Green vs. Violet for Toning Down Brassy Hair

You can maintain honey blonde highlights with the right care.

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If your hair has started looking like a dirty penny, brassiness is the culprit. Everything from UV rays to too much heat styling can drain dyed hair of color and oxidize it. The result? Hair with a distinctly orange tint. But as any savvy diva knows, every beauty disaster has its remedy, and when it comes to toning down brassy locks, you have two options: green toner or purple toner.

Why They Work

For getting rid of brassy color, both green and purple are winners. On the color wheel, green is opposite red and orange, while purple is opposite hay-bale yellow, so they counteract the brass attack. The main difference is in their formulas. If you want to shampoo the orange out, purple is your best bet, but if you want to go deeper with a toner, green is your color.

Shampoo It Purple

Color-correcting shampoos neutralize the brassy tones in your hair. Though green shampoos exist, you can easily pick up a purple shampoo at your local beauty supply store. The trick to making violet shampoo work is letting the formula penetrate your strands for a couple of minutes before rinsing thoroughly. To avoid tinging your hair lavender, use the toning shampoo once a week and a color-protecting shampoo the rest of the time.

Tone It Green

Sometimes shampoo isn't enough. If your dye job has oxidized beyond recognition but you're not ready for another salon visit, you can tone down the brassiness with a semipermanent dye. This is where the green really comes in: Ash colors have a green base, which means any ash hair dye -- such as a box labeled "medium ash brown" -- will give you the brass-fighting action you crave. To turn a semipermanent dye into a toner, you just need to apply it to wet hair instead of dry and rinse after three minutes.

Why Hair Color Matters

Though you can't go wrong with either color, purple is a smart choice for blondies, while green is a smart choice for brunettes. The reason? Blonde hair tends to turn an ugly yellow color; purple counteracts it. That's why some drugstore shampoos that promise to lighten blonde hair come out of the bottle a rich violet color. Meanwhile, brown hair has lots of red in it -- and green neutralizes red when it threatens to dominate your tresses.

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