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What color cancels out brassy orange hair?

What color cancels out brassy orange hair?

Brassy orange hair is a common issue for blonde and light brown hair. It occurs when the hair starts to show more golden or orange undertones, giving it an unnatural brassiness. While some warming of the hair color is normal, excessive brassiness can look unflattering. Fortunately, there are ways to counteract and cancel out brassy tones in order to achieve a more natural and ashy blonde or light brown shade.

What Causes Brassy Hair?

Brassy hair occurs due to a variety of factors:

  • Hair color fading – Over time, the artificial pigments in hair color tend to fade and wash out. This causes the underlying warm pigments to show through, creating brassiness.
  • Chemical reactions – Chemical treatments like hair dye, bleach, perm solutions, and highlights can react with the hair proteins and alter the hair’s undertones.
  • Sun exposure – The sun’s UV rays break down hair color pigments. This causes faster fading and increased brassiness.
  • Hard water – Minerals like calcium and magnesium in hard water can deposit on the hair and interact with color molecules. This accelerates color fading.
  • Heat styling – Frequent use of hot styling tools causes oxidative damage and color fading. The resulting brassiness is more noticeable on light hair colors.
  • Product buildup – Shampoos, conditioners, styling products and environmental pollutants leave behind dulling residue that react with hair dye and lighten it unevenly.

These factors strip out the cool and ashy pigments from dyed or highlighted hair faster than the warm ones. The remaining warm tones then show through, creating an undesired brassy effect.

How to Neutralize Brassiness

Here are some effective ways to counteract and cancel out orange brassiness in hair:

Use a Toner

Toners are coloring products that can neutralize unwanted undertones with the opposite tones on the color wheel. Blue and violet-based toners are ideal for counteracting orange and yellow brassiness.

There are different types of toners:

  • Purple shampoo – These contain violet pigments to tone down yellow tones and add ashiness. However, they are less effective on strong brassiness.
  • Color depositing toners – These richer toners come in semi-permanent and demi-permanent formulas that last 4-6 weeks. They are more effective than shampoos at neutralizing brassiness.
  • Permanent toners – Salons apply these with developer for maximum gray coverage and brassiness cancelling. The results can last 6-8 weeks.

Choosing a toner with blue-violet hues is ideal for orange hair. Silver-based toners also help cancel it out. Always do a strand test to pick the right toner strength.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Before toning, it helps to remove product buildup and mineral deposits with a clarifying shampoo treatment. This strips away dulling residue so the toner works better and lasts longer.

Apply a clarifying shampoo once a week and leave it for 3-5 minutes before rinsing. Avoid over-clarifying which can dry out the hair.

Do a Bleach Wash

For stubborn brassiness, doing a bleach wash can lift out the orange tones before applying toner. Lightening the hair a little boosts the toning results.

Mix one part powder lightener with two parts developer and apply it like shampoo for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and follow up with toner. Limit this to once a month to prevent damage.

Use Blue or Violet Dye

As an alternative to toner, blue or violet semi-permanent dyes can also neutralize brassiness. Mix a small amount of the dye into your conditioner and apply it for 15-20 minutes like a toner. Rinse and shampoo as normal.

This is gentler than bleaching and less drying than excessive toning. The color fades out over a few weeks, taking the brassiness with it.

Corrective Coloring

For a permanent fix, visit a salon for professional corrective coloring. This involves recoloring the hair with an ash or neutral shade to completely cover the brassiness. Ammonia-based color with cool violet tones helps cancel out orange hues.

Corrective color may require pre-lightening for best results. Schedule a touch up every 4-6 weeks to prevent brassiness from returning as the shade fades.

Preventing Brassiness

Here are some tips to slow down brassing and extend time between toning sessions:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoos to minimize stripping of color
  • Rinse hair with cool water instead of hot to preserve color
  • Limit use of hot tools like blow dryers, flat irons and curling wands
  • Use leave-in conditioners and heat protectants when heat styling
  • Rinse hair after swimming to remove chlorine
  • Trim regularly to remove dry, damaged ends
  • Avoid over-washing and wash hair 2-3 times a week max
  • Use a shower filter if you have hard water

Following healthy hair habits minimizes fading and brassiness between salon visits. Using professional hair products also helps maintain the color’s vibrancy and cool ash tones.

Dye Colors That Neutralize Brassiness

Here are some recommended semi-permanent and permanent hair dye colors to cancel out orange brassiness:

Dye Color Brand Options
Ash blonde Wella Color Charm, Clairol Nice n’ Easy, Revlon Colorsilk
Beige blonde Schwarzkopf Igora Royal, Matrix Socolor, L’Oreal Excellence
Violet brown Redken Shades EQ, Paul Mitchell Color XG, Joico Color Balance
Silver grey Overtone, Manic Panic, Punky Colour
Steel blue Arctic Fox, Iroiro, Lime Crime

When choosing a dye, opt for shades with cool undertones like ash, beige and violet. Blue and grey dyes can also neutralize brassiness. Always do a patch test before coloring hair.


Brassy orange hair is a common complaint among blondes and brunettes. While some warmth is inevitable as dyed hair fades, excessive orange tones can look unnatural and unflattering. Using blue and violet-based toners is an easy and effective way to counteract this brassiness and restore a cool, neutral hair color.

Shampoo toners, rinses, semi-permanent dyes and salon corrective coloring allow you to customize the intensity and longevity of the toning results. Combining this with preventive care helps keep brassiness at bay. With the right products and techniques, you can successfully cancel out orange in favor of natural, dimensional and ashy blonde or light brown locks.