I don’t know if my blonderexia is spreading or what, but over the past few weeks, I’ve received a number of reader pleas for help with blonde hair gone brassy.
And you know what? In the same way that the Hair Club guy is not only the president but also a client, I’m not only a brassy hair fixer-upper, but a sufferer too.
That’s right—not even 24 hours ago, the talented Alain Larivée, co-owner of CAJH Maitres Coiffeurs in Montreal and Canadian creative consultant for John Frieda, kindly informed me that I maybe kinda sorta had a wee tinge of brass developing in my colour. Yep, and I just had it done, too. But see, that’s the thing about brassiness. It operates in stealth mode, creeping up on you ever-so-slowly if you’re not careful, and sometimes it takes an expert to point out that yes, Houston, we have a problem. (Although you would think that somebody could’ve informed Mischa Barton, above, before hers got to this point, right?)
Anyway, you and I don’t have to suffer the same fate. When you’re a blonde, you’ve got to be vigilant, always vigilant, to protect your colour. So from one blonderexic to another, here’s how.
1. Go forth and buy yourself some purple shampoo
When you colour your hair, you’ve got a little rainbow of colour molecules (red, yellow, blue) deposited into the hair cuticle. But because they’re the smallest, it’s the blue ones that go MIA first, leaving you with the red and the yellow. And you know what those shades produce… orange! So purple shampoos and conditioners are freakin’ GENIUS, man. Being the opposite of orange, their violet pigments shut that brassiness down, restoring your colour to its former glory.
Probably the least expensive option around is the Sheer Blonde Colour Renew line from John Frieda, which is what Alain used on my hair yesterday:
Although they say you need to use ‘em three times to see results, I SWEAR that when I met up with a friend last night, she told me (unprompted) that my hair looked blonder. (Meaning better, of course.)
(Yes, this Matrix one is “supposed” to be for grey hair but it works just fine on blonde.)
2. Alternate your purple shampoo with regular colour-protective products
You only need to use the purple shampoo a few times a week. (You don’t want your colour to go too far the other way and turn purple, after all.) Alternate it with shampoos, conditioners and masques specifically for colour-treated hair but without the violet pigment. They’ll help nourish it and ensure your locks look soft, healthy, hydrated and shiny.
One of my favourite colour-protective collections is from Matrix:
Kérastase’s colour line is the crème de la crème—pricey, but I have yet to meet a hairstylist who doesn’t sing its praises.
But there are tons of options out there—just look for the words “for colour-treated hair” on the label.
3. Invest in a shower filter
Another thing you can do to protect your $150-a-pop blondification investment is to make another investment: in a good shower filter. Besides the fact that the chlorine and iron deposits in our water are probably not the nicest stuff to imbibe, they can also make colour fade and look dull. And the iron, specifically, can add to the reddish, brassy tones.
It’s a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo to get that shiz outta there, and then install a filter like the one I’ve been using from Jonathan Product:
Seeing as I’ve been obsessed with it for years, I was overjoyed when they sent me one to try. It’s a two-step filter that takes out chlorine, synthetic chemicals and heavy metals, replacing them with healthy, pH-balanced potassium ions. Both skin and hair feel softer and hair colour lasts longer—hooray! It should last about six months or so… you can also check out your local Home Depot or hardware store for similar options.
4. Go back to the salon for a toner
Most of you who already colour or highlight your hair blonde will be familiar with toners—usually, colourists apply them all over as the final step in the process in order to tone down brassiness (yay!) and sort of help all of the tones in your hair to harmonize together. They’re gentler (semi-permanent instead of permanent colour) and deposit pigment instead of lighten, so you don’t need to worry about damaging already-coloured hair.
Although they come in all kinds of shades, in this situation your hairdresser will be using one with a violet or blue base (same principle as the shampoo) to brighten and restore your colour. Expect to pay around $40+.
5. Try an at-home brass banisher
You can also do the toner thing at home, thanks to a product from our friends at L’Oréal Paris…
Clairol Natural Instincts Brass Free Blondes, at Amazon.com
They also have a version for brunettes, FYI:
Both the Clairol and the L’Oréal Paris are ammonia-free and can be safely used in between colourings… but just to warn you, reviews are mixed (and that’s why I chickened out of trying the latter one myself). You’ll definitely want to check out Makeup Alley here and here before you take the plunge, because some peeps are saying “I LOVED IT!” and others “HOLY CRAP THIS SUCKS!” It’s hard to say whether it was a user execution thing, or if the prodz might produce iffy results on certain hair colours… so I’ll leave it with you to decide. Because I like to give you options!
Are you a fellow blonderexic?
How diligent are you about taking care of your colour?
Ever tried any of these tips?