Hair Problems - Hair

Complete Guide to Brassy Hair: How to Prevent & Fix It

Brassy hair is another term for unwanted tones. This often happens to lightened hair. Here’s how to deal with it.

Written by Amber Belanger
brassy hair

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Brassy hair is a common problem that affects many people. This occurs when the hair takes on a yellow or orange tint.

According to a survey conducted by a haircare company, 62% of women reported experiencing brassy hair at some point in their lives.

It is caused by many factors, such as sun exposure, hard water, or even the products you use.

But don’t worry, there are ways to combat brassy hair and restore your locks to their former glory. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Brassiness in Hair?

Brassy hair refers to the unwanted tones that appears in hair. This occurs when the natural hair color is lifted or lightened, revealing the underlying pigments.

In brunettes, these pigments manifest as orange or red tones. In blondes, they appear as yellow tones.

People who prefer cool-toned or ashy hair colors may find brassiness especially frustrating. It can make the hair color look unbalanced or unnatural.

What Does Brassy Hair Look Like?

Brassy hair is easy to recognize. Look for warm tones in lightened hair, such as yellows, oranges, reds, and caramels.

These warm hues contribute to the hair’s brassiness. They also differ from the desired cool-toned hair colors that many people strive for.

It’s essential to understand that brassiness is not an intentional hair color. It is the result of the hair’s underlying pigments being exposed during the lightening process.

In contrast, other hair colors are typically achieved with specific dye shades and purposes. 

The Science of Hair Color

Hair color is a result of the presence of melanin, a pigment that naturally occurs in our hair.

There are two types of melanin:

  • Eumelanin
  • Pheomelanin

Eumelanin is responsible for brown and black hair. Pheomelanin causes blonde and red hair.

The mix of these pigments determine the natural shade and tone of a person’s hair.

When hair is dyed or lightened, the hair cuticles are opened. They allow the entry of color molecules. This process removes or reduces the existing melanin. This way, it allows the hair dye to deposit new color molecules. 

Underlying pigments may remain or be exposed during the process. This leads to unwanted warm tones appearing in the hair color. 

What Causes Brassy Hair?

Brassy hair is caused by warm tones or pigments in your hair. This is often caused by lightening treatments, such as highlights or bleaching.

Brassy hair is a common issue for individuals who have undergone hair color treatments.

There are many reasons why you develop brassy hair:

  • Color treatments
  • Color processing
  • Sun exposure
  • Environmental factors
  • Chlorine
  • Product buildup & residue
  • Bad hair care products
  • Heat
  • Aging

Color Treatments

Color Treatments

Hair color treatments, especially lightening or bleaching, do not always remove all underlying pigment. This leads to a warm and brassy appearance. 

Color Processing

Color Processing

Incomplete color processing is another related factor, resulting in an uneven color distribution and brassiness.

When the blue color molecules in hair dye fade faster than the red and yellow ones, brassiness occurs.

Sun Exposure

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure contributes to brassiness by drying out the hair and opening the cuticle. As a result, the top color fades and underlying pigment appears.

Environmental Factors

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, like pollution, can also affect the color and health of your hair.



Chlorinated water is known to strip hair of its natural oils. This leaves it dry and susceptible to damage. This can also lead to the development of brassiness over time.

Exposure to hard water can also leave mineral deposits on the hair, causing it to turn brassy.

Product Buildup & Residue

Product buildup from using hair products can weigh down the hair and create a dull, brassy appearance. 

Bad Hair Care Products

Poor-quality hair products contain harsh chemicals that damage the hair shaft. This results in color change and brassiness.



Frequent use of heat styling tools, such as flat irons, curling wands, or hairdryers, can weaken hair. It also causes it to become more susceptible to damage and brassiness. 


The natural aging process can also contribute, as hair tends to lose some of its pigment and become more prone to brassiness with age.

Factors Affecting Brassy Hair

Several factors can contribute to brassiness, such as exposure to chemicals in water, harmful compounds in products, and oxidation from sunlight. 

Here is a table summarizing the factors that affect brassy hair and ways to protect your locks:

Factors Affecting Brassy HairCausesSolutions
Water QualityHarsh chemicals in tap waterUse a filter to reduce chlorine and metal minerals.
Hair Care ProductsHarmful compounds like sulfates, parabensUse color-safe and sulfate-free hair products to maintain color and protect hair from fading
Sun ExposureUV rays oxidize and lighten hair pigmentUse hair care products with UV protection to shield your hair

Impact of Brassy Hair on Different Hair Types

The impact of brassy hair varies depending on hair type, and whether the hair is natural or dyed. Lightened hair is more prone to brassiness, and brassiness affect hair types in different ways.

The following table provides information on how brassiness appears on various hair types.

Hair TypeBrassy Hair CharacteristicsChallenges in Toning and Correcting Brassy Hair
Straight HairMore visible and uniform brassiness throughout the hairEasily noticeable and requires comprehensive toning
Wavy HairUneven and patchy appearance due to natural texture and wave patternRequires careful attention to address the uneven distribution of brassiness
Curly HairPronounced brassiness in more open curlsChallenging to correct brassiness in open curls to achieve a uniform hair color
Coily HairConcentrated brassiness at the hair rootsRequires targeted treatments to address brassiness concentrated at the hair roots

The impact of brassy hair on natural and dyed hair also differs.

In naturally light hair, brassiness can occur due to environmental factors. These environmental factors include exposure to chlorine or sun. This results in a somewhat dull, yellow-orange hue developing over time. 

For dyed hair, especially those lightened from a darker shade, brassiness appears as yellow, orange, or red tones. This occurs when the natural pigments in the hair are revealed during the lightening process.

Regardless of hair type, regular maintenance is key.

How To Prevent Brassiness in Hair

You can prevent brassiness in hair in many ways:

  1. Protective hair care techniques
  2. The right hair products
  3. Lifestyle adjustments
  4. Regular hair assessments and professional consultations

1. Protective Hair Care Techniques

To maintain your hair’s color and prevent brassiness, implement proper hair care techniques.

Avoid over-washing your hair, as it can strip away natural oils and pigments. This causes the color to fade. Instead, wash your hair every 2-3 days. 

Make sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo to protect the hair color. Rinsing your hair with cold water can minimize the damage and color degradation from hot water.

2. Choosing the Right Hair Products

It’s crucial to use the right products to prevent brassiness.

For colored or bleached hair, use a purple shampoo to neutralize yellow and orange tones. Remember the color wheel principle: purple counteracts yellow, and blue counteracts orange. 

Invest in color-protectant products and opt for ammonia-free dyes to minimize chemical damage to your hair.

3. Lifestyle Adjustments To Prevent Brassiness

Several lifestyle adjustments can help prevent brassiness:

Protect your hair from UV rays by wearing a hat or using a UV-protectant spray. Excessive sunlight exposure can alter your hair color. 

Avoid jumping into chlorinated pools. If you do, wear a swim cap or use a pre-swim hair treatment.

Hard water can contribute to brassy hair. Install a shower filter to reduce the impact of hard water on your hair.

4. Importance of Regular Hair Assessments and Professional Consultations

Regular hair assessments and professional consultations play a crucial role in maintaining your hair’s health and color. They can identify early signs of brassiness. 

Professionals will also recommend tailored solutions, like hair toners and glosses. This way you address the issue before it becomes more challenging to manage.

They can also advise you about using the right products for your hair type and color to ensure optimal results.

4 Treatments for Brassy Hair

Here are four ways to fix brassy hair:

  1. Hair toners
  2. Toning shampoo (purple and blue shampoo)
  3. Salon treatments
  4. Your diet

For more solutions, check out our article on 14 ways to get rid of brassy hair.

1. Hair Toners

Hair toners are made to tone your hair. That’s why they work great for removing unwated brassy tones.

They are usually applied after the hair-lightening process.

Hair toners are available in various shades to match your desired hair color. They often come as demi-permanent colors, which provide a longer-lasting effect compared to temporary dyes.

For the best results, use a proper toning product regularly.

2. Purple and Blue Shampoo

Purple and blue shampoos are specially formulated to combat brassiness in blonde and brown hair:

  • Purple shampoo is effective in neutralizing yellow tones. These are often seen in blonde hair.
  • Blue shampoo is more suited for targeting orange brassy hair, often seen in brown hair. 

These shampoos contain cool-toned pigments that help counteract the warm hues.

It is also important to remember to rinse the hair with cool water to seal the hair cuticles. This helps maintain the desired tone.

3. Salon Treatments

Professional salon treatments are a popular option for fixing brassiness.

These treatments often involve color-corrective appointments with experienced stylists and colorists.

Hair experts usually use toners, glosses, or other hair color products to neutralize the undesired hues. 

It is essential to book a specific color-corrective appointment with your stylist. This ensures a successful treatment process.

4. A Healthy Diet

A well-balanced diet plays a significant role in maintaining healthy hair color. By maintaining a healthy diet, your hair is more likely to retain its color and resist brassiness.

Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals can support hair health and promote color retention. These include fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

Also, make sure you stay hydrated. This ensures that nutrients are efficiently transported throughout the body, including to the hair follicles.

Home Remedies for Brassy Hair

There are several home remedies that can help tone down unwanted brassy tones. Some popular natural remedies include apple cider vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, green tea, and hollyhock herbs.

In addition to these remedies, preventative measures such as using a sulfate-free shampoo and rinsing hair with cold water can help maintain your desired hair color.

It’s important to perform a patch test before using natural remedies. This ensures compatibility and prevents adverse reactions. Results may vary depending on individual hair type and condition.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Method of Application: Dilute 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Use as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning.

Key Benefits: Restores pH balance, removes buildup, and adds shine to the hair.

Baking Soda

Method of Application: Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Apply as a hair mask, leave for 10-15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Key Benefits: Clarifies the hair by removing product residue and neutralizing brassy tones.

Lemon Juice

Method of Application: Mix equal parts lemon juice and water. Apply to the hair, leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse well.

Key Benefits: Acts as a natural lightener and toner, eliminating brassiness in blonde hair.

Green Tea

Method of Application: Brew a strong cup of green tea and allow it to cool. Use as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning.

Key Benefits: Enriches hair color, adds shine, and protects against environmental damage.

Hollyhock Herbs

Method of Application: Steep hollyhock herbs in vinegar for 1-2 weeks. Strain and use as a hair rinse after shampooing.

Key Benefits: Targets brassiness, restores natural color, and provides a nourishing treatment.

Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Method of Application: Replace regular shampoo with a sulfate-free formula. Use as directed.

Key Benefits: Maintains natural moisture balance, prevents color fading, and reduces brassiness.

Cold Water Rinse after Shampooing

Method of Application: After shampooing, rinse hair with cold water for a few seconds.

Key Benefits: Seals the hair cuticle, minimizes color fading, and reduces absorption of minerals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can brassy hair be caused by hormonal changes?

Yes, brassy hair can be caused by hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuations can lead to changes in your hair’s natural pigment. This may result in brassiness over time. These changes can be influenced by factors such as pregnancy, menopause, or even hormonal medications.

How long does it take for hair to turn brassy after dyeing?

The time it takes for hair to turn brassy after dyeing can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the type of hair dye used, the initial hair color, and how often the hair is washed. Generally, brassiness can start to appear anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months after dyeing your hair. 

Can brassy hair be caused by medication?

Yes, certain medications can potentially cause brassy hair or contribute to changes in hair color. Some medications may affect the pigmentation of hair, leading to changes in color or brassiness. 

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Amber Belanger

Amber is not just a beauty enthusiast. She has spent countless hours doing the nails of her friends, researching the newest studies on personal care, as well as tried and tested numerous hair products. She prides herself on her factuality and luscious hair.