What Does Brassy Hair Look Like? How To Get Rid Of It.

If your hair is looking a little dull, lackluster and a nasty shade of orange, it might be time to give it a little TLC.

One of the most common problems that people face with their hair is brassy hair. But what does brassy hair look like? And how can you get rid of it? Keep reading to find out.

Ever wondered why your once-lovely blonde locks turn brassy over time? Us too. Thankfully, we did some digging to get to the bottom of this hair color woe—and more importantly, figure out how to fix it.

Here’s what you need to know about brassy hair—and how to get rid of it for good.

What does brassy hair look like?

Brassy hair is when there are unwanted orange or yellow tones in your hair. It’s a common issue that many blondes and brunette face.

Healthline tells us it occurs when there is too much of a contrast between your natural pigment and the hair color you’re trying to achieve.

This usually happens when your hair is over-processed, or if you haven’t been using the right products.

The result is hair that looks more yellow or orange than the ashier hair color you were going for. 

what does brassy hair look like - brassy blonde hair
what does brassy hair look like - brassy brunette hair

Understanding Brassy Hair and Its Causes.

Brassiness occurs when your hair color starts to fade, revealing unwanted yellow or orange tones. There’s no denying that brassiness is one of the most frustrating hair problems out there.

But what exactly causes this unwelcome change in your hair color? Understanding the root causes can help in effectively tackling this orangey issue. Here are the main reasons your hair might look brassy:

  1. Over-Processing: Frequently dyeing or bleaching your hair can lead to over-processing. This makes your hair more susceptible to unwanted brassy tones.
  2. Sun Exposure: Just like your skin, your hair can be affected by the sun. Prolonged exposure can lighten your hair and reveal underlying brassy tones.
  3. Mineral Buildup: Hard water, which contains high amounts of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can alter the color of your hair, leading to brassiness.
  4. Natural Hair Pigment: Sometimes, the natural pigment in your hair can shine through, especially as hair dye fades, contributing to a brassy appearance.
  5. Chemical Reactions from Bleaching: According to super hair colorist Enza Piazza, “When bleach removes natural pigment from the hair shaft and then oxidizes, it can cause unwanted hues like yellow, red, and orange.”
  6. Fading Hair Dye in Brunettes: Brunettes might notice brassy hair color and hot roots as their brown hair dye fades, especially if they have warm undertones and skin tones.

Understanding these causes is the first step in battling brassy hair. Whether you’re dealing with orange undertones or yellow hues, knowing why it happens can help you find the right solution to keep your hair color looking fresh and vibrant.

Expert Insights

“When hair is colored, specifically going from dark to light, unforeseen factors such as UV ray exposure, the shampoo you use, chlorine and even the minerals in your water can, bring about a yellow-orange tone, aka brassiness.”

Professional Hair Stylist, Hairstory.com

How do I know if my hair is brassy?

There are a few easy ways to tell if you have brassy hair.

1. Your hair looks yellow or orange. 

If your once-blonde locks have started to take on a more yellow or orange hue, it could be a sign that your hair is brassy.

This usually happens when the natural pigment in your hair starts to break down, allowing underlying brassiness to come through.

2. Your hair feels dry and coarse. 

Brassy hair isn’t just aesthetically unappealing; it can also be difficult to manage. If your hair feels dry and coarse, it’s likely because the brassiness has stripped away its natural moisture and oils.

As a result, your hair may become frizzy and unmanageable. If you’re struggling to tame your tresses, use a deep conditioning mask at least once a week. This will help restore moisture and make your hair easier to style.

3. You’re using too much heat styling. 

Too much heat styling can damage your hair and strip away its natural color pigments, leaving behind brassiness.

If you want to protect your hair from heat damage and keep it looking shiney and healthy, limit yourself to one heat-styling session per week.

And when you do style your hair with heat, make sure to use a heat protectant spray beforehand. This will help minimize the damage caused by hot tools.

4. You swim frequently in chlorinated water. 

Chlorinated water can cause brassiness in all types of hair—not just blonde locks!

If you swim frequently or spend a lot of time in chlorinated water (like at a pool or waterpark), it’s important to rinse your hair with clean water as soon as possible afterwards.

This will help remove any chlorine that might be sitting on the surface of your strands and causing brassiness. It’s also a good idea to wet your hair before swimming; this will create a barrier between your strands and the chlorinated water so that less chlorine is able absorb into your strands in the first place. 

5. You live in a hard water area  

Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals can leave behind deposits on your strands, which can lead to brassiness.

If you live in an area with hard water , invest in a shower filter; this will help remove some of the minerals from the water before they have a chance to wreck your color.

“When was your last appointment because it could be that the toner they used has washed out of your hair or that they did not lift you high enough. Hair has the natural under tones of red, orange (brassy) and yellow. So they might not have lifted you high enough to get out of the orange zone.”

Megan Clare, Hairstylist, Denver

How to get rid of brassy hair 

Now that you know how to identify brassy hair, it’s time to learn how to get rid of it! There are a few different ways you can go about this.

Method 1.Use a purple shampoo and conditioner

A purple shampoo is one of the most effective ways to get rid of brassiness or tone down blonde hair that is too bright.

Purple shampoo and conditioner work by neutralizing the yellow and orange tones in your hair. We recommend using them once a week to keep your hair looking its best.

Method 2.Try a toning or glossing treatment:

You can find toning treatments at most beauty stores or online.

Toning treatments work by depositing color onto your hair, which helps neutralize brassiness and gives you longer-lasting results.

To neutralize the warmth, you’ll need an ash toner as ashy colors are cool. If you have green tones in your blonde hair you’ll need red. I all depends on the science of color theory and the hair color wheel.

hair color wheel infographic

Expert Insights

“You can correct brassy hair by coming back into your salon and applying a gloss or toner to the hair. This simple fix with a conditioning treatment and blowout will make a huge difference.”

Celebrity Stylist Gio Bargallo.

Method 3. Re-dye your hair

If all else fails, you can always re-dye or bleach your orange hair again. Choose a cool-toned hair dye like ash brown or ash blonde that will counteract the brassiness.

We recommend using a demi-permanent color if your hair is damaged, as it’s less harsh than a permanent dye.

Lastly, if all else fails, you can always visit your trusted hairstylist or colorist and they can help you get your color back on track. 

Watch and learn: How to fix brassy hair.

Here’a great video that breaks down the cause of brassy hair, blonde hair levels and the talks you through the right volume of bleach you need to get rid of it.

Brassy hair before and after

What does it mean when hair goes brassy?

When hair goes brassy, it means that the color is starting to become more yellow or orange. This can happen for a number of reasons, including over-bleaching, using shampoo that’s too harsh, or spending too much time in the sun.

Whatever the cause, there’s no need to panic – there are plenty of ways to fix it and prevent it happening again.

TOP TIP!

Always rinse your hair with cold water

Hot water can actually aggravate brassy hair, so make sure to rinse with cold water instead. This will help seal the cuticle and prevent brassiness from returning.

How to prevent brassy hair from happening?

Keeping your hair color vibrant and free from brassy tones involves proactive measures. Hair Color Experts Redken give us these tips to maintain that salon-fresh look and extend the life of your hair color:

  1. Choose the Right Hair Color: Opt for cooler hair colors, such as those with “ash” in their names, as they’re less prone to turn brassy. If you prefer warmer shades, consider options like beige blonde or dirty blonde that balance warm and cool tones.
  2. Protect Your Hair from Sun and Pool Exposure: Chlorine in swimming pools can strip your hair, making it more susceptible to damage and color fading. Similarly, sun exposure can accelerate color fading and increase brassiness. To safeguard your hair, cover it up or use hair sunscreen when outdoors.
  3. Invest in a Shower Filter: Hard water, rich in minerals like chlorine and iron, can dry out your hair and fade its color. Using a shower filter can reduce these minerals, helping your hair color last longer and preventing brassy tones.

By following these tips, you can effectively protect your hair from external factors that contribute to brassiness, ensuring your hair color stays as vibrant and fresh as the day you left the salon.

Does toner damage your hair?

Wondering if hair toner can damage your strands?

The short answer is no, but it depends on the kind of toner you use, and how often you tone.

Choose a nourishing toning product with ingredients that actually help your hair, rather than stripping it from natural oils and color.

As an added bonus, just a few drops of quality toner can instantly refresh any style without having to shampoo.

Just make sure not to overdo it; a little goes a long way! So don’t be afraid to experiment with toners – like most things in life, moderation is key.

How to remove hair toner from hair.

Are you one of those people that have tried to darken their highlights with the wrong color toner?

Don’t worry! Removing toner from your hair can be pretty tricky, but using a few tools and some basic knowledge, you can lighten up your hair again.

The most important thing to remember is to stay patient and use appropriate products that won’t damage your hair.

Start out by washing your locks thoroughly with clarifying shampoo and follow up with an intense deep conditioning treatment.

If all else fails, try booking an appointment with a stylist who can use professional products to help make things right again!

Parting words

If you’re noticing that your once shining locks are looking a little orangey, it might be because of brassy hair.

But don’t worry, there are ways to fix it! Using purple shampoo or a color-depositing conditioner can help get rid of any unwanted warmth in your hair and restore it back to its former glory. So go ahead and give your locks some love—they deserve it!

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.