Modern pastel takes on orange hair color will give you a soft, peach or coral look that is especially fitting for spring. Whether your goal is to look like a peach-haired anime princess, a cartoon superhero, or just someone with a bit more fire in them, this is the color for you!
If you’re ready for orange hair then start off by choosing the exact shade that will suit your skin tone – we’ll help with an easy guide. Read on, as we’ll also explain how to use orange hair dye at home for that vibrant look. To keep your orange hair color vivid for as long as possible, we’ve included some very important maintenance tips, and to keep you looking fresh, there are also key makeup and fashion tips to go with orange hair.
In this article:
- How to Choose the Perfect Orange Hair Color for Your Skin Tone
- How to Dye Your Hair Orange at Home
- How to Keep Your Orange Hair Color Bright
- Makeup Tips for Orange Hair
- Fashion Tips for Orange Hair
How to Choose the Perfect Orange Hair Color for Your Skin Tone
The color orange is a mixture of red and yellow, making it one of the warmest colors around. If you’re considering switching to orange hair color, you absolutely must remember that this particular secondary color will have a very striking effect against your skin tone.
The great thing about all the different ways of doing orange hair is that you can opt for shades that are more muted, like a tangerine blonde, or shades that are deeper and more vivid like blood orange. While all variations on orange hair are warm-toned, some are warmer-toned than others, so choose the strength of your orange hair dye based on how it will impact your skin.
Orange Hair Color Shades for Warm Skin Undertones
If your skin has a warm undertone, which means that it has more of a yellow base with veins that appear green under the skin, then chances are you can rock most shades of orange hair color. From the most muted pastel corals and peaches to fire-hot true oranges to red-orange tones and even brick reds or coppers, the warmth in orange hair will perfectly complement the warmth in your skin.
The darker your warm-toned skin is, the darker the shade of orange hair you may opt for, with brick orange-reds being an especially beautiful choice. There are many exceptions though, as peach hair that leans towards rose gold can look extremely fetching on darker skin in the same way that golden blonde shades can look.
What I do recommend is simply staying away from oranges that are the exact same level of darkness as your skin tone – opt for a shade of orange hair that is either darker or lighter, as otherwise you risk looking washed out.
Orange Hair Color Shades for Olive Skin Tones
If your skin leans towards olive, with veins that appear very green and a complexion that might be described as Mediterranean, you will likely really enjoy wearing orange hair, as it will bring out more golden tones in your skin.
You might want to stick to more balanced orange hair, and avoid near-pink corals or blood oranges that have a lot of red hair dye to them.
Orange Hair Color Shades for Cool Skin Undertones
Those with cool skin have veins that appear more blue or purple, and then their skin tends to show a lot of pink tones if they are fair, while as it gets darker it’ll appear very slightly tinged with purple or blue.
If your skin is very fair and cool, then you can play around with softer tangerine and peach shades, which will look extremely beautiful and ethereal against your peachy skin. The warmer orange hair colors can also work quite nicely, as long as they are not too golden-yellow. If you want to really have some fun with both warm and cool tones, you can wear color combinations like violet and orange.
One of the trickier skin tones to pair with orange hair is cool-toned darker skin (think Lupita Nyong’o), in which case the orange can really bring out the blue tones in the skin. While this can have a very gorgeous, equally ethereal effect, it can also make outfit choices a little difficult. Vivid orange hair tones that have a lot of red in them tend to look nicest against this skin tone.
How to Dye Your Hair Orange at Home
When dyeing your hair unnatural colors like orange hair color, the hair absolutely must be bleached first, unless it is naturally extremely light. This is because when you dye your hair, you’re not lightening its color nor are you removing any of the pigment in it – what you are doing is depositing in new pigment.
Because of this if your hair is brown (even a light brown), and you try to dye it orange, chances are you will end up with more auburn colored hair instead, or just slightly reddened dark brown. That can be a beautiful hair color, but it won’t be orange.
How much you’ll actually have to bleach your hair heavily depends on how dark your hair is at the start, and how light or vivid of an orange hair shade you are hoping to achieve. For a deeper blood orange hair color, chances are that bleaching your hair once will be enough, while if you prefer a light pastel peach shade, then you might have to bleach your hair a couple of times.
If you have a very specific shade in mind, then make sure to do a strand test with the bleach and orange hair dye before actually dyeing your whole head, since you cannot always perfectly predict how a particular hair dye will turn out.
It is very easy to damage the hair when bleaching it, so we absolutely recommend that you have that done by a professional. However, if you are dead set on doing everything at home then don’t worry, we will give step-by-step bleaching directs for flawless and vivid orange hair.
Step 1: Prepping Your Hair
The instructions are for solid, all-over color. If you want balayage orange hair, read our article to pick up on the balayage technique, while if you want something more advanced like a colormelt or hair gradient, then you are better off finding a colorist in your area that does a lot of unnatural hair colors.
When it comes to any kind of hair bleaching or dyeing, you have to accept that this will remove proteins from your hair and will likely cause some damage. No matter whether you plan to bleach your hair by yourself or at the salon, you can prepare for it by really babying your hair for a few days or weeks before it’s bleaching time.
This includes not washing your hair too much, including a day or two before it’s time to bleach, and deep conditioning it with oil and protein infused masks, treatments, or hair conditioner. This will strengthen your hair and hopefully prepare it somewhat for all the trauma.
You will need:
- Bleach kit (we recommend the L’Oreal Feria Absolute Platinum kit from Ulta Beauty)
- Orange hair dye (Lime Crime is one of the few brands making orange hair dye, which you can get at Ulta Beauty)
- Mixing bowl
- Latex or plastic gloves
- Hair dye brush
- Old button-up shirt
- Hair clips
- Shower cap
- Petroleum jelly
- Protein-enriching hair conditioner
Step 2: Bleaching Your Hair
First, we should stress that in some instances we recommend spreading out the bleaching and dyeing over the course of a few days, as bleaching the hair and then immediately dyeing it with an orange hair color that includes a lightener can severely damage the hair.
In other instances, like if you are using the Lime Crime hair dye we recommended or a similar semi-permanent hair dye that does not require a developer, you can do everything in one day as the orange hair dye will not damage your hair.
- Start by getting the bleach ready. The kit we recommend comes with a mixing bottle that contains the developer, but you can also just pour a bleach powder into a bowl along with your developer of choice. Always read the directions on the packaging, since some instructions will vary from brand to brand.
- While you let the bleach develop, put on an old button-up shirt that you don’t mind staining. If your skin is sensitive, apply petroleum jelly along the perimeter of your hairline and on the tips of your ears.
- Part your hair with the help of the pointy end of your hair dye brush, and section it off into a few different sections. For bleaching I recommend a front section and two back sections. Clip your hair sections up.
- Put on your plastic gloves to protect your hands, and get started!
- Start with the front section of the hair. Grab a chunk of hair that is about 2.5 cm in diameter, and apply the bleach to it by brushing it on with the hair dye brush. Begin applying from as close to the roots as possible (unless you’re leaving the roots natural), and pull the bleach through to the ends. Massage the hair a little bit to ensure that the bleach really managed to cover every single strand.
- Grab the next chunk of hair and repeat the process. Continue doing this until you’ve finished off that front section of your hair, and clip it up.
- Move on to one of the back sections of your hair, and continue applying bleach in the same fashion as you did to the front. Clip up this section when you finish it, and move on to your final one.
- Once your whole head is covered in bleach, it’s time to let it process. Most bleaching formulas require 40 minutes to fully take hold of the hair. Don’t put on a shower cap yet, as trapping heat in can speed up the processing in a way that can damage the hair.
- Once it’s time, rinse out the bleach – the easiest way to do so is by hopping in the shower, and washing it in lukewarm water. Don’t shampoo your hair once all the bleach is rinsed out, although you might want to condition it. You don’t need to use any hair toners, since neutralizing the orange tones in your hair from the bleach will defeat the purpose.
- Once you get out of the shower, it is best to gently squeeze out the water with a soft towel or old T-shirt. Let your hair air-dry completely before moving on to applying the orange hair dye.
Step 3: Applying the Orange Hair Dye
Make sure your hair has been lightened enough to achieve the orange hair shade that you want. A dark blonde is fine if you’re aiming for a darker orange, while if you want a pastel peach shade then you’ll have to bleach your hair until it is nearly platinum.
If your hair isn’t light enough then let your hair a few days to rest, give it a protein treatment, and then bleach it again. If your hair is light enough, it’s time to have fun with some orange hair color! Make sure your hair is completely dry before starting anything.
- You can start dyeing your hair orange with the same tools (just make sure to clean them up first) or you can use a new set of gloves and hair dye brush.
- Section your hair off as you did for the bleaching process, and clip it up.
- If you’re aiming for a lighter pastel orange hair shade, you can lighten up your semi-permanent hair dye by mixing it with hair conditioner in a bowl. If you’re aiming for more of an orange-red shade, mix equal parts orange and red semi-permanent hair dyes.
- Unclip the first hair section, and dip your hair dye brush into the orange hair dye.
- Apply the orange hair dye much in the same way you did the bleach, clipping and unclipping hair sections as you go along, until you’ve covered your whole head.
- Put on your shower cap now, as trapping heat in with semi-permanent dye on is safe and it will also help protect you from getting dye all over your bathroom.
- For a very vivid, long-lasting effect, leave the orange hair dye in your hair for an hour or two. Take the chance to chill – put on a face mask, read a book, and enjoy yourself.
- Once enough time has passed, hop in the shower again to rinse out the color. Once again, stick to lukewarm water. You can condition your hair if you like, but avoid shampooing it for the next few days.
- Get out of the shower, and baby your hair by drying it with a soft towel instead of blow-drying it.
- Admire your new look! If you’re in love with your orange hair, awesome! If it requires some fixing, go in with a bit more orange hair dye and cover up any sections that require an extra boost. If you find the color is more vivid than you hoped, wash your hair for the next few days with a clarifying shampoo to help lift some of the color out and ready it for dyeing again.
How to Keep Your Orange Hair Color Bright
You definitely want to maintain your orange hair color vibrant for as long as possible, and there are a couple of steps you should take.
Don’t Shampoo Too Often
Every time you wash your hair you also pull some of the dye out of it. This is especially true with fashion hair colors like orange hair dye, since it has a harder time hanging on to the hair, especially if it is semi-permanent. Try to wait as long as you possibly can in between hair washing sessions, and if you make the switch to conditioner-washing that would be even better.
Skip the Sulfates
Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are especially stripping, both to hair dye and hair oils. After bleaching and dyeing, your hair is particularly delicate, so you don’t want to remove oils from it and risk drying it out more than it already is. Instead, make the switch to co-washing or to using a sulfate-free shampoo.
Use Cool Water
Hot water is much better adept at opening up the cuticles and pulling hair dye from the hair, so make sure to shower in lukewarm water instead. It will generally keep your hair in a much healthier condition, and will also prevent your orange hair dye from flowing down into the drain.
Refresh on the Reg
There are plenty of products you can use to deposit more orange hair dye into your hair as it begins to fade, and keeping it looking bright and fiery. You can mix a bit of your semi-permanent hair dye with conditioner, or you can use a dedicated color refreshing conditioner, like the Keracolor Color + Clenditioner in Copper, which you can buy on Amazon or Ulta Beauty.
Give Your Hair Proteins
After bleaching the hair to achieve a fashion hair color, it is guaranteed that you’ll have lost a lot of proteins from your strands. Do a protein mask or use a protein-enriched deep conditioner on a regular basis to help strengthen your hair and maintain its integrity from within.
Keep Your Roots Natural
Balayage, sombre, and gradient takes on orange hair color will allow you to keep your roots their natural color in a very chic and fashionable way. These kinds of orange hair dye techniques also make the growing-out process much more seamless, and they don’t force you to endure potentially-irritating bleach on your scalp.
Say Goodbye to Heat Styling
Heat styling tools like curling and straightening irons are particularly damaging to the hair, because of the high heat. Try to avoid using them altogether. If you must heat style, try to style your hair with just a blow-dryer fit with a diffuser and an appropriate hair brush, and make sure to use a heat-protectant spray before actually turning up the heat.
Makeup Tips for Orange Hair
Getting your makeup to work flawlessly with orange hair is a breeze, as long as you’re willing to accept that some color theory is involved in the process. Break out your color wheel, and get painting!
Complexion Makeup for Orange Hair
As with all fashion hair colors, orange hair does require you to work a little harder when laying down your base. While you might think it’ll be distracting, orange hair actually draws more attention to your face, and it can bring out discolorations in it, especially if you have a lot of redness or inflamed acne.
This means that if your foundation game is not on point, you might want to get practicing. A medium to full coverage will be better than a light tinted moisturizer, although you can also simply introduce a concealer into your routine after you’ve applied foundation.
When it comes to contouring and bronzing, it’s actually quite nice to know that orange hair will not wash you out or force you to change things up. If you love a full chiseled look every day, go for it, but if you usually keep contouring or bronzing to a minimum you don’t have to change anything.
As far as your highlighter is concerned, however, we recommend avoiding the cool-toned highlighters that have become popular in recent years, as they will clash against your warm orange hair color. Stick to a neutral champagne or a warm-toned gold or copper highlight instead.
The blushes you choose to pair with orange hair are totally up to you. If you prefer a softer, more cohesive look then definitely stick to warm tones, including peaches, corals, and brick-red blushes. Neutral blushes that don’t lean towards too warm or too cool are easy to work with as well.
That being said, you’re wearing a fashion hair color, which means you are pretty daring. Playing will cool-toned blushes can have a very striking effect, especially if you keep the rest of your makeup fairly pared-down.
Eye Makeup for Orange Hair
I always start with eyebrow makeup tips because brows are the most important, though they can also be the most challenging. I am of the opinion that you shouldn’t match your eyebrows too carefully to fashion hair colors like orange hair, since you’re not an anime character and you won’t be fooling anyone.
Instead, you want to bring your brows to the same color family as your hair, by switching to a more copper or auburn eyebrow pencil shade. Brands like NYX and Anastasia of Beverly Hills have amazing selections. If you prefer a less red brow, blonde shades with yellow undertones can work as can neutral chocolates, but make sure to avoid gray-tinted taupes or espressos.
When it comes to mascara, I always prefer a black mascara, even when the person is very pale. If you’re a fan of colored mascara, which is coming back to a certain extent, take note from my eyeshadow suggestions and simply make sure that your colored mascara fits into your eye makeup color scheme.
I’ll start off with my favorite looks on orange-haired beauties, which are warm monochromes. Wearing different shades of oranges and peaches, both matte and metallic, darkened with complementary maroons makes for a beautiful effect that harmonizes with orange hair. Sticking to the same shades for blush and lips leads to a look that is both soft yet high fashion.
With that being said, there are no rules. Earth-toned and neutral eye makeup looks are always a safe choice, but if you’ve gone for ultra-bright orange hair you can play with it by wearing neon eyeshadows. Jewel tones are also surprisingly fetching, with blues and teals in particular acting as the complementary colors to orange and yellow-orange hair.
Lip Makeup for Orange Hair
The principles for choosing a lipstick that will go with your orange hair are very similar to the principles for choosing a blush. Warm shades like peach, coral, and peachy nudes will be the most wearable, since they can go with both more extreme eye makeup looks and more natural makeup looks.
I don’t recommend a true orange lipstick, however, as it will be too matchy-matchy, and it also doesn’t look great against your teeth unless they are stark white. Darker warm shades like brick red or maroon will work well with your orange hair as well as with any eye makeup look that isn’t too dark. They can be an excellent choice for evening makeup!
If the rest of your makeup isn’t very heavy or colorful at all, you can really have some fun with cooler lipsticks. Purples, magentas, and aubergines will look extremely intense since their cool undertone will be strengthened by the warmth of your orange hair.
Lastly, we must address red lipstick, which always deserves extra attention. Wearing red lipstick with orange hair can be very difficult, since the particular level of warmth of your hair will have an impact over how cool or warm your lipstick can be. There is no particular rule here, just a lot of subtleties.
What will always work, however, is a true neutral red lipstick that has equal parts yellow and blue in it, which you can rock with a sweep of liquid liner for a look that will have a retro-futurist effect because of your hair.
Fashion Tips for Orange Hair
If you’ve spent the money on dyeing your hair orange, you might as well spend a bit more on a visit to the art store, where you’ll want to pick up a color wheel. From here on out, when you come up with outfit color combinations you should also take into account that orange will inevitably be part of the look.
- If taking color theory into account sounds like a headache, that’s okay too. You can stick to neutrals if you like. An all-black outfit paired with orange hair will make you seem extremely fashion-forward, while whites, creams, and beiges will make you look soft even with fashion hair color.
- If you look at dresses or monochrome outfits, then consider the effect you’re looking for. Green-leaning blues like turquoise and teal are the color wheel opposites of orange, so they will make you stand out the most. Navies and deep greens will have a similar yet less loud effect.
- If you’re a fan of color blocking then consider some fun color patterns. A triadic color pattern would be especially vibrant, and would require you to wear violet and green, which will really stand out together next to your orange hair.
- Split complementary color patterns are even more sophisticated, but they will definitely require you to look at the color wheel for inspiration.
- If your hair is a more muted peach shade, consider keeping things soft all around and stick to pastel tones.
- Red is likely the toughest shade to wear with orange hair, since the two colors are so close. If you add yellow to the outfit, however, you suddenly end up with the perfect fiery color pattern, while if you add a blue-green tone you end up with a vibrant split complementary pattern.
Photos via @donutbutts, Instagram