How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair
If you have dyed blonde hair, you know that it doesn't remain as vibrant and beautiful after a few washes. Every time you shampoo your new color, dye fades out of it and minerals from the water may even discolor it. It only takes a few washes before your hair loses its salon look and you're left with brassy hair.
Luckily, getting rid of brassy hair is a process that is quick, simple, and can be accomplished at home without any major hair coloring skill. With these tips and tricks, brassy hair will be a thing of the past.
What's even better is that you can even use these tips on natural blonde hair to help it look its best!
What Causes Brassy Blonde Hair?
Hair is more than one color and warm tones hiding underneath the visible color contribute towards its darkness and complexity. In the case of blonde hair, yellow is the base tone underneath in most shades, with increasing amounts of orange tones present in darker blonde shades.
Whether your hair is natural or dyed blonde, some amount of violet and/or blue tone is present in your hair to keep it from simply looking bright yellow or coppery. These pairs of colors counteract each other when present in equal amounts, and when the balance is out, you can start to get brassy hair or your hair can look too ashy depending on which direction this balance goes.
If you're not a natural blonde and have to bleach your hair to become blonde, you're susceptible to brassy hair because of the way your hair is lightened and toned. Dark hair that is lightened with bleach is progressively lightened, revealing the warm tones and the dye that is used to neutralize these can fade over time.
Natural blondes can also be susceptible to brassiness however, and this can just be the natural color of the hair being too golden for a person's taste, or the result of a mineral buildup. The process of fixing brassy hair is relatively simple to do at home in each situation.
How to Tone Brassy Hair
In order to tone brassy hair, you must add cool tone to your hair in the form of violet and blue tones. This balances out the color by neutralizing the yellow and copper tones that cause brassy hair.
In order to do this, you need to use a colored preparation like a hair dye or temporary rinse. Some of the available options include:
- Permanent blonde hair dye
- Semi-permanent mousse
- Temporary rinses
- Color refresher shampoo
Each of these vary in how long the results might last, though besides permanent dyes, every other option listed here are non-damaging so it's possible to keep your blonde hair toned and healthy every day once you find your preferred product.
Permanent hair dyes aren't really permanent—or rather, a lot of the cooler pigment isn't. Whilst the majority of the dye remains in the hair over the long term, the fading that occurs more readily in blue and violet tones can cause your blonde hair to start showing gold tones.
So why would you use a permanent dye to tone brassy hair then? Simply, the permanent option is the most pigmented, and longest-lasting product so it's still the best choice for hair that is heavily faded or for the first tone after lightening.
Permanent hair dye is damaging though and should generally only be used to tone brassy hair in those two situations as there are better options available otherwise. Another good time to use a permanent dye is right after you bleach and tone your regrowth, which you may do every 4–8 weeks depending on how dark your natural color is and how fast your hair grows.
When you apply the color to your bleached roots to tone them, mix up more of the shade and apply it to your mid-lengths and ends for only the last 10 minutes of development time to refresh the ends and eliminate brassiness with little damage.
This allows your brassy hair to be toned, whilst giving you the convenience of applying the dye only when you perform your regrowth application. Using the dye on your lengths for the last 10 minutes of development cuts down on damage to keep your hair healthier and shinier over time without compromising on the color.
Which Shade to Use?
An easy tip that will flow through to every other type of dye you could use is to use an ash shade of dye, one to two levels lighter than your hair currently is. This will be light enough that it won't cause any unexpected darkening if your hair is porous, or lead to over-toned blonde hair, which can look overly grey, or even have a violet or blue tinge to it.
Dye to use
7A - medium ash blonde
8A - light ash blonde
9A - very light ash blonde
Very light blonde
10A - lightest ash blonde
Platinum blonde (also pastels)
10A - lightest ash blonde*
Semi-permanent mousse is one of the best ways to tone brassy hair as it doesn't damage the hair and can be used in the shower after you shampoo. The entire application can take around 5 minutes depending on which product you use, and your brassy hair is refreshed completely.
One of the best color mousses for blonde hair is . For light blonde hair when you're trying to maintain a platinum or silver shade, use their 9-5.1 mousse for 5 minutes after you shampoo your hair. Schwarzkopf Igora's Expert Mousse
If your hair is darker and needs a stronger tone, as is the case with medium blondes and darker, you can use their 8.1 mousse to get rid of brassy hair. There are many similar brands with toning mousses that can also be used if you're able to select the shade yourself.
These mousses can be used as often as necessary. They smell great and condition your hair as they work and you may discover that you only need to use them once a week or even less often than that. You may use them more often if you want to maintain a strong ash or silver tone.
The best part though, is that they won't damage your hair and you don't need to devote lots of time to mixing up and applying a dye. For 5 minutes longer in the shower, you can get rid of brassy hair and step out with an entirely refreshed look.
Temporary rinses are another product that can be used in the shower after shampooing your hair. One such rinse that many people are familiar with is Roux's Fanci-Full rinses. These products have been used for years to temporarily change the color of hair.
To use a temporary rinse, squirt the product over your hair, concentrating on areas of really brassy hair and massage it in thoroughly. You can rinse it out after a few minutes or leave it for longer if you want more toning to occur.
The benefit of these products is that you can use them in the shower rather than take time out of your schedule to apply a dye and wait for it to develop, but semi-permanent dyes are generally superior.
A semi-permanent mousse lasts longer and is an easier consistency to apply evenly, whereas a temporary rinse vanishes after you shampoo your hair again. Use them if you specifically like the product or you want to try a new shade of blonde and won't be sure if you'll like it.
Color Refresher Shampoo
Color refresher shampoo is your new best friend if you have brassy hair. These shampoos contain color pigment that can tone your hair and eliminate brassy tones. The best part is, you just use the shampoo in place of your regular shampoo and it takes no extra effort to use.
Before you choose a color refresher shampoo, have a look at your brassy hair and try to visualize the tones that are contributing to it. Some people will notice they have mostly yellow tones, whereas other people notice more copper in their color.
A quick rule of thumb is that darker blondes tend to have more copper tones when they turn brassy, and lighter blondes reveal more yellow. Once you have determined whether it is primarily yellow, copper, or a combination of both tones contributing to your brassy hair, you can choose a color refresher shampoo to tone your hair.
Violet tones neutralize yellow, and blue tones neutralize copper. When choosing a shampoo, look for a product that contains both, but a shampoo that contains more blue pigment will have a better effect if your hair is particularly coppery.
- Choosing a Blonde Shampoo
If you need help to choose the right shampoo for your brassy hair, this is an outline of some of the absolute best shampoos, how to use them, and what tones are present in their formula.
Brassiness Due to Mineral-Buildup in Dyed or Natural Blonde Hair
Sometimes brassy hair isn't the result of fading, or might not only be because of that. Often it is the result of mineral-buildup from shower water that contains a lot of iron or other metals, or swimming in chlorinated pools.
In this case, you can still tone this brassiness out, but the buildup will only continue over time if you do this. The easiest way to deal with the problem is to use a good chelating or clarifying shampoo once a month or so to strip metals and chlorine out of the hair.
Other Tips for Brassy Hair
There's a few other ways to tone the brassiness out of your hair at home, and these can be used instead of, or between uses of more conventional methods.
- Create your own silver shampoo or conditioner - simply add violet/blue semi-permanent dyes to your favorite product, give it a shake, then do a strand test on wet hair and titrate the concentration until it tones well.
- Create homemade toner - same general process, add dyes to conditioner in a tinting bowl, mix it all up and apply for a few minutes for extra toning in very brassy hair.
- Color wash - mix a small amount of permanent ash blonde dye, developer, and shampoo in a tinting bowl and then put this through your hair, leaving for a few minutes before rinsing. Follow with conditioner. This both brightens and tones blonde hair that has become dull and brassy.
When your blonde hair starts to fade, it can be disheartening. Brassy hair can look downright horrible on you if you have a cool skin tone or pale complexion.
Luckily, fixing brassy hair is as easy as replacing your shampoo or adding a mousse to your shower routine.
Do you need more assistance to get rid of brassy hair and keep your blonde hair toned? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.
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.