Brassy Hair: What Causes it and How to Get Rid of It

If you’ve ever left the salon loving your blonde, but finding that it’s morphed into a combination of yellow, orange, or red (aka warm tones), your hair has become brassy, and it’s time you toned. Toning corrects the warmer tones by adding in cooler tones, and increases the overall shine level of your hair. 

That said, toning on your own can be a little frustrating; particularly because choosing a product that can actually yield visible results is a challenge. It’s important to get the right amount of color on your hair for a particular amount of time – and there’s not a lot of room for error. Luckily, with a little strand testing and a little oVertone, toning blonde is easier than it’s ever been. Hey, it’s in our name – we’d know.

What Is Brassy Hair?

Brassy hair develops when you’ve bleached or lightened your hair. When you bleach or lighten your hair, the warm tones from your natural color have a tendency to come out. The biggest culprit of brassy hair is lightening dark hair, because darker hair naturally contains more warm tones. 

How to fix brassy hair

How Do I Get Rid Of Brassy Hair?

If you’re struggling with brassy hair, the good new is, it can be easily corrected at home. 

Our Most Important Tips: 

Choose The Right Color

It’s important to choose the right cool shade to balance out warm tones. Your best go-to for figuring out what cool tone to use is the color wheel (see below). Colors on the opposite side of yellow or orange are the cool tones you’re looking for. Hint: They’re probably either Pastel Purple or Pastel Blue shades of our Daily Conditioner. 

Make a Toning Hair Mask

Hair masks — which are pigmented, deeply conditioning treatments are great at deeply hydrating. We recommend mixing a few tablespoons of the appropriate pastel shade of Daily Conditioner with one of our Colorless Hair Masks and you’ve got an insta-toner! Not enough toning power? Read on to figure out the best ratio for your special head of hair.

Prevent It From Happening In The First Place

While it might not be possible to COMPLETELY avoid brassiness, there’s steps you can take to prevent it as much as possible. The best way to avoid brassy hair is to avoid products with sulfates. Sulfates have the tendency to strip away dyed color and heavily contribute to brassiness. We recommend checking out our post about how sulfates mess with your colored hair. 

Day to day conditions can also contribute to brassiness. UV radiation and chlorine are incredibly rough on hair. Look for leave-in conditioners with UV protection, and use coconut oil to protect hair while swimming. 

Unfortunately many people live in places where the mineral content in the water you wash your hair with is high. Installing a shower filter can help to reduce the mineral content, which can fade hair faster. 

Colorwheel for brassy hair

Using The Color Wheel

As mentioned earlier, look to the opposite of your warm tone to find the color that will best tone your brassiness — like purple toner for yellow tones. 

If you also have orange tones you’d like to see gone, you can mix Pastel Blue with the Pastel Purple too. Either way, we don’t recommend using Pastel Silver to tone, since it will not cancel out brassy tones.

Do A Strand Test Before Committing

Obviously, we always recommend strand testing, but especially when toning, it’s absolutely essential in order to know if you’re using the right color, or if you need to dilute it. In this video, we tried two strand tests — one using Pastel Purple Daily Conditioner, and the other with the same conditioner, diluted. The undiluted strand ended up being more purple than we liked, and having the strand tests helped us to know how to expect our model’s hair to respond.

Don’t Be Afraid To Dilute

If your hair is platinum, you probably don’t need all the color power of undiluted Pastel Purple. Dilute it by mixing it with plain conditioner or one of our Colorless Hair Masks! In the example above, we diluted in a 1:1 ratio, but how you do it is up to you — your strand test will tell you if 1:1 is not enough, too much, or just right. 

Rinse immediately

We weren’t kidding when we said toning is easier with oVertone. Once hair is saturated, no need to let it sit like you normally would with oVertone. Simply rinse out after 30 seconds. Not sure what we mean by saturate? Take a look at our How To Saturate Your Hair With oVertone blog post. 

If you’ve recently lightened or bleached your hair and it’s beginning to turn into a color you can’t stand — don’t worry. Toning is non-damaging and can quickly return your hair to the cool color you love.

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25 comments on “Brassy Hair: What Causes it and How to Get Rid of It”

  • Deb Moore says:

    This sounds incredibly promising because I have brown to blonde ombré that I have been using overtone to deep conditioner rose gold kit and it is super successful. My pink does get a little brassy though. Any thoughts to keep it pink and less brasssy?

    But this is so useful though because I have been wanting to go purple next in a month or so and this makes it sound like purple will be quite an easy transition from pink. Would you agree? Any advice?’

    • Alee says:

      Hi Deb, it sounds like you might need a little Pastel Purple Daily Conditioner to help take the brassiness out of your hair. Definitely check in with our Color Experts to be sure – just send a pic of your current hair and a pic of your hair goals to hi@overtone.co! They’ll be able to advise you on transitioning to purple, too – it’s usually pretty easy to get to if you’re starting from pink tones, but they’ll be able to give you personalized advice on exactly what you’ll need.

  • Simone says:

    I’m trying to tone my hair and ordered some pastel purple conditioner, as well as some blue and the pastel silver deep conditioner. You say leave the purple on for seconds. How do I ensure I get even coverage, and how long should I leave it on?

    • Alee says:

      Hi Simone, leaving the conditioner on for a super-short amount of time is great for toning small sections of hair, but if you’re trying to tone all-over, you might want to try diluting the Pastel Purple with some plain white conditioner instead. That way, you’ll be able to get even coverage! Check out a how-to for this technique on our Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiaw97B4Qug – and shoot our Color Experts an email at hi@overtone.co if you have any other questions!

  • Eri says:

    I want to go from permanent brown back to my silvery gray over a period of time — what shade should I use?

    • Chanelle Leslie says:

      Hey Eri – For dark hair we recommend a warm shade in Extreme, such as Extreme Pink, Red or Orange for a lovely hint of color. Results on natural gray hair can be tough to predict, since the strand structure of grays can vary a lot! Your best bet will be to start off with a sample size to see how oVertone works in your hair – if you have any more questions, definitely email our Color Experts at hi@overtone.co!

  • Carrie J Wellman says:

    I want to get from faded teal blue hair to gray. Can I just use thr silver overtone conditioner to achieve this?

  • Vanessa says:

    I have dark brown hair, will extreme purple even show up?

    • Chanelle Leslie says:

      oVertone works on all kinds of hair, but the darker your starting shade, the less visible color you’re likely to see. For the truest color from our conditioners, we always recommend starting with a platinum base, courtesy of your stylist. On dark hair, we recommend a warm shade in Extreme (like Extreme Pink, Red, or Orange) for the best results. Check out this video for more info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV6xJj9MZPY

  • Paula says:

    Hi there I had brown hair and dye blond, so now it’s blond but also a lot of brassy orange in it too. I want it to be cool blond not orange. Please help

    • Chanelle Leslie says:

      Hey Paula! A lot of our clients use diluted Pastel Blue or Pastel Purple Daily Conditioner to help tone out some of the brassiness from their hair. Purple is opposite of yellow on the color wheel, and blue is opposite of orange, so in your case, I would definitely recommend trying out some Pastel Blue conditioner to even out the brassiness! You always want to go with direct opposites for cancellation toning. Check out this video for a guide to toning hair with oVertone conditioners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiaw97B4Qug

  • Karen Baes says:

    I currently color my hair with L’Oreal 5G Medium golden brown. I am naturally mousy brown. I would like to stop coloring my hair to get rid of my salt/pepper roots. I would like to get a color as close to my salt/pepper roots so I can let it grow out without being too noticeable. I have order Extreme Silver deep and daily conditioner. Anything you can advice me on before I apply it for the 1st time?

    • Chanelle Leslie says:

      Results on natural gray hair can be tough to predict, since the strand structure of grays can vary a lot! Your best bet will be to start off with a sample size to see how oVertone works in your hair – if you have any more questions, definitely email our Color Experts at hi@overtone.co!

  • Louise-Annette says:

    Hi, there – my hair is a mix of gray, silver, a tiny bit of white, and a tiny bit left of medium brown. I think it would be fun to try some temporary, non-standard hair colors, since if you can’t do that when you’re 61, when can you? ;o) Would an Overtone color fade before roots started becoming obvious, if not refreshed every day/couple of days? Thanks!

    • Chanelle Leslie says:

      oVertone will begin to fade as soon as you stop using it. There are a few things you can do to help fade your hair fast and safely if you want to switch shades more quickly! Check out this blog post on how to fade your color: http://blog.overtone.co/how-to-safely-fade-your-hair. If it hasn’t faded enough, from there you can see your stylist about bleaching.

      Results on natural gray hair can be tough to predict, since the strand structure of grays can vary a lot! Your best bet will be to start off with a sample size to see how oVertone works in your hair – if you have any more questions, definitely email our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co!

  • Lilea says:

    I have an ombré effect in my hair ( brown to blonde ) I want to keep the ombré effect bit just turn the blonde into a lighter color, should I apply the conditioner to my whole head or just the blonde ends ?

    • Alee says:

      Hi there Lilea! For the best advice, send an email with a picture of your current hair with lots of natural light and no filters along with an inspo pic over to our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co and they will totally help you get your dream hair!

  • Belle says:

    If I don’t have the pastel purple but have the vibrant purple would u still recommend using a microscopic amount of vibrant purple mixed with normal conditioner to tone platinum blonde hair?

    • Alee says:

      Hey Belle! You can totally give it a shot – but DEFINITELY do a strand test before applying all over!

      You can also get with our Color Consultants at hi@overtone.co for more in depth, personal advice!

  • Anita Alexandersen says:

    I got my brazz out of my hair . Using the pastel silver and a white conditioner.
    It is not as cool as with wella white lady t18.
    But it worked out nice for me.

  • Jeanna Spears says:

    This is what I’ve been doing since discovering Overtone!!!!

  • Sarah_L says:

    Yes. Only mix a tiny amount of the purple though, otherwise it will end up so bright.

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