What Happens If You Put Blonde Dye on Red Hair? Read This Before You Even Try It!

Written by Shehnaz Shirazi

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If you’re one of the rare people to have naturally red hair, we’re already envious of you!

But what happens if you want to spice things up and go lighter or even blonde?

Will blonde dye work on red hair, or will it mess it up?

A brunette-turned-blonde is one thing, but a redhead turning blonde is harder than you think. Not to worry, though, we are about to break down the most frequent concerns redheads face when wanting to lighten their hair.

To help you, we have also put together a detailed guide on how to transform your hair from red to blonde in the safest way.

Blonde Dye Will Make Red Hair Orange

If you put blonde dye on red hair, it will more likely turn orange-red or reddish-brown.

That’s because the pigments in red hair are resistant to change, and blonde dye (being light in color) won’t completely overwhelm or neutralize its red counterparts. As a result, you’ll likely get a messed-up color that’s neither blonde nor red.

You’ve Set Your Mind on Having Blonde Hair – Now What?

how to lighten red hair to blonde without orange tones

OK, so you are adamant about going blonde or at least lightening your red hair, but what happens when you apply blonde hair dye to red hair?

You get orange!

The reason why lightening red hair won’t make it blonde is that one color does not lighten another color.

Colors can’t alter each other, so if you think adding blonde hair dye to red hair will lighten it, you’re mistaken. Applying a lighter hair color on a darker one will only saturate it more.

If you are trying to go from a foxy redhead to a bombshell blonde, you won’t be successful if you apply blonde hair dye to your hair. Instead, you should bleach your hair or go for highlights and then apply the blond dye. To turn blonde, many hair professionals suggest you don’t do it on your own since you can do more harm than good to your hair.

The trick to turning red hair to blonde is to use the optimal amount of bleach or highlighting in all the right places rather than splashing it all over your head. Although you might be tempted to use a box dye to turn blonde, it’s very probable you’ll end up making a massive mistake. Instead, visit a professional salon. You have better chances of walking out with blonde hair rather than orange.

The Challenges of Going from Red to Blonde

dye red hair blonde

Redheads that want to feel the excitement of being blonde face some pretty overwhelming challenges, like the possibility of walking around with straw-like, orange hair, for instance. Besides, turning your scarlet locks into mellow blonde strands will take more than one try, which means more trips to the salon, and turning up the notch on your hair care routine higher.

Redheads dyeing their hair blonde are expected to keep their locks moisturized all the time since the bleaching or highlighting process will drain the natural moisture from the strands. Moreover, a newbie blonde will have to use special shampoos that keep the shades intact, other than frequently using hair masks to lock in moisture.

In a nutshell, highly-pigmented red tones are difficult to achieve but not easy to remove, especially not by using box dye. Hence, the frequent salon trips and hair treatments.

How to Go from Having Red to Blonde Hair Color?

two shades of red hair and blonde hair

The warm tones of red hair might not go well with the cool blonde hues, which is why you would have to bleach it or highlight your hair. Women with thick red hair might require more attention than those with fine hair since the hair shafts might be difficult to penetrate while bleaching.

However, there are methods that hair experts use to ensure red hair is properly prepped for transformation. From removing the existing pigments to applying toner, here’s what a red-to-blonde shift looks like:

Kiss the Red Pigment Goodbye

Prepare to leave your scarlet days behind if you plan to go blonde. Removing the red pigments is the first thing to do to get those golden locks you are after. To do so, you would need to eliminate the red pigments entirely.

Removing the pigments is a must for blonde enthusiasts – without it, the transformation cannot start. Bleaching the hair or getting highlights that will fade over time is the most frequently used method of removing pigments. If the entire red pigments aren’t removed, you’ll end up with an orange-reddish hue in your hair that won’t be flattering at all.

Make Your Hair Lighter

After neutralizing the red pigments, you will be presented with yet another challenge: see if your hair needs to be further lightened. This decision is because thick and coarse hair is more difficult to work with and extract pigments from, hence, the extra lightening.

Professionals use a system to determine how light your hair is. For instance, platinum blondes are level 10, whereas deep browns are level 1, and so on. Now, if you wish to sport the golden locks of your dreams, your hair should be lightened to at least a level 8.

Turn to Toner

The last step of the transformation from red to blonde wraps up with applying a toner. Once your hair is approximately at the targeted level of lightness, you should apply toner to ensure any orangey hues are out of the way.

Toners are usually blue, and for a good reason, too. Namely, the color blue cancels out orange so that any yellowish-orange strands can be downplayed.

How Long Does the Process Last?

As we mentioned, going from red to blonde is not easy, but if you’re determined to dye your hair blonde, bleaching is the only way to get you there. The bleaching process or a bleach bath can last anywhere from half an hour to a full hour.

Deep colors like red and all of its undertones might require a few bleaching sessions, which is why consulting with a hair colorist or a hair expert is advised. In fact, turning red hair color to blonde might take from 1 -3 hours, depending on your hair texture.

After bleaching, you should start re-dyeing your hair by applying blonde dye – the process can last from one to two hours.

Note: You will need to assess the condition of your hair after bleaching to start dyeing again.

What Happens to Red Hair When It’s Bleached?

In general, red hair is more resistant to bleaching and minimizing pigmentation, which makes this hair color a rather tough one to alter. After you’ve bleached your hair, you’ll notice the redness starting to fade, but don’t expect it to go away altogether.

Due to the strength of red pigments (natural or red dye), bleaching red hair to blonde might take a few tries, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t turn blonde right away. Getting rid of red pigments is more challenging than doing the same for dark hair, but it’s feasible, nonetheless.

However, it’s important to remember that the bleaching process takes certain know-how, so clients are suggested to leave it to professionals. Hair and coloring experts will know the exact amount of products to combine and how long to leave the solution cure.

Moreover, once bleached, red hair will need special care in terms of heat, masks, moisturizing, and so on, which is when professional advice comes in handy. Not only will your hair color change, but the texture will, too.

After bleaching your red hair blonde, you should know that your hair might lose some of its elasticity, but that’s nothing to worry about – just follow your hairdressers’ advice on which products to use and how often, and you won’t feel a difference (other than those stunning blonde strands!)

Related: Best shampoos for bleached hair.

Potential Issues of Bleaching Red Hair

Before you turn to bleach your red locks blonde, expect to encounter some obstacles, like redness, itching, and so on. Other than that, you might be faced with a color that’s not exactly what you expected.

For instance, if you are after strawberry blonde hair, you should expect to go through a few appointments and use a special mix of products and lightning agents to achieve the look and not be left with medium red hair that’s neither red nor blonde.

In general, coloring your hair is practically a chemical process. The color you get after changing your hair color is the result of basic chemical processes occurring under the influence of ammonia, peroxide, the pigments in your hair, and the pigments in the hair dye.

Overdoing It

Going overboard with bleaching and lightening is an easy trap to fall into. Many blonde enthusiasts are willing to bleach their hair over and over to achieve their dream look. Patience is essential.

If you’re bleaching your hair on your own, you should know that it takes a certain amount of time to remove deep colors and let the bleaching agent do its work. In all fairness, it’s understandable why non-blondes would want to get the job done right and not turn orange.

Failing to Maintain the Color

Hair care after bleaching is of the utmost importance, especially if you’re making a drastic change, such as turning your passion red hair color (a warm color) to ash blonde, a cold color tone.

After you’ve bleached your hair, upkeeping the hair color and texture of your hair is very important. From using hair masks to lock in moisture to special types of shampoos to help you get rid of the yellow tones – being a blonde takes time and effort. However, don’t be discouraged! Your hair colorist at the salon can explain everything you should follow up on.

Alternative Solutions to Bleach

Those who aren’t keen on transforming their look by using bleach to lighten their hair can choose an alternative that’ll provide a more mellow result. For example, if you wish to give your cupid red locks a lighter hue, you won’t have to use bleach but use a special kind of shampoo.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

This special type of shampoo is the go-to choice for many women and men trying to alter their looks slightly. Clarifying shampoos can remove hair colors, but choosing the right one is paramount. Consult with your hair colorist about which one will suit your needs best.

A clarifying shampoo will take several sessions before the color is fully lifted, so don’t be discouraged when you see your poison red hues are still there after the first wash.

Manic Panic Prepare to Dye

Use a Hair Color Remover

A color remover like Color Oops can completely remove semi-permanent dyes to prime your hair for the next color job.

Color Oops Extra Conditioning Hair Color Remover

DIY Methods

Another efficient bleaching alternative is to turn to at-home remedies to help you get rid of deep color pigments. From using chamomile to lemon juice, nature’s own color removers, you can achieve a lighter hair color without using bleach to eliminate stubborn pigments.

  • Add lemon juice to your conditioner: Lemon juice has the power to eliminate coloration, so the best way to use it is by adding it to your conditioner or into the natural oil you normally use for hair care. If you choose this method, it’s probably best to do it on a sunny day since sunlight activates the lightning powers of lemon juice.
  • Use chamomile tea: Chamomile is a natural hair lightener that also enhances your mane’s shine. To lighten your hair with chamomile, brew several tea bags and leave them to cool off. Add a teaspoon of honey, mix it all up, and apply it to your hair. Leave it for an hour to sit in your hair and thoroughly rinse it off.

Tips for Lightening Red Hair

Putting blonde dye on red hair won’t turn you into Marylin all of a sudden, but if you want to lighten your red hair, blonde box dye will do the trick. Other than that, there are a few tips and tricks to try for a lighter version of your red hair:

  • Use vitamin C (mix vitamin C tablets in your shampoo);
  • Use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse;
  • Make a cinnamon and honey hair mask;
  • Use ash blond dye on red hair (It’ll give your hair a lighter shade of red).

Key Takeaway

To summarize: Putting blonde dye on red hair will not magically give you blonde hair. It may make your hair orange.

To do it correctly, you will need to lighten your red hair first, then do it step by step. If you’re unsure how to do it, it’s best to consult a professional colorist to get advice.

About the Author

Shehnaz ShiraziShehnaz Shirazi

Shehnaz Shirazi has been writing in the beauty and cosmetics industry for over 8 years, sharing her expansive hair care and beauty knowledge. Shehnaz researches and tests new hair care trends and publishes her insights here.