Hair Problems - Hair

Why Is Brassy Hair Bad? Hair Damage & Brassy Tones

Here’s why brassy hair is bad, and what you can do about it.

Written by Ioana Moldovan
Why Is Brassy Hair Bad

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Most people don’t want brassy hair. But while it may not look great, is brassy hair really that bad?

It depends on the reason why you get brassy hair.

Sometimes, it’s because of underlying damage to the hair. Other times, it’s something as simple as getting too much sun.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Brassy Hair?

What Is Brassy Hair

Brassy hair is a term used for hair with unwanted warm, yellow, or orange tones. This can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they have color-treated or naturally blonde or brown hair.

Brassy Hair vs. Natural Blonde or Brown Hair

Natural blonde or brown hair has a balance of warm and cool tones. This makes the hair color appear more even and natural.

In brassy hair, the warm undertones dominate. They cause yellow or orange tones to become more visible. This can make the hair color look less natural or undesirable.

What Causes Hair to Turn Brassy?

Here are the main factors that can cause hair to turn brassy:

  • Overuse of chemical treatments
  • Frequent heat styling
  • Inadequate hair care routine
  • Exposure to chlorinated or hard water
  • Sun exposure
  • Natural hair color and underlying pigments
  • Aging process and hormonal changes

Some of your daily routines and habits can impact the appearance of your hair and turn it brassy, such as:

  • Using the wrong hair products
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Not using a color-safe or purple shampoo or conditioner
  • Swimming in chlorinated pools without a swim cap
  • Not using UV protectant products on hair
  • Using hot water to wash hair regularly.

Why Is Brassy Hair Bad?

The main issue with brassy hair is its impact on appearance. there are also some health factors to consider, such as the bleaching process and the damage due to environmental factors.

Aesthetic Impact

Brassiness can have a significant effect on the appearance of your hair color. Here are some of the key aesthetic issues you might face:

  1. Unwanted warm tones
  2. Inconsistent color
  3. Less vibrant color
  4. Unnatural appearance
  5. Diminished sophistication
  6. Color clashing
  7. Altered highlights and lowlights impact self-esteem

1. Unwanted Warm Tones

Brassiness can make the hair color look less natural, particularly for people with lightened hair.

This is because the warm tones can appear overly bright or harsh. Soft, natural-looking tones are most often the goal of hair coloring.

2. Inconsistent Color

When the brassiness is patchy or concentrated in certain areas, it can make the hair look uneven and poorly maintained. It seems as though you have applied the hair color incorrectly or it has faded unevenly.

This inconsistency can also create the perception of unhealthy or damaged hair.

3. Less Vibrant Color

Vibrant hair color adds depth, dimension, and life to your hair. It contributes to a youthful, healthy, and energetic look.

When hair color becomes less vibrant, it can make the hair look dull. It also looks lifeless and lackluster. This can affect the overall impression of health and vitality.

4. Unnatural Appearance

Brassy hair can lead to an unnatural appearance. This is due to the mismatch between the intended hair color and the tones that brassiness brings out.

When you bleach your hair, the difference becomes clearer.

If the color of your hair does not match your skin tone, you might not look your best. It might even look fake. You want your hair color to match your skin’s undertones. This will make you look nice and natural.

In terms of the combination of skin and hair color, each individual has specific undertones in their skin that can be:

  • Warm
  • Cool
  • Neutral

These undertones can influence which hair colors look most natural and harmonious on them.

Someone with cool undertones to their skin might find that ashy or cool-toned blondes, browns, or blacks look most natural on them.

Brassy, warm-toned hair might clash with their skin tone and look out of place. This results in an unnatural appearance.

Brassiness goes beyond these warm tones to orange or yellow hues that can be too extreme and still appear unnatural.

5. Diminished Sophistication

Brassy hair can lead to a less sophisticated appearance primarily due to its association with:

  • Hair damage
  • Incorrect hair coloring process
  • Lack of professional finish

When hair color is applied by an expert, it should:

  • Blend seamlessly.
  • Complement the individual’s skin tones.
  • Have a rich, even hue.

People see brassiness as an undesirable outcome of hair coloring or bleaching process. It is often associated with:

  • Over-processing
  • Incorrect color application
  • Lack of appropriate aftercare

6. Altered Highlights and Lowlights

Highlights and lowlights add depth, dimension, and a natural-looking variation to hair color.

This table illustrates how highlights and lowlights impact appearance. This helps you better understand how brassiness impacts them.

When hair becomes brassy, these carefully crafted color variations are masked or altered.

Brassiness can overlay highlights. This makes them look less bright and more yellow or orange. It also detracts from the brightness that highlights will bring to your look.

Brassiness can affect lowlights by making them blend in with the overall warm tone. As a result, it reduces the contrast and depth they’re meant to create.

7. Altered Perception of Hair Health

Overly warm, brassy tones are associated with damaged, over-processed hair. That’s why brassy hair looks unhealthy.

Even if the hair is in good condition, the presence of brassiness can give the impression of:

  • Dryness
  • Brittleness
  • Lack of vitality

This can be misleading. Your hair may actually possess strength, moisture, and shine. Still, the unwanted warm tones overshadow these positive attributes.

8. Impact on Self-Esteem

Hair is a prominent feature of physical appearance. As a result, it plays a crucial role in individuals’ self-image and self-confidence.

The way our hair looks can make us feel more or less attractive. This, in turn, can affect how we feel about ourselves more generally.

Health Implications

While brassiness is often more of an aesthetic issue, it may also suggest potential damage to your hair.

The main issues involve the bleaching process and damage from environmental factors.

Bleaching Damage

When brassiness occurs after a coloring treatment, it indicates that there is damage after bleaching.

Improper bleaching can lead to hair damage, such as brittleness and breakage.

Damage from Environmental Factors

Factors like harsh chemicals or hard water can cause brassiness. And, at the same time, damage your hair. In these cases, the appearance of brassiness might be a sign of harm.

Who’s Affected by Brassy Hair?

People with dyed or bleached blonde hair are more prone to brassy hair. Also, people who live in areas with hard water tend to get more brassiness.

Are certain hair types more prone to brassiness?

Yes, people with natural blonde hair or those who have lightened dark hair often see their hair turn brassy.

The reason for this is that these hair types and colors usually have underlying warm tones.

When you lighten or dye your hair, these warm tones can resurface. This results in the undesired brassy look you want to avoid.

Are There Genetic Predispositions To Brassy Hair?

While genetics may play a role in your hair type and color, it’s not necessarily a direct cause of brassy hair.

Brassiness occurs because of the warm undertones in your hair mixing with hair dye. Your genetic makeup is not the culprit.

Still, since certain hair colors are more susceptible to brassiness, it’s possible.

If your parents tend to experience brassy hair, you might also have a higher chance of dealing with it due to having a similar hair type.

Identifying Brassy Hair

You can identify brassy hair by checking for sudden color changes or loss of shine.

Sudden Change in Color

Sudden Change in Color

Your hair appears to be more yellow, orange, or red than its original shade. This is especially noticeable in lightened or bleached hair.

If you’re unsure whether your hair has become brassy, try comparing it to your original hair color or looking at photos to see if the tone has changed.

Loss of Shine

Loss of Shine

Brassy hair can affect the overall appearance of your hair, making it look less healthy and vibrant.

Pay attention to the texture and shine of your hair to help identify if it has become brassy.

Note: Consider the timing. Brassy hair usually becomes apparent within a few weeks of coloring or highlighting your hair. If you notice the unwanted change in tone after this time, it could be a sign that your hair has become brassy.

How to Prevent & Treat Brassy Hair

You can prevent and treat brassy hair. Here are some tips to help you manage brassiness:

Treatment MethodsProsCons
Purple ShampooAffordable, easy to use at home, and great for regular maintenance.Doesn’t provide a dramatic change for severe brassiness.
Hair TonerCan drastically reduce brassiness and restore your desired shade, great for a professional touch-up.Can be more expensive and requires a visit to your stylist.
DIY Hair MasksNatural and budget-friendly, can be tailored to your unique hair needs.Results may vary, and frequent application might be necessary for maintaining optimal hair color.
Demi-Permanent Hair ColorA more long-lasting solution that provides even and natural-looking results.Potentially more damaging to hair compared to non-permanent treatments.
Color Correcting ConditionersConvenient to use, can gradually correct brassiness.Might not be effective for extremely brassy hair.
Salon Color Correction ServicesCan provide the most comprehensive solution and dramatically improve hair color.Can be costly and time-consuming.
Hair Gloss TreatmentsCan add shine and subtly adjust color, making it a less invasive treatment option.Regular upkeep is required to maintain results.
Regular Deep Conditioning TreatmentsCan improve hair health and may indirectly help manage brassiness by keeping hair hydrated.Won’t directly alter color but could enhance overall hair appearance.

The Best Solution for Brassy Hair

When dealing with brassy hair, choose the solution best tailored to your specific needs:

  • Hair type (dry, oily, normal)
  • Hair texture (fine, medium, thick)
  • Level of brassiness (light, moderate, severe)
  • Hair health and damage level
  • Hair color and desired shade
  • Personal budget
  • Time commitment
  • Comfort and skill with DIY treatments
  • Product ingredients (avoiding certain chemicals or seeking natural ingredients)
  • Allergies or sensitivities
  • Frequency of hair washing
  • Frequency of heat styling
  • Lifestyle (swimming, sun exposure, etc.)
  • Water quality (hard or soft)
  • Frequency and type of hair coloring or other chemical treatments
  • Professional recommendations based on hair assessment
  • Reviews and results from others with similar hair characteristics

Final Takeaway: Is Brassy Hair Bad?

Brassy hair itself is not bad, but it often indicates underlying problems. Hair doesn’t turn brassy by itself, but is the result of other factors. If you’ve bleached your hair and get brassy tones, it’s a sign of potential damage. The same goes for environmental factors.