8 Effective Ways to Remove Brassy Tones from Brunette Hair

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Gaga

The effect of fresh hair color is a lot like fresh flowers: you glow the first day you get it. But what happens when those coppery, unwanted tones start to crop up? While it takes just a minute to toss out the flowers, getting rid of brassy tones isn’t so simple.

There you are in front of the mirror wondering how this happened. You went from blonde to blorange in just a matter of weeks. It doesn’t take much time, does it? Yet it happens so slowly that you don’t even notice before that important business meeting. You find yourself standing in the mirror wondering how did my color turn to orange-red overnight.

This process of “blonde” highlights fading to copper is normal, especially for brunettes. And here’s why.

a girl with brassy brown hair

Why Does Highlighted Brunette Hair Fade to Copper?

To understand why it fades, we have to look at what brunette hair is. Imagine there are 10 levels of color in each dark hair strand with a range from 1-10. Level 1 looks black. Level 10 looks like white blonde or “platinum” blonde.

But what are the ranges in between?  If you have dark brown almost black hair, you’re sitting at a 2 or 3. If you have dark brown to medium brown hair, you’re at a 4 or 5. If you have very light brown hair almost blonde, you’re considered a level 6. Numbers 7-10 are considered blonde.

Let’s say a level 4 brunette (very dark brown) wants to be highlighted to a level 7 blonde. For that brown color to look blonde, it has to pass from level 4 to 5 to 6 then finally to 7. It cannot skip a level. Why is that difficult? It’s because the pigments that secretly live beneath the brown color are reds and oranges. So when the hair is lifting from 4 to 5, red is exposed. And when the hair is lifting from 5 to 6, reddish-orange is exposed. And when you go from 6-7, it’s more warm orange-gold.

It’s those “secret” tones that live underneath the “brown” color that are the “brassy” culprits. Toner can mask these brassy hues, but unless they are bleached, they show up once the toner starts to fade.  It’s sort of this inevitable part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be startling. Let’s see what you’re up against, so we can figure out what to do.

slim young brunette woman with brassy hair

How to Get Rid of Brassy Brown Hair?

There are many great ways to minimize, halt, dimmish, transform, and stay on top of unwanted brass in highlighted brunette hair. Let’s look at the top 8 methods for keeping your color the tone you want it.

  1. Schedule regular appointments and follow them consistently. There’s nothing that impacts unwanted brassy hair like getting your color done regularly. This might not be an option you expected but hear me out. When highlighting brunette hair, especially the darker levels, your hair has to get trained. The more you stick to a consistent balayage schedule, the better your blonde tones will appear. Not only that, but they will last longer between toning sessions the more consistent you are.
  2. Keep your porosity healthy. Often with highlighting, your hair can experience high porosity. This means dryness, frizz, lack of moisture, inability to hold moisture, and consequent inability to hold color molecules in. Your hair fades fast and is more easily affected by adverse conditions when your porosity is high. One of the best methods to fill in those “holes” in your hair, is to get an Express Keratin by Keratin Complex. These treatments work wonders on all hair types and create healthy, manageable textures.
  3. Use blue shampoo. But why use blue shampoo and not purple? It has to do with Color Theory. But all you need to know is blue is the color that fights orange (brass). Be sure to use it according to the instructions or according to your hair colorist’s recommendations.
  4. Get regular toners spaced 6-8 weeks apart. Also great training for your hair. It’s like you teach it what to do with consistency. Toners are so good at depositing the right molecules to keep your color the tone you want it.
  5. Use a quality heat protectant every time you heat style. The results of applying heat and color fading are linked. Being proactive with protecting your color means putting on that cream-based heat protectant every single time you use a hot tool or just after you shower. Olaplex did a visual test on a piece of white paper. They applied their heat protectant to one piece and not to the other, then use a flat iron on it. The paper without a heat protectant turned brown. 
  6. Use sunscreen specifically designed for hair. Sunscreen designed for hair is amazing. It blocks those UV rays that can cause the color to fade quickly, making brassiness more visible.
  7. Apply hair gloss. In addition to shine-enhancing benefits, glossing treatments can keep brassiness at bay and refresh your current color.
  8. Install a shower head filter. Washing your hair with hard water can discolor hair and cause it to turn brassy. A shower filter can help reduce minerals and chlorine in your tap water saving your hair from the unwanted effects of hard water.
Gorgeous brunette woman with brass-free hair

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


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