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How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair: 5 Ways to Tone It Down

Restore your formerly blonde locks.

I don't know if my blonderexia is spreading or what, but over the past few weeks, I've received a number of reader requests for help with blonde hair gone brassy.

And you know what? I've got a brassy hair problem, too.

That's right—not even 24 hours ago, the talented Alain Larivée, Canadian creative consultant for John Frieda, kindly informed me that I maybe kinda sorta had a wee tinge of brass developing in my colour. Yep, and I just had it done, too. But see, that's the thing about brassiness. It operates in stealth mode, creeping up on you ever-so-slowly if you're not careful, and sometimes it takes an expert to point out that yes, Houston, we have a problem. (Although you would think that somebody could've informed Mischa Barton, above, before hers got to this point, right?)

You and I don't have to suffer the same brassy fate. When you're a blonde, you've got to be vigilant, always vigilant, to protect your colour. So from one blonderexic to another, here's how.

Brassy hair tip #1: Buy some purple shampoo

When you colour your hair, you've got a little rainbow of colour molecules (red, yellow, blue) deposited into the hair cuticle. Because they're the smallest, it's the blue ones that go MIA first, leaving you with mostly red and yellow. And you know what those shades produce... orange! So purple shampoos and conditioners are freakin' genius. Being the opposite of orange, their violet pigments shut that brassiness down, restoring your colour to its former glory.

Probably the least expensive option around is the Sheer Blonde Tone-Correcting line from John Frieda, which is what Alain used on my hair yesterday. There's a shampoo:

And a conditioner:

Although they say you need to use 'em three times to see results, I SWEAR that when I met up with a friend last night, she told me (unprompted) that my hair looked blonder. (Meaning better, of course.)

Other purple shampoo options include this one from Joico:

This one from Matrix:

(Yes, it's "supposed" to be for grey hair but it works just fine on blonde.)

And this one from AG:

Brassy hair tip #2: Use colour-protective products

You only need to use the purple shampoo a few times a week. (You don't want your colour to go too far the other way and turn purple, after all.) Alternate it with shampoos, conditioners and masques specifically for colour-treated hair but without the violet pigment. They'll help nourish it and ensure your locks look soft, healthy, hydrated and shiny.

One of my favourite colour-protective collections is from Matrix. There's a shampoo:

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From The Skincare Edit Archives

And this softening conditioner:

Kérastase's colour line is the creme de la creme—pricey, but I have yet to meet a hairstylist who doesn't sing its praises. The shampoo is super-creamy and nourishing:

And the conditioner is oh-so-rich and indulgent:

But there are tons of options out there—just look for the words "for colour-treated hair" on the label.

Brassy hair tip #3: Invest in a shower filter

Another thing you can do to protect your $150-a-pop blondification investment is to make another investment: in a good shower filter. Besides the fact that the chlorine and iron deposits in our water are probably not the nicest stuff to imbibe, they can also make colour fade and look dull. And the iron, specifically, can add to the reddish, brassy tones.

It's a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo to get that shiz outta there, and then install a filter like the one I've been using from Jonathan Product:

It's a two-step filter that takes out chlorine, synthetic chemicals and heavy metals, replacing them with healthy, pH-balanced potassium ions. Both skin and hair feel softer and hair colour lasts longer—hooray! It should last about six months or so.

T3 has also recently come out with their own version, which sounds even more amazing:

The handheld filter has eight different spray settings and features a chemical filtration process that transforms chlorine into harmless elements too large to be absorbed into hair and skin. They say that after after 10 washes, hair shows a 64 percent reduction in frizz, a 28 percent increase in body, a 47 percent increase in “comb-ability” and a 28 percent increase in shine. Love these stats!

Brassy hair tip #4: Go back to the salon for a toner

Most of you who already colour or highlight your hair blonde will be familiar with toners—usually, colourists apply them all over as the final step in the process in order to tone down brassiness and sort of help all of the tones in your hair to harmonize together. They're gentler (semi-permanent instead of permanent colour) and deposit pigment instead of lighten, so you don't need to worry about damaging already-coloured hair.

Although they come in all kinds of shades, in this situation your hairdresser will be using one with a violet or blue base (same principle as the shampoo) to brighten and restore your colour. Expect to pay around $40+.

Brassy hair tip #5: Try an at-home brass banisher

You can also do the toner thing at home, thanks to this brass-eliminating product from our friends at L'Oréal Paris:

It's ammonia-free and can be safely used in between colourings... but just to warn you, reviews are mixed (and that's why I chickened out of trying it myself). You may want to check out Makeup Alley before you take the plunge, because some peeps are saying "I LOVED IT!" and others "HOLY CRAP THIS SUCKS!" It's hard to say whether it was a user execution thing, or if the product might produce iffy results on certain hair colours... so I'll leave it with you to decide.

How diligent are you about taking care of your colour?

Tried any of these anti-brassiness products or tips?

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