What color cancels out red? Neutralize Red Tones in Hair

Have you ever dyed your hair at home and ended up with a shade that’s a bit too vibrantly red for your liking? We’ve all been there—excitedly applying a new hair color only to find it looks more like Ronald McDonald than Ariana Grande.

The struggle is real when your hair color transforms into an unwanted, clownish red. Thankfully, there are solutions to dull down bold red tones without having to shave your head bald!

In this article, I will walk you through exactly what color cancels out red to save you from rocking tomato tresses. With some basic color theory know-how and the right products, you can easily neutralize overly bright red tones in your hair.

Understanding Color Theory is Key for Neutralizing Red Hair

Hair color wheel

First things first, we need to understand some color theory. The color wheel is our best friend when it comes to canceling out colors.

Red’s complement (the color directly across from it) is green. This means green is excellent for neutralizing red tones.

Green can “cancel out” red, making hair appear more neutral. The same logic applies to neutralizing orange tones with blue and yellow tones with purple.

So if you want to get rid of red or orange shades, look for products containing green or blue pigments. To combat brassiness in blonde hair, choose something with violet or purple tones.

Green Shampoo is the Go-To for Reducing Red Tones

green shampoo to neutralize red

Green is the MVP when it comes to fading overly red hair. Green toning shampoos are commonly used to knock out fiery red or copper shades.

The application process is straightforward:

  1. Shampoo your hair as usual, then towel dry it so it’s damp but not sopping wet.
  2. Apply the green toner shampoo all over your hair, focusing on the most vibrant areas.
  3. Leave the shampoo on for 5–10 minutes, or whatever time is recommended on the packaging.
  4. Rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. Check if the red tones have been sufficiently neutralized.
  5. If your hair still seems too red, reapply the green shampoo and leave it on a few minutes longer before rinsing again.

Be patient, and don’t expect the green shampoo to completely remove the red in one wash. It often takes a few applications for a couple of weeks to see a real difference.

Use caution with homemade shampoos using green food coloring; it can easily over-deposit green! Stick to salon-quality shampoos for the best, most controlled results.

Ash Hair Dye Helps Cover Up Red Tones

ash brown hair dye to cover red

Ash hair dye is another excellent way to conceal red shades, whether you want to go lighter or darker. Ash has greenish-blue tones that effectively neutralize red and orange hues.

When using ash dye, follow these steps:

  • Apply Vaseline or moisturizer around your hairline and ears to prevent skin staining.
  • Put on gloves and drape an old shirt around your shoulders to protect your clothes.
  • If you’re using a semi-permanent ash dye, shampoo and towel dry your hair before application.
  • Section clean, dry hair into four parts; this makes the process easier and minimizes mistakes.
  • Carefully mix and apply the ash hair color, following the instructions on the box. Cover all your hair, applying more dye to the reddest sections.
  • Pop on a processing cap and wait for the recommended time listed on the packaging. Rinse thoroughly afterward.

Be sure to deep condition after dying since the process is very drying. Take good care of those locks!

Darker Hair Dye Can Also Conceal Vibrant Reds

If you don’t want to go ash, know that a darker shade will help obscure vivid red tones.

Using a hair dye that’s 1-2 shades darker than your current color will make the red appear more subtle. Opt for an ammonia-free formula, as it will be gentler on your hair.

Follow the same application tips mentioned above for ash dye. Just know that the darker dye won’t actively neutralize the red; it will just make it less noticeable by covering it up.

Color Correctors effectively Remove Reds

Another option is trying out a hair color remover or color corrector like Color Oops. These work by essentially removing the artificial dye molecules from your hair gently and safely.

Color correctors are less damaging than bleach and can be just as effective for removing or neutralizing red pigments. They provide a clean slate, so you can re-dye your hair to a more preferred shade.

When using a color corrector for red hair, it’s simple:

  • Mix the color remover solution according to the directions.
  • Apply it evenly throughout your hair while wearing gloves.
  • Wait for the recommended processing time, then rinse thoroughly.
  • Shampoo and condition as usual. Your hair should be stripped of excess red tones.

Follow These Tips and Avoid Common mistakes

Here are some dos and don’ts when dealing with unwanted red hair:


  • Closely follow instructions on any hair dye or treatment you use
  • Be patient; it can take multiple applications to see a real difference
  • Use high quality salon-grade color correcting products
  • Deep condition and nourish hair after each process


  • Leave any product on for longer than directed
  • Apply harsh bleach to lift out color – this causes extreme damage
  • Overdo it with homemade concoctions – they are unpredictable
  • Skimp on conditioning treatments after dyeing or toning hair

What Color Covers Red Tones Most Flawlessly?

Using a darker shade or ash tone will camouflage red hues the best. As mentioned, going a few shades darker than your current hair color can help obscure vibrant red tones.

Ash brown and ash blonde dyes tend to be the most effective for neutralizing red, as they actively cancel out the red and orange tones in the hair. Wella and Clairol make great drugstore ash hair dyes.

Ask your stylist for an ash toner after lightening your hair to eradicate brassiness for cool, bright blonde locks.

Which toner is best for removing red pigments?

For toning down red tones, seek out a toner with ash undertones. Ash acts like a neutralizer, counteracting the fiery shades in hair.

Wella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde is a favorite of pros. Redken Shades EQ 07N Ash is another salon staple with a cult following.

Toners work best on lightened hair, as they deposit color rather than remove it. Most experts recommend lightening your hair to a pale yellow shade before applying an ash toner.

Can Ash Hair Color Really Neutralize Red?

The short answer is: yes, ash hair dye can effectively neutralize red tones! Ash contains hints of green and blue, making it the opposite of red on the color wheel.

However, it’s vital to pick the appropriate level and tone of ash to avoid any unwanted results. Using an ash shade that’s too light can make your hair appear dull or slightly green.

Consult with a professional colorist if you aren’t sure how to achieve your ideal ash tone. They can custom-mix the ideal dye.

Green Shampoo is Your Savior Against Red Hair

While ash dye works from within the hair shaft, green shampoo only deposits color on the outside of the hair. However, green shampoo can still be extremely effective at reducing the appearance of red tones.

Since green is direct across from red on the color wheel, it neutralizes red in the same way ash dye does. It’s an easy fix compared to the lengthy process of dying hair.

Some top-rated options are Overtone Red- Neutralizing Coloring Conditioner and Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo. Use sparingly at first as green shampoo can quickly over-deposit.

Can Purple Shampoo Also Remove Red Pigments?

While purple shampoo is great for combatting brassiness in blonde hair, it isn’t as effective at neutralizing reds.

Since purple is closer to red on the color wheel than green, it won’t cancel out red tones as flawlessly. However, purple can still mute and soften reddish shades to a small degree.

Purple works best on orangey tones. If you have darker coppery hair, try a purple conditioning mask before reaching for heavier ash dye.

What Colors Look Most Flattering on Reddish Skin Tones?

Those with ruddy or reddish skin tones look ravishing in warm, golden shades. Think creamy caramel, ginger, or vibrant copper – these lively colors will make red undertones glow!

On the other hand, ash tones can make red complexions appear ruddy or flushed. Platinum, icy blonde, and other cool shades tend to clash with red skin.

Bring out your best features by complementing your complexion. Embrace warmth! There are so many beautiful shades to try that will make your red tones radiate.

In Conclusion: Fade Red Hair with Color Theory

To summarize, strategically using colors from the opposite side of the color wheel is key for neutralizing red tones.

Green and ash counteract red beautifully, while blue and purple conveniently cancel out orange and yellow. Always opt for salon-quality products, follow instructions carefully, and nourish hair after processing.

With this handy color theory cheat sheet, you can bid farewell to accidental magenta locks and correct color mishaps from the comfort of your home. No more clown-like candy apple crises – only smooth, chic strands!

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