How to Prevent Brassy Hair

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No one likes Brass. I mean NO ONE. In fact, I think its every clients worst nightmare...especially if you're blonde obsessed like me. There's definitely a fine line between brassy tones, and beautiful golden, honey tones when it comes to hair color! But even the best, most beautifully executed color can still reveal warmth or brassiness several weeks after a hair appointment, sometimes it's just inevitable! I'm here to tell you how you can prevent those brassy tones...once and for all. Remember, as much as it is your stylists job to prevent these tones in your hair..it is partially the clients job as well! You shouldn't always blame your stylist for brassy tones that show up in your hair, just like you don't blame your dentist when you get plaque for not flossing! I know there is nothing more frustrating than leaving the salon with beautiful brass free hair, only for it to be revealed weeks later. In return there is nothing more frustrating to your stylist seeing you come back in 8 weeks and having to fight those brassy tones each visit. It is important to take care of your hair at home in order to get the most out of your color that you just spent big bucks on.

 Here's an example of a before and after done on a brassy, red orange color. Strategic highlights, low lights, and a cool toned glaze was used for a softer, brass free result.

Here's an example of a before and after done on a brassy, red orange color. Strategic highlights, low lights, and a cool toned glaze was used for a softer, brass free result.

What causes Brass?

Hard Water
Sun Exposure/Spray Tans
Build Up from Low Cost Shampoos
Chlorine/Ocean Water

Pollution/Smoke
Underlying Pigment in Hair
Incorrect color formulation

Incorrect Products
Low end hair color
Porous Hair

Okay.. so now that we've nailed down the causes of brass, lets talk about brass prevention!

 #1 Invest in a Water Softener!

Take a look at this! Mostly everywhere in the US has slightly hard, to extremely hard water. Every time I go up to visit my family in Chicago (which has extremely hard water) I see an HUGE difference in my blonde from the hard water they have up north. I normally end up coming back home with...*gasp* brassy hair!!! I try to wash my hair as little as possible when I'm there! Not only does hard water cause brassy hair, it also dries our your hair, and skin.

So... how do you prevent hard water brass?! Get a water softener!! I recommend the T3 Source Showerhead Filter from Sephora! (Click Link for Source) It's a shower filter that removes 95 percent of chlorine plus other impurities, improving hair body, shine, color retention, and skin hydration.

#2 Protect your Hair from UV Rays

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I went and got my weekly spray tan the other day...put the mesh hairnet on..got my spray on..took it off and it was covered in the spray tan solution. My first thought was, so this spray tan stains my skin for days, there's no way this little mesh is fully protecting my perfectly cool toned blonde hair! There's no way I'm giving up my spray tans, so I started bringing a heavy duty shower cap with me and it's definitely doing the job.

For those of you that still do UV tanning, or lay out in the sun, you must be protecting your hair too! Use a shower cap in the tanning bed, and use a UV protectant every time you plan on being in the sun!! I recommend 7 Seconds Glossing Spray from Unite it provides heat protection up to 450°, 24-hour UV ray protection, humidity defense and adds shine, smoothness, and polishes the hair.

#3 Clarify

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Like we talked about before, several things can cause brassy hair, product build up, hard water, pollution, and chlorine can all cause build up on the hair, leaving it dull, brassy and dry. To prevent build up try using a clarifying shampoo. You don't want to use a clarifying shampoo everyday, because it will strip your color when used too often, but using it only before your color appointment as a "detox" to remove any build up on your hair is a great idea. This shampoo is especially great after pool use, or right before a deep conditioning treatment is applied. The Unite Weekender Shampoo is a shampoo that rids hair of hard water minerals and other pollutants. I highly suggest using this before a color appointment!! Clients tend to think coming in with dirty hair is better for the color to "take" but in reality, its better to work with a freshly cleansed head of hair free of build up!

#4 Go to a PRO

Incorrect color formulation, underlying tones in natural hair, and low end color can all result in brassy toned hair. In my previous post, The Official Glossary for Hair Salon Lingo, we talked about toners, and the underlying pigments in hair. Anytime you lighten your hair with highlights, or color, the underlying pigments naturally come out that are normally warm, or brassy. Your stylist should know how to control warmth, and brassiness for your specific shade of hair. I've had clients come to me with color they've done at home, that looks so brassy it's orange, because they didn't know that when lightening their level 6 hair that has an underlying pigment of orange, they should have used a blue based color, or they "highlighted" their hair at home and it looks yellow, because they didn't know to use a violet based toner. It's not as simple as just putting "blue" or "violet" on your hair either, because I hardly ever do that, I normally mix up 2-3 different colors together for different types of situations like gray hair, porous hair, resistant hair, previously colored hair and the list goes on...  It takes years of experience, and training to know exactly which signature shade I need for each specific hair type.

The type of hair color you use is important too! Box color will most likely result in brassy color fading, either from incorrect formulation like we talked about above, or simply because its inexpensive. You get what you pay for. I have clients coming back to me 10, 12, and even 16 weeks after color with no signs of brass in their hair and that's due to professional color and professional color formation.

#5 Products are Key

If you are blonde, stop what you're doing and get a purple shampoo. Right now. And if you're brunette don't fear.. they make blue shampoos for you! Purple shampoo will cut yellow tones out of blonde hair when used once a week and the blue shampoo cuts out brassy orange tones for brunettes. Its like a toner for at home! See my Essential List of Beauty Products Revealed for my post about purple shampoo! I recommend using one every week for about 3-5 minutes in the shower.

After investing a significant amount of money on your hair, its important to invest money in excellent products to help keep your hair looking good! Otherwise, instead of saving money by getting just a color touch up in between appointments, you'll be spending more money every visit trying to fight brassy hair! My clients that go 10-12 weeks in between appointments all have one thing in common, they invest in good products! Your hair can't be Louboutin and your products be Wal-Mart ladies!! Try using a sulfate free Shampoo, like the The Unite 7 seconds line, the Kevin Murphy Restore line or the Virture Repair line to preserve your color!

Another cause of brassy hair is due to the porosity of your hair. Extra porous hair tends to absorb pollution, hard water, and other environmental causes resulting in hair turning brassier than non porous hair. It means your hair has been damaged, through environmental factors, over processed color or the overuse of heat. If your hair seem to stay wet for a long time, or your strands absorb moisture from your products as quickly as they lose it...then your hair is most likely porous. Porous hair allows for the entrance of all the things that cause brass. So, how do you fix it? Use a protein shampoo, conditioner, and deep conditioner combo, get trims, find a healthier color routine, and lay off the heat products.