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There's nothing like strutting out of a salon with fresh ombre highlights or a stunning new color. You feel confident, empowered, and ready to show off your style. But a few weeks later, your bold color begins to look a little washed out or even kind of…orange-tinted. Another way of putting it? Your hair looks brassy. Here's everything you need to know about brassy hair, as well as effective strategies for avoiding it.

What is brassy hair?

Jana Rago, a salon owner, hairstylist, and colorist, defines brassy hair as unwanted warm tones in the hair. "These tones can turn due to sunlight, washing with the wrong shampoo that doesn't protect colored hair, or a mistake made by a colorist, like not using a toner," she says. "The sun will dry out the hair by opening the cuticle on the scalp, which will lift the color out, causing the hair to look brassy."

How to get rid of brassy hair - woman with brassy hair
Credit: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

Depending on your hair color, the brassy shade will show up differently. As beauty entrepreneur and award-winning colorist Megan Graham explains, blonde hair will appear yellow or orange. A brunette or someone with black-colored hair will start to notice their locks looking orange or red, depending on how dark their hair is typically. For a redhead, hair may seem more washed out or faded.

Rago says that when new clients visit her salon, many are stressed about their color but can't pinpoint what's bothering them. More often than not, it's the brassy undertone that doesn't feel right to them, and they are hoping to find a fix.

How to Remove Brassy Color

Though it's essential to seek advice from a trusted local colorist who can access your locks in person, these tips will help you better understand what you need to correct the brassiness.

1 Book a color-corrective appointment.

To entirely remove any hint of brass, Graham recommends a color-corrective appointment with a professional stylist/colorist. Give the expert a heads up by asking for this specific type of treatment. As Graham puts it, the only way to thoroughly remove a brassy tone from hair is to go through a multi-step process that treats every last strand.

A color-corrective appointment addresses what happened to your hair before you came in for help. A permanent color is often the culprit. "In the process of lightening the hair, the permanent color unearths the red and orange tones that are present in all hair types," Graham says. For darker shades of brown, the permanent color then deposits a darker tone on top of the lightness it created, but in a few weeks when the color fades, Graham says the client is left with an unpleasant shade of brown. 

To avoid brassiness, many professional colorists like Graham will use a demi-permanent color, which fades in more natural-looking way. 

RELATED: 6 Stunning Balayage Hair Colors to Show Your Stylist

2 Ask your stylist to use a toner.

Ask your colorist to apply a toner after the dye is washed out. A toner will literally "tone down the hair" to hide the warm undertones. When you don't do this, your highlights may look too blonde if you're a brunette," she says. "Also, the toner helps blend the colors together and can be used to achieve your desired look."

One important note: Since a toner isn't permanent, you'll need to re-appply every month to six weeks, dependent on your hair texture and how often you wash your hair.

3 Invest in a water filter for your showerhead.

You're probably mindful of the quality of the water you drink, and Rago says the same concern should go into the water that cleans your hair. She suggests investing in a water filter for your showerhead. Not only will it filter out the hard water and minerals that can cause build-up and create a brassy shade, but it will also leave your hair softer and healthier.

4 Always use protective oil before using hot tools.

Many women use a hot tool—a blow-dryer, flat iron, or curling iron—to achieve various hairstyles. Our hair would be more durable if we avoided heat altogether, but that's not a reality for most people. Unfortunately, heat can make brassiness come out faster, so Rago suggests adding another layer of protection. This can be an oil, a blow-dry cream, or a heat-protective serum that's applied daily.

5 Find the right color shampoo.

Give your strands a little TLC between appointments by using a specific, color-formulated shampoo, based on the color you're attempting to achieve. Matteo Vazquez, a color education coordinator and colorist for Mario Tricoci, recommends a richly formulated purple shampoo for blondes, which distributes purple pigment throughout the hair to neutralize brassy tones. "Violet is the opposite of yellow or gold," he says. "When the two meet, they neutralize and diminish the gold. The more you use the purple shampoo, the cooler the hair will get."

Rago says brunettes should opt for a blue shampoo, and redheads should go for golden shampoo. Only do this treatment once a week to prevent over-washing.

6 Visit your colorist regularly.

The best way to prevent brassy hair for brunettes, blondes, redheads—or really, hair of any shade—is to have regular appointments. Much like you check in with a doctor, colorists are trained to keep your locks healthy and glowing. (Keep that expertise in mind when you're deciding how much to tip your hairdresser.) According to Vazquez, brassiness often appears simply because the color is overdue for a touch-up.