No matter how hard we work to keep our color intact—or, for that matter, how much money we spend to keep it intact—brassy hair happens to the best of us. If your color has taken a turn for the “undesired warmth,” there are a few things you can do to get it back in fighting shape without heading straight for the salon. Done mindfully, you can even use these tips to help prevent brass from occurring in the first place.
Use a purple conditioner.
Cool purple tones are your most crucial allies in the battle against brass. The principle couldn’t be more basic: Purple is directly opposite yellow on the color wheel. When hair gets brassy, it takes on a yellowish tone, so the purple helps to cancel out those warm tones in a big way. The easiest way to get toning benefits at home is with a tinted conditioner. Purple shampoos are easier to find, but they can be extremely drying to hair, which is why we recommend their conditioning counterparts instead. Davines Alchemic Conditioner in Silver ($28.50, ) is a deep, rich purple shade that, left on for five minutes, will solve most brass-related woes.
Invest in a water filter.
Mineral deposits from hard water in your shower could be to blame for your color turning brassy. It may sound like there’s nothing you can to do address the problem—short of moving, of course—but attaching a water filter to your shower head can help to minimize the minerals in your water before they make it to your head. Filters aren’t cheap, but it may just be worth the investment, especially if you’re noticing other unpleasant side effects from your hard water, like dry skin or rashes. Try T3 Source Showerhead Filter ($130, sephora.com).
Apply a toner.
Toning your own hair requires a bit more handiwork, if not a beauty school degree. Toners are often performed at the salon post-coloring and, if necessary, between colorings as well. If you can’t make it to the colorist’s chair, you can take the DIY approach, but since you’re working with peroxide, albeit at a low volume, it comes with a little bit more risk. Like purple conditioner, toner provides contrasting colors that work to counteract brassiness, but toner actually deposits color for a longer-lasting result.
Stay out of the sun… and the pool.
Summer is a rough time for bottle blondes, because UV exposure and chlorine are pretty much the two biggest causes of unwanted brassiness. There are certain sacrifices one must make for fresh-looking hair color, and sometimes fun is one of them. In an ideal world, those of us with highlights and otherwise lightened hair would avoid sun exposure and chlorine entirely, but it’s easier said than done. You can help protect your hair from losing its desired tone by using a UV protectant like Bumble & bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer ($26, bumbleandbumble.com before you hit the beach. Saturating your hair with tap water or conditioner before you go in the water fills your hair’s cuticle so that it will absorb less of the bad stuff, which helps to minimize brassiness from salt water or chlorine.