orange_hairWe love pumpkin everything as much as the next person, but that affection doesn’t hold up when it comes to hair. If you’ve ever tried to take your mane from rich brown to ethereal blonde, you know exactly what we’re talking about: that brassy shade that suddenly appears when color is improperly lifted. In fact, even color professionals sometimes have to battle this bright-orange beast. It’s simply part of the process.

Still, no one wants pumpkin-colored tresses for any length of time. How can you avoid the brassy curse during a color lift? Let’s take a look at the science behind the situation and offer a few tips to keep your light locks out of tangerine territory.

The Deal With Dye

If you’re not a colorist, you’ve probably never spent much energy trying to understand how the dyeing process works. Here’s the scoop: In order for color to penetrate your strands, something needs to lift the cuticle long enough for the dye to be deposited. Ammonia does the trick by altering the pH levels, but ammonia-free technology can achieve the same results with less permanent damage. Either way, once the cuticle loosens up, the dye penetrates the hair shaft, breaks down the existing pigment and develops into your desired shade. Don’t worry, we won’t quiz you on this chemistry lesson later.

Treading Lightly

The dyeing process is similar no matter which way you’re going on the shade spectrum, but lifting color does one major thing: lightens the warm tones that are already in your hair. Everyone has a little warmth – it’s what makes color appear especially rich – but darker hair is heavier on those tones and thus more likely to veer into orange when the pigments are altered.

The trouble, of course, is that going from dark to light is a multi-step process no matter what, and those steps get more complicated when there’s a wider gap between where you are and where you want to be. Because the chemicals that lift your cuticle can also dry out your locks, allowing the strands to settle between treatments is often the only way to avoid that straw-like texture. Hello, half-lifted pumpkin hair.

Tricks of the Trade

We know what you’re thinking, if warm tones are part of the process, how is it possible to ever avoid the orange? That’s where an expert stylist enters the picture. Though some major transformations do require a pumpkin period, trained colorists are able to confine that experience to a single visit. Plus, they know how to balance the brassiness with cool tones that avoid the orange shock altogether.

Just bear in mind that the unwanted shades might still peek through as the pigment begins to fade. Schedule regular touch-ups with your stylist at Bella Vita to keep that at bay, or use a violet-toned shampoo to inject a little coolness into your color. You’ll be out of pumpkin-spice city in no time.