Brassy hair: what is it and how to prevent it

Woman with blonde hair looking into the sun

Have you recently dyed your hair only to end up with a shade you didn’t desire, or perhaps your hair has taken on a new tone in the weeks following your visit to the salon? This issue is known as brassy hair and it can occur with many color transformations, but is most common when going from dark hair to a lighter shade such as platinum or blonde. 

Find out what brassy hair is including its causes and learn how to prevent it when lightening your hair.

What is brassy hair?

Did you know each strand of hair has three layers? That’s right. The layers of hair include the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. Your natural hair color comes specifically from pigments in the middle layer (the cortex) and these can become more visible through long-term sun exposure or chemically lightening them.

Lightening your hair through a dyeing process strips the middle layer of your natural color pigments, thus wiping the slate clean to make room for new pigments that will be deposited from the dye you’re using.

When the lightening process doesn’t completely get rid of all the underlying pigments you may end up with brassy hair that appears orange, yellow or a warm color other than what you intended. This may be noticeable immediately after dyeing, but in some cases the results may appear in the coming weeks.

How to prevent brassy hair

Rather than trying to fix or get rid of brassy hair after dyeing, check out these prevention tips to keep in mind before signs of brassiness start to show:

Remove product build-up and repair hair before lightening

Before grabbing the bleach, make sure your hair is in good condition to go through the lightening process. After all, you don’t want product build-up and existing damage to interfere with your color transformation. To give your hair a clean slate, start by removing product build-up from the follicles and scalp using a purifying shampoo such as the Reset Clarifying Shampoo. Follow this by using our Reset Repairing Mask to nourish hair from the inside out, then use the Reset Sealing Mist to complete your Reset routine.

explore the reset collection

explore the reset collection

designed to clarify, repair
and restore all hair types

Use a color neutralizing toner

During the bleaching or lifting process, use a color-neutralizing toner to help remove any remaining natural hair pigment that can later lead to discoloration or brassiness. As an added bonus, a toner also helps to lock in the new color and reduce fading in the following weeks. Use a toner every six to eight weeks to help keep your colored hair fresh and brass-free.

Wash hair with cool water

However, when you’re due for a wash day, keep the temperature fairly low. Hot water opens the hair’s cuticle which can result in color fading and brassiness. Instead, try washing your hair with cool water which seals the cuticle, allowing it to retain moisture for added smoothness and shine. To ensure colored hair gets enough moisture, use our Hydrating Shampoo and Hydrating Conditioner to gently cleanse and nourish hair then follow up with our elasticity-enhancing Leave-In Mist before styling.

hydrate collection

explore the
hydrate collection

designed to moisturize,
repair and protect for
hydrated, healthy hair

Use Purple Mask

Purple Mask, our new color-correcting hair mask, is essential for anyone who has recently bleached or lifted their hair. The purple pigment cancels out warm undertones in blonde, grey and silver hair that can lead to brassiness. This goes back to elementary science, as blue and violet are on the opposite spectrum of the color wheel compared to warm tones such as orange and yellow. With Purple Mask, a small amount of violet pigment is deposited into hair — which counteracts warm brassy tones to keep blonde hair cool and bright. 

purple hair mask

purple hair mask

formulated to hydrate, soften
and reduce brassiness in blonde,
grey and silver hair tones

Furthermore, try to minimize washing because doing so too frequently can speed up the color-fading process. Instead, use a purple-hued dry shampoo such as our Dry Shampoo Light which is tinted light purple to brighten blondes and counteract brassy hues while cleansing hair.

dry shampoo light

dry shampoo light

purple-tinted formula
keeps blondies fresh,
toned and oil-free

Avoid excessive sun exposure

Long term exposure to direct sunlight can dry hair out and speed up the fading process. In addition to damaging UV rays, being outside for long stretches of time also exacerbates the oxidation of your hair which damages the outer layer of the hair shaft and can lead to brassiness. To prevent this, wear a hat when you go outdoors for long periods of time or use UV-protectant hair products.

heat + uv protectants

heat + uv protectants

check out some of our
sunflower seed extract
infused hair essentials

Keep brassy hair color at bay

Don’t let your fear of brassy hair prevent you from going blonde or another lighter shade. Remember, it’s easier to prevent brassy hair than to get rid of or fix it after the signs start showing so take the proper precautions. With the right routine, you can enjoy cool, bright hair that’s brass-free. 

Have more questions about blonde or brassy hair? DM us on Instagram @verbproducts and we’ll answer all your hair care concerns. Join the waitlist to learn more and get first dibs on Purple Mask. Plus, we’ll enter you to receive some limited edition Verb merch.