How to: Prevent Brassy Hair


If you have every dyed or played with the idea of dying your hair, you know that it can be quite expensive to maintain so when I initially bleached and colored my hair, I asked my stylist how to maintain the color and how to prevent it from fading. My biggest concern with highlighting and dying my very dark hair was that over time it would turn into a hot shade of mellow yellow. Long story short, the stylist I chose went too light with my color and it ended up being a brassy hot mess of an ombré.

After 3 months of growing my hair out, I considered just chopping off the ends and starting fresh, but I decided to go to a new stylist and she totally transformed my hair. Not only did she save my hair from looking like a botched ombré, she gave me really good product recommendations and a guideline as to how I should be taking care of my hair. So after following her instructions my hair is not only less damaged from all the color processing, but my color lasts way longer and I don’t have to get it toned as often.

After that long story, you’re probably wondering what are these miracle products that are going to prevent your hair from going brassy and I have three words and one symbol for you: PURPLE SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER.


Purple is the exact opposite of yellow on the color wheel, which is why it cools the gold/brass tones down. Now, I know that some of you are skeptical about whether purple shampoos and conditioners actually work and I am here to tell you that they actually do! The first time I dyed my hair, I didn’t use toning products regularly and my hair was not pretty after three months as you can see from the photo below.

After doing some research I found that the best purple shampoos and conditioners tended to be very densely pigmented – so pigmented that you might be scared that it will stain your bathtub. Don’t fret – the darker the shampoo/conditioner, the more effective it will be at toning your hair and none of these products stain your tub. Your shampoo and conditioner should be as pigmented and opaque as the one in the photo above.


This is the first time I bleached and colored my hair and as you can see it was WAY over-processed and three months later after sporadically using toning conditioner, my hair was super yellow/orange. Not what I was expecting.


The second time I dyed my hair, I decided to go a little more natural and ashy. After using a toning shampoo and conditioner every time I washed my hair, my hair was still pretty ashy after 2 1/2 months. It was starting to turn a bit red, but it wasn’t to the point of my first dye job. Using the toning products definitely prolonged my color and saved it from becoming a brassy mess. (Disclaimer: The “freshly dyed” picture is from my most recent visit to my stylist, but she just toned it back to its original color. She used the exact same formula and mixture.)

Purple shampoo tips/tricks:

  • Some people find that using both purple shampoo AND conditioner is too much toning for their hair, so start with just purple shampoo and see if that combats the brassiness. My hair gets really brassy really quickly, so I have to use both to maintain the ashiness in my hair. If you need just one toning product, definitely get a toning shampoo and skip the conditioner.
  • If you are just starting to use purple shampoo and conditioner, ease into it. Try using them every other wash first and if your find your hair still getting brassy, use them every wash. If you find that the shampoo and conditioner are making your hair too ashy, you can always dilute them with regular shampoos or conditioners. This will tone down the pigmentation and make them less potent. I want to keep the ash in my hair, so I use my toning products every time I wash my hair. It really depends on what color you want to achieve or maintain.
  • If you are a blonde, concentrate the purple shampoo on the top of your head near the roots because that area tends to get brassy the quickest. The ends of your hair also tend to be more porous and they grab onto color quicker so the purple shampoo doesn’t need to stay on the ends for that long.
  • If you aren’t blonde, but have blonde/caramel highlights on dark hair, you’ll want to concentrate on any area that has been lightened.
  • Toning shampoos aren’t known for their cleansing properties, so if you feel like your toning shampoo is not doing a sufficient job of cleaning your hair or scalp, you can use a color-safe shampoo first and than a toning one.

My recommendations:


1. L’ANZA Silver Brightening Shampoo – My stylist that saved my hair recommended this shampoo and it is a very deep purple shade and it really does help tone my hair. It’s sulfate free so it won’t strip any moisture from your hair. Some added bonuses: it’s affordable and it smells great.

2. Redken Color Extend Magnetics – This is just a color-safe shampoo and I use it before I use my toning shampoo. It does a really good job of cleansing my scalp and hair and it’s really easy to get your hands on it. It’s also sulfate-free, so it won’t strip your color or dry out your hair. The matching conditioner is good if you don’t need a toning conditioner. It detangles my hair and it makes it really silky and smooth.

3. Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel Treatment – This is my favorite toning conditioner. It’s a very deep purple and it really does a good job of further toning my hair after I shampoo and it doesn’t leave my hair feeling like a tangled mess. Since this conditioner is really thick, you don’t need a lot of it, but you have to make sure you rinse it out thoroughly or else your hair will be greasy the next day. Kevin Murphy products are hard to get your hands on because they only sell them at salons, but you can check out his website to find a salon near you that sells his products.

If you are thinking about getting a toning shampoo or conditioner, I highly recommend doing some research and finding one that works for you. Not all shampoos and conditioners are going to work for everyone, so finding one that suits your hair is key.

Have you tried purple shampoos and conditioners? Do you have a favorite toning system? Let me know!

Stay Chic!

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