How To Fix Orange Hair With Box Dye: A Complete Guide

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“Help! I dyed my hair, and it turned orange! How do I fix it?” 

This is one of the most common questions in forums about DIY hair dye.

Often, in our quest to dye our hair light or blonde hair at home, we end up having unwanted brassy results.

A close up photo of a  woman's hair being her hair dyed in a salon.

And so we think of how to fix orange hair with box dye and wonder if it can be done right away.

While there are other options like toners or purple and blue shampoo, they don’t give instant results. So it’s understandable if you want the quick box dye option.

However, it’s not as simple as buying a new box of hair dye and applying it. You have to make sure you get the right color to fix your locks.

That’s what we’ll explain as we show you how to fix brassy hair with box dye.

Can You Fix Orange Hair With Box Dye?

There’s no need to rush to the salon because you can solve your brassy hair problems with box dye.

Whether you’re using a permanent, demi-permanent, or semi-permanent box dye, you can fix your orange hair as long as you have the right color.

If you’re wondering what color to dye over orange hair, the answer depends on your goal.

If you want to go blonde, you’ll need to get rid of the orange tones to achieve a neutral blonde hue. This means you need a shade that can cancel out orange.

Whereas if you’re planning for a drastic change of color, you can cover your orange hair with a deeper or darker shade like black or brown and fix it right away.

You’ll learn more about how these colors affect orange in a bit.

Why Does Hair Turn Orange or Brassy After Bleaching?

The best way to solve a problem is to know what causes it first. And when it comes to brassy hair, it all lies in the hair’s natural pigment: melanin.

You see, melanin is what gives the hair its natural color, and studies show that there are two types of melanin responsible for the color.

  • Eumelanin — black and brown pigments
  • Pheomelanin — red and yellow pigments

When you bleach your brunette hair or use a light-colored hair dye with hydrogen peroxide, melanin pigments are oxidized or dissolved. This is what we call “lifting” in hair coloring.

Inside the hair shaft of a brunette, the first pigments to oxidize are black and brown.

And when you don’t bleach your hair enough, you’re still left with the red and yellow pigments, which are the last pigments to oxidize.

The leftover red and yellow pigments are what cause your hair to look brassy orange.

How To Fix Orange Hair With Box Dye

Now that you know why your hair is orange, it’s time to know how to fix orange hair with box dye so you can get that beautiful neutral brown or blonde you want.

At the salon, the usual step after bleaching is toning the hair to remove the brassiness. But if you want to go blonde at home, you’re probably thinking if you can just use a blonde box dye.

But what blonde hair dye will cover orange?

You have to consult the color wheel to answer that. This tool makes use of the color theory and can help you in mixing shades or counteracting unwanted tones.

An infographic featuring the hair color wheel with primary, secondary and tertiary colors and hue, warm and cool colors.

Understanding which colors complement each other and cancel each other out goes a long way in helping you discover which colors will help you fix your orange hair.

Complementary Colors

Now, when you look at the color wheel, you’ll see that it’s divided into warm and cool colors, each with a direct opposite. These opposite warm and cool colors are called complementary colors.

When you mix two complementary colors on your hair, these colors cancel each other out, giving you a neutral hair color like brown or gray.

Now which color will cancel out orange?

On the color wheel, the direct opposite of orange is blue. But this doesn’t mean that you have to dye your hair blue.

While a blue dye will work, you may end up with muddy-looking or super blue hair instead of a neutral blonde.

That’s why blue is best used for toning with a shampoo or a hair gloss.

So if you want to use a box dye, look for an ash shade with blue undertones. This means there are cool blue pigments in the dye that can cancel out the unwanted orange tones in your hair.

Which Ash Dye Should You Use?

To determine which specific ashy shade can work for your hair, it’s also important to identify your hair level.

Hair level refers to the lightness or darkness of your hair color, with 1 being the darkest (black) and 10 being the lightest (very light blonde).

An infographic featuring natural hair color chart with different hair color and its level

This is easy to identify. Simply get a hair level chart and place some of your strands near it to see the closest match. You can find these charts at salons, some beauty stores, or online.

Once you determine your hair level, pick a dye with an ashy shade at the same level as your hair. 

Simply put, if you have dark-orange hair, you need a dark ash blonde. If you have medium-orange hair, you need a medium ash blonde. And if you have light-orange hair need a light ash blonde.

How would you know a dye’s level? If you look at the label, you’ll find a type of code with the dye’s shade name. This is the hair color number, and it will show you the level and undertones of that specific shade.

The International Color Chart (ICC) has a dye classification system. 

For example, Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Permanent Hair Color Creme in 7.1 in dark ash blonde. This color code means the color level is 7, and the undertone is ash (1 means ash).

But some brands of product lines have their own hair color code system, and others also use a mix of numbers and letters, so it’s best to double-check to be sure. 

An infographic featuring hair color numbers with color depth, color tone and color letters included

Here are some ash dye recommendations based on the shade of orange you are trying to fix:

Dark OrangeMedium OrangeLight Orange
Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Permanent Hair Color Creme in 7.1Revlon Colorsilk Hair Color in Medium Ash BlondeWella ColorCharm Permanent Liquid Hair Color 8A Light Ash Blonde 
L’Oreal Paris Superior Preference in 7ASchwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color Cream 8.16Ion 9A Very Light Ash Blonde Permanent Hair Creme Color

How Many Boxes of Color Do I Need?

Knowing the right shade of hair dye to fix orange and brassy locks is step 1. The next step is knowing how many boxes of color you’ll need.

There’s nothing worse than running out of dye in the middle of a session or, worse, attempting to make one box fit over too much hair.

You’ll likely make your hair woes worse.

But how many boxes of dye will you need? Here’s a good estimate you can follow based on your hair length. And some length definitions can be misleading, so we’ve given you some examples too.

Remember, having a little more than you need is always better than not enough.

Hair LengthExamplesAmount of Hair Dye Boxes Needed
Short hairHair that doesn’t go past the ears like bob cuts or pixie cuts1 box
Medium hairHair that reaches the shoulders like a long bob, a shag, or a wolf cut2 boxes
Long hairHair that goes past the shoulders until the shoulder blades like long straight hair or layered locks2 boxes 
Really long hairHair that goes up to the bra line and beyond 3 to 4 boxes

What Color To Dye Over Orange Hair

If you want to cover your orange hair entirely and have a drastic change of color, there are some shades of box dye that you can use, provided that the level is at least one level darker than your orange hair.


Black is dark and super pigmented, which means it can cover any hair color. So if you want to hide your orange hair, you can use a black box dye like Garnier Hair Color Nutrisse Nourishing Creme in Natural Blue Black.

However, consider it carefully because black box dye is hard to remove. So if you have plans to go light or color your hair again in the near future, then black isn’t the best option for you.


Red box dye can also cover orange hair and give it a richer, fiery color. Just remember that when this dye shade fades, you’ll end up with orange hair again.

So to have a noticeable change of color and less brassy fading, you can choose a deep red with a purple tint like burgundy, like L’Oreal Paris Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color, R37 Blowout Burgundy.


If you want to go a shade darker, brown is also pigmented and dark enough to cover the orange tones in your locks. It’s also best to avoid warm brown dyes as this can emphasize the brassiness.

But for this to be effective, you must choose a brown shade in the same level or darker than your orange hair. You can try Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color 6.0.

Also, keep in mind that the result won’t be exactly as what you see on the box. That’s because the orange tones will still affect the brown pigments.


However, if you want to stay light like a dark blonde or light ash brown shade, ash really is the best option for you to neutralize brassy orange hair.

All you need to do is find an ash blonde shade that matches the level of orange in your head whether it’s dark orange, medium orange, or light orange.

Check out our ash blonde dye recommendations above based on your hair’s orange shade.

Fixing Orange Hair With Box Dye

You have three options when it comes to addressing unwanted orange hair color or brassy locks:

Option 1: Color over it completely and end up with a completely new color (like dark brown or black). 

Option 2: Enhance the orange color (with red dye for a fiery red shade).

Option 3: Fix the brassy/orange tones to neutralize them.

We’ve recommended good box dye product options above for whichever method you decide to choose. Whichever method you want to follow, the dyeing process will be the same.

Check out our step-by-step guide below to learn how to address unwanted orange hair using permanent box dye.

Step 1: Preparation

Once you’ve decided which box dye you want to use to address your unwanted orange hair, purchase as many boxes as you need (based on the hair length table above) and follow these easy prep steps:

  1. Assemble all your materials.
    Get all your materials ahead of time so you won’t realize mid-dye that you forgot something. Here is a list of items you may need:
  • Box dye kit
  • Applicator brush (most box dye kits come with one)
  • Plastic bowl (the plastic mixing vessel in some kits aren’t always sturdy)
  • Gloves (also available in most dye kits)
  • Hair clips
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Hair color cape or old towel
  • Shower cap (optional)
  • Rug or newspaper (optional)

    Having everything ready and available makes coloring your hair much easier.
  1. Prepare your space.
    Coloring at home can be messy, so it’s best to cover the floor and your surface with a rug or old newspapers.
  1. Prepare yourself.
    Next, wear an old shirt and cover your shoulders with a cape or old towel. Then apply petroleum jelly around your hairline to protect your skin from color stains.
  1. Prepare your dye.
    Once you’re ready, wear your gloves and mix the color cream and developer from your hair dye kit. 

    Some brands have applicator bottles that you can use directly, but for more even coloring, we recommend using a plastic bowl and applicator brush.

Step 2: Application

Once you’re prepped, you can begin dye application.

  1. Section your hair.
    Divide your hair into four or more sections and secure the sections with hair clips.
  1. Begin applying dye.
    Starting with the back section, begin applying the dye evenly to your strands using the applicator brush.

Move carefully through the sections.

Important notes when applying your dye: 

  • If you’re going darker and coloring over the orange, work on your roots first.
  • If you’re trying to fix the brassiness and maintain your blonde or light brown hair, work on the roots last.

Step 3: Processing

After the application, it’s time to process.

  1. Cover your hair.
    Wear a shower cap or processing cap to avoid accidental color stains and protect your locks while your color processes.
  1. Follow the recommended processing time based on your hair type.
    For processing time, it’s good to follow the instructions on the box. The usual recommended time to wait before rinsing is 30 to 45 minutes.

    However, you can leave the dye in for longer or shorter depending on your hair type and your hair’s individual needs.
  • Hair that’s damaged or highly porous would need shorter processing time as leaving the chemicals on your hair for longer may cause the strands to overprocess and lose elasticity. For this hair condition, 30 minutes would be enough.
  • On the other hand, if you know that your hair has low porosity and it takes time to absorb products, you’d need to wait longer, which can be from 45 minutes to an hour.

Step 4: Rinse and Condition

After processing is complete, you can finish up.

  1. Wash out the dye with cool water.
    When the waiting time’s over, wash your hair thoroughly with cool water. Avoid hot water as the heat can lift the cuticles and cause the dye pigments in your hair shaft to be washed off as well.

    Wash your hair until the water runs clear.
  1. Condition your hair.
    Your hair stands to get dry when being colored and processed too much, so be sure not to skip the conditioner at the end of your dye job.

    Remember not to shampoo your hair right after coloring as this can dry your hair out even more. Wait at least 48 hours before using shampoo to give the dye pigments time to settle into your strands first.

    Many box dyes come with a conditioner that you can use. But you can use your favorite one at home too. 

    A good option that’s color-safe is Aveeno Blackberry and Quinoa Blend Color Protect and Strengthen Conditioner.

    When you’re ready to shampoo, you can try a good color-safe shampoo like Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair.

The steps are pretty straightforward, but for a more detailed look, check out Lea Robertson as she dyes her brassy orange hair with a box dye.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Purple Shampoo Fix Orange Hair?

When you use purple shampoo on orange hair, the results are not the same as when you use it on blonde yellow hair.

That’s because purple cancels out yellow undertones, not orange ones.

If your hair is light orange, you may notice a little neutralizing effect. But if your hair is a bright or brassy orange, purple shampoo is practically useless.

The best choice for orange hair is blue shampoo like Matrix Brass Off Blue Shampoo.

Can I Bleach My Hair Again If It Turned Orange?

Yes, you can do another bleaching session. But before you do that, check the condition of your hair.

If your first bleaching session has caused your hair to be dry and brittle, it’s probably best to let your hair recover before undergoing another harsh process.

Use a deep conditioner weekly and protein treatments once or twice a month.

On the other hand, if you still consider your hair healthy after the first bleaching, give it at least a two-week interval before bleaching again.

Quick Tip

Do a strand test as well to make sure your hair can handle another round of bleaching.

When in doubt, consult a professional hairstylist for the best results.

Box Dye Can Help Fix Your Unwanted Orange Hair 

If you’ve dyed your hair blonde or bleached it and ended up with unwanted orange and brassy results, panic is an understandable reaction.

But don’t worry! This can be fixed. And you don’t need to run to the salon. You can fix it at home with a simple box dye job.

Just decide what outcome you want, follow our recommendations above, and you’ll get rid of that brassy unwanted orange in no time.

With some patience and perseverance, you may even end up with a result exceeding your expectations!

Do You Have Other Hair Questions?

Read these articles to learn more about hair care and color.


  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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