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Tone It Down: How to Prevent and Fix Brassy Hair

model with blonde hair I Dermstore Blog

For those of us who color our hair, brass can be a real pain in the…wallet. The goal is to have your cool blonde or brunette tones stay exactly how they look when you walk out of the salon, right? But often those warm tones seep in, and before you know it, you’re looking orange as the sun, ready to head back to the chair for a touchup. Well, it turns out there’s a way to combat brassiness and hold your color for longer. We turned to Alexandra K. of Crush Salon in Los Angeles to give us the 411 on how to fix brassy hair.

What Causes Brassy Hair

First, consider why brassiness starts in the first place. “It’s caused by harsh chemicals—like ammonia found in hair color—exposing your underlying pigment,” Alexandra says. Your underlying pigment is the base color beneath the tones that meld together to form your more obvious natural hair color. For example, very dark brunettes actually have a red underlying pigment. When choosing hair color, your colorist is no doubt taking this into consideration. If warm tones are lurking in your underlying pigment, he or she needs to know how to expertly break that base.

Preventing Brassy Hair

In order to prevent your hair color from turning brassy, Alexandra recommends a low-pH or ammonia-free hair color along with a proper color formulation recommended by a professional. Chances are if you’re repeatedly encountering brassiness soon after a color, your colorist should try a different product—or you should try a different colorist. But do note, if you’re highlighting or lightening darker brunette locks, you may need to put in the work for extra upkeep. Alexandra recommends turning down the heat on styling tools and staying away from UV rays. “Wearing a hat and using a leave-in sun protection spray will protect hair from the sun,” she says.

Products That Lessen Brassiness

There are a handful of products that help to stave off brassiness after color treatment, and it all starts in the shower. “Be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo (or hair care products designed for color-treated hair) to maintain your more ashy tones and keep the hair from turning brassy,” Alexandra says. With the right colorist, smart color choices and innovative color-protectant products, preventing and removing brassiness can be a breeze. Here are our top picks to help you get started:

  1. 1. Philip B. Icelandic Blonde Shampoo
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    1. Philip B. Icelandic Blonde Shampoo

    Philip B. is renowned for botanical hair treatments, and its Icelandic Blonde Shampoo will not disappoint. This unique formula of botanicals and oils tones the hair while also protecting and strengthening. Plum extracts neutralize warm tones while grapeseed oil nourishes and time-released botanicals moisturize. Simply massage into clean, wet hair, let sit and rinse.
    Tip: Use as needed and alternate it with the other shampoos and conditioners. Use a fine tooth comb to evenly disburse the product through hair for best results.

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  2. 2. Philip B. Icelandic Blonde Conditioner
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    2. Philip B. Icelandic Blonde Conditioner

    Much like Philip B.’s Icelandic Blonde Shampoo, the conditioner deeply moisturizes the hair while toning and strengthening. The key to preventing brassy hair is in the plum extract which provides cooling pigments to counteract your warm underlying pigment. After shampooing, apply and let sit for one to three minutes.

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  3. 3. dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo

    dpHue’s unique shampoo formula employs blue pigments to reduce brassy tones in color-treated hair. Silk proteins and flower extracts gently cleanse while increasing the shine of your cool-toned highlights. Massage into wet hair and leave on for up to five minutes before rinsing. This toning shampoo can be used once a week or as often as you feel it’s needed. Note, the pigments can be a bit drying daily use is not recommended.

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  4. 4. dpHUE Cool Brunette Conditioner

    Much like its complementary shampoo, dpHUE’s Cool Brunette Conditioner reduces brassiness and increases luster. The results are in the alpha hydroxy acids and plant-based emollients, which promote new hair growth, hydration and shine in brunette or black hair. Massage through damp hair after shampooing and let sit for two to three minutes, then rinse. This product can be used weekly or as-needed, but not intended for everyday use.

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  5. 5. R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Shampoo
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    5. R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Shampoo

    R+Co’s formula works wonders on blonde and gray hair, reducing brassy tones with natural mineral pigment. Coconut acid gently cleanses the scalp of impurities without stripping natural oils that give your hair its shine. Fans of this product love the “Serious Gaze” fragrance which has hints of juniper berry, rhubarb and violet. Work this shampoo through wet hair from root to tip and let sit for one to two minutes.

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  6. 6. R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Conditioner
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    6. R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Conditioner

    Much like its complementary shampoo, R+Co’s SUNSET BLVD Blonde Conditioner uses natural mineral pigment to further reinforce cool ashy tones and prevent brassiness. Simultaneously, comfrey extract detangles while balm mint protects color and sunflower-seed extract repairs damage. Simply work through from roots to ends daily or as needed.

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  7. 7. Sachajuan Silver Shampoo
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    7. Sachajuan Silver Shampoo

    Formulated specifically for gray and blonde tones, Sachajuan’s Silver Shampoo washes away impurities while decreasing brassy pigments in your strands. UV filters and algae-derived carrageenan extracts nourish and preserve hair, unveiling sleek and lustrous strands. The purple pigmented shampoo works to neutralize brassy tones and should only be used once a week.




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  8. 8. Sachajuan Silver Conditioner
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    8. Sachajuan Silver Conditioner

    After cleansing your hair with the Silver Shampoo, tone down warm hues while building up a protectant layer to further preserve your color for the long haul with a little conditioner. Sachajuan’s formula offers algae extract to nourish while the brand’s Ocean Silk Technology promotes a healthy shine. Similar to its shampoo counterpart, the Silver Conditioner should be used no more than once a week.



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Freelance Writer

Leigh Maneri

Leigh Maneri is a marketing strategist who lives at the beach but lives for the mountains. Embracing the motto "always go," she is completely at home in a tent with her scrappy brown terrier mix. Leigh seeks natural products and foods to best fuel a life of adventure.