How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair

If you have dyed blonde hair, you know that it doesn't remain that beautiful natural color after you leave the salon. From the very first time you shampoo your new color, it's already starting to fade and your hair is beginning to change color. 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 a little knowledge, brassy hair can be a thing of the past and your blonde hair will look great every single day.


What causes brassy blonde hair?

Hair is more than one color, even though it may look like it's only the one shade. Hidden beneath the color you see in the mirror, there are a variety of warm tones contributing to the appearance of your hair, giving it depth and the darkness it needs to look the way it looks.

The cool tones that also contribute to the shade are the reason why your hair looks like a balanced natural shade. These tones balance out the warmth to form the color you actually see when you look in the mirror.

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 warm tones ranging from deep red all the way down to a pale banana yellow. Once it reaches a yellow color, it can be toned blonde with a dye to balance out that yellow base tone and form a natural blonde color.

As with all hair dyes, blonde shades can and do fade. The main difference here however is that instead of seeing your color get lighter as it would if you dyed it with a darker dye, brassy hair occurs. As your blonde dye fades, the cool tones wash out of your hair, causing more yellow, gold, and copper tones to become visible in your color once this balance is thrown off. Fixing brassy hair requires you to add these cool tones back in.

How to tone brassy hair

When you tone brassy hair, what you're really doing is adding more cool tone to your hair. This balances out the color by neutralizing 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. Your options include:

  • Permanent blonde hair dye
  • Semi-permanent mousse
  • Temporary rinses
  • Color refresher shampoo


Permanent dyes

As you will have worked out by now, permanent hair dyes aren't really permanent to the full extent of the word. Whilst the majority of the dye remains in the hair over the long term, the fading that occurs can leave your blonde hair looking unnatural.

You can use another permanent dye to get rid of brassy hair, with the caveat that this should only be done every 6 weeks or so. Hair dye is damaging, and permanent dyes should only be used to tone brassy hair when your color has significantly faded over time.

A good time to use a permanent dye is right after you bleach and tone your regrowth, which you would regularly do every 6 - 8 weeks or so depending on 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 the last 10 minutes of development time.

This allows your brassy hair to be toned, whilst giving you the convenience of applying the dye 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.

Semi-permanent mousse

Semi-permanent mousse is one of the single best ways to tone brassy hair as it doesn't damage the hair like permanent dyes, and can be used in the shower after you shampoo your hair. The entire application can take around 5 minutes depending on which product you use, and your brassy hair is taken back to the color it was dyed in the salon.

One of the best color mousses for blonde hair is Schwarzkopf Igora's Expert Mousse. 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. 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.

These mousses can be used as often as necessary and they smell great and condition your hair as they work. You may find you only need to use them once a week or even less, or you may use them after every shampoo if you want to maintain an 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 salon blonde hair again.

Temporary rinses

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 mousses are 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.


Neutralizing brassy hair

Brassy tone
Neutralizing color
Copper red

Color refresher shampoo

Color refresher shampoo is your absolute 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 they take 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. Whether you choose a violet shampoo or silver shampoo (blue), depends on what tones you need to neutralize. If in doubt, use a color refresher shampoo that contains both violet and blue tones.

When your blonde hair starts to look brassy, 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 with a color refresher or adding a colored mousse to your shower routine. Getting rid of brassy hair is easy and your hair will look like you've just stepped out of the salon.

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.

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marquitad 18 months ago

Your site is so helpful! Thanks for sharing all the great content!!

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Maffew James 18 months ago Author

No problem Marquitad, glad you've found it helpful.

Josie weir 17 months ago

i have stripped the red and brown out of my hair and have pre lightened it blonde and now put a baby blonde on top i love colour on the ends but the roots and underneath are still darker and look abit orangy! If i use a purple shampoo will my hair turn purple? I really don't no what to use? Shall i just put another box dye on maybe an ash blonde? But im worried it will leave and ask colour on the ends! Please help.

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Maffew James 17 months ago Author

Hi Josie,

It is possible for blonde hair to turn purple if the shampoo is too strong for how light it is, applied too often, or left on too long. With darker blonde hair, this is far less likely. As for toning orange hair with it though, violet tone won't neutralise the orange. It only works on yellow. Blue tone will neutralise orange and whilst many purple shampoos contain a little blue tone, it's not normally enough to have any effect on darker orange hair.

De Lorenzo Silver is strong enough to affect lighter orange hair and contains quite a bit of blue tone, but again, it's still not likely going to have too much of an effect, and it will more definitely result in blueish hair where your hair is lighter. The best idea is to lighten the darker hair further by separating it all out and only applying bleach to areas that are darker, and leaving this until it lightens to match the ends. If this is not possible though, another option is to apply a darker blonde shade in a natural tone to darken the ends and get it all closer in colour.

Otherwise, you can use a medium to dark ash blonde shade depending on how dark the orange still is in order to tone it, but you need to ensure this doesn't touch the lighter ends, and the darker areas will still be darker, although the orange will be neutralised.

BeautifulJane 16 months ago

Hi Maffew,

It's just a pleasure to know that there's a professional out there who is willing to help those of us less knowledgeable. Thank you in advance. Your expertise and ability to break things down simply is really refreshing. I am a naturally a dark brunette (probably a level 4, nuetral) who has recently used demi permanents (mixing 4/and 5) over my dark hair because i am greying slightly (15/20% grey) and i have androgenetic alopecia. My hair is wavy and i would say medium to fine strand. I had a "professional balayage" six months ago. before I left the salon I saw different tones in the balayage, specifically, oranges, orangey-reds, some gold and a few cooler almost blond pieces. I would like to even everything out and take my base to a level 6, dark blonde and then do balayage again. I have been researching a lot because I would like to color correct at home and do the base myself then have the Bali gosh done correctly. can you outline the process step by step for me? I think this is what I need to do. Do a bleach wash(can i use 6 vol leftover demi developer), apply a protein filler, apply a demi permanent orange gold dye and after rinsing out until drying I would apply a cool ash blonde to neutralize. then I can make up 3 boxes of level 5 brown with level 6 dark blonde and cover the entire hair from roots to tips witg this final process. I would like to do all of this at home and then go to have the balayage done again. the most important questions I have are is it okay for me to use a demi permanent box that already has a developer included? I know you recommend using non box semi but will this work if I use the box clairol natural instincts? when I add the semi/demi filler what color do you recommend? and do I paint just the balayage bleached areas or the whole head? anything you can do to assist would be very helpful as affordability is a factor. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MAFFEW.

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Maffew James 16 months ago Author

Hi BeautifulJane,

You've already worked everything out mostly, and there's just a few things I need to clarify before you can go ahead and dye it.

With the protein filler or demi-permanent, you only need to use one of these because they're two different ways to do the same thing. Protein filler is easier because it can be applied, absorbed, and then the final dye is put on top, but if you have an exact level result in mind, a demi-permanent dye can be better as the filler because it's less likely that it will show through the final colour as you can choose how dark you want it to be.

Generally with protein filler, the redder it is, the darker it is, to coincide with what result you would be using it for (Red is the base tone for dark brown and black, so red protein filler is usually darker than gold protein filler for example), but there's less control overall. I'd recommend going with the demi-permanent dye in 7G as the filler for a level 6 result.

As for using a box demi-permanent, there's nothing wrong with that. The developer will only be as strong as it needs to be because the dye isn't intended to be used for lightening. You can run into problems with permanent box dyes using the provided developer because it's a 'one-size-fits-all' situation where the developer is often higher. This means a box dye can lighten and darken hair depending on what level the hair it is applied to is, but you run into problems using them for toning, colouring hair that is different depths, or dyeing with minimal lift. Where you don't need lift because you're only toning or darkening, the higher developer is more damaging without offering any additional benefit.

For the bleach, you're definitely fine to use the 6 vol, but keep in mind that it's a fairly weak volume of developer; especially when a bleach wash is already a more dilute way to bleach. It could take more time and more than one process to lighten it all.

You do have two different options during application as well. You can apply to darker areas first and progressively add more bleach to each area that is next in terms of depth as it lightens to match and even up. This is less damaging because you're only bleaching the sections that need to be lighter. The other option, which is easier, is to apply all over. All your hair will lighten when you do this, and the idea is to get the darkest hair to lighter than a level 6, after which it will be filled and then dyed to darken and even it all up to the same level. This is slightly more damaging, but fine to do if your hair is in relatively good condition and you find it too hard to apply section by section.

Then for the final colour, the dye you use will be a natural tone so that it darkens properly, but you can mix this with another tone for specific results depending on what you want it to look like. For example, if you want a cool result, mix ash into the natural. If you want it warmer, mix a little gold into it. Because this is darker than the filler shade and a natural tone, it covers fairly well without needing to fully neutralise with ash, but definitely mix ash into it if you want to keep it neutral to cool. Overall, you need the dye used to be at least half natural shade for it to darken and even up properly, as well as for better lasting colour.

To summarise everything in steps:

1. Bleach or bleach wash to get every section at least lighter than level 6. Preferably, about level 7 for best coverage and for the best chance of avoiding any difference in colour later on. Some slight difference can still occur no matter what you do though, due to the different dyes used in the past, and lightening that has occurred, but you can get it almost perfect in most cases.

2. Fill with demi-permanent 7G. This will add in the warm golden base tone that will be the foundation for your level 6 colour, and, most importantly, is going to add that missing depth back into the lighter sections of hair.

3. Finish the colour with 6N. Use 6N mixed with 6A for a cool result. Use 6N mixed with 6G for a warm result. Whatever you add, keep the 6N at 50% of total mixture at least. Ideally, the dye used for the final colour should be permanent, because significant fading will occur with anything else.

Let me know if you need any further clarification on any of this or have any problems with the colouring and I'll explain further. Good luck with your colour!

BeautifulJane 16 months ago

Hi Maffew,

I realized that this post is months old so I was thrilled and grateful that you answered. In fact, my husband said watching me retrieve your response was "like a kid opening gifts at Christmas." I agree. : ) THANK YOU FOR THE CLARITY AND CAREFUL OUTLINE BELOW.

If I may just clarify a few things that I did not previously ask.

Because I want to follow your advice (which makes perfect sense), I am scrapping the box demi-permanent (and will use Wella demi and permanent to finish the entire double process).

1. Using the bleach wash (section-by-section method to reduce damage), I assume that I will part my hair in four and work each section from darkest (near roots) to include the ends where the hair is lightest and balayaged? I assume the balayaged ends will lighten even more, correct?

2. What strength developer do you recommend? (I have 20 vol). Can I substitute half developer to distilled water? or will this be too complicated in final computation? Will this be effective at bringing me to the orange, brassy color needed at level 7?

3. IMPORTANT: Do I include the untouched virgin growth in the bleach wash or not?

4. I am using this ratio. 1 oz bleach: 1 oz 20 vol. developer: 1 oz distilled water: 1 oz clarifying shampoo. What ratio do you recommend for least damage and effective results?

5. What is the change (in developer ratio) as I move from darkest hair to lightest (balayaged ends)? DO I UNDERSTAND THIS CORRECTLY THAT THE LIGHTEST AREAS NEED MORE DEVELOPER OR EVEN HIGHER VOL. DEVELOPER? (I would expect the darkest areas to need more developer, not the lightest).

6. After each section and entire bleach wash has been completed, should I use a neutralizing shampoo to stop the bleaching process?

7. I should start out will dry hair for the bleach was, correct?

8. Is that recommendation of 7G (for the filler) also relevant in the Wella Demi-permanent brand?

9. Should hair be damp when I apply the 7G demi filler?

10. Do I do all the processes back-to-back in one day or should the hair rest for 24 hrs after the demi fill?

11. May I add some neutral (conditioning, no-color) protein filler to the final permanent process to help the outcome or this is not necessary? (I am using about six tubes of Wella permanent hair dye).

12. Where do I apply permanent 6N mixture first? to virgin roots or skip roots and do Zone 2 and Zone 3 first, then come back to roots, Zone 1? (Do I need to be concerned with 'hot roots' or this only relevant to RED hair dye application? I have slight greys at root.

13. Finally, becaue of my alopecia the dermatologist suggested that I use ammonia-free (semi or demi permanents) to dye with. What are your 'matching' recommendations to maintain overall consistency roots and rest of hair color for future?

14. Just for my knowledge would results be different if I flipped the permanent dye and demi-permanent dye application sequence? Just wondering.

Thank you that you are so patient and are willing to clarify things. SOOOOOO GRATEFUL to you, Maffew. Keep up your great work! YOU'RE THE BEST!



BeautifulJane 16 months ago

Maffew, one more question. Do I apply conditioner after bleach wash and before Demi-filler? I am not sure, but I would say NO conditioner, correct?

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Maffew James 16 months ago Author

Hi Jane,

No problem, I'm glad you found it helpful. Onto your questions:

1. Yes, everything will lighten if you apply all over. This will even and darken back up later on. Of course, you're definitely fine to focus application on the darker areas if you can. If you lighten only the darker areas to take them light enough, or you apply all over and process until the darker areas lighten enough, the final result will be roughly the same after dyeing. The difference is that you keep your hair healthier if you apply to specific sections.

2. For the bleach, use a maximum of 20 vol. For the final dye, use 10 vol; and for the demi-permanent, use what is recommended for your own brand. You can dilute it with distilled water, but keep in mind that doing so will loosed the consistency and make dye or bleach runnier when mixed with the diluted developer.

3. You'll need to lighten your roots too if they're level 4. As long as no dye has touched them previously though, you can adjust for this using the final dye if that makes it easier. Ie, apply your final colour with 30 vol to the roots first, lighten up to level 6, then apply the dye with 10 vol to your lengths to finish the colour. Otherwise you will need to bleach them. You may want to do this separately though as it will lighten much quicker than your lengths being virgin hair and close to the scalp where warmth is highest. Lightening the roots before or after doing the lengths will keep things less complicated.

4. You can include the water, but a bleach wash is usually applied to damp hair anyway, so it already becomes diluted down because of the water in your hair. Bleach wash with 20 vol, applied to damp hair is quite mild by itself without diluting down further.

5. The lightest areas don't need to be lightened much, if at all, if you can avoid it. If you're able to apply only to areas that are darker than level 6, do this. If not, or if the balayaged areas are still a little dark for the colour you want, use 10 vol here if you want to minimise damage.

6. It's fine to do this if you like. It helps correct the pH and normalise the condition of your hair sooner. Another method is to mix a little white vinegar into your conditioner before applying this. The vinegar is acidic and will neutralise alkaline products like bleach and dye.

Overall, once bleaching is complete, rinse with plenty of water, preferably until there is no more bleach left in your hair before shampooing. The shampoo takes the last traces out.

7. Dry hair for full bleach, or damp hair for bleach wash. You can apply a bleach wash to dry hair but you won't be able to apply as quickly and evenly. The fact that your hair is wet means that the bleach doesn't absorb more readily where it is applied heavier because it has already absorbed water. It's kind of more like the hair absorbs water, then the bleach mixes into this; improving the application.

8. Yes it is, it's based on the base tone for the colour you want. If you look at a base tone chart, you can see that hair transitions from a dark colour like dark brown or black, to red, then to orange, to gold, to yellow, and then to pale yellow. When you darken hair back up, you do the reverse and replace this base tone. It forms the foundation for the colour that will be applied.

9. Yes, damp hair for a demi-permanent dye. Dry hair for a permanent dye. Apologies, I think I forgot to mention this. I'll outline the entire process more completely after answering the rest of your questions.

10. You can do it all in one day and that's fine, but I'd recommend waiting about 3 days or so after bleaching before doing everything else if you have the time. If you wait, the pH balances back out, natural moisture builds up, and porosity is reduced so that your hair doesn't end up taking more colour than expected. This is something to note though in case it happens, if you hair is porous, the colour will turn out darker. Don't worry too much as it will fade out to the intended colour. The thing about porous hair is that it absorbs more dye than expected, but then it often washes back out just as quickly. If you have any problems with porosity I can address them if and when it happens. There are a few different things that can be done to reduce the problem and treat it so that dye takes properly.

11. Speaking of porosity, this is actually one of the ways you can deal with it by applying a colorless protein filler. The protein absorbs into porous areas and equalises it out as well as slows down absorption of colour. You can apply it both before the demi-permanent dye and the final colour, or just before the final colour if you want to use it.

12.If you've already lightened the roots before dyeing, apply all over (Or apply last to the ends if you notice they're quite porous, which is often the case). Hot roots is mainly a problem when you're applying bleach or other lighteners like dye with high volumes of developer. What happens is that if you apply a lightener all over, the warmth of your scalp causes it to lighten more rapidly and effectively at the roots, whilst the lengths don't lighten as much. You can also see it happen if you apply to lighten dyed hair because the dyed hair won't lighten as easily and the roots, as virgin hair, will lighten more effectively.

If you've left them until now though, mix the 6N with 30 vol and apply to roots only, lighten up to level 6, and then apply more 6N with 10 vol developer to the lengths until the colour matches. You can always just leave the roots completely and do them at a later time after your colour has started fading, in which case you can bleach or dye them to lighten and then pull the colour through to the lengths to refresh their colour.

13. You probably won't be able to lighten your roots with permanent dye if you need to avoid ammonia as the ammonia-free variants don't lift as well. Best option here is to use ammonia-free bleach for regrowth and then demi-permanent dye to tone the roots, pulling through to the lengths as necessary to refresh faded colour. Overall, you'll need to keep re-applying demi-permanent colours because some fading will occur.

If you can use ammonia-free permanent dye for the colour you use to refresh, this will produce a longer lasting result. This uses a different compound that has the same effect as ammonia though, and it may have the same effect on your scalp, so maybe not the best choice. 'Ammonia-free' is largely a marketing trick, because a chemical with the effect of ammonia is needed for permanent dye to work as it opens the hair cuticle and catalyses the developer. To this end, manufacturers just replace the ammonia with similar chemicals that work the same. It's good for people who specifically have an allergy to ammonia, but for those worried about damage or with a scalp condition that is exacerbated by ammonia, the alternative chemicals cause the same problems.

14. It can be. The demi-permanent dye is replacing the base tone for the level 6 you want, as well as beginning to even everything up to the same level and colour. If you apply the permanent first, it will produce a very grey or even blueish colour. Applying the demi-permanent afterwards will counteract this intense ash, but it doesn't turn out exactly the same, and results will be less even. Ideally, you apply the dyes in the order in which they are built, so a colour that is a foundation for another colour will go first.

As for the conditioner, and to sum the whole process up:

Bleach > rinse with water > shampoo > (protein treatment - optional) > conditioner > then break for 3 days for best results and to keep your hair in better condition.

For the dyes, apply as protein filler (If using) > demi-permanent dye > rinse > shampoo > dry > protein filler (If using) > permanent dye > rinse > shampoo > condition.

BeautifulJane 16 months ago

I AM SOOOOOO GRATEFUL, Maffew! Words cannot express. Thank you, Thank you.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 16 months ago Author

Hi Jane,

You're certainly welcome. Good luck with your colour and let me know if you run into any problems or have any further questions.

BeautifulJane 16 months ago

Is it ok to mix the gel and liquid Wella dyes? They were short when I got to the store.

Also, can you suggest a breakdown color addition to the ends. I am using 6NN throughout with a bit of 6A but I want the ends a slighly lighter shade. Thanks!!!

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 16 months ago Author

Hi BeautifulJane,

I'm not sure what effect mixing the two would have. It shouldn't cause any problems as long as the consistency is the only thing being affected, but I couldn't say for sure.

As for the ends, 7N should be fine, perhaps with a dash of 7A to match closer, but whether you need this or not will depend on how porous your ends are and whether they grab onto the cool tones in the dye. You might find it looking better with a dash of 7G instead if the ends start to look drab as it will add more depth and stop them looking too greyish.

BeautifulJane 16 months ago

I see. Again, thanks ever so much.

Sandpitmama 15 months ago

Hi there!

I am asian and wanted white blonde hair....the hairdresser used 6% bleach but did my roots first...then she used a toner which has left green patches. So I have white roots, green patches and dark yellowy blonde lengths :( am gutted. If I buy a box of white blonde hair dye, will that work? I live in the UAE, in a backward town, so toners etc cannot be found. I do have a bottle of l'oreal silver shampoo that the hairdresser gave me but am worried about making my hair greener!

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Maffew James 15 months ago Author

Hi Sandpitmama,

The first step is to wash it a few times over the next few days to strip out that green tinge. If it doesn't all come out, don't worry too much. The next step needs to be to even out the colour all over. Any hair that is darker than pale yellow needs to be lightened further until it is pale yellow. Easiest way to do this is to apply bleach to the darkest areas, let them lighten up to match the next darkest area, and then apply there, continuing until everything is taken to the same colour.

Once it's all near white, that last trace of yellow colour is neutralised with a pastel violet-based dye. The exact shade you use will depend on what brand you're using, but you do need to be sure it's very weak, as well as only violet-based in order for your hair to tone to white. As for the green tinge, that's a result of using blue-based dye over yellow hair. Blue plus yellow creates the green tone. As such, blue should only be used when toning out orange.

One last thing; with the shampoo, if it's more of a violet colour, this will help with the yellow lengths if it's going to be a while before you start fixing it. Silver shampoos generally have some amount of blue tone in them though. This small amount of blue is good for creating that silver look, but only on fairly light hair. Where yellow is present, too much blue without violet to counteract the yellow will lead to more green tone appearing.

Sandpitmama 15 months ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed and comprehensive reply! The hairdresser is not returning my calls so I will print out your advice and take it to another salon. I hope they will bleach it again. I see from many posts that they are reluctant to bleach twice in a row so soon.

BeautifulJane 14 months ago

Hi Maffew,

I wanted to let you know that I learnt alot from this process and your through instruction. I've just finished the second bleach wash with 20 vol developer both times and have now filled with the demi permanent 7g all over (decided to skip the protein filler option as it would just be more work and was not that necessary as you had indicated). It was alot of work (lol) and I can say I could only have achieved my efforts with your help. Thank you ever so much. I was not sure how some darker areas would turn out but I did not want to use a third bleach wash. So, I now have a "reverse-ombre" with the midshaft to lengths being darker. I believe it is because they were not light enough (level 7) to begin with...maybe? Am I right? So, I know by now that colour cannot lighten color when I apply the 6NN mixture (with some ash). I also came back after and bleach washed the undyed roots so everything is bleach-washed.


Do I need to color correct before my final permanent 6NN?

When I dye the roots with the final 6NN, am I to use 10 vol like the shaft or 20 vol to adjust for the darker area?

Or do you think using the 7N mixture starting ihigher up will be helpful at all?

Or should I just balayage over the darker areas to appear as even with top of my hair? :-)

All in all I did a pretty good job, thanks to you.

I eagerly await your creative advise and expertise.



Should I add 20 vol to the midshaft and down to ends (where darker) than the top?

BeautifulJane 14 months ago

Forgive me if I sound confused....I'm just trying to figure out how to get the darker parts (zones 2 &3) an even shade and even tone like the lighter top (zone 1). Ty!

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Maffew James 14 months ago Author

Hi BeautifulJane,

If you're happy with having a level 6, that's the colour you should use, as the 7 will deposit a lighter shade. Ideally, you want to manipulate the developer volume and use a higher strength on darker areas if necessary and this will help take out that remaining pigment so that it turns out even. The dye itself will deposit at 6, but it can look darker if your natural pigment is a bit darker; a higher developer will help with this by lifting more of that natural pigment out.

One exception though, if your ends are porous, which can be partly to blame for them being a little darker, this is where using the lighter dye would come in handy because your hair will absorb more colour. In this sort of situation, you'd apply the 6 from roots to mid-lengths and the 7 on the ends so that it reaches the same result. You could also apply to roots and mid-lengths first, and then only to the ends toward the end of application with the 6 if preferred. If you do have porous ends, they will have remained a bit darker even though you were very careful with the application because more of any past dyes remains stuck in the hair and causes it to look darker after lightening compared to the rest of your hair.

BeautifulJane 14 months ago

Maffew, I was heading to an interview and could not wait to see your response. Anyhow, I was right on track with your solution. I actually pulled colour through from roots to midshaft (all with developer watered down to 10 VOL). I did not touch the ends at all... and it all appears to be on the same level. (I must tell you I almost passed out from the ammonia and I don't know why, especially for the fact that I added distilled water to the mixture. My bathroom has now exhaust fan and I did not realize this could make such an impact). I hope you will do a blog on precautions for us all to learn about this aspect of dyeing. Please know that I AM CONTENT WITH THE RESULTS. IT WORKS FOR ME!!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MAFFEW!

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 14 months ago Author

Hi BeautifulJane,

That's not good about the ammonia, some people are more sensitive to it but it's good to work with dye in a well-ventilated area to avoid having to inhale it regardless. You'll find that lighter shades of dye generally contain more of an ammonia odour, whereas dark colours contain much less and this could explain why you've never experienced this kind of reaction if you haven't used a lighter shade before. The content can also vary with brand.

In any case, that's a good idea about dye precautions and I'll plan to write it up once I have time. All the best with the colouring in future and I'm happy to hear you like the results you've achieved. Let me know if you run into any problems or have any other questions.

Christyj1232 14 months ago

Hi maffew James!

This is my story, I bleached my medium brown hair.. With a 20 developer.. So now my hair is yellow in some places and a bit orangy in others.. I bought a revlon medium ash blonde 70.. I have yet to put it on.. I recently moved to Laos.. I've looked for toners here but have been unsuccessful.. What do you suggest.. I'd like my hair to be a cool light blonde.. I brought purple shampoos with me. Thanks for your time!

sarah,k 11 months ago

Hi Maffew,

I have been bleach blonde for 8 years, due to graying, I recently decided to go to a light brown. I first added warm red blonde demi,using 10 developer with both then added medium golden brown, my hair turned out darker than I wanted with very red tones in hair. I can't rock auburn hair. please help. my goal was brown with some gold tones.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 11 months ago Author

Hi Sarah,

When hair turns out darker than the dye that was used, especially if you were blonde or have bleached it previously, this tends to be a sign of porous hair. Whilst hair like this soaks up a lot of colour, it will also fade quickly. I'd recommend washing it with clarifying shampoo at first and this should take a lot of it out, at which point you can adjust the shade based on what you're seeing.

Eg, if it remains fairly warm and auburn-looking as it fades, you'll want to use an ash tone of dye to correct this. You'll have to base your next dye on what you see though (Feel free to ask about this after it has faded and you're ready to tone it). I'd also recommend using a dark blonde shade at darkest for the next dye to help prevent it becoming too dark. This way it should turn out closer to light brown

If you're in a rush to get it to the colour you want though, you can bleach wash it for a short time to strip out some of the darkness, and then tone straight away. Allowing it to fade with washing is gentler on the hair, but it will just depend on how keen you are to get the colour to what you want, and whether your hair is in good condition.

Christina 9 months ago

i recently used kaliedocolor, i am a natural blond and went dark brown. I am trying to go back to a pale light blonde. my hair is yellow at the root and the rest is orange. I used wella toner T16 and it still is orangish. what would you suggest i do- i really dont want to damage my hair.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 9 months ago Author

Hi Christina,

None of the Wella Color Charm toners will have much of an effect on your hair because they're designed for use on hair that is from pale yellow to yellow, depending on shade. In this situation, you need a darker ash dye to tone your hair. However, this won't lighten the lengths to match your roots because it will only tone it by adding colour.

Ideally, if your hair is strong enough to stand up to further lightening, the best thing to do would be to lighten the lengths only, and take it to the point where they match your roots. Then you can tone after this for a much more even result. If you get it all to a yellow colour, you can strand test 9A as the toner and see how it reacts, then use either that shade, or one that is lighter or darker applied all over to tone your hair once you have determined how strong the toner needs to be.

Another alternative if your hair is too damaged for further lightening but you want to ensure an even result, is to do the opposite and take your roots darker to match the lengths before toning. To do this, add copper to match the lengths and then tone all over. 7A would be a good shade to strand test as the toner, and once again, adjust the level of the dye from there until it is strong enough to tone your hair nicely without turning too grey or being too weak to have an effect.

I do have one final recommendation however. If your blonde hair had only been dyed once with the dark brown colour, and this was a permanent dye, you may be able to strip out more of that leftover dye pigment using dye remover to get it to be lighter, less red, and more even. Being dyed more than once with a dark colour reduces the effectiveness however, as does using the dye remover after you've already bleached your hair lighter, but it's non-damaging and worth a try if you want to go lighter and your hair is too damaged to bleach further.

Xiny 7 months ago

Hi! I'm natural ash blonde. I dye my hair for 8 years with ION 4NN, 30 developer . Last month I used Zap color remover and turned brassy, two weeks later I used Loreal HiGone highlights ash blonde and my hair is really yellow/brassy on the roots and a mix of orange and light brown on the rest of the hair. I wanna reach ash blonde. Should I go now for a T18 or T11 or T13 Wella toner with 20 developer? Or should I use a 1210 Wella (12A) with 20 developer as next step to reach my desire ash blonde? Thanks in advance for your professional response. :)

Jess 7 months ago


Thank you for such helpful article! I would love to try to use thse tips but i think i still need some help understanding what step to follow for my hair.

okay, so I have extremely black hair so I lightly bleached my hair to lighten my hair a few levels up. Witch worked, but due to my black hair I have supreme red tones, so to reach the brown i wished for, I used a 6AA permanent dye. And now I got to a mid point from brassy to ash brown, would you happen to know what can I do to reach that natural Ash brown?

I'd appreciate your help very much on this matter!:)

Nysia 7 months ago

Hi, Maffew,

I hope you are doing well today! Thank you for posting your blog. It has been super helpful for me to read your recommendations.

My eyes are hazel green, and my skin tones are medium with pink and gold undertones (I am of Greek/Cypriot descent and am actually fairer than most Mediterraneans), and natural hair is a level 4 or 4.5 dark coffee color (neutral/ash and not so much warm) which is about 20% grey. After much research, I decided to lighten it to what is now a level 10 blonde. Many warned me not to do so, and a few actually encouraged me to try (with my knowledge of color application with my fine arts background). Up until a little over a year ago, I was coloring my hair with a demi-perm midnight blue/black (dyes from Sally Beauty), and I'd never used permanent hair color dyes. I used a color remover which actually brought my hair up to a level 6 brown/red. For a bit of time, I was happy with the dark coppery shade. I carefully bleached my hair with 30V developer and Ion bleach to even out the color, and it worked well. Then, I started using L'Oreal's burnished copper and sizzling copper (for dark hair only) permanent hair colors. Still, I wanted to bring it up lighter, and I bleached my hair again about a month ago, and damage was thankfully minimal, since I made sure I bleached it days after washing it when it was a bit greasy. My hair was traffic light yellow with some even paler yellow white pieces to give it dimension (about a 9 to 10 level blonde), and I was able to successfully eliminate orange and red tones. I was actually surprised I made it to this level and without a ton of damage. One thing I did which helped was I avoided applying bleach to my scalp and left a hint of my dark roots to avoid breakage. To give my hair time to recuperate, I waited a week and shocked many of my family and friends, as I walked around with this banana yellow tone! :) Then, I used Blonde Brilliance toner w/5V developer (bought at Sally Beauty - but can't remember whether it was champagne or platinum shade), and I must've left it on too long while I was applying it all over my head, because my hair (as porous as it is) turned a murky blonde with absolutely no warmth. I immediately washed my hair with clarifying shampoo twice that night and the next morning (and conditioned it well), and it removed most of the murky color. It was still too yellow/gold/warm, so I waited about 2.5 weeks and did more research on how to eliminate yellow/gold tones, and about a week ago, I colored it with L'Oreal Ferria's 100 Natural Very Light Natural Blonde hair color, and it helped to neutralize the golden yellow tones. What do you anticipate will happen if I use L'Oreal's Blondes Extreme B3 Extremely Light Ivory Blonde or L'Oreal Technique Preference 9.1BA Extra Light Ash Blonde color on it? Would my hair turn green? There are no orange or red tones in my hair, but there is a bit of yellow/gold which I'd still like to cool down a bit.

I'm sorry for such a long email to you! I am hoping you can shed some light on this final step of my art project which I've so very much enjoyed. :)

Thank you!


Nysia 7 months ago

Following my email above, I used 20V developer with the L'Oreal 100 Natural Very Light Natural Blonde, because I thought 30V might be too harsh on my hair! Thanks again!

Lucy 6 months ago

I have recently. Had the ombré effect ( not sure of spelling) so my hair remains dark brown on my scalp but the length was sopposed to be blonde and it was for two days it then changed a became to look brassy and ginger please is there any simple way of getting the blond colour back without going back to hair salon.

Many thanks.

Josephine 6 months ago

HI, Hope you can help find a solution for my hair colour as your guidance on your webpage looks a sensible choice..

Recently I went to the salon and they ombre my hair it was ornage the next day my hair is mid to dark brown , I went back the next day they then did baylage to my hair with more blonde and over tiime my hair was blonde but with a green hue to it. I have been back a third time now with a chocolate brown on it now this colour is fading to a brassy colour what do you advise I do to make it more natural will the blonde ever come back blonde.

I wait in anticipation and perhaps may you the mosse you suggested but which colour is difficult to know. Thanks Josephine

Lauren 6 months ago

Hi guys, I purchased the Igora mousse in 9-5. I haven't received it yet, but I wanted to ask - I don't have an overall dyed blonde hair, it's more of an ombre. Should I place the mousse in specific areas or will it be okay if I run it over the entire bottom half of my hair?? Thanks

Stacy :) 6 months ago

Hi Matthew :)

I was a dark brown slash red ombre not long ago. I took the color out using jobazz remover which left me a surprising nice golden ginger caramel color. I waited a week with a few coconut oil treatments and then balaygued using my loreal hair bleach and a 30 developer. Very happy with the highlights from it. My problem now is my grey roots are coming through.

I'm not sure if I should get a light brown dye or a golden light brown dye to touch up and blair roots only.

I would like to aim more cooler in tone.

If I got an ash could I do my roots first then the last 5 mins run it through the highlighted Balaygue?

Just don't know what to do now. I really can't afford to go to the salon.

I definitely will be keeping up with a protein treatment once every 3 to 4 weeks and also coconut oil.

My hair looks golden caramel ontop with light warmish highlights but it's my roots popping through its more grey than dark brown ontop.

I'm a Level 6 or 7 ontop and balaygue level 8 or 9

Stac 6 months ago

Hi Matthew :)

I was a dark brown slash red ombre not long ago. I took the color out using jobazz remover which left me a surprising nice golden ginger caramel color. I waited a week with a few coconut oil treatments and then balaygued using my loreal hair bleach and a 30 developer. Very happy with the highlights from it. My problem now is my grey roots are coming through.

I'm not sure if I should get a light brown dye or a golden light brown dye to touch up and blair roots only.

I would like to aim more cooler in tone.

If I got an ash could I do my roots first then the last 5 mins run it through the highlighted Balaygue?

Just don't know what to do now. I really can't afford to go to the salon.

I definitely will be keeping up with a protein treatment once every 3 to 4 weeks and also coconut oil.

My hair looks golden caramel ontop with light warmish highlights but it's my roots popping through its more grey than dark brown ontop.

I'm a Level 6 or 7 ontop and balaygue level 8 or 9

Hellie 6 months ago

Hi - I am a level 6 with lots of copper brassy tones especially in the sun. Grey roots need attention every 3 weeks. Have used wells colour touch plus 77/.07 On roots to cover grey but turned out too dark with 1.9 developer. Then used 8/71 colour touch which has produced a lot of warmth.

My ends are now faded to a brassy orange and I have dark sections to the side which seems to be colour build - is adding slowly. Would love to be ashy light brown with no brass or red which my hair seems to produce. I do like wells but don't want to continue picking wrong shade... Maybe I should stick with a little warmth to avoid khaki..

Denver Cutie 5 months ago

I have been searching high and low for a true blue shampoo for my blonde hair and it goes too warm. I had my hair tested by a lab and I need a blue shampoo that contains none of the "new trendy" purple, violet, or lavender ingredients. I used to be able to easily find this but now is like a needle in a haystack. Are you able to assist or point me in the right direction please?

Susan 902 5 months ago

Hi there.

I would appreciate if you could guide me please. I dyed my hair copper. I used aloxxi 8k with 6g mixed together with a volume 20 developer. I got hot roots and its kind of reddish. I tried to tone it with a 7n and 8k but it didn't help much. I need to mention I have 75% gray roots.

Please help me out am frustrated too much. Thanks in advance and really appreciate your help!

jmmc 4 months ago

Hi there,

(I am Asian, fairly light to medium brown skinned, my original haircolor is very dark brown. I have porous, wavy curly hair that has a tendency to be very dry and frizzy)

I need help because I do not know where to go from here.

I bleached my hair sporadically for 4 times now. The 4th time, I bleached it using 30volume developer and I bleached my whole head and it turned it into bright orange (not even close to yellow). I lathered It then with Wella t18 toner with a 2 capfuls of violet additive and using 20volume developer.

Not surprisingly, the toner did not do a lick to change the color. Panicking, I bought 2 boxes of permanent colour Clairol Natural Light Ash Brown 6a/114 and it turned my hair into light ashy brown - which I like a lot. However, in my haste to put the dye and remove it before it turned my hair green, I was unable to properly dye some parts of my hair so they were still orange-y. They did not look as bad as in the beginning though.

My question is: What do I do to remove the orange? Do I just use Purple shampoo, buy toners or buy another of the Clairol box dye?

Please help because I am utterly confused on what to do right now.



Johanna 4 months ago


Ok ketchup. When my hair was in good condition, I got some "neutral blonde" and put it in. My hair was a fairly golden blonde, and I assumed it would be like the "natural blondes" I had used and sit on the warm side.i was wrong, and the result was considerably green/grey.

Since my hair was in good condition, I used straight ketchup on dry hair. Saturated it, put on a plastic shower cap and sat for an hour. Washed it out and was amazed, completely fixed my problem. It did dry my hair a bit, but some good conditioning and it was fine.

Now of course my hair is fried. Seriously fried. So I was more cautious. Mixed approx 1tblspn olive oil, 2 tblspn ketchup, and 4 tblspn goood conditioner. It was a nice pink. Put it on wet hair, concentrating on the ends, since that was where the green was worse, but put it everywhere. Plastic cap, 1 hour, then rinsed. Im trying not to shampoo. Was actually the best my hair felt in ages, and by neutralising the green, it appeared lighter.

Here is when things went bad. Against my own advice, I did a soap cap. It's been warm here, and haven't been using the heating, so no hot water. Went to wash it out, had no hot water, and had to wait for it to heat, leaving it in longer then intended.

Result...a beautiful blonde, at the expense of mushy hair. Went to far. I actually had to trim around my face, and am still getting fairly severe breakage when its wet. So I won't be washing much! Colour is beautiful tho! Im just rocking the salty beach look

Janet 4 months ago

I just used Revlin Frost & Glow in Honey for the 2nd time. I found out the first time that 45 minutes gave me the shade I loved. I wanted to add a few more highlights so I did it yesterday, kept it in the same 45 minutes (checked it) but when I rinsed and air dried (I don't blue dry my hair) it came out rather brassy. Can I use the color again and leave it in longer? How long should I wait before doing it again? Or should I use the light blonde kit to bring up the color to a true lighter blonde? Thank you!

Miran 4 months ago

Root touch question -

My base color is 7n - with a few highlights ( Paul Mitchell )

I do have a small section of grey near the temple - I seem to not communicate very well with what I wanted to achieve with my coloring and ended up having a root touch up - I have never had one before - (it turned a little golden/reddish - 8N)

3 questions I have is what is the best way to keep the hair healthy, should I be using a weekly treatment so new growth is healthy - not as damaged,

What are my options when new growth begins - as I am sure now will look like a zebra - what I have low lights added to the area to blend better with natural growth color

And what should I use now to cut down on the golden color - purple shampoo?

I have not done any at home coloring - so it is all new to me

Thank you so much for your time - and this blog


Jo Samds 3 months ago

My hair is a natural dark blonde but I got Wella Illumina, cool tones put into my hair. A dark and a blonde the dark has turned out gold and it's not nice in certain lights.. I went back snd they put a toner in but it has washed out and the gold had returned.. I have washed it on blue shampoo and this has tonnes slightly... Please help as my roots are Brassy!! I dread the hairdressers so if I can do myself that would be better

Deen 3 months ago


Right now, I have brassy light-to-medium brown hair (I got it from using high lift permanent dye). I really want to do something with the orange color. I've read everywhere that the best way to combat brassiness is by using ash demi-permanent dye. But what I've got in my hand is an ashy (blue based) level 8 permanent dye since demi-permanent dye is not common in my country. I've read the brand's instruction that the dye can lift to 2 levels with 20 vol developer while depositing. If I use it with 20 vol developer, will it be able to deposit the ash color to tone the brassy orange out of my hair? Will it be able to give shine and healthy look to my hair like demi-permanent dye does?

Thanks in advance

Klauidella 7 weeks ago

I lately got rid of brass with a semi natural permanent dye - my experience here:

Anna 3 weeks ago

I used color Oops and now my hair is a very light orange almost copper tone can i use the purple shampoo and will it turn my hair purple?

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