Last Updated on 28th September 2021 by Chauncey Morgan
Blonde hair turning yellow, and a most unflattering shade of yellow at that, is a very common problem. You leave your hairdresser with beautiful, expensive looking champagne blonde highlights… a few weeks or even days later they look yellow and brassy and cheap. But what is causing brassy and yellow hair?
There are two main reasons why blonde hair turns yellow. The first one is that the toner used to achieve ashy, sandy and champagne hues washes out. This leads to yellow pigments in the hair being visible again, and if you have darker hair, brassy tones.
The second reason is that blond hair tends to be more porous. Over time, it absorbs things like minerals in water and products. This leads to discoloration. For example, blonde hair turning green happens because of chlorine in swimming pools.
If you want to avoid brassy hair, keep in mind the following causes for yellow hair in blondes.
Hard Water: Use A Shower Filter
Tap water often has high amounts of minerals and metals that can turn blonde hair yellow. Hard water is the worst for keeping your blonde hair luminous and bright. But this has an easy solution.
There are entire filtering systems that attach to the water supply in your home to purify all of your tap water. But they are very expensive. Instead, you can buy a shower filter from Amazon that attaches to your shower. They are a cost effective way to improve the quality of your shower water, and keep your color looking great for longer.
Swimming Pools Chlorine: Soak Your Hair First
The chlorine in swimming pools, or even the salt in the ocean, can totally change the color of your hair. If you want to avoid your blonde hair turning yellow, or even worse, green, it pays to be prepared.
Lightened blonde hair is porous, which means it will absorb water from the pool and suffer from discoloration. So before you jump in, soak your hair in fresh water so it doesn’t absorb too much water. And once you are out of the pool, rinse your hair as quick as possible. Chlorine can play havoc with the toner in your hair and send your expensive dye job on its way in just one day at the pool.
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For extra insurance, products such as swimcap by Philip Kingsley do an even better job of protecting your blonde hair from sun and water damage. Even applying a bit of conditioner after soaking your hair with fresh water will protect your hair color.
Shampoo: Wash Less, Wash Better
Washing your hair strips color pigments. This is great if you are fixing a dye job gone bad, and terrible if you just paid for blonde hair. If you want your hair color to last, it pays to wash your hair less and with the right shampoo.
If you have dyed your hair silver or platinum blonde, your hair should also be much less greasy. This means you can make your blowouts last longer, and keep the color of your hair in shape, by using dry shampoo.
However, if you hate the idea of not washing your hair, consider co-washing with a sulphate free product. Or invest in a color depositing shampoo to neutralise the yellow. At the very least, a sulphate free shampoo for dyed hair will help your blonde last longer.
Purple Shampoo: Use It Right
So, I just recommended purple shampoo above to keep your blonde hair from going yellow. And now I am warning you about it? The truth is, overusing purple or blue color depositing shampoo can be as bad as using tap water. Too much violet pigment and your hair can go from champagne to dull and grey looking.
Using purple shampoo or conditioner (or a purple conditioning mask) once a week is often enough to keep brassy hair away. When your color is fresh, you will need less time and less product. As the toners on your hair fade, leaving the mask or conditioner longer will help cancel unwanted yellow tones.
If you are a brunette with blonde highlights, choose a blue shampoo or conditioner instead of purple. Blue cancel orange and brassy hair much better than purple. Purple shampoo cancels yellow, so it works great for cool toned and neutral blondes.
Lightening Products: Keep Your Hair Healthy
One of the most common problems with committed blondes is that, over time, their hair color seems to go yellow quicker. This is particularly true if you use at-home dyes, bleach your hair yourself or go more than two levels higher than your natural home color.
Yellow hair in this case happens because hair is not healthy enough to take another lighting session. Hair is extra porous and dye washes off quicker and quicker as it has nothing to hold to. You may also notice that your hair color catches much quicker on the tips of your hair than the roots.
Another possible cause of yellow hair is at-home lightening shampoos and conditioners. While they can be used safely to lighten natural blonde hair, they play havoc with hair dye and toner. Once the toner washes out, you are left with brassy blonde hair. Not ideal!
To avoid this, it’s better to accept that blonde hair means high maintenance and invest in hair care. Always use conditioners and hair masks that repair hair and help seal the cuticle to ensure your blonde color last for longer.
If you bleach your hair at home, avoid overlapping bleach on already lightened areas. Alwasys apply dye to the roots first, and wash it down to the tips after the required time. This is because roots (being virgin hair) will not only process quicker, but absorb dye differently than your more porous tips.
Brassy Hair Still There? Gloss Monthly
If your hair has brassy or yellow tones after avoiding all of the above, a gloss is the way to go. A glossing treatment once a month will seal the cuticle and refresh the color, without actually dying your hair. If your color looks off the right gloss can be used to cancel unwanted yellow or orange undertones without damaging hair.
Regular glossing will close the cuticle and prevent hair color from bleeding out, keeping your color blonde for longer. If you only want the extra shine, choose a clear gloss to add shine without modifying your original color. And choose an at-home glossing treatment if you don’t have the time or budget to go to the hairdresser.
As you can see, there are many things you may be doing accidentally that turn your blond hair yellow or brassy. Keeping them in mind is key to make your blonde hair look healthy and expensive for longer. They are small changes to your routine that will save you money as you will need to visit your hairdresser less often for maintenance.
Find all our color advice and hair charts here!
What other tips do you have to avoid brassy hair as a blonde or brunette?