What is Brassy Hair?

You leave the salon and you love your color but with in a few weeks you start to notice the color change and you see unwanted warmth or brassy hair. What can you do about it and why does it happen? Let’s talk about the basic laws of hair.

In the hair world, our hair is categorized into levels and tones. Levels are how light or dark on a scale of 1 being black and 10 being pale blonde/platinum and tone being the hue: warm, neutral and cool.

In each level of hair there are underlying pigments hidden to the natural eye that are exposed when the hair is naturally or artificially lightened. For example, black hair has the most pigments in it therefore it has blue, violet, red, orange and yellow in it. Blonde hair contains the least amount of pigment, including only yellow and pale yellow. In order to make hair blonde we have to lighten it past every level with its corresponding underlying pigment, exposing the red, orange and yellow pigments.

Any time hair is lifted or made lighter, whether naturally by the sun or through chemical treatment in the salon, the underlying pigments are exposed leaving warmth, commonly referred to as brassy hair. “Brassy” is unwanted warmth. If a redhead has copper their hair, they may be able to live with it while a brunette may see copper as too much warmth or brassiness. Most comes down to your personal preference and how you see warmth.

Things that cause brassy hair:

  • Over-using heat tools or using them without protection product.
  • Over exposure to the sun without protection
  • Layers of old color buildup on your hair as your start your journey to go lightener or blonde
  • Your color gloss or toner has faded.
  • Not using salon quality shampoos and conditioners
  • If you have colored hair, failure to avoid parabens and sulfates as they’re more harsh on the hair

What are some ways you can fix brassy hair?

  • LOWER THE HEAT! As a stylist I can’t stress this enough. Always start with your settings as low as your hair will allow, gradually dialing up the heat as needed for the tool to do the job. Most people can use low and medium settings, ranging from 300-350 degrees. I know its tempting to crank up the heat to high in order to finish the style quicker, but it actually damages the hair, swelling the cuticle so your freshly done color fades quicker.
  • Lack of heat protectant. You should always use a product in your hair to protect against heat at every stage of heat styling. My go-to is Pureology Color Fanatic. Color Fanatic can be used on natural or color-treated hair, while damp, before styling.
  • If you spend a lot of time in the sun, you might notice your hair getting lighter with unwanted gold or copper tones; you may be a victim of a hair sunburn! Just like our skin, our hair is susceptible to damage by UV rays and can fade, bringing out unwanted tones, as well as drying out your hair. One quick fix is to grab a hat when you can’t find a product that has UV or environmental protection. Sebastian Halo Mist is a great shine protector and UV protection spray. Amika’s “The Shield” style extending spray is also a great one to fight against humidity, and to protect against heat and UV rays
  • If you’re in the process of changing your hair color to go lighter, remember all hair has underlying pigments. While some people can achieve their color in one session, hair that is darker or that has color buildup, will take more time and patience. Remember, lightening the hair lifts through red, orange, yellow and pale yellow. If your hair doesn’t get to your stylists desired level, then they’ll have to lighten it again or use a color corrective gloss to minimize the warmth with glosses. You must maintain these glosses regularly at the salon and treat your hair at home to prevent the brassy from taking over. Seeing your stylist every 4-8 weeks for a color gloss can help to tone down the brass and give you a warm neutral or cool result, depending on your desired look. At home you can use a colored treatment shampoo.
  • Remember ALL hair color fades and needs to be freshened at the salon. Seeing your stylist every 4-8 weeks can keep your color looking tip top and can help neutralize unwanted tones.
  • Coloring your hair at a salon can be expensive, but there is nothing worse for stylists than to see clients spending money on their hair in the salon only to go home and use drug store brands. Remember, coloring your hair is an investment and you must protect your investment at home by using the proper home care recommended by your stylist in order to ensure your color will last. I always recommend three must-have products: shampoo, conditioner and my favorite, Color Fanatic. Another win from buying professional products is they’re so much more concentrated than the retail brands. They’re formulated with the least amount of water so you use WAY less, making it last that much longer. Invest in your hair and I PROMISE you’ll see the difference, especially with color treated hair.