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Take one scroll through your feed right now and it’s likely you’ll land on an aesthetically pleasing autumnal hair video. In true Christian Girl Autumn style, the transformation clips feature hues ranging from deep burgundy to pumpkin spice, with many citing their love of roaring fireplaces, books and Gilmore Girls as the inspiration behind them. Among the myriad warm tones, one seasonal shade caught my attention more than any other.
Enter: autumn orange. Sure, it might be Spring here in Australia, but we're bookmarking this one for later.
What is the autumn orange hair colour trend?
Sitting somewhere between American actress Sadie Sink in Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" music video and Batman's Poison Ivy, the shade was made for people who want to frolic through the leaves — and look good doing it. But what makes autumn orange so different from its predecessors like burnt copper, 'squeezy honey' auburn and copper red?
"When someone says an autumn orange, I think of those really warm orangey tones," explains Kornelija Cecetaite, junior stylist at BLEACH London. "It's more a kind of rustic orange, as opposed to a bright colour." With that in mind, I booked into BLEACH's Dalston salon to undergo a blonde to autumn orange overhaul.
I had little knowledge of what the process would be like, what the upkeep would require or how to take care of the hair at home. Thankfully, Kornelija answered all of my pressing hair transformation questions over the course of my appointment, providing vital information about what it really means to commit to autumn orange come March.
How do you take your hair autumn orange?
Kornelija pushes the importance of bringing a good reference photo to your hair appointment to establish whether your desired shade should be more orange or browner, depending on your skin tone. Once the ideal colour is established, you can discuss whether permanent or semi-permanent colour is best. This all depends on the base colour and the maintenance level that suits your lifestyle.
As I was working from bleached blonde highlights, we wanted something that would blend easily as my natural dark roots grow out. We settled on a semi-permanent autumn orange colour using a Wella toner (this will vary between salons). After applying that all over the head, the colour was left on for 20 minutes before being washed out with a mix of BLEACH London’s Tangerine Dream, and Proper Copper, hair dyes mixed with conditioner.
From there, Beer Mask was applied to the mid-lengths and ends to add a gloss effect to the hair, making the colours pop. Then we chopped in some face-framing layers.
Does autumn orange work on light and dark hair?
Choosing the colour you want using photos is a good jumping-off point but the final shade will always depend on whether you are starting from light or dark hair. "Bleached hair acts like a blank canvas," explains Kornelija. "When you're going from dark, while it is also a blank canvas, you have to go about it in a different way."
When it comes to dark hair, Kornelija says that while you can get a really nice copper hue, sometimes it won't be as vibrant. "The colour will always have a little bit of depth because you're essentially working with the natural colour of someone's hair as opposed to bleaching it, which is stripping that out of the hair," she says.
In short? It’s good to establish just how bright an orange you want before the appointment so that your colourist can establish whether the hair will need to be bleached before adding colour.
How long does autumn orange hair last?
If you want your autumn orange to last long beyond the season itself, there are a few things to bear in mind. "Typically, when it comes to a tint, you’ll find that the first thing that will fade is the orange-ness," explains Kornelija. "Because the shade is a mixture of brown and orange, it's always the lightest colour in the mixture that will fade first, so it will still stay a copper colour but not as bright."
Although Kornelija says the colour could start to fade from one month onwards, there are plenty of things you can do to help it last longer, like keeping hair washing to a minimum. "If you don’t wash your hair as often, then you won’t have to top it up as much," explains Kornelija. Her suggestion? Building up your hair tolerance incrementally.
It can sound like a lie when people say they 'trained their hair' to go further between washes but Kornelija says it is possible. Given that I typically wash my hair every three days, she recommended that I try switching to every four days for a week, then back to three, then back again to four and so on, until there isn’t any difference between my three- and four-day hair.
From there, you can continue upping the days between washes, with the goal of washing your hair once a week for maximum colour protection. Kornelija also suggests using a heat-defence spray when blow-drying or straightening, for example, as heat styling can lighten the colour of the hair, too.
How often does a colour like autumn orange need to be topped up?
All hair colour fades eventually but maintaining brighter colours requires a bit more than your average refresh. "When the hair is bleached, you will find that it will fade off significantly quicker because the dye doesn’t have much pigment to hold onto," explains Kornelija. "This means if your base is blonde, you will likely have to redo the whole dye again, not just top it with a bit more orange or brown depending on which pigment has obviously faded. The best thing you can do is let it all fade off and then do the whole thing again," she says.
If you want to keep up the colour as you go, another option involves mixing the dye in with your conditioner. "Every time you shampoo your hair, whatever fades off you can top up by leaving the dye and conditioner mix on for a few minutes."
Will I need to look after my hair differently if it's dyed autumn orange?
The main thing to remember about looking after dyed hair is that the products you use matter. "It's true when people say a colour-saving shampoo will make the colour last longer," says Kornelija. In order to prevent the colour fading too much, it’s essential to use products formulated for colour-treated hair. Josh Wood Colour Miracle Shampoo, $25, and Nexxus Colour Assure Shampoo, $28.26, are both great options due to their nourishing, non-stripping ingredients. For those looking for a budget-friendly option, OGX Fade-Defying Shampoo, $14.99, has rave reviews for its sulphate-free formula.
How hard will it be to change your hair colour after autumn orange?
Autumn orange may be the colour of the moment but it's always good to think ahead, especially if you switch up your hair often. One of the major things that will affect how easily the colour can be changed is how often the dye job has been topped up along the way.
Kornelija explains that if you add colour in your conditioner every time you shower, this will create more buildup on the hair that you will eventually have to get rid of. If you let the colour fade gradually before redyeing completely, there will be fewer layers of colour on the hair, making it easier to work with further down the line.
In my case, Kornelija said that getting back to blonde is possible as long as I'm happy with the hair being a warmer tone than before. "With bleached hair, it might end up being a bit more orangey or peach before you can get yourself back to blonde but I feel like that's quite fun. There is a nice variation between shades."
In other words, the colour process is a journey but I, for one, am more than happy to enjoy the ride.