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How to Cover Red Hair Dye with Brown?

How to Cover Red Hair Dye with Brown?

Red is the most difficult color to remove. The process of transforming your hair color into brown will depend on two factors including the shade of brown you want to achieve. And the intensity of red you currently have.

Here’s everything you need to know about turning your red hair into brown. For a light brown color, use bleach to lift the red hair dye before coloring it with brown.

If you want to go darker, skip the bleach and simply opt for the exact shade of dark brown that you like. You may even opt for an ash shade to cover the remaining red pigments on your hair.

What Happens if You Apply Brown Hair Dye Over Red?

Depending on how light or dark your red hair, the red tones can still be visible even after you dye it with brown color. In fact, the final color is the result of all the pigments present in your hair.

More than that, red pigments are smaller than brown pigments, meaning they’re the last hints of color to wash out. Hair dye doesn’t work like paint. Therefore, not all shades of brown can cover the red pigments on your hair. 

How Can You Fade Your Red Hair Color?

You may use a hair dye remover or bleach, depending on the lightness or darkness of the red color. Sometimes, clarifying shampoo works but it wouldn’t work as fast as lightening products. If your hair color appeared darker than it should be, clarifying shampoos can help soften it a bit.

To fade the red pigments in your hair, you may use two types of bleach: a bleach wash or a regular bleach. If you only need to fade your color in 1-2 levels, a bleach wash is a great option. If your red hair needs more lift, you’ll have to go for a full bleaching process.

Direct sunlight, heat styling, hot water, and alcohol-based hair products easily fade red hair. But they aren’t recommended, as they cause unnecessary damage. Some people even mix baking soda into shampoos, but it should be used with a deep conditioner and hair oils to combat dryness.

What Color Cancels Out Red Hair Dye?

Green and red are complementary colors, so any green-based dye can cancel out red hair color. In the color wheel, the colors that are directly opposite to each other will neutralize each other.

If you have red hair, you may also think of using ash dyes with hints of green to drop the warmth in your final color. You may not completely cover every trace of red, but transforming your red hair into brown can be achieved.

A Guide on Covering Your Red Hair with Brown

hair dye

There are several factors to consider when changing your red hair color to brown and the methods you’ll use will depend on whether you want to go lighter or darker.

If you want a lighter brown color

Dyes only deposit pigments, but they won’t be able to lift them, so you can’t simply apply a light brown color over the red. If you want to go lighter, you’ll need color remover or bleach to lift the hair dye before coloring your hair with a new color.

1. Lighten your hair with a hair dye remover

Opt for a good hair dye remover to dissolve the buildup of red pigments in your hair. While it cannot remove all the red hair dye, it can prep your hair to make bleaching easier, reducing the amount of bleach you’ll need.

It simply breaks the pigments from your hair, so they can easily be washed out. Apply the product to your hair and leave it for 20 minutes, then shampoo and rinse well.

2. Use a gentle bleach wash

You have to strip all the red pigments out from your hair, so use gentle bleach afterward. Unless the hair dye remover didn’t work, you may have to use regular bleach.

It’s composed of two different products that are mixed together prior to application. While the bleach powder is made up of alkalizing agents and lighteners, the developer is a solution of hydrogen peroxide.

3. Apply the new color to your hair

To neutralize the red pigment, you may use ash colors and tone your hair to your liking. However, remember that bleached hair tends to be porous and absorbs more dye than usual. Some even opt for a shade of brown that’s one level lighter than the current level.

If you want a darker brown color

Going darker is easier, as you can simply apply a new dye to your red hair. Just make sure that the shade of brown you’ll choose is able to counteract the red pigments. Or else, you’ll have an unsightly red hue on your dark brown hair.

1. Apply the right shade of dark brown dye

Opt for a brown shade that is at least one level darker than your current hair color. If you have fire engine red hair, going for a light brown dye won’t work.

While most dark brown shades will work, you might also want to consider neutralizing the red pigments in your hair. Remember, your final hair color is a combination of all existing pigments in your strands.

For this reason, warm shades of brown look more auburn, due to the existing red hair color. Some dyes can give a darker brown color, but a red glow can still be visible.

You may use the exact shade of brown that you like, but it’s better to opt for a cooler shade. Some even opt for an ash shade to counteract the remaining red tones.

2. If you want to maintain the same level of color intensity

Removing the red tone in your hair is just easy if you don’t want to go lighter or darker. You won’t need any bleaching product, but you’ll need the right shade of dye to achieve the ideal brown color.

3. Correct the red tone with a green-based dye

In the color wheel, green is the color that’s directly opposite to red, which means red dye can be neutralized by green. Ash dyes typically contain green pigments, and they neutralize the red tones in your hair.

Just opt for the right shade for your existing hair color. Generally, red color around level 3 to 5 will work with light brown to dark brown dyes.

Which of the Dye Removal Method is the Most Damaging?


The full bleach process is the most damaging. However, you may opt for a bleach wash that’s less damaging to your strands.

Hair dye remover is effective for removing permanent dye, though it doesn’t work on temporary and semi-permanent colors. If you already have the ideal color intensity, dyeing your hair darker won’t add more damage, as dyes only deposit pigment.

Clarifying shampoos and toners give very minimal damage, but they aren’t reliable if you need to go for lighter hair color.

Related Questions

How to know if your hair can handle bleach?

If your hair is in healthy condition and only suffered very minimal chemical damage, you can use bleach. However, if your hair has been previously bleached, permed, or relaxed, you should skip the process. It’s best to be patient and wait for your hair to recover, then damaging it for good.

What are the best ways to take care of your new hair color?

Always use hair products designed for color-treated hair and skip clarifying shampoos. To retain your new color, always use UV protectants, hair oils, and heat protection products, which minimizes the damage when styling.

As much as you can, skip the heat styling tools like curling iron, flat iron, and blow dryer. Include a weekly hair treatment in your regimen to keep your hair healthy and moisturized.