How to tone brassy brown hair at home

Did you know that brown hair requires the least maintenance among other shades? 

Great news for every brunette out there! 

Be that as it may, if you have special techniques like balayage or highlights on your hair, brassiness is a common enemy you must defeat. 

Don’t worry. Mastering how to tone brassy hair at home isn’t a difficult hurdle. This article will aid you in keeping your hair as fresh as the day you exited the salon. 


How do you get brassy tones out of brown hair?

How do you get brassy tones out of brown hair

Brassy tones do not appear in your hair out of universal spite or even strange magic. 

Unfortunately, these unwelcome tones are products of your own hair’s pigments. And while that’s frustrating to hear, you don’t need to conclude that your hair is now unlovable. 

There are ways to make your hair work for you for a longer time. However, you must first understand why your hair turned brassy. 

If you have bleached your hair before coloring or have highlights on your hair, the lightening process dissolves the melanin pigments which give your hair color. That is, most of it. 

A type of melanin, pheomelanin, responsible for yellow to light red pigments, remains in the hair even after bleaching. Meanwhile, eumelanin, the dark pigments in your hair, washes away. 

As a brunette, the warm undertones left in your hair range from orange to red. Noticeable dark yellows may also appear when you lift your hair to a lighter brown from originally dark hair. The undertone also depends on the effectiveness of the bleaching process. 

To counter the appearance of these warm undertones, you can look for hair toners and DIY solutions. 

Toners come in various forms, so you don’t have to worry if you can’t find a typical toner. As for DIY (as you will read further below), you won’t need to go further than the grocery aisle. Most importantly, both don’t need a lengthy incantation to be successful! 

Meanwhile, it’s best if you can also adopt a routine that would prevent brassiness from showing up too early. You can follow these tips to help you along. 

  • Color-safe shampoos are must-haves to prevent early fading.
  • You will need to limit the sun and pool. The sun’s UV rays and chlorine in pools will damage the cuticle layer gradually. This is also true with showering. So try not to wash your hair frequently!
  • Chemical processes, hair styling, and hot tools are tempting, but the less you indulge, the more you can enjoy your hair’s highlights or color.

Can you use toner on brassy brown hair?

When talking about toners, you may wonder if your brown hair requires the same treatment as those marketed for blondes. Your toner would be useless if you have completely brown hair with no highlights whatsoever. 

FYI: Toners do not lighten the hair. They are products that help neutralize or maintain your color. 

If you lifted your dark hair to brown or had highlights added to brown hair, then brassiness will undoubtedly be an issue along the way. You may need to use toners frequently to keep the brassy tones at bay. Toners usually last from two to six weeks. 

Traditional toners in a box aren’t the only ones dominating the market. When picking a toner, you should consider your endgame: is it instantly fixing the color, or are you looking for a gradual but moisturizing approach? 

If you want an instant fix, then a typical hair toner is for you. 

However, if you wish to incorporate toning into your haircare routine to prevent further brassiness, you should try toning shampoos, conditioners, serums, and masks. 

These alternatives to the traditional toner will ensure that your hair doesn’t suffer further dryness or brittleness in case of already damaged hair. 

The next consideration you must think of is the shade of your toner. Most toners for brown hair are either purple, blue, or blue-violet. 

And while you may get lucky picking either, it’s best if you know the specific shade for you so you can solve your hair’s issues quicker and lessen potential damage. 


What toner cancels out orange in brown hair?

What toner cancels out orange in brown hair

The art of toning isn’t as science-based as you probably think. It’s not as difficult to understand as bleaching or why sulfates may damage hair. 

Thankfully, toning relies on color theory. That’s right! Something as simple as finding complementary colors will help the upkeep of your hair before another salon visit. 

For brunettes who lighten their hair or have highlights, the undertones may reveal yellow, orange, or red! Often, when you have lightened your hair to a light to medium brown, you will mostly have orange tones. 

And to fix your orange dilemma, blue toner is the key. 

Blue toners are demi- or semi-permanent products that cancel orange hues. Demi-permanent toners will last up to 24-28 shampoos, while semi-permanent ones may last between 3-6. If you want an extended result, you should try the former. 

Using a blue toner instead of bleaching your hair after it becomes brassy saves you money and lessens the risk of damaged hair. It is also easy to DIY, and you can see results immediately. 

Toner selection can be tricky, so it is wise to assess your hair or schedule a consultation with a colorist before you grab anything. 

Additionally, every brand has varying pigment intensity, exposure times, and developer strength. So make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions, so you don’t end up with a blue stain or, worse, dry and brittle hair. 

There are myriads of blue toners out there, so to start you in your journey, here are some recommendations:

  1. Most affordable: L’oreal Paris Feria Long-lasting Hair Toner
  2. For Brunettes going blonde: Wella Color Charm T28
  3. Long-lasting option: Pravana ChromaSilk Hair Color Corrector-Ash Blue
  4. Overall best (a bit pricey): Schwarzkopf BlondMe T-Steel Blue Toner

How to tone brown hair to ash

Ash brown is a modern variant of brown mixed with silver or grey tones. If brown hair is a Kardashian, ash brown would probably be Kim in terms of popularity. The sophisticated hair color remains a trendy option for those who want a less dramatic but noticeable change. 

First, you must assess your level of brown using international colorimetry. The numbering system consists of a whole number that indicates the shade of the hair and the number after the decimal, which should tell you the reflects or tone. 

The coloring palette assigns levels 3 to 5 for dark brown, brown, and light brown, respectively. After determining this, you must look for the dyes with .2 as a reflect since this gives you the ashy tone you desire. Remember, since you chose the current shade of your hair but only changed the tone (second number), this will not lighten or lift the color of your hair but only cast a cooler tone.

After dyeing your hair, it’s best to maintain it using purple shampoo and, preferably, conditioner to keep your hair hydrated. 

Purple shampoos are your best friend to prevent ash brown hair from becoming brassy. If the brassiness still shows up and you need an instant cure, a traditional toner is your savior. 

Just remember: violet cancels yellow, blue cancels orange, and green cancels red. 

DIY toning is easy. The steps are as described below, albeit with different exposure times depending on the brand you use.

  1. Dampen and section your hair with clips.
  2. Mix one part toner to two parts developer and apply evenly to sectioned hair using a color brush.
  3. Put on a shower cap and set the time according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Shampoo your hair and thoroughly rinse it with cold water. 

How can I reduce my brassy hair color at home?

How can I reduce my brassy hair color at home

When you have brassy hair, the immediate response is toning. While it’s doable, it’s not entirely foolproof. Traditional toners that include a developer to work may be too much for an already damaged hair. Buying toning shampoos, conditioners, etc., may not be budget-friendly. 

Instead of giving up, try these at-home remedies and see the magic they can work on your hair.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix 1 cup ACV and 1 cup filtered water. After shampooing, leave this mixture on your hair for 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water. Afterward, use a conditioner.

Tea and Lemon Juice

Steep chamomile tea for 10 minutes in hot water. After straining it, mix with lemon juice and leave on hair for 45 minutes max. Rinse hair with cool water. 

One way of preserving hair color is showering less. To keep your hair clean, you can try the baking soda+sulfate-free shampoo+food dye method. However, as this can cause dryness, it’s wiser not to make this your first alternative to DIY toning. 

However you want to proceed with preventing or fixing brassy tones, it’s always better to consider if your hair can sustain what you will put it through before considering any other factor. 

Last Updated: May 31, 2022

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