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How can I tone away brassy blonde hair?


Are you trying to fix brassy blonde hair?

In this blog we are going. to show you why blonde hair gets brassy in the first place.

And we are going to show you a simple 2-step technique to fix it.

It's a technique that all stylists need to know.

Why does blonde hair even go brassy?

The reason blonde hair goes brassy is that as hair gets lifted during coloring or during bleaching, it produces a secondary pigment.

And this secondary color, or undertone, could be anything from orange, to yellow orange, to yellow and to pale yellow.

It all depends on how blonde your hair is exactly.

See the picture below.

Hair Bleaching Levels

Lightening Levels

This is why hair goes brassy when you lift it!

The more you lift the hair with good quality bleach, the less brassy it will appear.

Once you get the hair to level 10, there is only some pale yellow showing - which is easy to neutralize using a good quality toner.

And conversely, the main reason why hair is brassy is that very simply, it has not been lifted enough.

"My client's hair turns orange when it's lifted"

We sometimes hear comments like:

"My client's hair pulls orange. That's why it's naturally brassy."

"My client uses well water. It makes her hair brassy."

"My client has very dark hair. That's why it's so brassy."

Of course, none of these comments is true. 

Hair is orange for one reason and one reason only. It has not been lifted enough.


Step No. 1: Lifting the brassiness out of the hair with bleach

So the solution to lifting the hair extremely well is to use very good quality bleach.

It makes a huge difference, because many bleaches just simply don't lift very well, and require you to use extra strong developer.

Which ends up breaking the hair rather than lifting it.

How to get the lift you need

We recommend you use Brilliant Blondexx.

It has Bond Protect built in, and is strong enough to lift all the way up to level 10 with only 20 or 30 Vol developer in almost all cases.

When applying Brilliant Blondexx, make sure your mix is fairly wet (a 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer will help you achieve that).

And saturate the hair extremely well with product.

If it is a full head bleaching you are doing, do the root part last.

But obviously, if it is a regrowth application and you are trying to lift a dark root area, you need to do that part first.

Make sure you lift all the way to a consistent level 10 (pale yellow).

If you do that, almost all your brassy hair problems will vanish away, literally into thin air.

Can't I just tone the hair rather than bleach it?

If you place a toner on the hair without lifting it first, you could get all sorts of bizarre results...

Like green hair, for example!

Why does it turn green? Because you placed a blue based toner on top of yellow hair that was not sufficiently bleached.

And guess what? Yellow + Blue = Green.

A simple application of the Color Wheel.

So don't be like that. Bleach properly first before toning.

Hair Color Level 10

Hair which has been lifted correctly to level 10: Now it is ready to tone!

Step No. 2: Toning the hair

Once you have lifted correctly, you are ready to tone.

Ugly Duckling has a wide range of toners that will do an excellent job of neutralizing any remaining yellow.

We are giving some of them here below, with real result shots after toning.

Best toner for icy white pearl blonde hair

Pre-lighten hair first very well to level 10. Then use intense pearl blonde 100V with 20 Vol.

Intense Pearl Blonde is one of the fastest acting and whitest toners on the market, and is both intense pigmented and contains lift.

You need to be mindful of that and rinse as soon as you get the result you want - 10 or 20 minutes may be enough if the hair is already very very white.

Icy white blonde

Best toner for natural, silver-white hair

Pre-lighten and use intense silver blonde 100B.

Hair by Elona Taki.

Natural Blonde Hair

Best toner for platinum blonde hair

For platinum blonde hair like the result below, first pre-lighten very very well so that there is no yellow whatsoever left in the hair.

Then color with 10V. Note: this is a regular color. The V means violet. You need to mix it with developer 1+1 and leave it for a full 30 minutes.

You will get the best, most vibrant color result that way.


Hair by Ashley Betancourt

Best Refresh Blonde Toner (No Lift on Base)

For quick gloss toning, use Blondify liquid gloss toners.

They are  ammonia-free & they only take 10 minutes.

These toners do not lift. As a result you can use them without shifting or lifting a dark base, smudge root, or lowlights.

They also contain Bond Protect to condition the hair during the toning process.

Watch Video: We used Blondify Natural Ash Blonde 010A with 20 Vol to turn yellow-orange into a beautiful natural ash blonde.

About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.

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