So you've recently got a new dye job — only to find that your hair has turned into a brassy color rather than that gorgeous new shade you wanted. It can be infuriating when unwanted warm tones start to creep into your hair color, or begin to show up after a lightening or bleach job. Hair can turn brassy (a.k.a. yellow or orange in tone) when your color starts to fade over time.
Often times, brassiness occurs when the bleaching or lifting process during hair dyeing doesn't get rid of all the underlying pigment in your locks. Since all hair has some degree of underlying warm tones, the removal of your natural hair color then gives brassiness the opportunity to show itself — which means that warm tones start to become more evident in your hair color. According to celebrity hairstylist Gio Bargallo, brassiness can also crop up from things like oxidation from the sun, air exposure to minerals, and harsh chemicals in the water while you shower.
"Brassiness is usually found in all hair pigments, especially hair pigments that are darker, such as in ethnic hair like Latin, Asian, or Black textured hair," explains celebrity hairstylist Kiyah Wright. "When hair is darker, it typically pulls brassier tones." This means that brassiness often happens in dark hair that gets dyed blonde, although it can happen in highlighted hair or hair that's been lightened to some shades of brown.
We consulted celebrity hairstylists on why exactly brassy hair happens — and how to prevent your hair from taking on those yellow or orange undertones you never asked for. From the best hair products to use to everyday hair tips anyone can follow at home, here's how to say goodbye to brassy hair and achieve your dream cool-toned shade:
1. Call your stylist for a toner or gloss.
The easiest fix: "You can correct brassy hair by coming back into your salon and applying a gloss or toner to the hair," recommends Bargallo. Hair toners are used to help neutralize any unwanted brassy or warm tones, and can include demi-permanent color or glosses, which can be applied by a professional colorist at the hair salon for best results. "This simple fix with a conditioning treatment and blowout make a huge difference."
2. Shampoo with a purple formula between professional colorings.
When you can't make it to the salon, one of the most popular at-home products to eliminate brassiness is blue or purple shampoo, which deposit a sheer violet-tinged tint to help cancel any orange or yellow tones. Since purple is the opposite color to yellow, it neutralizes any yellow tones to eliminate any brassiness in your hair.
It's as easy as swapping in purple shampoo for your regular shampoo every couple of weeks and allowing to let sit in your hair for three to five minutes before rinsing. In between purple shampoos, make sure you're using a shampoo for color-treated hair to preserve your color, too.
3. Wash hair with cool water.
The temperature at which you're washing your hair with can surprisingly make a considerable difference in preserving your hair color to fight brassiness. One of the most common reasons that hair color fades is rinsing hair with hot water, which actually opens the outer cuticle to allow color to fade faster.
"The best temperature to rinse your hair in is lukewarm to cool," says Bargallo. After applying shampoo and conditioner, Bargallo recommends rinsing with cool water to close the hair cuticle, which can help preserve your hair color and prevent fading.
4. Spend less time at the pool and the beach.
"The pool and beach are definite no no’s when you first get your color done," says Wright. "Beaches and pools strip the color off the hair, taking it back to the brassy tone." Minimize your time at the pool and beach as much as possible (yes, even though it might be tempting during those hot summer days!).
If you do end up swimming in salt water or chlorine pools, Bargallo recommends using a hat or scarf to wrap your hair up instead of dunking, or making sure to wash your hair properly and treating it after any swimming. Another tip: Run your hair under fresh, cool water before hopping into the pool or the ocean. Since your hair will already be saturated with fresh water, it will absorb less harsh chlorinated or sea water.
5. Consider getting a shower filter.
It's not just the pool water that contains chlorine and other minerals that are turning your hair brassy — it may also be your shower water, too. Minerals in your water can contribute to color fading, says Bargallo, which can ultimately make your hair more prone to turning brassy over time. Luckily, an easy fix for this problem is to use a shower filter, which can sift out all the hard chemicals that's wreaking havoc on your hair (not to mention your skin and nails, too)!
6. Shield hair from direct sunlight.
UV rays from the sun are another big brassiness culprit. "Sun rays fade color and lighten hair in time and bring out all that brassiness," explains Bargallo. To protect your hair from harsh rays during the summer months, Bargallo recommends protective hair spray products like Rita Hazan's Lock + Block Protective Spray, which helps block UV rays to prevent premature color fading.
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