Why Does Blonde Hair Turn Brassy? (And What Can You Do About it?)

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Why Does Blonde Hair Turn Brassy? (And What Can You Do About it?)

Blonde hair is notoriously tricky—even when you’re born with it—but it’s especially tough when you take the time to get highlights or lift your natural color up to that super sought-after platinum hue. After a while, blonde hair tends to turn brassy or yellow-ish. Why does this happen? There are really two main reasons that we'll explore.

For one, blonde hair turns brassy because it’s incredibly porous. It essentially soaks up everything, from the minerals in your shower to the pollution in the air and any products you may put in it.  The second main reason that blonde hair turns brassy is because the toner wears off. Toner is a sheer overlay that counteracts brassiness once the hair has been lifted up to close to the desired blonde shade. It’s almost impossible to get exactly the right shade and tone of blonde hair color with bleach alone, so the toner works together with the bleach to create the ideal hue.

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only two factors involved in brassiness, though they are the root causes of your brassy woes. To get a better picture of what really makes blonde hair brassy, let’s take a look at some of the other factors.

Your Natural Hair Color May Have Brassy Undertones

If your hair isn’t naturally blonde, chances are you will always have to work to combat brassiness. It’s just a fact of color theory. If you have warmer undertones to your hair, your natural hair color will constantly work against that bleach and toner combo.

Instead of having lovely silvery or champagne-colored blonde hair, you wind up with cheesy yellow or a brassy mess, once the initial toner that the hairstylist applied wears off. And no one wants to deal with that.  

Chlorine and Sun Are the Enemies of Brass-Free Blonde

Even natural blondes aren’t immune to the wear and tear that chlorine and sunlight can inflict on blonde hair. No matter what shade, whether you’re rocking balayage or going au naturel, every shade of blonde hair is susceptible to the ravages of chlorine and sun.

The chemicals in pool water, namely chlorine, and the UV rays from the sun work together during the summer to sabotage precious strands of every color, but they’re particularly harsh on porous blonde hair. Over time, that exposure to sunlight and chemicals weakens the hair shaft and leaves hair more vulnerable to breakage and damage—and of course, it also contributes to brassiness and (in some cases) green hair. Yuck!  

Mineral Deposits Might Be to Blame for Brassiness

In addition to having to worry about pool water, you may also have to worry about the water in your shower. If your water is particularly hard (high in mineral content), it might be wreaking havoc on your blonde hair. To soften your shower water, you may consider getting a filter installed that would fix the issue.

If you’re not into that level of home maintenance to salvage your locks, you can always just switch up your shampoo and conditioner routine to strengthen your hair against that damage.

Beware of At-Home Hair Lighteners and Dyes  

At-home dyes and lighteners are a huge culprit working against your hair’s natural beauty. If you want to achieve and maintain a gorgeous shade of blonde hair, it’s worth it to trust your strands with a professional hairstylist.

As far as lighteners go, many of the drugstore brands are some of the worst when it comes to brassiness. It’s always best to leave more complicated hair color processes like lightening up to the pros. Self-tanner is great. DIY blonde hair dye? Not so much.

Switch to Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Luminous Hair

Sulfates are another major factor when it comes to sucking the life out of blonde hair. Shampoos that rely on sulfates to “cleanse” hair are actually just stripping your strands of their natural oils and leaving them rough, straw-like, and way more susceptible to brassiness.

To maintain your hair’s luster and brilliant blonde hue, it’s important to invest in top-notch sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. Sulfate-free shampoos are inherently more moisturizing and are kinder to your hair. Blonde hair needs a lot of moisture. Give your hair what it craves.

Say “Yes!” to Violet Shampoo and “Goodbye!” to Brass

It doesn’t stop at moisture, though. If you really want to kick your hair care up a notch, you should definitely look into what violet shampoo can do for you.

Does it give your hair a purplish hue? Absolutely not! It’s pretty magical. The best violet blonde (sulfate-free) shampoo cancels out brassy tones, brightens blondes, and adds shine. Hello, violet!

Blonde hair may be tricky, but when you finally get your routine down, and you’ve got brassiness in a chokehold, you feel like a platinum movie star—or a blonde bombshell rockstar—every single day.


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