Brassy hair is a common problem for color-treated and even natural blondes. Brassy hair is caused by an excess of warm pigments in the hair. When platinum or lighter blonde hair becomes too yellow or golden highlights turn orange or red, your first response might be to panic; color your hair darker, wear a hat all the time, purchase expensive toners, or head to the salon for costly and time-consuming services.
However, you don’t have to worry! There are ways to remove the brassy tones from your hair without investing a lot of time and money.
The most cost-effective and super fast method (10 minutes!) to remove brassy hair is vinegar and water. That’s it! Vinegar is a miracle-worker when you are struggling with brassy hair. Vinegar can restore your initial blonde color (regardless of the original shade) quickly and effectively. Vinegar is easy to find at any store and extremely inexpensive.
You can find vinegar at any grocery store or shopping center. Apple cider vinegar averages $3.00 for a 16 ounce bottle. You only need 10 minutes added to your regular shower routine. Let’s get started by making the vinegar mixture to remove brassy hair in 10 minutes.
How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair with Vinegar
Step 1: Vinegar and Water is All You Need
You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. There is a preference towards apple cider vinegar as it balances hair and scalp pH, which smoothes hair, detangles, increases shine, decreases frizz, and hair is less prone to breakage. In the end, both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar will remove brassy hair just as effectively.
Brassy hair has a high pH and vinegar is designed to balance pH, which in this case, lowers hair pH, thereby removing brassiness. The proportion of vinegar to water is one to two; meaning one cup of vinegar to two cups of water.
The length of your hair will determine how much of the mixture you need to cover your brassy hair. Short hair; for purposes of this mixture, is defined as shoulder length or shorter. Long hair; for purposes of this mixture, is defined as longer than shoulder length.
For short hair, you should only need one cup of vinegar and two cups of water. For long hair, you should double the mixture; two cups of vinegar and four cups of water.
If you want more or less mixture, feel free to tailor the amount of vinegar to your specific needs. Just keep in mind the proportion of one-to-two (vinegar-to-water).
You can place the mixture in any container of your choosing; a large bowl or large measuring cup is preferred as it is easier to fully cover and soak your hair with the vinegar mixture.
Add the vinegar and water mixture to your preferred container and mix well. Set aside.
Step 2: Shampoo and Condition Your Hair
Shampoo and condition your hair as normal. For extra support for your blonde hair, it is recommended to use a shampoo and conditioner made specifically for protecting blonde hair.
Purple shampoo and conditioning products are the most common (and most effective) at ensuring blonde hair stays the tone of blonde you prefer. Purple shampoo and conditioning products are not required for the vinegar mixture; it is only a suggestion, as the vinegar mixture is a powerful resource for removing brassiness from blonde hair on its own.
When washing and conditioning your hair, use lukewarm to cold water; do not use hot water on your hair. Hot water damages your hair including frizzy hair, weak roots, increased hair breakage, brittle hair, and increases flyaways. Also, washing and rinsing your hair with hot water tries your scalp, leading to dandruff and itchy scalp.
Leave your hair wet (not soaking). You can squeeze out the excess water but your hair needs to be clean and wet before you add the vinegar mixture.
Step 3: Apply the Vinegar Mixture
Using the mixture you created in Step 1, carefully pour the mixture onto your hair, from roots to tips. Slowly pour the mixture throughout your hair. Be sure to carefully massage the vinegar mixture into your hair. The vinegar mixture needs to contact all blonde hair, fully soaking the blonde hair.
If you have blonde highlights, the vinegar mixture can be applied all over your hair, it will not negatively affect your overall hair color, whether natural or color treated. You need to be sure your blonde highlights get fully saturated with the vinegar mixture.
Let the vinegar mixture soak for a minimum of ten minutes and up to 20 minutes, if desired. Ten minutes is perfectly sufficient for the vinegar to balance out the brassy tone of the blonde hair you are targeting.
Bonus Tip: If you desire a more direct application, especially if you have highlights only, you can use a spray bottle.
Make a second batch of vinegar and water mixture like you did in Step 1 and place that mixture in a spray bottle. After pouring the mixture throughout your blonde hair, you can spray your blonde hair or blonde highlights with the vinegar mixture, specifically targeting areas of your hair that are more brassy or need direct and extra attention. You will still need to carefully massage the mixture into the hair and allow a minimum of ten minutes for the mixture to absorb into your hair.
Once the vinegar mixture has soaked in your hair for a minimum of ten minutes, you are ready to rinse.
Step 4: Rinse Your Hair and Drying Options
You want to rinse out the vinegar mixture with lukewarm or cold water. Cold water is highly recommended because it closes the hair cuticles. Closed hair cuticles create a barrier that protects your color from fading (and in this case, from brassiness returning to your blonde hair). Also, closed hair cuticles provide shine and smooths out your hair.
You can air dry your hair or you can blow dry your hair; it is entirely your preference. If you choose to blow dry your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant spray or product to maintain the integrity of your hair, avoiding brittleness and dryness.
The vinegar mixture will work well regardless of the way you choose to dry to your blonde hair.
Maintenance and After-Care of Brassy Hair
Most people worry about the vinegar smell being in their hair. Do not worry about the vinegar smell. The smell of the vinegar will go away once your hair is dry.
If you have smell sensitivity, you can always add a couple drops of your favorite smelling essential oil (i.e. lavender, jasmine) or even a couple drops of almond oil to the vinegar mixture (in Step 1) in order to dissipate the smell of vinegar. When you color your hair (especially with bleaching products to achieve blonde hair color or highlights), it often lacks moisture, and can become dry. The essential oils not only smell good but offer a little extra moisture to your hair, promoting a healthy head of hair.
Maintaining your blonde hair is important. You can continue using the vinegar mixture two to three times a week to maintain the great results of using vinegar to reduce brassy hair.
Let’s look at some basic tips to ensure you are treating your hair with the vinegar mixture at the right frequency. A good rule of thumb is to treat your hair with the vinegar mixture whenever you wash your hair. You don’t want to perform the vinegar mixture treatment too much (as it can dry out your hair if performed too often).
The average person washes their hair two to three times a week. However, dry hair should be washed a maximum of two times a week. Oily hair might require five to seven shampoos a week. If you have normal hair that doesn’t suffer from overly dry or oily hair, two to three washes a week is sufficient.
Therefore, you should base the number of times per week you use the vinegar mixture on your blonde hair by your specific hair type and unique needs.
Once you treat your blonde hair with the vinegar mixture two to three times, you shouldn’t need to perform the vinegar mixture treatment as often since the brassy tones will be gone.
It is recommended to treat your hair with the vinegar mixture once a month or as needed, to ensure the brassy tones do not return. Now you are ready to get your brassy hair under control.
You will end up saving money in the future because you will not need to go to the salon or buy your own expensive hair toning or hair coloring products to keep the brassiness out of your blonde hair or highlights. You don’t even have to leave your home to get your hair treated, saving you valuable time. For a few dollars for a bottle of vinegar, your results will last a long time with little maintenance to keep your hair brass-free.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a work-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. I have been blogging for the last 5 years. I worked for other mom blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to mom’s life and homemaking.