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How to Remove Brassy Tones from Highlights and Keep Them Bright

Getting highlights is super exciting! You can add more dimension to blonde hair or lightened brown hair considerably.

Unfortunately, whether you’re an all-over blonde or just have a few highlights, blonde and other light tresses can turn brassy.

Below you’ll learn how to remove brassy tones from highlights and prevent them from occurring in the future.

What Creates Brassy Tones in Hair?

When your light highlights come out too warm and brassy, it’s because your hair is oxidized. The bleach used to lighten your hair deposited a color that you don’t want on the strands.

Sometimes it’ll take a few days or weeks before the brassy tones start showing through the dye. In some cases it’s inevitable, but then others, the brassy tones are totally preventable.

How to Remove Brassy Tones from Highlights

Unfortunately, sometimes brass shows up in your locks even if you do your best to prevent it. You’re not out of luck. It’s not too difficult to remove brassy tones from highlights.

Use Purple Shampoo

Brassy colors are usually orange-toned, and purple is the opposite color of orange. Washing your hair in purple-toned products will help neutralize the brass and even out your color.

Look for highly pigmented products, as only slightly tinted products won’t be as effective.

You can use this purple shampoo and conditioner full-time or just once a week for upkeep.

Use Shampoo Formulated for Dyed Hair

Purple shampoos are typically safe to use on colored hair. However, if you don’t want to use purple shampoo, at the very least use a shampoo made for hair that’s been dyed.

Color fades fast if you don’t use shampoos designed to protect and preserve the pigment in your strands.

Asking your stylist to recommend a good shampoo and conditioner for you is always the best bet.

If you’ve dyed your hair at home, then do some solid research before you choose products.

Keep the Water Cool 

Rinsing out your hair with cooler water can help remove and prevent brassy tones from occurring.

It’ll stop your hair from fading and the lack of heat will help you avoid the warm tones you really don’t want in your highlights.

Adding a filter to avoid hard water in the shower will also help prevent brassy tones from showing up in the future.

Use Clarify Wash

If purple shampoo and rinsing with cool water isn’t doing the trick, they consider a clarifying wash.

Clarifying shampoos have tons of sulfate in them. Although this is bad for your regular hair, it’s good when you want to remove brassy tones from highlights.

The sulfate will strip your hair of oils, chemicals, and pigment.

At most you should be clarifying once a month, and use the other methods to prevent unwanted colors the rest of the time.

Look for Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be a little less harsh than clarifying shampoo, and it’s often more readily available if you don’t have clarifying shampoo near you.

Mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water, and use it to rinse out your hair after you’ve shampooed and conditioned normally.

You should do this treatment once every two weeks to make sure it doesn’t harm your hair, but you can do it once a week if the brass is particularly stubborn.

Start from Scratch

Sometimes the unwanted tones in your tresses are just too stubborn, and you need to start from scratch.

Bleach the highlighted parts of your hair, or have your stylist do it for you for best results. Then an ashy toner can be applied to fully remove the warm copper pigments you don’t want in your highlights.

The toner may be applied multiple times before the hair is highlighted again.

Then, follow the preventative measures below to stop the brass from coming back.

How to Prevent Your Highlights from Turning Brassy

Pick an Appropriate Color

Cooler-toned colors are less likely to turn brassy, so consider getting ashy highlights. There will be fewer red and yellow hues to create the undesired effect.

Avoid Too Many Chemicals

Avoiding chemicals such as chlorine and even elements like salt will help stop your hair from oxidizing and bringing out the brassy tones.

Oxidation is when brassy tones show up in brown hair or blonde or in bleached highlights.

Avoid the Sun

Protect your hair with a UV spray and hide it under a hat if you’re going out in direct sunlight.

Sunlight can warm up your hair and it can also cause UV damage that creates the unwanted tones.

Avoid Sulfate Shampoo

Sulfate is pretty hard on your hair and it can strip natural oils and chemicals out of the strands. It can also take some of the pigment away, revealing brass in the lighter parts of your tresses.

Everyone with dyed hair should avoid sulfate-based shampoo unless you’re specifically doing a clarifying wash.

When you’re trying to figure out how to remove brassy tones from highlights it can seem daunting. You really don’t want to damage your hair, and going back to dark simply isn’t an option.

Luckily, neutralization, stripping the pigment out of your hair, or starting from scratch can be incredibly effective at keeping your hair nice, blonde, and cool.

If you’re ever in doubt, consult your stylist to see which of our tips will work best for you.

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MR System

Meet Jason Tyler, also known as MR System; with more than 22 years of experience, he is a skilled and passionate hair writer. He has a diverse background in both blogging and magazine writing, and initially gained expertise in hair styling by working with wigs for theater. He is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for working with real hair through his writing.