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How to Make Brown Hair Ashy

by Sandy Taylor

Ashy brown hair is one of my favorite hair colors. If you’ve got brown hair, giving it an ashy touch is definitely worth your time.

In this post, I connected with a Licensed Cosmetologist and a beauty expert and asked them to provide for me their best tips on how to make brown hair ashy.

How to Make Brown Hair Ashy For the First Time

Krysia McDonald is a licensed cosmetologist with 20+ years of experience. She is currently working at Plaine Products, a brand that specializes in natural and sustainable hair and body care products.

According to Krysia, ashy brown hair is cool-toned brunette colored hair, as opposed to brown hair with warm undertones like caramel or chocolate brown.

For best results, she recommends a trip to the salon to work with a professional stylist to achieve the desired ash brown shade. This professional touch is especially important for hair that has naturally red undertones, which can be particularly difficult to remove.

DIY Method

An easier, DIY method is to use a purple or silver shampoo, which will help control brassiness or orange tones. The purple or silver helps to balance out the unwanted brassiness, so cooler-tones can emerge.

For hair that has been professionally colored to an ashy brown, use of a purple or silver shampoo once or twice a week is a good idea to help maintain color. For additional washings, she’d recommend the use of a natural, sulfate-shampoo to help preserve color.

How to Make Your Brown Hair Ashy Again

If you had brown ashy hair but it began to turn brassy, there are some ways to fix it.

Kerry E Yates is a beauty expert and creator of Colour Collective. According to Kerry, there are 3 options that you can try to make your brown hair ashy again.

Easy At-Home Option

The easiest way to give brunette hair that cool ashy look is to utilize a blue-based shampoo. Try the DpHue Cool Brunette shampoo. The application of this shampoo mirrors your current hair washing process.

Here’s How To Use It:

  1. Wet hair
  2. Apply shampoo to the hair and massage from root to tip.
  3. Rinse, condition as normal.

After a single-use, you can immediately see a cool tone present in your hair.

Warning, DO NOT use a blue-based shampoo more than once a week as a replacement for your normal shampoo. Overuse can cause staining and grabbing in porous areas making the hair look drab and in some cases turning the hair a dark blue.

Temporary Color Option

Roux Fanciful Rinse (Shade: Silver Lining) is a popular temporary hair color rinse that offers a great solution for toning down brassy effects and returning your hair to its beautiful ashy brunette.  This product is super easy to apply and requires no defined application skills.

Here’s How To Use It:

  1. On towel-dried, freshly washed hair, apply by gently squeezing product directly from the bottle starting at the root down through the mid-lengths and ends.
  2. Thoroughly saturate each strand. Each strand should receive a generous amount of product.
  3. Wring out any excess product over your sink.
  4. Dry your hair like you normally do.

The silver/blue shade will offset any warmth and will instantly turn your brunettes locks back to your desired ashy tone.  As an added benefit, the light setting lotion within the formula creates long-wearing, smooth, and frizz-free styles for days.

At Home Permanent Color Option

There are some amazing new at-home color lines currently available, Madison Reed is my personal favorite.  They offer multiple shades that will permanently color your hair with that rich ashy brown.

For Madison Reed products, be sure to look for shades that have the letter “A” within the shade name or description to ensure that you will get an “ashy” effect.

For at-home permanent color treatments, the application process requires a bit more care. However, Madison Reed products make the coloring process easy.

Inside a Madison Reed Color Product Box, You Will Find:

  1. a tube of hair color
  2. a bottle of color activator
  3. gloves
  4. a cap
  5. a stain remover
  6. a barrier cream
  7. color-protecting shampoo and conditioner

Here’s How You Use It: 

Before you start, note that you will need to apply the color mixture on hair that has not been washed for at least 2 days. The reason for applying color to slightly “dirty” hair is because dirty hair will have a light layer of sebum that can alleviate scalp sensitization.

If you are worried about the results. You can try to do a strand test. To do this, cut out a small section of about 1/4 inch wide strand of hair, tape it down on a tray, and apply the color mixture to the strand. Wait around 35 minutes and check the strand to see if it’s the color you want.

It is always a good idea to conduct an allergy test before applying permanent hair color to assess if you have any potential allergies. Proceed with the following steps once you have confirmed that the product does not irritate your skin.

  1. Apply barrier cream along your hairline, this prevents the color mixture from staining your skin.
  2. Section your hair into four quadrants; part along the center hairline and then from ear to ear.
  3. Wearing a button-down shirt that you hate (as you will get color on the shirt),  dispense the tube of color into the bottle of color activator.  Close the top and then shake to mix the product evenly.
  4. Once fully mixed, put on your gloves and prepare to apply the mixture to dry hair.
  5. Starting along the partings, gently squeeze the color mixture directly onto the roots.
  6. Take your gloved fingers and smooth along the hair shaft.
  7. After coloring the partings, tackle each section individually. For every section, take 1/4 inch sections and apply the color mixture directly on the hair root area while smoothing color along the shaft.  Repeat this process until the entire head is completed.
  8. Allow the product to work on your hair for 35 minutes. It’s a good idea to clean some product off your skin with a damp cloth while you wait.
  9.  Use the shampoo and conditioner that came with the kit to wash your hair. Remove any dye on your skin with the stain remover.
  10.  Blowdry! The color results should last for 30+ days!

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