What Is the Difference Between Copper Hair & Brassy Hair?

Copper locks are warm and gorgeous.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Blonde gone bad is brassy – an unfortunate orange yellow that looks processed and unhealthy. Call your girlfriend’s hair copper, however, and she may thank you. Copper refers to a warm, reddish hue that complements, rather than detracts, from your appearance. Understanding the nuanced difference between the two hair types can help you decide if you have hair to correct or to celebrate.

Brassy Hair

Brassy hair usually occurs when you dye brown hair blonde. Often, a brunette who lightens too aggressively, with hydrogen peroxide or a dye that is several shades lighter, finds her dream of golden, honey locks becoming a carroty, orange nightmare. Brassy looks fake and unnatural – think bleach bond bomb, without the shell.

Copper Hair

Copper hair is unquestionably red. Unlike brassy hair, its orange is intentional, warm and rich. Hair may be naturally copper or colored to achieve this engaging hue. Copper locks are eye-catching with ginger or rust undertones.

Why Hair Turns Brassy

Dying your hair deposits red, yellow and blue color molecules onto your hair strands. The blue ones usually fade first, leaving you with too many red and yellow ones which equals brassy, orange hair. Warm copper hair from a box or a salon is not immune from turning brassy either. Wash your hair with the wrong shampoo, subject it to chlorine pools or use poor quality dyes and you could end up brassy.

Avoiding Brass

Using a purple-hued shampoo made for blondes helps restore and preserve the blue tones in your color so your tresses don't appear too orange. If you want to lighten your hair dramatically or go copper from deep brown, visit a salon. Colorists can apply a toner that helps reduce the chances your hair will turn brassy. Toners add pigment to your hair and do not lighten to even out imbalances that make you look brassy. Also, consider the water you use to wash your hair. A lot of tap water has minerals, including iron, which can affect the hue of your color-treated hair and turn it brassy. A water filter can help preserve blonde and copper goodness while banishing brassy badness.

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