Home / / How To Get Rid of Brassy, Yellow or Orange Hair: 3 Steps You Need to Follow to Lift & Tone Your Hair

How To Get Rid of Brassy, Yellow or Orange Hair: 3 Steps You Need to Follow to Lift & Tone Your Hair

1. What is Brassy Hair and How Can I Get Rid of It?

  • Brassy hair is hair that looks yellowish or orange.
  • Basically, hair is "brassy" because it has not been lifted enough - the darker the blonde, the more "brassy" it will look.
  • In the image below, you can see that the hair at level 7/8 is more brassy and more orange than the hair at level 9/10.

Image Supplied by Ugly Duckling Stylist Hon G.

Difference between level 7 and level 9

2. What exactly is causing my client's hair to turn brassy when I bleach or color or lift?

A little bit of color theory:

  • Hair has a natural undercoat, or secondary pigment, which becomes visible when you lighten it or even if you stay in the sun for very long. 
  • When you lighten hair to a dark brown color, you get a red undercoat or tone.
  • When you lighten hair to a medium brown color, you get an orange undercoat or tone.
  • When you light hair to a blonde hair color, you get a yellow undercoat or tone.
  • This table below illustrates the undercoats which occur at every hair level.
  • These undercoats often represent a challenge for colorists and their customers as generally speaking these undercoats are not very attractive nor desired by clients. 

Hair Color Levels

3. What Should I Do to Get Rid of Brassy Hair?

You can get rid of any brassiness provided you follow the right techniques. Basically, there are 3 steps:

  1. Lift the hair correctly and consistently. We recommend Brilliant Blonde Lightener, it has been formulated for dark bases and lifts up to 8 levels. It works at one go and will save you from bleaching your hair again and again.

  2. Tone with the appropriate choice of toner. We have a choice of 4 toners that produce pearl and silver blonde results. Also blue ash and silver grey colors which are also very popular. Please consult our shop-now page.

  3. Finish with Purple Shampoo and Mask.

STEP 1. Use A Quality Lightener & Lift the Hair to Level 10.

  • If you have a client with yellowish, orange hair and you are looking  to eliminate all her brassiness, you need to take her all the way up to a level 10 (see picture below).
  • If you lift it to a level 10, you will be able to eliminate almost all the secondary pigments that cause brassiness. 
  • If you don't lift out all that yellow, the hair will stay brassy even if you put in a lot of ash or ash based toners!

Hair Color Levels

Hair Color Levels

Brilliant Blonde 8 Level Lightener: Developed for Dark Bases

Brilliant Blonde 8 Level Lightener

Learn More About Brilliant Blonde Here.

Hair which has been prelightened to level 10 using Brilliant Blonde

Pre-Lightened Hair - Level 10

You can see that in the picture above we have lifted up our model Mag Sam's hair to a true level 10. Now we are ready to start toning. (Look at the bottom of this blog for her final result!)

STEP 2. Tone with a quality toner

Intense Pearl Blonde

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Silver Blonde

Intense Silver Blonde 100B 

Pearl Blonde

No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner 10V

Silver Blonde

No-Lift Silver Blonde Toner 10B

Silver Grey

Silver Grey

Smoky Blue Grey

Smoky Blue Grey

Extra Cold Ash Blonde (Blue Based)

Extra Light Cold Ash Blonde 10.1B

Very Light Cold Ash Blonde

Very Light Cold Ash Blonde 9.1B

Learn More About Ugly Duckling Toners Here

Hair Toned with Pearl Blonde 100V. Hair Color by @hair_by_becki

Intense Pearl Blonde 100.21

Hair Toned with Pearl Blonde Toner 10V. Hair Color by Elona Taki

Pearl Blonde Toner - Fights Brass

STEP 3. After toning, finish with Purple Shampoo and Mask.

  • Our purple shampoo and mask are low pH sulfate-free products and will help close the cuticle after coloring as well as tone and condition.
  • They contain intense purple pigments which will neutralize any remaining yellowness or brassiness in the hair.
  • For best results, use plenty of product and massage in very thoroughly. The more these products are in contact with your hair, the more they will transfer those pigments.
  • With the purple mask, leave on for 10 minutes under a plastic cap and, if possible, some gentle heat.


Learn More About Ugly Duckling Purple Shampoo and Mask Here.

Is Your Hair Like This?

Before: Level 6 Regrowth and Yellow Blonde Lengths. 

Before: Dark Regrowth and Brassy Hair

It Can Become Like This!

After bleaching and toning

Brilliant Blonde Lightener with 20 Vol developer on the root area

Intense Pearl Blonde Toner with 20 Vol throughout to tone

Purple Shampoo and Mask to finish.


Products Used:

  • Brilliant Blonde Lightener on Regrowth
  • 10.1b Extra Light Cool Blonde to Tone
  • 20 Vol Developer for both processes


Q. How do you tone down level 7 orange hair?

  • If the hair is level 7, as in the picture at the top of this page, you are not going to get a good result just applying toner.
  • The best thing to do is to lift it some more, up to level 9/10, then tone with an Ugly Duckling toner.
  • If the hair is in truly bad condition, or if it has been colored with box dye in the past, or for whatever reason if it is just not lifting beyond level 7. you can color it with a 7.1b ( blue based light ash blonde) with an inch of green used as an additive. This will help you get to a correct ash blonde result and counteract the yellowness of the level 7.

Q. How do you tone down orange or yellow hair?

  • Orange means it really has not been lifted enough.
  • If you are not managing to lift with your bleach, you might like to consider changing brands.
  • A good quality lightener (like Brilliant Blonde) will lift all the way to level 9/10 safely and effectively.

Q. How do you get rid of brassy hair without toner?

  • Lift with Brilliant Blonde all the way to level 10.
  • Then use our purple shampoo and purple mask. It will give a good toning result.
  • Note that in general we prefer to recommend these products as maintenance products rather than as toners.
  • But they do contain a lot of purple pigments and they will do the job well if you don't have our regular toners handy.

Blonding Set

Everything you need to start Blonding with Ugly Duckling

Free coloring tools

Set contains
Brilliant Blonde Lightener 16 oz.
Intense Pearl Blonde 100.21
Intense Silver Blonde 100.20
Pearl Blonde Toner
Small Purple Shampoo
20 Vol. Developer
Coloring Tools (FREE!)
$ 116.90
$ 90