If you’ve dyed your hair blonde at any point in your life then you probably know the near-inevitable scenario when you begin to notice unwanted brassy, orange tones running through your hair. All you want is cool-toned blonde, is that so much to ask for?
If you don’t have time to nip out to your hairdresser to get it fixed or to the supermarket to buy a toner, or if you simply don’t have the cash to spend on a touch-up right now then vinegar (and some food colouring) may just be your saving grace.
We’re going to explore why this unlikely hero works to eradicate brassy tones from hair and how to use it to get (and maintain!) the cool-toned colouring of your dreams without the hefty price tag and harsh chemicals.
What is brassiness and what causes it?
Brassiness is characterised by the orange and yellow tones in your hair, generally you would use some kind of toner which removes those pigments using opposite colours to neutralize the unwanted shades. Toners for brassy hair, however, can be expensive and full of chemicals, so it’s good to explore some more natural options in your pursuit of ashy hair.
The fact of the matter is; blonde hair is very porous. Think of your blonde hair like a sponge – soaking up minerals from your shower water, pigments, toxins in the air or from your hair products, and revealing your natural hair colour any chance it can get (bad news for brunettes everywhere).
Here are the main causes of brassiness:
- If the water in your shower is filled with minerals you might assume this is a good thing, but water like this causes mineral deposits in your hair leading to brassiness.
- Your natural hair colour has orange or yellow undertones, this may lead to a life-long struggle to keep them at bay.
- Damage inflicted by sunlight and chlorine means your hair becomes weak and prone to breakage making it even more porous and willing to show brassy tones.
- The toner you were using has worn off and it’s time for a top-up.
How can vinegar fight off brassy tones?
Vinegar is great for improving and fortifying the health of your hair and scalp by lowering pH and using its antimicrobial properties to fight off harmful microbes. It can add shine and volume and will seal the cuticles of your hair to prevent further damage to the strands. Vinegar will also remove buildup left from your hair products, meaning that there are no more stray pigments left to soak into your hair strands.
Healthier hair will be less prone to absorbing pigments and showing brassy tones, meaning that your hair is toned in the short run but also protected in the long run to fight off future brassiness as much as possible.
Be sure to use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for your toner. While apple cider vinegar has many benefits, it can actually darken the hair so it’s not a great match for eradicating brass tones.
The best bits about using white vinegar as your toner are that it’s cheap as chips and won’t weigh down your hair like other toners might.
Method for using vinegar on brassy hair
Here’s the easy part, to make a white vinegar toner simply mix together:
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 4 drops of red food colouring
- 10 drops of blue food colouring
Once that’s all mixed together, hop into the shower and get started:
- Shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would.
- Pour the mixture toner slowly and evenly over your hair, you can run your free hand through it to loosen the strands and ensure the toner reaches all of your hair.
- Let it sit in your hair for about 10 seconds before washing it out thoroughly.
- Let your hair air dry after this for best results.
*Note the video recommends apple cider vinegar. We prefer using white vinegar, especially for blonde or light colored hair.
Things to know before using vinegar on your hair
Just to be on the safe side, it’s always best to do a patch test before you douse your whole head of hair in this mixture. This will help you figure out if the dye ratio is right – because the perfect mixture depends on the kind of colour or shade you’re wanting your hair to be. You can experiment with this until you get it right.
Doing a patch test will also determine if you’re going to have a bad reaction to vinegar on your scalp or skin, generally vinegar is considered safe but it’s always good to err on the side of caution.
Your hair will smell like vinegar when you first apply it to your head, but once you’ve dried it there shouldn’t be a lingering smell. If you’re worried about it, though, you can always pop a few drops of your favourite essential oil into your vinegar toning mixture before applying it to your hair – lavender or peppermint are a great choice.
As with all hair products, don’t get the vinegar in your eyes for obvious reasons (ouch!). And try to limit the amount you use vinegar as a toner to about 2-3 times per month so you don’t dry your hair out. After all, it is very acidic and you can definitely overdo it. Once every two or so weeks should be more than enough to keep the brassiness away.
Have you ever heard of an easier and cheaper solution for such an irritating situation? Forget worrying about brassiness anymore. You’ve got a chemical-free toner sitting in your pantry at home that will only take a couple minutes to whip up and even less time to use it in your hair.
Restore the health and shine to your hair whilst fighting the brassy tones that threaten your perfect hair colour. Vinegar is cheap but it’s also effective and has been tried and tested, used in moderation it won’t dry out or weigh down your hair. Make the switch to this convenient, homemade toner if you’re looking to banish brassy tones – your hair will thank you for it.