I recently had a client return from a hen weekend in Marbella with this exact problem. Over the past 14 years of applying extensions on hundred's of clients thankfully this is only the 3rd time it has happened. Even though it's a rare occurrence the possibility is always there, so I generally never advise getting hair extensions (especially blondes) just for holidays.
Whilst hairdressers are well educated on discolouration and the chemistry involved when this happens the general public don't know the why's and how's, so I thought with the holiday season now well underway it would be the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of this unfortunate and rare phenomenon, plus give advice on what to do if and when it happens.
First things first, whilst alarming and disappointing, your hair extensions are not faulty, they are simply suffering from discolouration caused by any of the following factors;
Discolouration can be caused by a number of different factors, for example:
Hard Water – Hard water can cause hair extension discolouration.
Sun Exposure – Sun exposure can cause hair extensions to lighten and change colour.
Salt Water – Salt Water can cause hair extensions to become dry and strip it of its colour.
Chlorine – Chlorine Exposure can change hair extension colour from anything between bright green and pink.
Holidays are the number one time in which hair extensions are likely to change colour, as they are exposed to higher levels of chlorine, hard water, sun and sea water.
Even if you do not get your hair wet in the pool, and don’t take a dip in the sea, just the act of washing your hair in the shower can be enough to have you wondering why your hair extensions have turned pink.
The water from other countries is very different to that at home, and the sudden change can cause discolouration to occur.
Now discolouration can of course happen to hair of any colour, however light caramels and blondes are more likely to turn orange and suffer more extreme forms of discolouration than darker shades.
What Causes Hair Extensions To Change Colour
Its simple, blonde hair extensions turn orange due to the way in which they are coloured.
In order to achieve the beautiful shades of blonde we have become accustomed to, violet and ash pigments are required to neutralise any warmth in hair that is coloured from dark to light, this is what gives blonde hair its beautiful neutral tone. If hair is dyed blonde, and no violet or ash pigments are applied, depending on the original colour of the hair, the colour will look much warmer, brassy is the term blondes like to call this effect.
Now this is where it gets a little tricky. Blonde hair becoming brassy is common place in the blonde community, and light brown/blonde hair extensions turning orange is the same issue, its just that many fail to make the connection between the 2 processes.
The reason blonde hair extensions can turn this unsightly shade of orange, is because the violet and ash pigments have been lifted away from the hair, exposing the warmer pigment underneath.
When the pigment underneath is exposed, this will show as a much deeper orange than a natural blonde would experience in terms of brassiness, and the reason for this is due to the original colour of the hair extensions.
Hair extensions typically start their journey as black or dark brown, and are lightened to various shades of blonde. All hair colours have their own natural pigment, with dark hair having a deep red natural pigment, and natural blonde hair having a light yellow pigment. As the natural pigment of hair extension hair is dark red, if the violet/ash pigment is stripped away this will show through, creating the symptoms of discolouration you are experiencing….bright orange tones.
Can I Fix My Hair Extensions That Have Turned Orange?
Hair extensions that have turned from blonde to orange have simply suffered the result of violet/ash pigment stripping away from the hair, exposing the natural pigment underneath, therefore you can breathe a sign of relief in knowing your hair extensions are not faulty, and that you are not alone.
In the majority of cases hair extension discolouration is easily fixed, you just need to reapply those ash/violet pigments. Consult your local hairdresser to explain what has occurred, and he/she should be able to guide you through the processes of reintroducing violet/ash pigments to the hair to tone the colour, and eliminate the orangey/brassy colour you are experiencing.
If you're heading away and want to be prepared just in case it happens then I'd highly recommend Malibu Hair Extension Sachets which are available for various problems.