Tresses that turn orange instead of golden blonde, cool brunettes with flashes of unwanted red and blonde highlights that look sunny yellow instead of icy platinum. We’ve all been there. So, what will get rid of brassy hair? The answer is simple: toning.
There are several ways to tone hair to avoid and eliminate brassiness, both in and out of the salon. In this guide, we’ll go over a few of the simplest ways so you can achieve the ideal tone for your clients.
Brassy hair is sometimes the result of an at-home hair color disaster, which will send a client running to a pro for a color correction service. Brassy tones might also naturally appear during a hair color or lightening process in the salon. These tones are often an unavoidable step, especially if you are lightening a client’s hair several levels.
Oxidation, a natural reaction to our environment that changes a hair color’s tone gradually, also causes brassy locks. The change might be hardly noticeable at first. Your client may leave the salon with the most spot-on icy blonde highlights, for example, and return several weeks later to report brassy hues. The sun can be another contributing factor, as well as chlorinated pools, especially for blondes.
What makes brassy tones appear yellow and orange? Every natural hair color has warm undertones that stay hidden until the hair is lightened or colored. These pigments will naturally appear too warm and brassy, unless they are correctly toned, so the key is just knowing how to neutralize them.
No matter what caused the brassy look, toning is an easy fix. When choosing a toner color, remember that cool tones cancel out warm ones, but the hair’s lightness level is also key.
There are more specific color references for undertones, but here’s a general guide:
Dark browns to black have red undertones
Dark blonde to light browns have orange undertones
Light to medium blondes have yellow undertones
Once you identify your client’s warm undertone, find it on a color wheel. The color directly opposite it will neutralize it. That’s the toner color you will need to banish brass. Keep in mind, however, that some toners contain a mixture of two tones.
Here’s a helpful reference for toning:
Purple (or violet) cancels out yellow, usually for blondes
Blue cancels out orange, usually for dark blondes to medium browns
Green cancels out red, usually for dark browns and black hair
No matter the brand, professional hair color toning products usually specify whether they are purple (or violet), blue or green, and some include two tones combined.
Freshen Up Locks with an Anti-Brass Gloss Treatment
Since a toner sometimes fades before your client’s next color appointment, brassy hues may return. Offer clients an in-salon professional gloss treatment for a quick solution to freshen up hair color and banish brass at the same time.
Types vary, but gloss treatments typically contain hair color with a low volume developer, plus a conditioning product. The results are temporary, but last anywhere from several weeks to two months.
You can create a custom glossing formula by tinting a gloss treatment with violet, blue or green tones. Choose the tone based on your client’s hair and the warm undertone that you want to neutralize.
Purple Toning Shampoo Keeps Brassy Locks at Bay
You may also want to send your clients home with a purple shampoo to tone down the brassiness. Purple shampoos are toning shampoos, which deposit cool-toned violet pigments onto the hair after cleansing. Many professional brands offer purple shampoos that will, depending on the formula, help to neutralize both yellow and orange tones to instantly “tone down” brassy hair. The toning effect will last temporarily, typically a few weeks.
Advising your clients to use a purple shampoo at home is a perfect way to maintain cool blonde highlights — and ensure brassy tones don’t resurface before their next color appointment. Remember to remind clients not to overdo it, as purple shampoos aren’t meant to be used every day.
Understanding how to achieve the perfect color is crucial to your success as a stylist or salon owner. Luckily, there are a variety of color-corrective steps you can take to ensure that your guests wind up with the color of their dreams.