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Why am I so BRASSY pt 2

In my last post I talked about WHY brassiness occurs. I wanted to follow up and flush out the more of the kooky hair science behind this annoying phenomenon.


For the sake of this conversation, there are two different types of hair color: permanent and demi-permanent. Frustratingly these are very misleading terms, and for simplicity's sake, I'll only be tackling one in today's post and how it relates to being brassy: permanent color.


Permanent hair color is not, in fact, permanent. The "permanency" refers to it's ability to permanently alter the structure of your hair shaft. It will opaquely cover grey, but it will also tap into your hair's cortex and unearth any underlying pigment. In humans, our underlying pigments ARE ALWAYS red and yellow. And the darker your hair is, the more the red pigment is in your natural hair color. Period, end of story, forever and ever, amen.

And remember from my last post, we hairdressers use BLUE pigments (in varying strengths) to control red and yellow pigments -- either to balance them out (creating a neutral blonde or brown tone) or to overwhelm then (creating an ash tone). Blue is also the darkest of the three shades, creating the "richness" and "depth" of the tone.

As the "permanent" blue pigment is shampooed out of your hair (aka fades), your exposed underlying pigment is left front and center.

** ADDED BONUS ** If you have a combination of highlights (using bleach) as well as a permanent color in your look, you're in for a one-two punch. As the permanent color is shampooed, it fades out into the lather. Lightened strands are (for lack of a better term) thirsty, meaning that pigment gets transferred and sucked into those lighter strands.

Do you have highlights and lowlights (or highlights and a base cover) and, over time, it feels like your color "meets in the middle"? This would be the reason why.


I'm sure you're probably over hearing about it, but I'll say it again....home care products matter, especially shampoos. And not all shampoos are the same!

First and foremost, please always make sure you're using a high-quality color-safe (and sulfate-free) shampoo. We want to keep those pigments inside your hair shaft for as long as possible, and color-safe shampoo is where that all starts.

Not shampooing within the first 48 hours of your color appointment is also KEY. There's more science there, and I'm happy to share it -- TL:DR just trust me on this one.

Pro tip: turning the water temperature down to tepid while shampooing/conditioning/rinsing also helps keep those color molecules right where I put them.


What if you do alllll of the things, but brassiness is still happening?!? It would now be time to reach for a toning shampoo -- buuuuuuut not all toning shampoos are the same!

We have to take into account your target shade, which shade of brass you turn, and refer to color wheel theory to cancel these unwanted tones.

If you/re a blonde who tends to go too golden or yellow, a purple shampoo is the key (because we use complimentary colors to neutralize).

If you're a mid-tone brunette with a bronde highlight, depending on the target highlight shade, your hairdresser could recommend either a blue or purple shampoo. It's very important to follow that recommendation -- going too light of a product will be ineffective, going too dark could make those highlights GREEN.

If you're unsure, let me CUSTOM BLEND the perfect shade of indigo (blue-purple) for you to tackle your specific issues.

What if you're a darker brunette who also goes brassy -- we brunettes call that RED (but with a tone, lol)? That means green shampoo is the one for you! I've got a quick and super-handy green vs blue shampoo YouTube video breaking down some of the differences between the two.

But what about that "meet in the middle" base + highlight fade issue?

You need BOTH a color-safe shampoo that is ALSO a purple toning shampoo. And no, purple shampoos don't necessarily tackle both. A good example? Joico Violet Color Endure. The one in the RED BOTTLE will preserve artificial permanent color and tone out brassy tones from blonde highlights while the one in the PURPLE BOTTLE only addresses toning blonde highlights. Is this confusing? Yes. Is this also annoying? DOUBLE YES.


WHEW! That pretty much covers the brassy world of permanent hair color. My next and final installment will address all that's left....demi-permanent color. If you have ever gotten a gloss/toner/glaze, this next one is a must-read for you, so stay tuned!

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