown, and with nothing else to go on I mixed it up and applied it.
Thankfully this one seemed to work. I really did end up brown, albeit with a slight "chestnut" colour in certain lights. I assume this is the orange trying to pop through, but it could easily be my paranoia.
Success. The orange was gone and I had sensible hair again. I could mix with polite company and wouldn't get pointed at in the street.
The final throw of the dice
I decided that one last attempt was on the cards. If I'd wanted boring old brown hair I could have just left it alone in the first place.
So I went back to try a highlighting kit, which I've had great success with in the past. As if to taunt me the only brand in the shop was Schwarzkopf again, so I bought their Nordic Blonde M1 Super Highlights and hoped for the best.
The highlight kit was applied with the aid of a special cap. This was very good news because it kept most of the chemicals off my scalp, which already felt as if it was suffering from serious chemical burns. Interestingly this kit came with two massive sachets of lightening power and no tube of color cream at all. Perhaps the fact you're only supposed to dye streaks, and use a protective cap, ment they could ship a more aggressive bleaching agent. Maybe the internet commentators had been on to something.
45 minutes later and I was done. Finally I'd got to a decent result.... a brown base not far off my natural color and a bunch of sanely coloured blonde highlights. In fact it looked very similar to the coloration I'd been sporting for about a year or so. Phew!
My best tip would be to go to a salon if you insist on coloring your hair. If, like me, you have a special type of madness that makes you want to do things yourself then I'd recommend trying dark dyes to fix any mistakes rather than just throwing more and more blond coloring at it.
Now I've tried a wide range of products it's obvious that these home-use products are a little hit and miss, and they lack the chemical power of the dyes available in a salon. But if you do want to take dark, or thick, hair to a lighter color then I'd recommend the highlighting kits. They've worked a lot better for me.