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What Causes Brassy Orange Hair and How Do You Fix It?

A few tweaks to your haircare routine can help.
  • Leann Garofolo
March 15, 2024

After all the time and effort you put into dyeing your hair, the last thing you want is for your bright blonde to transform into a coppery orange mess. Brassy hair is a common concern amongst those who frequently lighten their hair, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Picking up a good toner for orange hair and stocking your shower with the right shampoo and conditioner are all small steps toward putting brass behind you. Keep scrolling to learn more about what contributes to brassy hair and how to stop it in its tracks.

Understanding Brassy Tones

Brassy hair refers to the unwanted warm tones that can gradually develop in hair color. Brass is most commonly seen on those with dyed or lightened hair but can also appear on those with lighter virgin hair colors (like natural blondes and light browns). These tones often look copper or orange on lightened or highlighted brown hair and skew more yellow on cool-toned blonde, white, and gray hair.

Why has my hair turned brassy orange?

Hair turns brassy orange when color begins to oxidize from exposure to the elements. For some quick background, lightening your hair with peroxide or bleach strips the melanin (or natural pigment) from your strands. This process reveals your hair’s naturally warm undertones, especially if you’re starting with a darker base color. Applying a hair dye or a hair toner for orange hair can neutralize some of this warmth, but only temporarily. As time passes, the cooler tones in your toner or dye will fade, and those warmer undertones will resurface.

How to identify brassy tones in your hair

Determining whether your hair is brassy typically depends on your desired shade. If your deep espresso locks now have hints of copper, or if your cool blonde highlights look like the inside of a banana peel, chances are good you’re dealing with brass.

It’s worth mentioning that brassy hair tends to be confused with warm-toned hair, but each has defining characteristics. Warm hair is usually a deliberately golden look with richness and dimension. Hair may also appear shiny and healthy-looking thanks to the infusion of these brilliant tones. Brassy hair, on the other hand, is unintentional, with an unnatural orange or yellow tint that can make your overall hair color appear dull or “dirty.”

How To Prevent Brassy, Orange Hair

Brass is sometimes an inevitable part of the hair coloring process, though there are preventative measures you can take to prolong your color’s vibrancy. Here are three easy changes you can implement in your haircare routine now.

1. Use the right cleansing system

Using the right shampoo and conditioner is essential for any hair type, but it’s especially true for those who dye or lighten their hair. Washing your hair with products that aren’t meant to protect your color could prematurely strip your hue, fading those cool tones more quickly.

Systems specifically designed for color-treated tresses often contain gentler or more nourishing ingredients that work to maintain your color. Plus, many are sulfate-free, so you don't have to worry about harsh cleansers or salts further breaking down your dye. The EverPure line from L’Oréal Paris makes many shampoos for color-treated hair—and we recommend pairing yours with the corresponding conditioner for the best possible results. We love the EverPure Sulfate Free Moisture Shampoo and EverPure Sulfate Free Moisture Conditioner because of their ability to manage dryness on colored hair. The formulas deeply replenish hydration and help keep hair color pure for up to four weeks.

2. Protect your hair from UV rays

As much as we love laying out in the sun (with sunscreen, of course), the practice can be just as damaging for the hair as it is for the skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can fade your hair color, which in turn may lead to brassiness. We recommend wrapping your hair in a loose low bun to shield it from UV rays and popping on a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp and strands when outside.

3. Skip the hot tools

There are plenty of benefits of opting for heat-free hairstyles, including extending your hair color and improving the look and feel of your hair. Heat—artificial or otherwise—can cause your strands to dry out quickly and fade your hair color. It’s best to avoid over-applying heat to your hair to keep those brassy tones at arm’s length. And with so many gorgeous heatless hair hacks floating around TikTok, you’re bound to find one that plays well with your hair type and length.

How To Fix Orange Hair

If you’re past the point of prevention and need a remedy, using a toner for orange hair is one of the best ways to kick brass to the curb. But the best toner for orange hair depends on whether your brassiness leans more yellow or it’s purely orange. Keep reading to learn more.

What color neutralizes orange hair?

Blue toning formulas can help counteract orange tones in the hair. The reasoning goes back to basic color theory: Shades positioned opposite on the color wheel are complementary and effectively cancel each other out when combined. (This same rule is also why purple shampoo is used to neutralize yellow brassy tones on lighter blondes.) In some cases, hair dye may help mask brassiness, too—though the effects will vary based on how brassy your hair is as well as the color you choose for your dye.

How To Use Toner for Orange Hair

Hair toners come in several forms, including professional treatments and at-home glosses, tinted shampoos, and masks. The best toner for orange hair ultimately depends on the severity of your brass and how much time, money, and effort you’re willing to devote to upkeep. Discover four popular toning options to help your hair appear as bright as it did on day one.

1. In-salon toner

Salon toners, which are often hair glosses or demi-permanent dyes, deposit sheer pigments onto your hair to enhance its overall color (think of them like pantyhose for your hair). These formulas help neutralize brass, impart shine, brighten your color, and make your hair feel silky-soft. Professional glosses are ideal for those dealing with stubborn or severely brassy orange hair. The pampering salon technique can last six to eight weeks on your hair, depending on how often you wash it.

2. At-home hair gloss

If your brass is on the subtler side, an at-home hair gloss can help tone your strands. While this won’t work on a super bright orange mane, it can be an effective solution for those looking to get rid of brassy orange warmth or keep their color cool-toned between salon visits.

Reach for the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One-Step In-Shower Toning Gloss for a quick in-shower treatment. The paraben- and ammonia-free formula helps correct brassy, faded tones, leaving hair with a glassy shine and luxurious feel. The lineup is available in 15 shades—we suggest reaching for an ash blonde toner for orange hair if your strands are light (try the shade Cool Blonde), or use Smoky Bronde to help neutralize brass on lighter brunette strands.

3. Blue shampoo

For lightened brunettes and dark blondes, a blue toner for orange hair—namely, blue shampoo—will be your best friend. As you can probably imagine, blue shampoo contains cobalt-colored pigments that help offset orange and other copper-leaning tones. Use it in place of your regular shampoo once or twice a week to help fend off unwanted warmth.

4. Purple shampoo

If your hair is on the yellowish-orange end of the spectrum, purple shampoo can help. Like blue shampoo, purple shampoo is another at-home option with color pigments formulated to counteract brassy yellow tones in color-treated hair. It’s primarily used to tone lighter hair colors, such as platinum blonde or silvery gray.

Try using the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Brass Toning Purple Shampoo with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Brass Toning Purple Conditioner. This system works to hydrate strands and neutralize brassy tones in blonde, bleached, highlighted, and silver hair. Apply the shampoo and follow with the conditioner two to three times a week or when hair looks orange.

Supplement your shampoo and conditioner with the ultra-pigmented L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti Brass Purple Treatment for extra toning assistance. Once a week, spread a full tube over damp, towel-dried hair. Let it sit for five minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

How To Use Toner for Orange Hair: The Bottom Line

Orange hair can be beautiful if it’s the look you’re going for. But if your shade becomes too warm for your liking, remember you have options to help fix it. And, next time, be sure to consult with the L’Oréal Paris Hair Color Concierge to talk to live experts and access online resources and tools before you color your hair. You can even set up a one-on-one video consultation with a professional colorist so that you can color with confidence.

Next Up: Can You Use Purple Shampoo Every Day?

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