How to avoid and correct brassy hair

Sick of seeing shades of orange or yellow among your cool blonde locks? Here’s how to beat the brass.

You know how it goes. You leave the salon feeling like a Nordic goddess with a head full of icy cool, ashy-toned goodness – but before you can say “where’s my selfie stick”, there’s brass.

Why does hair turn brassy?

Brassiness is caused by an overabundance of warm pigments in your hair, says SuiteBlonde Salon owner Anita Green.

“When you have your hair lightened, you’re removing the natural pigment to make room for the new colour to be applied,” Anita explains.

“Everyone has underlying tones to their hair – the brassiness is actually those undertones creeping back in.”

“Blonde hair in particular can go brassy very easily, particularly if it’s being lifted up from darker hair,” adds celebrity hairstylist Lisa Laudat.

If you have naturally blonde hair, you’ll probably see yellow undertones.

For darker blondes and brunettes, it’s an orange hue, and for dark hair, red.

Other factors that play a part in brassy hair

Chlorine, the sun’s UV rays and air pollution can also bring on those unwanted warm tones.

“Even the water coming out of your shower head can have an effect, particularly if there’s high levels of minerals, which can dry out your hair,” says Anita.

“Sometimes it’s the products you’re using – some have parabens and silicones in them that can build up on the hair strands and affect the colour.

“Your hormones and certain medications can also cause brassiness.”

How to correct brassy hair

So, what’s the best way to combat the colour fade and transform brash brassiness into cool, bright blonde – or whatever shade you’re going for?

The most important thing to understand is that toner is your friend.

“Toners are used in the salon when you’re having your colour done to correct the undertones of your hair and usually last for about 16 washes,” says Anita.

“It’s basically adding a cool tone to your hair of an opposing colour to the one you want to neutralise – so for blonde or bleached hair, violet or blue will take out the gold or yellow.”

“You can use toners at home also, in the form of a blue or purple shampoo, conditioners and masks, as well as colour protecting shampoos for darker hair,” says Lisa.

Top tips to keep the cool hair colour of your dreams

Add these things to your list to avoid signs of yellow or orange, say our hair gurus:

  1. Protect your hair from the sun

“If you’re on holidays wear a hat or use products that block the UV rays,” says Lisa.

  1. Wear a swim cap

Chlorine strips your hair of natural oils leaving it susceptible to damage (and more prone to brass) so cap up to do your laps, advises Lisa.

  1. Keep your hair in peak condition

“Use good quality home hair care products to keep hair nourished and hydrated to prevent discolouration,” Anita recommends.

Try a colour-correcting purple shampoo and deep conditioning hair treatment.

  1. Turn the shower to cold

We saved the best for last. Yes, rinsing with cold water closes the hair cuticle cells, helping to lock in moisture and prevent fading. Bye bye brassy!

Written by Liz McGrath.