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Hair Color/Hair Fading Back to Brassy/Blonde



First of all, just to give you a background on my hair color. Growing up, I was naturally blonde. To my dismay, it naturally darkened as I got older. I kept the blonde up for many years with highlights and sometimes coloring it blonde all over. I'm 27 now (with 3 kids, 1 on the way) and just can't keep up with my roots. It's a natural medium brown now. I'm experienced with coloring at home (I buy color and developer from Sally usually) but the last few times I've gone to my professional hair stylist to have it colored.

About a year ago I was completely blonde. Then I decided to color at home, back to brown. It came out too dark for me so I used a powder bleach lightener to retry. I was impatient and did not let it go through the whole spectrum to pale yellow. Instead, I stopped at the orange/brassy stage in hopes I wouldn't damage it too much.  I figured why not, I was going to color it dark anyways. Well, I colored it dark but it soon faded and now all i see is brassy orange and blonde coming through.

I went to my hairdresser and she colored over it and toned it but again, it faded back to the brassy blonde tones within weeks. She tried again a few months later. This time it did not cover the brassiness or blondeness at all, no matter how dark.  So here I am stuck with these brassy tones until it grows out-which is a long time for me, because I wear my hair long-middle of my back and do not want to cut it. My hairdresser is on maternity leave right now and I don't have the money to go somewhere else to get it corrected. (I'm pregnant and on a budget, but need to have it fixed very quickly-I'm doing maternity pictures soon.)

So my question is this-Do I need to go back with the powder lightener or possibly do a bleach soap cap till it's completely white or yellow, then color it back dark and tone it?

Or is there something at Sally's I could buy that would help tone it or deposit some color to cover the blonde and brass? I'm just tired of it fading within weeks or even days. It's a very ugly color right now and I'm tired of it!
I've also heard of buying some type of silver shampoo to keep the brassy tones away?
I'm pretty open to suggestions because I'm so frustrated at this point and my hair is in a very healthy condition. I've left it alone for awhile now so I'm not afraid to use bleach.

Thank you for your help ahead of time!

ANSWER: Hi Erin,

For a "kitchen hairdresser", you are pretty savvy. Your knowledge of hair color is quite impressive. You almost ask the question and answer it at the same!
Brassy tones can be tricky or at time, easily corrected. If you actually did a bunch of highlights on top of your brassy tones, and patiently waited to get passed the orange stage, you would have your blondeness again, and the few brassy tones in between your foils can be toned by using a Redken Shades 9V glaze.

It's difficult for me to nail answers such as this, since I cannot see your hair or feel the texture. Obviously, the issue of chemical damage is always at the forefront of doing this service. We want blonde without melting or drying your hair.

If your hair is fading fast, you might need to do repigmentize.  If you want to go back to Brown, ask them at Sally's to sell you a "color filler" on your blonde and brassy tones, so that you can dye back to a brown, (By the way, you DO NOT need to bleach up to a yellow stage, than color and tone...too much! This is why I think you should just use a filler and than color over it.) They will look at your hair and determine the exact color you need. It's either a copper or copper/gold. The filler is a direct dye with no activator or ammonia, it fills in all the gaps in your hair follicle, and when you put your brown over it, it doesn't fade away as easily.

Hair is like a driveway, at this point, it is full of potholes and we need to fill them first before we put our color over them, and that is the reason why your hair is fading. It could also be that your cuticle is damaged from over processing and that is why it doesn't hold color.

Here's an idea, just try it before anything else. Buy a "color conditioner" with the shade you like. Of course, choose a darker shade than what you have currently. Sometimes a color conditioner helps to cure the cuticle damage by filling it, because of the ionic charge of hair and hair color, the conditioner is the opposite of your hair and adheres to it much better. Remember the old saying, "Opposites attract"? Also bear in mind, we are depositing and not lifting , so a darker shade od hair color conditioner should work just fine.

Try it, and let me know if it works, and/or send me a picture of what you have and what you want to be....I wish you were in NYC, I would fix it for you in a jiffy!
I wish you luck with your baby and the rest of your family of course!

All the best,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response and all the information, Nick!

I'll be making a trip to Sally's later on today. I'm going to try the color conditioner/shampoo for upkeep after.
As far as the color filler goes, you're saying I need to buy one that is copper or copper/gold even though I already have so much brass/blonde in my hair?  I'm going to try to color my hair after filling it, going for a cool medium chocolate brown (no warmth). Would ash be ok? When it fades some would the orange color filler show through again? That's what keeps happening and its driving me nuts!

And do I need to buy a toner for the final step and what color? Sorry for all the questions, I just want to make sure I get this right once and for all!

HI Erin,

Filler is used so that the color adheres to the hair follicle. But even if you used a copper filler, and than went over with an ash, you would be ok. The filler is so that the color doesn't escape anymore.

I wish I could see your hair, I could give you a better assessment. Let's try going with the color conditioner theory, and then overlay the brown on top of it. Keep using the color conditioner and you should be fine. It's a matter of rebuilding your cuticle which seems to spit the color out.

Don't worry about the questions, this is why I do this. If you really get stuck, call me during the day at 914-428-3555, and I will have a chat with you:)


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The PsyCOLORgist


Ready to color your hair, and don't have a single clue on how to start? I will try my best to guide you in your new or old hair color venture, whether you are going to a professional or trying to do it yourself. If you are going to see a professional I can help by answering all questions regarding your initial consultation, what to say to your colorist, how to describe what your wishes are and well talk about realistic expectations. Everything starts with a good conversation; learn how to discuss hair color in terms which make sense to a colorist.


I started as a young assistant at Vidal Sassoon in 1982 and got the training that has always sustained me throughout my professional life. I first became involved in hair color in the mid 80s when I realized that my passion for painting was a vehicle understanding hair color. I joined the industry of hair color teaching and began a career as a platform artist in 1991. The next 25 years, took me across the USA and North America doing all hair shows, demonstrations on both hair cutting and hair coloring. I went from regional education, to national, eventually crossing into North America and being promoted as the USA Artistic Director for It&lyhairfashion, N.A. My hair salon is an award-winning destination for hair expertise, and I am proud to say that I have one of the most elite hair expert teams working for me.

Modern Salon Magazine Salon and Day Spa Westchester Magazine

Involved in hair shows and teaching professional hairdressers for over 25 years.

Awards and Honors
Best Hair Colorist of 2011 awarded by "Westchester Magazine" in New York. Featured in Modern Salon as one of the top national hair colorists.

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