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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Weesner

How brassy hair happens and how to prevent it.

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

I hear the phrase, "I don't want to see warmth" very often when lightening my client's hair. Client's don't want to walk out of the door feeling orange and brassy.

First of all, let me explain why orange, brassy tones happen. All hair has warmth to it. It doesn't matter if you're born with darkest brown hair or an ashy light blonde. During the lightning process, the hair pulls the warmth out in order to get lighter.

When a client walks out with orange hair, this means the color wasn't able to lighten enough to get past the warm tones they were wanting to avoid.

Simply applying hair color and hoping it all goes well isn't how I approach hair color.

Let's take a popular beauty figure like Khloe Kardashian and see her journey towards lighter hair:

Khloe has naturally dark hair. In the process of working towards a lighter shade, she has worn copper tones, then gold before her hair reached a cool light blonde. While we think celebrities are always changing their mind with their hair; the truth is they know what's possible in one color appointment and know a huge shift like this takes time. When clients come to me looking for an instant dark to light result bad things can happen (especially if you're hair is already dry and damaged). Spreading out color changes over a period of time allows for the hair to stay healthy and strong.

It's trendy to be ashy blonde but how does that actually happen?

If you looked at the first image I included with this blog post, you noticed the lightest shade possible (a level 10 blonde) still has natural yellow tones to it. And here's how the magic of hair color happens. The lightening process is just the beginning. During that, we're removing hair pigment and seeing how light your hair is able to get.

The next part of the process is my FAVE!

The lightener is shampooed from the hair and we're able to see what we're left to work with. There's a reason salons don't have mirrors near shampoo bowls -- scary warm colors show when the hair is lightened and a trained colorist knows how to fix just that!

A color toner is then placed over the hair to refine the warmth and brassy color left behind. This process is non-damaging and allows the hair cuticle to close back down, feel shiny and healthy again.

While toners (also called a color gloss) are amazing, they also have their limits. They're unable to make our hair lighter and brighter. Instead, they refine the pigments left behind. Picture an image you're uploading to Instagram. The lightening and skin tone looks softer and more natural when a filter is used on the image. Hair color toners work in the same way!

No one wants to feel orange, brassy and faded. Knowing how light to take a client's hair color to prevent brassy tones from happening is so important! Check back here for more info on maintaining cool hair color tones at home between your hair appointments.


Jacqueline Weesner is a licensed Hair Stylist in Montrose, Colorado. She has been a hair color specialist for over 15 years using Kevin Murphy color. Her hair salon uses PPD & Non-ammonia color for results that are beautiful and safe for our health and environment. Contact her here.

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