How to Neutralize Red Tones in Hair: Fix Your Hair at Home

A woman in casual clothes is standing on the wooden background. She has curly red hair with orange undertones and freckles across her face.

Many people try to transform their hair color at home only to end up with disastrous results. One of the most common issues people come across is hair color that’s too red – this is often the case when going from a darker hair color to a lighter hair color.

The problem is often painfully apparent as soon as your hair is dry, prompting you to search for ways to tone the red down.

In this article, we discuss several ways to neutralize the red tones and save your hair. Note: Many of our recommendations work for orange or red tones.

What Color Cancels Out Red Tones?

Green, the complementary color to red on the color wheel, cancels out red tones. To balance your hair color, use green toner or green shampoo to reduce red tones. This method is particularly beneficial for dark and black hair. To stop your hair from turning green, watch the process and don’t use too much neutralizer. This will help your hair look natural.

A woman, wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts with red brassy hair standing on the brick wall background.

Before you begin neutralizing red tones in your hair, you need to understand why green neutralizes red tones. It’s got everything to do with color theory. On the color wheel, green and red are opposite each other. Therefore, green (i.e., the opposite color) is effective at canceling out red tones.

While green is not the only color that you can use to cancel out those pesky red tones, it is the first color that people reach for in situations like this. 

The color wheel is used to determine how to choose color removers for color-treated hair.
We use the Pocket Color Wheel to determine how to choose color removers for color-treated hair.

As you look at the hair color wheel, you’ll notice that other options to cancel out red and orange tones (or similar shades of unwanted tones) are blue toning shampoo and purple shampoo. For example, blue cancels orange undertones in blond hair.

Key Takeaways

  • Best Way to Counteract Red Tones: Utilize a green toner or shampoo. Green, a complementary color to red, effectively neutralizes red pigments in dark or brown hair, but caution is advised to avoid a greenish hue.
  • Combat Brassy Hair: Apply an ash-based dye or toner, an ideal solution for reducing reddish or yellow tones, delivering a cooler, neutral hair color.
  • Application Process: Ensure even application of the green toner or ash dye, follow the product’s instructions meticulously, and rinse thoroughly to achieve the best results.
  • DIY Solutions: Enhance the effectiveness of regular shampoo by adding green food coloring to neutralize red undertones, especially in dark and black hair.
  • Avoiding Overcorrection: Monitor your hair color during the application to avoid over-processing or undesired tones, ensuring a balanced and natural look.

Keep reading to learn how to remove red tones from your hair at home.

An attractive woman reading sits outside with dark brown hair with red hair tones.

How to Neutralize Red Tones in Hair: Step by Step

In this section, we’ll tell you step-by-step how to get rid of red tones (or orange tones) in your hair. There are several methods you can use, and we’ll cover each of them in detail. Let’s get right into it! 

Green Toning Shampoo

Applying green hair color on red hair | What happens when you mix green color on red hair

Green shampoo is one of the easiest ways to cancel out red at home. You can find a green toning shampoo at your local drugstore or add two or three drops of green food coloring (or green dye) to your shampoo.

The green tones within the shampoo help to counteract the red dye on your strands. Here is how to neutralize red tones with green shampoo:

  1. Dampen your hair and apply the green shampoo all over – if needed, part your hair into 4 or more sections to make the application process easier. Make sure that your curls are completely coated in the product, and then leave it on for the manufacturer’s recommended time. If you made your green shampoo at home, leave it on for about 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Once you have waited the entire recommended time, proceed to rinse your hair with water. It may take a few minutes to completely rinse all the product out. 
  3. Check whether the red tone came out of your hair. If your hair still looks too red, you need to redo the process. If you made your own green shampoo, you could add a few more drops of green color to it.
  4. Reapply the shampoo as you did in the following steps. If your hair only has a bit of red left to neutralize, leave the shampoo on for a minute or so. If it needs a more substantial change, you can leave it on for the full time again. 
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly, apply your conditioner, and then style your hair as necessary. 

Note: Always remember to use green food color very cautiously. If you overuse the food color, you may end up with a green mess.

Also, green shampoo is not recommended for neutralizing red tones on light hair. It’s only appropriate for dark or brown hair. 

Ash Color Hair

Hair Transformation - Red to Ash Brown (no bleach needed)

You may have heard people refer to ash shades as calming tones – it’s true, and this makes them great for color neutralization. A permanent or semi-permanent ash hair dye that’s close to your desired shade will work perfectly.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you neutralize red tones with ash hair dye.

  1. Before you begin any color application process, apply Vaseline all over your hairline, forehead, ears, and the nape of your neck. This will create a barrier between your hair and the hair dye. 
  2. Also, remember to wear an old T-shirt and gloves because things can get messy. 
  3. If you’ll be using a semi-permanent ash color, shampoo your hair. Don’t apply anything to your hair post-wash. You want your hair cuticles to remain wide open so that they’ll be able to adequately absorb the color. If you’re using a permanent hair dye, you don’t need to shampoo your hair first. 
  4. Part your hair into four to six sections to make your hair easier to work with.
  5. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the ash color. It’s crucial to follow the instructions to the letter for the best results.
  6. Once you complete the mixing steps, begin applying the ash shade to your hair from tips to roots. Do your absolute best to ensure the color is thoroughly applied. 
  7. Cover your hair with a color-processing cap and wait until the time is up. Reference the instructions on the packaging to find out how long to leave the color on your hair.
  8. When time is up, rinse your hair thoroughly to ensure that all of the hair color is washed away.
  9. Follow the rest of the instructions on the hair color packaging. You may be instructed to shampoo and/or condition your hair before proceeding with your normal styling process. 

Darker Hair Dye Covers Red Hair

HAIR TRANSFORMATION • red to brown without bleach

Another option you have when your hair comes out too red is to use an ammonia-free dye that’s darker than your hair. Doing so will cover the red, leaving you with a more wearable shade. If you opt for this one, be sure to follow the same application process mentioned above. 

Hair Color Corrector (or Color Remover)

An attractive female with red streaks throughout reddish dark hair sits outside while texting with friends by mobile phone.

If none of the options above sound just right, you can try a color corrector, like Color Oops. This is another quick and easy way to neutralize or remove the red tones in your hair.

Although similar to hair bleach, color correctors are not nearly as harsh on your hair. They enter your hair shaft and break down the red color molecules within it.

When you wash your hair after using the color corrector, you will find that the red tones in your hair have totally disappeared.

Color correctors are particularly helpful when you have tried other methods to neutralize the red, but it still hasn’t gone away. You can use color correctors just as you would a box dye.

Take the same precautionary steps, such as Vaseline, an old t-shirt, and gloves, and reference the instructions on the box. 

Note: If you’re looking for a potential solution using household products, some ladies have “corrected” their hair naturally using an apple cider vinegar rinse. In our experience, this solution provides inconsistent results in removing warm tones.

Hair Color Levels & Hair Undertones Chart

This hair color levels and undertones chart is a visual guide showing the range of hair colors from darkest to lightest and the underlying tones at each level.
This hair color levels and undertones chart is a visual guide showing the range of hair colors from darkest to lightest and the underlying tones at each level.

Hair Color Neutralization Chart

Hair color neutralization involves using complementary colors to counteract and correct unwanted tones in dyed hair.
Hair color neutralization involves using complementary colors to counteract and correct unwanted tones in dyed hair.

Dos and Don’ts of Neutralizing Red Tones

Cute girl with colored hair and freckles reading an email on her mobile phone.

Sometimes, trying to neutralize red tones can result in a whole new hair disaster. To prevent that, we’d like to share some dos and don’ts that can help make the process run smoothly. 


  • Always follow the instructions on the hair dye packaging for the best results. If you have any questions, call the manufacturer of the product or contact a hairstylist who is experienced in natural hair care. 
  • Be careful with green shampoo, as it can turn your hair green. Check your hair color every couple of minutes while the color is processing. Remove some of the color with your fingers and look at the hair – if it looks like it’s turning green, rinse the shampoo out immediately. 
  • Do use professional quality hair colors and toning shampoos if they are available. DIY mixtures have a higher risk of failure or disaster than products specifically formulated for neutralizing red tones. 
A woman with red pigments in her hair wearing a dress and sandals sits on the sidewalk beneath a tree, talking on her smartphone.


  • Don’t neglect your hair after color-treating it. After such a process, your curls will be thirsty for moisture. Condition and deep condition your hair afterward to preserve your hair’s health. 

Professional color correction services can be extremely expensive. But you don’t have to worry about that now that you have all the information you need to get rid of unwanted red tones in your hair at home.

What Hair Color Covers Red Tones Best?

Using an ammonia-free dye that is darker than your hair or an ash color can help to cover red tones in your hair. Choosing a hair dye that is darker than your hair can help to cover red tones because darker colors have more pigment, and an ash dye can help neutralize bright tones in the hair.

What Toner Removes Red Tones?

To remove red tones from your hair, a toner with an ash base is the best option. Ash toners work by neutralizing red and orange tones in hair, leaving a cooler shade. It is important to note that toners should be used after lightening the hair, as they are not effective on their own.

Does Ash Neutralize Red Tones?

Ash hair color can neutralize red tones in hair, but it is important to choose the right shade of ash. Ash colors that are too light can turn hair green, while ash colors that are too dark can turn hair gray. Consult with a professional hair colorist to determine the best shade of ash for your hair.

What Shampoo to Get Rid of Red Tones?

Green shampoo, also known as color-correcting shampoo, is an effective and easy way to cancel out red tones in your hair at home. Green is directly opposite to red on the color wheel, so when green shampoo is applied to red hair, it helps to neutralize the red tones and create a cooler, more neutral tone.

Will Purple Shampoo Remove Red Tones?

While purple shampoo may help to neutralize red tones to some extent, it is not as effective as green shampoo. This is because red is far away from purple on the color wheel, so there is not as strong of a color-canceling effect. Purple shampoo is typically used to neutralize brassy tones in blonde hair.

What Color Looks Best on Red Skin Tones?

When it comes to choosing a hair color that looks best on red skin tones, warm-toned colors are the best option. Colors such as golden brown, copper, and auburn complement red skin tones well, while cool-toned colors such as ash blonde or platinum can make the skin appear sallow. Warm colors also help make red skin tones appear more even.

How Do You Get Red Tinge out of Brown Hair?

You can use a green toning shampoo or an ash-colored hair dye to get a red tinge out of brown hair. Green toning shampoo is effective because green and red are opposite on the color wheel, meaning green can neutralize red tones. Apply the green shampoo to damp hair, ensuring all strands are covered.

Leave it on for the recommended time, and then rinse thoroughly. If opting for an ash color dye, apply it following the manufacturer’s instructions, paying close attention to ensure even coverage and rinsing thoroughly after the recommended processing time.

How Do You Get Red Brassy Tones out of Hair?

Getting red brassy tones out of hair can be achieved using a green toning shampoo or an ash-based hair dye. The green color counteracts red brassy tones due to their opposing positions on the color wheel.

Ash-based dyes effectively neutralize bright, warm tones, leaving the hair with a cooler, more neutral shade. Follow the product’s application instructions closely and consider performing a patch test to anticipate the results.

Does Green Shampoo Cancel out Red Undertones?

Yes, green shampoo can cancel out red tones in hair. This is because, according to the color wheel, green and red are opposites. A green toning shampoo can help neutralize unwanted red tones, especially in dark or brown hair.

However, it’s crucial to be cautious with the application to avoid turning the hair green. Always follow the product’s instructions and check the hair color periodically during the process to ensure the desired result.

How Do You Fix Red Hair That Turned Orange?

You can use blue toning shampoo or an ash-based toner to fix red hair that has turned orange. Blue is the opposite of orange on the color wheel, making it effective for neutralizing orange tones.

Apply the blue shampoo or ash toner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the application is even and leave it on for the specified time before rinsing. It may take a couple of applications to achieve the desired result, depending on the intensity of the orange tones.

Related Articles

Use a Color Wheel to Fix Red Hair

A color wheel is a helpful tool when you’re looking to cancel out red tones in your hair. Green, the opposite of red on the color wheel, can counteract those pesky reddish-orange tones.

If green shampoo isn’t effective enough, other colors can help neutralize brassy tones like purple and blue. These two colors work well as they also operate within an opposing relationship on the color wheel (i.e., purple is the opposite of yellow).

In addition, the DIY approach outlined in this article is much more cost-effective than professional services at a hair salon. With the tips and helpful information in this article, you’ll finally be able to achieve the hair color you’ve always wanted!

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