Orange hair dye disaster - Blonde home dyeing goes badly wrong

Sam Wormleighton By Sam Wormleighton, 3rd Jan 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Beauty>Hair

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

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.

Embrace compromise

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!

Final advice

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.


Blonde, Disaster, Dye, Hair, Orange, Red, Shocking, Style

Meet the author

author avatar Sam Wormleighton
I am Wikinut's top technical author and advisor, which makes me a pretty big nut when you think about it!

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author avatar Lydia
10th Feb 2010 (#)

Hi my daighter has gon the same colour. Great advice gonna get her a brown dye , hope it works.

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author avatar Eva
13th Feb 2010 (#)

i had the same exact result. but they stopped highlighting kits sale from this company. i dont know what to do. the xxl one only gives me yellow hair :P

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author avatar Anais
3rd Sep 2012 (#)

if your hair tends to go yellow when you ndie it buy a toner from any hair salon or shop and it takes the yellow out and makes it a nice blonde :)

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author avatar Alex
22nd Jul 2010 (#)

im surprised the live colour didn't work my hair is naturally very dark brown and i use this on my roots and my hair goes platinum blonde like the pic on the box... weird : )

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author avatar Fiona
11th Sep 2010 (#)

Great story - you had us laughing after a disaster similar to yours.
Anyway, taking your advice & going for a dark colour (back to boring brown again) - lol
We thought it would be cheaper to do-it-yourself but with all the recolours + repair shampoos & conditioners not to mention numerous trips to the shops, it would of been cheaper & less time consuming to go to the salon in the first place.
Next time definatly leaving it to the professionals at a Salon !!!

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author avatar Paul Byzanti
10th Oct 2010 (#)

I used 2get my Medium Brown,hair with grey in it@the sides,coloured professional at the hairdressers,they used LOREAL Majirel 10.1/2.1Lightest Pale Ash Blonde@£50 ago! A lot of money 2throw out every 3wks 2have Ur dark roots done! I decided that I would take it down a couple of shades mySelf 2more of a Medium quieter Blonde colour! I bought LOREAL's New Excell10 10minute colour in shade 8.13 Frosted Blonde,thinking 2myself 'well it was LOREAL that the hairdresser's used 2use originally in my hair,&what could possibly go wrong! I followed the instructions 2a T,saying id b very happy if I came out the colour of the models hair on the box! How wrong I was! After rinsing it off and using the conditioner supplied,when my hair was dried and styled,my hair came out NOT WHAT Id HAVE CALLED A FROSTED BLONDE,BUT A HORRIBLE GLOWING GINGER BROWN,THAT I HATED,AND DID'NT SUIT AT ALL! I wash my hair everyday,so I wait'd a full week,then when I was out shopping,I made it a point 2nip in2 Superdrug 2c what I could buy 2sort it out! This time I decided 2buy and try Clairol Nice'n'Easy shade 106Natural Medium Ash Blonde,(ASH MINIMIZES RED/ORANGE UNDERTONES)on the boX it say it layers rich tones,and contouring highlights in 1simple step! I was'nt holding my breath after the LOREAL! But this time 2my surprise 'BINGO' when I dried and styled it,IT WAS THE SAME SORT OF COLOUR THE MODELs HAIR WAS ON THE BOX,+IT ALSO HAD THE RICH UNDER TONES,AND THE CONTOURING HIGHLIGHTS IT SAID IT WOULD GIVE ME! That was 6weeks ago and its still full of the colour,gloss and shine! You know sumthing also they give U in the box,a step3colourseal conditioning gloss that you use after your colour application,then once a week up till 6weeks! In a word 2describe it its absolutely FANTASTIC!! id honestly say my colour could last up 2 8weeks before I colour it again! for a boX colour id say thats BRILLIANT!! and you can also buy the ColourSeal Conditioner for 99p in Superdrug which gives you 3weeks of use,taking your hair up 2 9weeks before you need 2 recolour again! With up 2 50shades 2choose from anyone can find a colour 2suit them! The neXt time im colouring my hair im going 2try Nice'n'Easys shade 103B Natural Medium Champagne Blonde which(LAYERS COOL/BEIGE TONES) why cant these other boX Colours follow in Nice'n'Easys footsteps? 2me anyway Clairol's Nice'n'Easy leads the way in hair colour Technology!!!

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author avatar Maggie
12th Oct 2010 (#)


Yes, I always used to have the same and now I only buy ash blondes from Clairol. It's not as good as when I go to hairdresser but it's much better. The best thing is to do highlights for which you pay and every 3 months do just the top with Clairol.
The full head at home? Ummm...I would not recommend and if you think that you look bad...I had an orange colour on my hair 2 hours before an important party and it was...carrot orange. Yes, the dark one (mahogany) helped to make it look good.

Just remember, never buy anything what says gold or natural because it goes orange.

Good luck!

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author avatar Laura
14th Oct 2010 (#)

Ive dyed my hair..
Strawberry blonde (which was meant to be the platinum
in the picture above)
I can barely remember my natural colour.
I might try the dye once more blonde, im almost there, if it dont work
then ill defo take the salon advice :)

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author avatar LOL
27th Oct 2010 (#)

I think you should've gone to a local beauty supply and gotten bleach powder that comes in packets. Maybe a blue or a neutral like this product :,default,pd.html
That should leave your hair light enough.
And if there is still yellow/orange...use a toner that neutralizes warm colors.

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author avatar KARMA
13th Jan 2011 (#)

This is is what happened to me when a mobile hairdresser highlighted my hair. My hair was dark brown. The roots came up nice, but where my hair had a red brown colour from years ago, that came out ORANGE, then the bits she didnt hightlight, well they mixed with the yellows and oranges and look green. I look a complete mess. I read on the internet if you put ASH BLONDE it will work as a toner and minimise the orange tones. Ran to tesco with my hood up and purchased GARNIER LIGHTEST ASH BLONDE. 1 hour later, I am still orange, with pinky candy coloured highlights. Although the roots have gone a nice colour the rest of my head is completely ruined.

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author avatar Astrid
28th Aug 2011 (#)

O, I had to cry because it was so funny to read. I recognise myself so much in your story, disaster after disaster and keeping on trying to fix it. And the fact that you went on using the schwarzkopf dye, haha. I would have loved more pictures of de stages your hair went through. I visited this site because I'm already looking three days for the right colour dye for my hair, after being screwed up by hairdressers twice, the third time I got something semi permanent, so when it fades away I will need a new colour and because everytime I visit a hairdresser for dying my hair they prove I could have done it a whole lot better I rather do it myself. But it's not easy finding the right colour, I'm driving myself crazy cause on every site the colours look different, very different. That's why I searched globally and not just in Dutch and ended up on this site. I'll probably keep on searching the web for like 2 months and then I really need to buy the new dye haha, cause the semi permanent stuff has gone by that time. O now I see you are a guy haha, I thought a woman. I don't even know if your reading this comments, but I'll post anyway. But I'm going to search some more. Bye

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author avatar FAIL
24th Sep 2011 (#)

Omg are you dumb???????????????

Putting box dye after box dye on your head is stupid, and the orange tone could of been somewhat removed with toner, FAAAAAAAARK. The picture on the box is only an estimate and even if the colour was similar to yours if you are light brown then obviously you won't actually get the 'dark blonde' result.

Piece of advice to everyone:

1.If your hair has been dyed no matter how long ago and you decide to go lighter over where it was once dyed, you will get a shitty result, and without bleach that colour won't be lifted out altogether, and bleach will kill it somewhat.
2.The idiot that wrote this article should of done some hair research and bought a box dye that would lift the colur more or better yet gone to a proffesional. The box dye he used SECOND may of got the colour he wanted if he'd used it originally, but seeing as it was being used on recently coated (with dye) hair there isn't much it could do, he'd need bleach and toner after the initial dying to get the colour he wanted originally.

3. These box dyes aren't good for lifting shades, only really for colouring, everyone knows that, I know LIVE XXL max blonde is supposed to lift hair 6-8 shades, I'mgoing to try it myself, but honestly don't expect a great result, box dyes are not the same as getting you ahir bleached and toned at the hairdressers.
So don't blame the dyes for you naivety puh-lease sistah

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author avatar Ming
30th Jan 2012 (#)

Piss off, no one needs your negativity here.

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author avatar LouLou
26th Sep 2011 (#)

Your article was funny, honest and helpful. Thanks for sharing your experience with us; I could totally relate!

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author avatar Bribri
2nd Jan 2012 (#)

Help help !! I have (had dark brown hair) tried dying it light blonde, went orange !! :/ bought a dark brown hair colour to put over the top, that covered the orange for a few weeks, now it has gone orange again. I loved my hair it was a darke brown with beautiful blonde streaks, and now it is orange, I can’t just keep dying it brown again, because the colour will just fade and go back to orange. what to do ?? I just want my hair back. !! EMERGENCY !!!!

Oh and btw this was great story to read I have done exactly that, except mine didn't go bright Orange, and after I died it brown, it's just gone back to an orange brown colour and I hate it o:

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author avatar Bee
30th Mar 2012 (#)

I've had the exact same problem. i have bleached my hair many times through my ends and have ended up dying it back dark and after away it will lighten there isn't much you can do about it! It is mostly due to washing, the bleach in general, box hair dye and the sun. Try and get salon shampoo and conditioner, plus a really good quality treatment and something with a color faster. hope that helps! its worked on my hair

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author avatar Jade
23rd Dec 2012 (#)

Once you've dyed it brown again it won't fade

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author avatar Dany
4th Jan 2012 (#)

From years (decades!) of experience dying by dark brown hair blonde, there are 2 things everyone should know about hair lightening:
1. If your hair is not already blonde, it'll never come out blonde in one process. It will turn orange with uneven results throughout.
2. Lightening agents work faster at the roots... You need to take that into account if you want an even color.
3. If your hair is light brown or darker, you need to bleach, then tone it down. And never forget point no. 2: you start away from the roots, and you finish with the roots.

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author avatar Lisa
20th Jan 2012 (#)

Great story, made me smile and goodness knows i needed to after the day ive had. Tried dying my hair using the LIVE XXL max blonde. Did a strand test day before - which appeared ok. but on full application my hair went bright blonde with orange streaks, the roots were especially tangerine colour. So cos id got some product left i stupidly applied it again. this did not get rid of the orange streaks or lift any colour from the roots, it has however left my scalp incredibly sore, and burnt in a couple of patches. thats why its 3am and i sitting here reading other peoples comments, with cream on my poorly sore scalp, waiting for the salons to open in the morning so i can get some proffessional advice, and hopefully get my hair sorted. although the hairdressers may refuse to touch it yet cos of my scalp. iv been trying home colouring products for years and never ever get a good result. but this time iv really learnt my lesson. im very scared my hair might break off or fall out. fingers crossed the hairdresser will put this right and i will never ever try another home colour.

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author avatar Nic
12th Feb 2012 (#)

So went to the hair dressers to get my roots done (I had platinum blonde hair) I have dark blonde hair and have been bleaching/colouring for years). The result was very very orange roots!! Not what I wanted obviously! So asked him to do something about it. I just wanted to be all blonde. So after his 2nd attempt my hair is now silver with gold roots!!! What should I do. I live in a place with not very good hairdressers and have been doing my roots myself with Loreal Professional which my hair dresser in the UK uses. I've run out of this and can't get any here in Montenegro. Don't want to go to a hair dresser here now, they have no clue. HELP!

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author avatar Judy Ellen
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Ash blonde works for me! I was born a red head but don't like orange hair either! Although the picture of your hair in this article did not look orange to me. It looked great!!

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author avatar Ella
7th Feb 2016 (#)

What's with the orange hate! It's fine if you don't want orange hair but saying it'll shock a passing by motorist is a little excessive. I think the pic you posted is a spectacular orange, totally looks good on you and looks natural. Wish I could get my hair that colour.

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author avatar Abbey
13th Mar 2016 (#)

I wanted to go pink so I thought because my hair was light brown and I haven't colored it in a very long time I could easily home bleach it blond NOPE I bleached it and it went orangy went a light colorish, (sigh) and under the orangy blonde there was dark roots, so I thought I would start coloring it pink I now have some blonde, some brown and some orange....I look like a tiger lol I'm going to the salon! I am Angry because with each box I thought I was doing something to improve my hair I kept asking my husband what do u think and he would say "Looks fine" but i'd look in the mirror and wasn't really improving! This isn't the first time my hair went red (it's the red undertones) I'm a brown/red tones)

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