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How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair


Whether you’re a full-on blonde, or just have some lightened strands in the form of highlights, you’ve likely experienced brassy tones. Those unwanted warm orange and yellow tones that creep up in blonde hair are a common beauty woe. But what causes brassy hair? Can you prevent your blonde from turning brassy? And how do you get rid of brassy hair once it appears? We’re breaking down brassiness ahead.


What is brassy hair?

Brassiness is a term used to describe the unwanted yellow and orange tones that show up in blonde hair. Brassy hair happens as a result of oxidation. Oxidation is the result of the loss of green pigment in the hair shafts. Oxidation causes the hair cuticle to open, releasing green color pigments and leaving behind red pigments, producing brassy undertones — and in the worst cases, it can unintentionally look like you have orange hair.


What causes brassy hair?

Any of the following can cause your blonde to go brassy. If you’re experiencing unwanted brassiness, it could be from doing something on this list.

  • Lightening or highlighting your hair. No matter how amazing your colorist is, once you bleach your hair, it has a predisposition to go brassy. Because all hair has some underlying warmth, the removal of your natural hue makes the yellow, orange or red tones more visible in your blonde. And hair that’s been bleached is incredibly porous. This makes it susceptible to a bunch of other things that can cause it to go brassy (more about that in a minute). So ahead of your next bleaching, protect your lightened strands from going brassy with the tips from our previous post How to Rehydrate Your Hair After Bleaching.
  • Using a shampoo with sulfates. If the shampoo you use contains sulfates, it’s likely stripping your hair color and causing brassiness. Switch to a sulfate-free shampoo and use deep conditioners and hair masks specifically for color-treated hair. They’ll help nourish your strands and ensure your hair looks healthy, hydrated, and brass-free.
  • Showering with hard water. Along with the shampoo you’re using, the water coming out of your shower head could be making your hair brassy. Some water is naturally high in mineral content. These minerals can build-up in your hair, leading to- you guessed it- brassiness! This type of water (also known as hard water) also prevents the penetration and absorption of moisture. 
  • Spending too much time in the sun. You already know how bad for your skin UV exposure is, but did you know it can cause your blonde to turn brassy? Exposing your strands to the sun excessively can dry out your hair and fade your color. When your hair is exposed to oxygen and UV rays, it gets dehydrated and depleted of vitamins and nutrients. This causes a loss of the pigment, causing oxidation and brassy hair.
  • Swimming in a chlorinated pool. And speaking of fun in the sun, swimming in a chlorinated pool isn’t doing your blonde any favors. Chlorine strips the hair of it’s natural oils and alters the integrity of the hair shaft. The hair cuticle becomes exposed and weak, making it rough and likely to damage or breakage. These cuticles reflect light poorly, making the hair look dull, dry, and brassy.
  • Smoking. If you (or someone you live with) smokes, chances are your hair is brassy. The brassiness caused by smoke is actually a yellowish film absorbed into your hair. Likewise if you’re regularly exposed to air pollutants. 

Blonde hair Davines

photo by @hihoneysalon


How to get rid of brassy hair

Here's what you need to do to nix those orangey tones once and for all.


Switch to sulfate free shampoo

Sulfates are a major factor when it comes to sucking the life out of your blonde. Shampoos that use sulfates to cleanse strip your strands of their natural oils, leaving them more susceptible to brassiness. Blonde hair needs a lot of moisture. To keep the dreaded brass away, you need a sulfate-free shampoo. They’re inherently more moisturizing and are gentler on your hair.


Use sun protection

The sun is another major culprit when it comes to brassy hair. Just the way you’d never leave the house in the morning without sunscreen (at least we hope!) remember to protect your strands! Shield them from the elements by using hair products with SPF. Re-apply them to your hair a few times while out in the sun even if you plan to wear a hat.


Install a shower filter

Since you have little control of the type of water coming out of your pipes, an easy way to avoid brassy hair is with a filter. The best shower head filters effectively remove the hard minerals and gunk that leads to brassiness. And they’re easy to change on your own. They don't require a plumbing license or a kit of plumbers tools to install.


Refresh with a hair toner

Time for some toning! Using a hair toner can control brassiness and make your existing color more vibrant. Demi-permanent hair colors, glosses, and tinted shampoos and conditioners are all considered toners, because they contain pigments to adjust hair tone. Typically, the pigment delivered with toning lasts around three to four weeks. You can try toning your hair at home or see your stylist for an in-salon treatment and a little bit of pampering!


Shower with cool water

A majority of your hair color is lost just by rinsing your hair with water. Using cool water when you wash your hair is better for preserving its color. If you absolutely can’t give up the hot showers, finish with a blast of cool as the final rinse. This will close your hair’s cuticles, making your strands appear glossier and brassiness-free.


Davines purple shampoo conditioner Alchemic Silver


Rotate in a purple shampoo

If you’re a bleached blonde, a purple shampoo (sometimes called a shampoo for silver hair) is your number one weapon against going brassy. Purple shampoo contains crushed purple pigments to neutralize the yellow tones. Because yellow and purple are on opposite ends of the color wheel, the purple pigment is able to cancel out the brassiness. If you're adding a purple shampoo to your regimen, start by alternating it in weekly with your sulfate free shampoo. Build up as needed.
How to use a purple shampoo

  • Wet your hair and lather on the formula. Don’t apply it on dry because that’s when your hair is most porous and it can grab too much purple. 
  • Lather it evenly, leave it on for two to four minutes depending on the amount of yellow in the hair. 
  • Rinse the shampoo out of your hair thoroughly with cool water.
  • Follow with a silver conditioner.
  • If you start to notice too much purple in your hair, use a clarifying shampoo to remove the tone and keep your purple shampoo routine to once a week or less. 
  • Pro tip: mix your purple shampoo with a sulfate free shampoo for a less vivid color deposit.


Protect your hair from the pool

Pools are notoriously known for making blondes turn brassy. Chlorine strips the hair of its natural oils and leaves it dry, brittle and damaged. The more damaged the hair, the more susceptible it is to brassiness. The next time you hit the pool, douse your hair with bottled water before jumping in. This will saturate it with non-chemically altered water so it absorbs less chlorine. When you’re finished in the pool, shampoo and condition your hair immediately to undo any potential damage. 


Deep condition once a week

This may seem like a no-brainer, but hydrated hair is healthy hair. And the healthier your hair is the less less likely your color will fade. At least weekly, deep condition your strands with a hair repair mask


Be realistic about your hair color choice

If you have naturally darker hair and want to go lighter, you’re already more susceptible to brassiness than a natural blonde who wants to go lighter. The darker the hair, the more of a challenge it is to lift the underlying pigment out of the hair. To minimize your chances of going brassy, don’t lighten your hair beyond two shades from your natural color. Or ask your colorist to work in highlights and lowlights, instead of going with a single-process all-over blonde. This will minimize your chances of ending up with a full head of brassy hair. 


Wrapping up brassy hair

Whether you’re a full-on ash blonde, or just have some lightened strands in the form of highlights, you’ve likely experienced brassy hair. Those unwanted warm tones like red, yellow and orange, that show up in blonde hair can be a real bummer. And what’s worse, you could be unknowingly contributing to the brassiness. Evaluate your routine and tweak it where you need to. With our product recommendations, easy hair hacks and tips, you’ll be rid of those orange and yellow tones and brassy hair in no time.


by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
cover photo by @kennakunijo

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1 Comment

1 Response

Karen
Karen

March 28, 2021

Thank you for the advice i already use the purple shampoo and conditioner but didn’t realise that you need to use cool water will try this way ,thank you again

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