Orange Hair: Misadventures in Going Natural from Dark Brown (Part III)

Hello!  To sum up from my previous two posts on my orange hair misadventures, I had wanted to stop coloring my hair and let my natural grey (salt and pepper, with more salt) grow out, so I started investigating how to do this–online.  This was basically a mistake (go to your local Sally’s instead).  There is very little floating around out there regarding older folks wanting to get dark color out of their hair in order to go natural; it’s mostly about teens trying to go silver.

So, I’ve been chronicling my progress.  No doubt a cosmetologist would laugh, but I’m hoping my experience might help some folks out there in the net world.  Here are links to the earlier episodes:  Orange hair, Part I and Orange hair, Part II.  After this third post, I plan on making a concise summary article.

Hair result using Nutrisse LB3 and violet additive
Root color along with the darkest orange color hair from ends (held up with hair clip). The tone of this photo is warm, making my hair a bit oranger looking than in reality, especially the roots.

Where I left off last time, my hair–after two bleachings and doing some coloring to even things out, looked somewhat like what’s in the photo to the right.  The roots were actually lighter and less orange-tinged.

My hair was obviously quite resistant to change after being dyed dark brown for many years.  Note, too, that the ends you see are that dark of an orange even though I had cut off the bottom three inches of my hair before I started all this.   I had been of the mind not to bleach my hair again, but then realized that it was probably the only way of getting my hair to a dyable state–it needed to be lighter than this to hold a grey or silver-white color.

So I found a Sally’s that was close to where I live, trudged in, and asked someone for a bit of advice.  The young lady there who was their hair specialist said I needed to bleach it, use toner, and then I could dye it.  She showed me, however, that my ends would still be orange.  I wondered if the dye would cover the orange, but then maybe the toner would tone the orange out.  I had read a very neat article on using a lot of blue based products to get one’s hair from orange to almost white, so my hopes were up.  But, the Sally’s specialist didn’t want me to go with any blue products.  Seeing my hair now, I’m not sure why she advised against it.  Because of my grey?

Bleaching hair stuff
What I used to bleach my hair with. Two packages of the powder, and not shown, 30 level developer. The toner was used after the bleach process. (Late May 2015)

She had me use the Clairol extra strength lightening powder (two bags) and a level 30 developer, to be followed up with Wella Color Charm T14 Toner (pale ash blonde).   My hair basically turned out like she said it would, but I was hoping for less orange.  I didn’t know, based on everything I had read up to this point, if I could really dye my hair successfully when it was still this orange.  Below are a series of photos of the process my hair went through.

Wet hair after 3rd bleach - still very orange
This is my hair while still wet, after its third bleaching. Ugh! Next comes the toner application while the hair is still wet.


Pale ash blonde toner on orange hair
Tone is in the hair. It’s almost shocking how it changes the color almost immediately. I probably should’ve left it on longer, but I was concerned about my hair turning purple or blue. Apparently, there isn’t much to worry about, though.


Dry hair after 3rd bleaching and toner application
Dry hair after third bleaching and toner application. The blonde of my more virgin hair doesn’t look too bad–if I wanted blonde. The orange of the tip areas is still very orange. It is lighter than before bleaching, however. A little. 😦 The toner didn’t seem to have much affect, actually; it should’ve been kept on longer.


Now, lets see what my hair looks after dying it six days later with Wella Color Charm Nordic Blonde (high lift, 12AA/1120 ).  I used the 30 level developer instead of the 20 since I was trying to lift the orange tones more, and I added 4 capfuls of Wella’s cooling violet additive.  The results dismal compared to what my hopes had let me imagine.  But then again, I found that Wella’s sample color for Nordic Blonde varies considerably from their website, which shows a white-grey color, to the hair sample at Sally’s, which was darkish grey!  What I wish the Sally’s lady told me was to not use Nordic Blonde since it’s violet-based (which I just found out today), and use the Frosty Ash instead, which is high lift but blue based.  At any rate, I was quite surprised that the more virgin roots of my hair did not turn white or grey, but a pale ash blonde that is brownish.  Weird.

Orange hair after Nordic Blonde dye
After six days I used Wella Color Charm’s Nordic Blonde on my hair, along with their cooling violet additive. My hair is definitely less orange, but frankly, in real life I think it looks kind of puky. The more natural looking tones just look strange with the remaining orange. (Early June 2015)


Everyone says that in order to dye your hair white or silver white or greyish white of the lightest of blondes, your hair needs to be bleached to a very light pale yellow color (and this can take many bleachings–in other words, a long time).  This definitely seems to be true, though there are people out there using blue-toned bleaches and other products to achieve the whitish or silverish pigment sooner.   I’ll be bleaching my hair again two weeks or so after I bleached it last, tone it again immediately (well, probably), and then use a whiter Wella Charm dye (Frosty Ash 12A/1210) on it some time after that.  I’ll keep you apprised.  Hopefully after that I’ll be able to write one article that provides the pertinent details along with a summary of findings!


2 thoughts on “Orange Hair: Misadventures in Going Natural from Dark Brown (Part III)”

    1. Thanks, and yeah, my hair looked better for a little while . . . ! I hope you get through it OK. I couldn’t wait to cut the orange off, though, and when I finally did my hair was very short. What was fun about it, fun to learn, is that it looked OK on me since my hair has a lot of body. My son actually liked it! Anyway, thanks again.


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