Drugstore Products to Remove Brassy Tones From Bleached Hair

Drew Barrymore is susceptible to brassy locks, evidenced at the "Going the Distance" premier in August 2010.

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

No matter how much you invest in your hair, you are susceptible to having your locks turn an unnatural orange hue. Even Hollywood’s finest are not immune to their lightened hair turning brassy – Drew Barrymore and Mischa Barton are a couple of stars who wage the battle against brass. You don’t need a superstar stylist to help remove brassy tones, however. Some drugstore products can help you restore a lustrous lightness to your hair without bleeding your bank account dry.

What Is Brass?

Brassy hair usually occurs after you lighten your hair. It can happen to blondes who go super-light or to brunettes who try to bleach to a slightly blonder shade. A combination of color molecules – yellow, red and blue – make up your hair color. When you bleach your hair, you strip it of some of these molecules. The blue ones tend to disappear first. You are left with predominately red and yellow ones, resulting in – you guessed it – orange brass!


To prevent brass in the first place, use a shampoo made especially for color-treated hair. These are available at most drugstores. If it is too late, or if you used one and your hair turned anyway, try a blue or purple shampoo made to help restore your blonder color. These shampoos redeposit some of the missing blue molecules and help make the orange less obvious. Use these only once or twice per week, however, as you can go too far in the blue-purple direction.


You can always visit your salon for a toner that literally “tones” down your brass. But you may not be up for padding your stylist’s pocket again. At-home versions of toners are available at drugstores. They work by helping the color molecules in your hair reharmonize; they add in a violet or blue base to brassy hair. Several drugstore brands are ammonia-free and should not damage your coloring, just enhance it.


It may sound a little crazy, but skipping the hair aisle at the drugstore may help rid you of your brass. Instead, head over to the minimal food aisles and pick up a packet of grape-flavored drink mix powder. The purple coloring in the powder acts much the same way as purple shampoo but at a much lower cost. Mix just a pinch of the powder into about 4 tbsp. of your regular shampoo.

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