If you’re tired of your brunette hair tone, but don’t want to do something drastic, learn how to tone brown hair to ash to get the perfect cool undertones to your color.
All brunette hair isn’t all the same. There are different shades when it comes to dark hair just like with blondes.
Some hair has reddish undertones and can appear auburn in the right light.
Also, if you’re out in the sun a lot, then your brown hair color can develop brassy undertones giving it a warmer hue.
These look great too, but if you prefer your brunette hair with cooler undertones, then you can simply get rid of this brassiness to make it look more ashen.
In this article, I’ve described the ways to tone brown hair to ash easily.
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How To Tone Brown Hair To Ash
Want to get turn your dark brown or reddish-brown hair to that perfect shade of ash? Here’s how you can do it. Read on to know!
How To Tone Brown Hair To Ash Using The Color Wheel
Before we get to learn how to tone brown hair to ash, we need to understand the color wheel theory.
There are a group of colors called complementary colors that are directly opposite one another in the color wheel.
One of these shades can cancel out the other color.
The most prevalent example of this is purple shampoos.
Since purple is directly opposite to yellow in the color wheel purple shampoos are used to cancel out yellowness in blonde hair to give it a platinum hue.
Similarly, if you want to tone brown hair to ash, you’ll need to cancel out the shades of red and orange in your hair.
Blue is the color that is opposite to orange in the color wheel, so if your hair has brassy notes, then a blue-tinted toner or shampoo can help.
But if you’re hair has is a more reddish/auburn shade then you can try green as it’s the color that is complementary to red in the color wheel.
Use A Hair Toner
If you have natural brunette hair or have colored your hair a brown shade and want to make it a bit ashier, then you can a hair toner.
A hair toner is not a hair dye, it doesn’t alter the color of your tresses. It simply adds pigments to your hair, so that certain hues get canceled out.
Toners are generally used after a hair coloring session to make your locks the right shade of blonde or brunette.
You might have heard of purple toners or blue toners that are used after bleaching to remove brassy undertones from blonde hair.
But hair toners come in all shades! There are blue toners and green hair toners as well.
As I’ve discussed in the section about the color wheel, you can cancel out the reddish undertones in your brunette hair by using a green toner and orange tones by using blue.
In fact, a lot of hair toners double as conditioners and masks and come with several nourishing ingredients.
So you can go for these if you’re brunette hair seems dry or damaged.
Some of my favorite hair toners that tone brown hair to ash are given below:
Matrix Color Results Brass Off Hair Toner
Pravana Chromasilk Blue Hair Toner
Try a Blue Shampoo
I have naturally dark brown hair and want to keep it looking ashy. So sometimes, it’s not convenient to use hair toner.
So if you want this ash brown shade on a regular basis, you should try investing in a blue shampoo.
A blue shampoo is just like a regular shampoo but it contains a lot of blue pigments.
These pigments help neutralize orange tones in your hair and leave it ashy and cool.
And you don’t have to spend time leaving it on like you would a hair toner.
Redken Color Extend Brownlights Blue Shampoo
But I have to warn you, it’s not advisable to use blue shampoos more than once a week.
This can cause a lot of blue-pigment build-ups and might stain your scalp.
Also, using this shampoo regularly might cause your ashy strands to actually turn blue with time.
Another thing to remember is that just like with other shampoos, these blue ones also have sulfate-based and sulfate-free variants.
If you have dry, damaged, or chemically-processed hair, I’d recommend you go for the sulfate-free ones I’ve listed below.
You should also go for sulfate-free shampoos if you’re toning color-treated hair as harsh surfactants can strip hair dye.
Oligo Professionnel Blacklight Blue Shampoo
Related: Best Shampoo For Blue Hair
Apply A Temporary Hair Dye
If you’re using a blue hair toner to tone brown hair to ash, then the results might last anywhere between 4-6 washes.
So it’s definitely not a long-term solution.
And with blue shampoos, there’s the risk of staining.
The best solution in this case? Try a temporary hair dye.
Don’t worry, you’ll need a hair dye that will replace the reddish undertones in your brown hair with ashy undertones. So you won’t require a strong chemical dye.
But you need to be careful as to the shade you choose.
If you’ve noticed, a lot of hair dyes come marked with a number.
This is because of something called colorimetry, where each color is assigned a number between one to ten. Here, number 1 represents black hair and number 10 represents light, platinum blonde hair.
Brown hair falls somewhere in the middle with level 3 representing dark brown, level 4 representing medium brown, and 5 being light brown.
But most shades are marked 4.5, 4.2, 6.5, and stuff like that. So what’s up with the number after the dots?
Ah! Now that’s the crux of the matter. The numbers after the periods represent the undertones in hair coloring.
And ashy undertones are marked with the number 2.
Related: Best At Home Hair Dye
So for the best results, you should go for an ash brown hair dye that is at the same level as your natural (or base) hair color.
Example: If you have dark brown (level 3) hair, you should go for ash brown hair dyes marked 3.2. And if you have light brown (level 5) hair, get ash-brown hair dyes in 5.2.
Of course, you can always choose to make your hair appear lighter or darker that is upto you.
But if your only goal is to minimize the reddish highlights in your brown hair then following this method is a good idea.
FAQs – Toning Brown Hair To Ash
How to tone brassy brown hair at home?
If you want to tone brassy hair at home using home remedies you can try using:
— A tea and lemon juice toner – Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and can help remove some of the brassy undertones
— Apple cider vinegar – ACV is known to remove product build-up from hair and has so many other benefits for your tresses as well. Its acidity can help remove brassy notes from hair to a certain extent.
— Baking soda – You can mix some baking soda with your sulfate-free shampoo and then use it to tone brassy brown hair. However, this can leave your hair dry and dull so be careful not to overdo it.
The home remedies I’ve listed above do not work instantly as a blue shampoo does. So you’ll need to be patient.
Also, it’s not guaranteed to give you the shade of ash you want. It can leave your hair patchy as well. So I really recommend using a hair toner or blue shampoo instead.
Which is the best ash toner for brown hair?
The best ash toner for brown hair depends on the undertones of your brown hair. If you have mahogany brown hair with reddish undertones, then you should try out a green hair toner.
If your brown hair appears auburn or “ginger” with more orange undertones then the best ash toner would be one with blue pigments.
Some of the best blue toners in the market today include:
— MATRIX Total Results Brass Toner
— Truss Deluxe Prime Chestnut Hair Treatment
— oVertone Haircare Blue Toning Conditioner
— Pravana Chromasilk Hair Color Corrector
How to maintain ash brown hair?
Finally, you’ve got your favorite shade of ash brown hair. But you’ll need to maintain it to keep it looking good. Here’s how you maintain ash brown hair:
— Avoid using sulfate-based shampoos as they can strip hair dye and toning pigments
— Do not stay out in the sun for long as it creates brassy undertones in your hair
— Use a dry shampoo for colored hair instead of frequently washing your hair
— Keep on using a blue/green toner every other week to keep the ashy tone looking bright.
Is cool brown the same as ash brown?
Yes, cool brown and ash brown are the same color. Here “cool” refers to the lack of warmer undertones in brown hair such as red or orange. This gives hair an ashy look.
I simply love how stylish ash brown hair looks. Of course, auburn, caramel browns, and chestnut shades have their appeal, but ash brown has that high-fashion look to it.
And if you’ve already got brunette hair, getting that perfect ashy shade should be a piece of cake with this guide.
There are just so many hairstyles you can try that complements ash brown hair.
I think ash brown is so sought after as it suits several skin tones and undertones.
Leah LOVES hair. So much so, she dedicated an entire website to it! One of the founders of Hair Everyday and Chief Editor, Leah enjoys reviewing all the hair products and showcasing the best. She believes her most underrated articles are her hair care tips!