I love to dye my hair all colors of the rainbow. I love all things vintage, and I enjoy creating art, taking photos, and doing it myself.
Did you try to bleach/tone your hair at home and end up with a yellow mess instead? It happens to the best of us—and it can be pretty embarrassing. I've dealt with this myself on multiple occasions, and have had to rock a hat and sunglasses for a few days while attempting to fix the problem.
The good news is, I've got several tried and true methods for you to rid yourself of your brassy locks.
How Does It Happen?
Darker hair is comprised of many different tones. My naturally dark brown hair appears reddish in the sun, because of my warm undertones. Some people have naturally cool, ash-toned hair. When you bleach your hair and strip away the color, these tones start to show through.
Typically, when dark hair is bleached it will go through various brassy reds, oranges, and yellows. It's usually not the look that people are going for, but if you want to get to a new color you're probably going to need to lift some out first—brassiness is inevitable.
Options to Fix Yellow Hair
Depending on what your end goal is, there are several ways to fix yellow, brassy hair.
- Go lighter using bleach
- Use toner to fix the yellow
- Dye your hair blonde
- Go darker using dye
- Purple shampoo on very light yellow
If you're scared of using bleach at home, you may want to consider seeing a hairstylist or just going darker. It's okay to admit defeat! However, if you're set on lighter hair, there are tons of resources online to help you through the bleaching process. Below is a video of one of my own trials and tribulations to get to light hair! You can see after the bleaching how the brassy tones came through.
Admittedly, the video above is illustrating the exact issue being addressed in this post. Even at the end of the video, my hair was much lighter but still pretty brassy. This is where your end goal comes into play.
My intention with bleaching my hair was not to have blonde hair. It was to get it light enough to dye it purple! If the end goal for the look was to have a natural blonde, I would have needed to bleach it further.
Bleaching at home is fairly easy, and you can find the whole process detailed here.
Essentially, you'll need a bleach powder and a 20 volume developer. You can repeat the bleaching process spaced out over several days/weeks, until your hair is the color of the inside of a banana peel. At this level, it is ready to tone!
Use a Toner
Toner is a product that should be used for ANYONE trying to go blonde. It will slightly lift color and neutralize red, orange, and yellow tones.
You'll have to pick a toner depending on the shades present in your hair. Toners are typically based with green, blue, and purple. Green neutralizes red tones, blue neutralizes orange, and purple neutralizes yellow. If you're reading this article in particular, you'll probably need a blue-violet based toner.
Wella makes great toners for yellow hair - figure out what level your hair is at currently, and choose a toner based on that. If your hair isn't light enough, you run the risk of the toner not working - as was the case in my video above.
If you decide to use a Wella toner, they suggest mixing it with two parts 20 volume developer. After you've let it sit for the recommended amount of time, wash it out and be sure to use a leave-in conditioner.
Dye It Blonde
This is a method that, much like toning, will only work if your hair is at a certain level of lightness already. If you have a yellow hair problem, chances are you will be able to dye. Using a blonde hair dye won't work for you if you have orange tones in your hair!
Select a blonde hair dye shade within 2 shades of your current color. The great thing about box dyes at the store is that they show you what the dye will do to different shades right on the side of the box!
Follow the instructions and apply this as you would any other hair dye. Keep in mind, if you are looking to rid yourself of warm tones, select an ash blonde.
Sometimes you just want to give up on the idea of blonde, and that's okay too! If you're having issues achieving the look, it may be time to just dye it darker.
You can pick up a hair dye of your original color, or go for something different - just make sure it's darker than your current yellow. The process for dying your hair at home is very simple, and can be found here!
As I mentioned earlier, I bleached my hair blonde to be able to dye it another color. Below is a photo of how I ended up going darker by adding purple dye on top!
More Hair-Bleaching Articles
Hopefully this post helped you to find a solution to your brassy, yellow hair. Going through a big hair change can be intimidating, but it's always fixable! Leave your questions and comments below on what your experience has been. If you have some more questions about bleaching and toning your hair, check out my profile to find more articles!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
mon mon mon on July 14, 2020:
i have bleached yellow hair, bright. wanting to go 7.33 or caramel blond. should i use semi 10 vol/demi or permanent 20vol ? also i was thinking as there is gold in my hair at the moment, should i just use 7.0 ? or should i use 7.3 ? What do you recommend ?
Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on June 01, 2020:
It sounds like you need to use a toner. If you have light yellow hair, you will be able to use Wella T18 toner mixed with 20 volume developer! If it is more orange than yellow, then Wella T18 will not work - you would need to go for something like Wella T27.
Lauren on June 01, 2020:
Hi. I normally have high lighted hair and have dyed it blonde in lockdown, however the roots are now a yellow blonde - I don't believe I left the mix on long enough to lift it. Am I able to use another box dye for the correct time/to preferred colour or is that a waste of time?
Linda on May 05, 2020:
Used koleston 12/1 and 12% peroxide, I had previously blonde high lighted hair roots were showing dark blonde, end result very light with yellow want to tone out yellow without going any lighter or darker. Please can you help
Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on April 27, 2020:
So the trouble with going blonde is that you are going to be better off with using bleach than with using dye. Dye, unless it is high-lift dye, is going to deposit color to your hair, where bleach strips it out.
Since your hair is already dark blonde, you should be okay using a bleach with 10 volume developer (i use Ion Bright White Creme Lightener, and then you'd need any kind of 10 volume developer). Mix them according to the instructions on the back of the bleach bottle and leave on 20-40 minutes (until your hair is as light as you desire). Rinse it out with warm water, and you should be in a place where you can now tone your hair. Judging by the blonde dye you used, I think Wella T15 would be the right toner shade you'd like. Mix that with 10 or 20 volume developer and leave on your hair for 30-40 minutes (it'll start to turn purple, that's normal) and then rinse out and you should have a nice natural blonde!
I will say, just be careful using bleach as it can be much more damaging than using a dye. If you absolutely want to do this, just take it slow! If you can wait, I absolutely recommend letting your stylist sort it out once the salon is back open. But, I'm also one of the people who loves to do it myself at home so I totally get it if you want to do it now. Good luck!
Gem Hilton on April 26, 2020:
I wonder if you could help me please. I have just done the one thing my hairdresser told everyone not to do and coloured my own hair! I couldn’t stand the roots any longer! I already have very light blonde hair but natural dark blonde ashy roots. I decided (wrongly) to colour it all with L’Oréal Excellence lightest natural blonde. Number 01. I did exactly what it told me to do in the instructions and now my colour has gone slightly lighter than before, which is fine but my roots are a dark brassy colour. It looks terrible as I’m already going through the tough stage of growing my pixie cut out. I’ve so far tried putting purple shampoo on A section of dry root for around 20 mins then washing it out to see if it would make a difference. It hadn’t. Any advice would be gratefully received during this lockdown process we are all enduring.
Thank you kindly
Stephanie Johnson on July 14, 2019:
I went to the hair dresser Friday and she bleached my hair. She said she used a toner; however my hair is very brassy with a yellow look. To tone down this look, would shimmering light work or is there a bettter shampoo and is today to soon
Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on April 29, 2019:
Every time I've uset T-18 it turns to a dark purple. It could have been mislabeled or a bad batch.
RDDD3 on April 28, 2019:
I colored my bleached hair using Wella Palest Ash Blonde and corresponding t-18 toner. I don't know if this was a "sign" but the toner mix was a reddish brown and there no ash tone evident during the toning process.
The end result was, while a nice shade of light blonde, there was no ash in the final results.
Why was this and how can I immediately fix it?
The ultimate result I want is a blonde that looks -in a subtle way- like graying hair but not gray hair.
Alex Rose (author) from Virginia on February 28, 2019:
If it's very light blonde with yellow, I'd try a T18 toner to get it to a neutral shade. Once you're there, use a gray dye. Ion has a gray series at Sally's Beauty, and Arctic Fox has Sterling. I haven't tried the Arctic Fox Sterling yet but in my experience their dyes are amazing!
Debbie on February 27, 2019:
Hi, I've been trying to go gray or color my hair silver gray!! I just had it done at a shop and paid $85.00 plus tip, and it looks like a very light blonde to me, with yellow in it! This has been going on for months with different toners, and bleaching!! Im going nuts !! What can i do to just get to a nice silver grey tone?? Ive never had this much trouble coloring my hair and getting it to the color i was trying to achieve!! I need help!!