Hair Color to Use That Will Not Turn Red or Brassy

Using a number 10 volumizer will deposit rich color over brassy highlights.

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Hair color nightmares occur far too often. If you prefer a shade resembling that of chocolate and not of a clown, make sure to communicate with your stylist. Never grant free-reign to your hairdresser -- knowing your wants leaves little room for error. In fact, “granting total creative freedom generally backfires,” says Caroline Buckler, a colorist at New York City’s Marie Robinson Salon. Arming yourself with knowledge before you hit the chair helps convey the look you want. Seek out a professional versed in mixing shades and developers, to assure you emerge from the salon without an over-processed mess.


Blondes need a product that deposits rather than processes. Depositing color onto the hair shaft creates a manageable shade, free of a red or brassy lift. Suggest your stylist use a low level of developer to avoid the unwanted tones. Better yet, use a demi-color (non-permanent, wash out color). This product colors and conditions without the use of a peroxide developer. Nervous about spending money on a non-permanent color? Don't be. For many, demi-color is long-lasting and often carries a warranty if it washes down the drain.


Brunettes also benefit from a demi. If you prefer a dark winter color, ask your stylist to break out her color chart. Every color line has a chart with numbers ranging 1 through 10 (1 being black and 10 being blonde). These numbers blend with a tone (natural, ash, gold, etc.) to create the base color. Nicole Ratajczak, hairstylist at Stillwaters Spa, suggests a level 2 to 5 of Natural, mixed with a number 10 developer for a deep, chocolate brown outcome.

Brunette With Highlights

Sick of your highlights? Have they faded to an unattractive orange? Never fear. Bringing it back to home base is easy. Ratajczak advises, "If you are a brunette with highlights and you want to make your hair a nice natural brown all over, I would mix 5 Natural or 6 Natural with a volume of 10. Why a 10 volume? Because it's not going to lift, it will deposit." The end result lasts much longer than highlights or foils, with little need for touch-up.

Fixing a Brassy 'Do

If you already look like a carrot top and cringe when you pass by mirrors, then it's time to break out the big guns! Your faded color needs a damage-free overhaul. Ask your stylist to correct this disaster with blue or ash tones. Yes, blue! Since the opposite of yellow is blue or purple, this is the color needed to correct the brassy "glow." In lieu of a complete color redo, use a wash-in toner. Or, if you're low on funds, purchase a purple shampoo (available at beauty-product stores). Not only will the shampoo remove the unwanted brassiness, but it with freshen up your color and add life to a dull 'do.

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