How to fix brassy hair colour mistakes

Updated February 21, 2017

Lightening the hair -- especially when you start with brown or red hair -- often ends with undesired reddish or brassy results rather than blonde or golden hair. To correct this mistake, look for a purple-tinted toner that will balance out the brass. Toner is applied in the same way as hair dye and you can do this in the privacy of your home.

Read the instructions that come with the toner carefully, if instructions are included. Many professional toners don't come with instructions.

Divide your hair up into four sections and secure the sections up on your head with claw clips.

Squirt or pour the contents of your toner bottle into your mixing bowl.

Put on your plastic gloves to protect your skin from the toner chemicals.

Put a towel over your shoulders to protect your clothing from toner stains.

Apply the toner to your hair with the applicator, going section by section. Start at the ends and apply the toner to the roots last.

Place a shower cap over your hair.

Set a timer for 20 minutes. You will want to check the timer at 20 minutes, but can leave the toner in for up to 45 minutes you don't get the colour you want after 20 minutes. Check every five minutes after the first 20 minutes.

Remove the shower cap from your head and rinse the toner from your hair in the shower using warm water. When the water runs clear, the toner is all out.

Towel-dry your hair with a clean towel.

Apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair to prevent further damage.


You can save unused toner, as long as you have not mixed it with developer.

Keep brass out of your hair by using a specially formulated violet shampoo and conditioner.

Because toners wash out over time, you will need to apply toner once every couple of weeks to make sure the brass tones stay out.

Check your water supply. Brassy blonde hair can be caused by high levels of iron deposits.

A good hair glaze can be applied along with toner to lock your toner in longer.

Use gentle soap, warm water and a towel to remove dye if it gets on your skin.


Do not attempt to use toner yourself on severely damaged hair. Consult a professional, when in doubt.

Do not mix developer in with your toner unless you want to lighten your hair as well as tone the brass out.

Things You'll Need

  • Purple-tinted toner
  • Plastic gloves
  • Mixing bowl
  • Applicator
  • Claw hair clips
  • Shower cap
  • Towel
  • Timer
  • Mirror
  • Warm water
  • Conditioner
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About the Author

Ginger Yapp has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in travel and film topics. Her work has appeared in such publications as "USA Today" and online at Yapp also has experience writing and editing for a small California newspaper. She earned her B.A. in film and media studies and has worked as an ESL teacher at an international school.