What Does Brassy Hair Look Like? How To Get Rid Of It.

If your hair is looking a little dull, lackluster and a nasty shade of orange, it might be time to give it a little TLC.

One of the most common problems that people face with their hair is brassy hair. But what does brassy hair look like? And how can you get rid of it? Keep reading to find out.

Ever wondered why your once-lovely blonde locks turn brassy over time? Us too. Thankfully, we did some digging to get to the bottom of this hair color woe—and more importantly, figure out how to fix it.

Here’s what you need to know about brassy hair—and how to get rid of it for good.

What does brassy hair look like?

Brassy hair is when there are unwanted orange or yellow tones in your hair. It’s a common issue that many blondes (and even some brunettes) face.

It occurs when there is too much of a contrast between your natural pigment and the hair color you’re trying to achieve.

This usually happens when your hair is over-processed, or if you haven’t been using the right products. The result is hair that looks more yellow or orange than the ashier hair color you were going for. 

What is brassy hair?

Brassiness occurs when your hair color starts to fade, revealing unwanted yellow or orange tones. There’s no denying that brassiness is one of the most frustrating hair problems out there.

The cause of brassy hair can be the result of over-processing, sun exposure, mineral buildup, or simply the natural pigment in your hair coming through. 

Whether you’re dealing with pesky orange undertones or yellow hues, getting rid of brassy hair can seem like a never-ending battle. But what exactly is brassy hair? And why does it happen in the first place? Let’s start with the basics.

Warm brassy tones usually happen due to over-processing, sun exposure, or hard water. 

“Brassiness happens when bleach removes natural pigment from the hair shaft and then oxidizes,” says super colorist Eleni Rossi.

“This causes a chemical reaction that results in unwanted hues, like yellow, red, and orange.”

Brassy hair color and hot roots can also occur in brunettes whose brown hair dye is fading. If your undertones and skin tones are warm, you probably find this happening to you.

How do I know if my hair is brassy?

There are a few easy ways to tell if you have brassy hair.

1. Your hair looks yellow or orange. 

If your once-blonde locks have started to take on a more yellow or orange hue, it could be a sign that your hair is brassy.

This usually happens when the natural pigment in your hair starts to break down, allowing underlying brassiness to come through.

2. Your hair feels dry and coarse. 

Brassy hair isn’t just aesthetically unappealing; it can also be difficult to manage. If your hair feels dry and coarse, it’s likely because the brassiness has stripped away its natural moisture and oils.

As a result, your hair may become frizzy and unmanageable. If you’re struggling to tame your tresses, use a deep conditioning mask at least once a week. This will help restore moisture and make your hair easier to style.

3. You’re using too much heat styling. 

Too much heat styling can damage your hair and strip away its natural color pigments, leaving behind brassiness.

If you want to protect your hair from heat damage and keep it looking shiney and healthy, limit yourself to one heat-styling session per week.

And when you do style your hair with heat, make sure to use a heat protectant spray beforehand. This will help minimize the damage caused by hot tools.

4. You swim frequently in chlorinated water. 

Chlorinated water can cause brassiness in all types of hair—not just blonde locks!

If you swim frequently or spend a lot of time in chlorinated water (like at a pool or waterpark), it’s important to rinse your hair with clean water as soon as possible afterwards.

This will help remove any chlorine that might be sitting on the surface of your strands and causing brassiness. It’s also a good idea to wet your hair before swimming; this will create a barrier between your strands and the chlorinated water so that less chlorine is able absorb into your strands in the first place. 

5. You live in a hard water area  

Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals can leave behind deposits on your strands, which can lead to brassiness.

If you live in an area with hard water , invest in a shower filter; this will help remove some of the minerals from the water before they have a chance to wreck your color.

How to get rid of brassy hair 

Now that you know how to identify brassy hair, it’s time to learn how to get rid of it! There are a few different ways you can go about this.

Method 1.Use a purple shampoo and conditioner

A purple shampoo is one of the most effective ways to get rid of brassiness or tone down blonde hair that is too bright.

Purple shampoo and conditioner work by neutralizing the yellow and orange tones in your hair. We recommend using them once a week to keep your hair looking its best.

Method 2.Try a toning or glossing treatment:

You can find toning treatments at most beauty stores or online.

Toning treatments work by depositing color onto your hair, which helps neutralize brassiness and gives you longer-lasting results.

To neutralize the warmth, you’ll need an ash toner as ashy colors are cool. If you have green tones in your blonde hair you’ll need red. I all depends on the science of color theory and the hair color wheel.

hair color wheel infographic

Method 3. Re-dye your hair

If all else fails, you can always re-dye or bleach your orange hair again. Choose a cool-toned hair dye like ash brown or ash blonde that will counteract the brassiness.

We recommend using a demi-permanent color if your hair is damaged, as it’s less harsh than a permanent dye.

Lastly, if all else fails, you can always visit your trusted hairstylist or colorist and they can help you get your color back on track. 

Watch and learn: How to fix brassy hair.

Here’a great video that breaks down the cause of brassy hair, blonde hair levels and the talks you through the right volume of bleach you need to get rid of it.

Brassy hair before and after

What does it mean when hair goes brassy?

When hair goes brassy, it means that the color is starting to become more yellow or orange. This can happen for a number of reasons, including over-bleaching, using shampoo that’s too harsh, or spending too much time in the sun.

Whatever the cause, there’s no need to panic – there are plenty of ways to fix it and prevent it happening again.


Always rinse your hair with cold water

Hot water can actually aggravate brassy hair, so make sure to rinse with cold water instead. This will help seal the cuticle and prevent brassiness from returning.

How to prevent brassy hair from happening?

The single best way to keep your blonde looking bright is by using a purple shampoo.

Purple shampoos have a direct pigmentation that neutralizes any unwanted yellow hues in the hair. We recommend using one with violet pigments rather than blue pigments as they are more effective at counteract unwanted brassiness. 

Brunettes, you’ll need a blue shampoo to keep your color cool. But be careful to only use these toners once a week otherwise you’ll turn your hair a different shade altogether!

And while we’re on the topic of shampooing, make sure you’re doing so less frequently as bleached blonde and dyed hair is often dry and fragile.

Over-shampooing can also remove protective oils from the scalp and lead to brassy hues developing quicker.

Stick to shampooing every other day or every three days instead of daily—and avoid hot water as it can further strip strands of their natural moisture.

Does toner damage your hair?

Wondering if hair toner can damage your strands?

The short answer is no, but it depends on the kind of toner you use, and how often you tone.

Choose a nourishing toning product with ingredients that actually help your hair, rather than stripping it from natural oils and color.

As an added bonus, just a few drops of quality toner can instantly refresh any style without having to shampoo.

Just make sure not to overdo it; a little goes a long way! So don’t be afraid to experiment with toners – like most things in life, moderation is key.

How to remove hair toner from hair.

Are you one of those people that have tried to darken their highlights with the wrong color toner?

Don’t worry! Removing toner from your hair can be pretty tricky, but using a few tools and some basic knowledge, you can lighten up your hair again.

The most important thing to remember is to stay patient and use appropriate products that won’t damage your hair.

Start out by washing your locks thoroughly with clarifying shampoo and follow up with an intense deep conditioning treatment.

If all else fails, try booking an appointment with a stylist who can use professional products to help make things right again!

Parting words

If you’re noticing that your once shining locks are looking a little orangey, it might be because of brassy hair.

But don’t worry, there are ways to fix it! Using purple shampoo or a color-depositing conditioner can help get rid of any unwanted warmth in your hair and restore it back to its former glory. So go ahead and give your locks some love—they deserve it!

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Nicola Freeman

Creative Director & Owner

With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during Covid for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!