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How to Get that Brassy Yellow Color out of Your Gray Hair

Updated on January 29, 2018
Blond Logic profile image

Middle-aged women are forgotten about by retailers. I offer help with clothing choices, skincare, and healthy eating for the mature woman.

Is Your Hair Going Yellow?

The last time I went to the hairdressers, she said my hair was going yellow. Now you have to understand that the region I live in Brazil, virtually everyone has either dark brown or black hair. I assumed, this lady hadn't cut anyone's hair that was blonde.

She kept harping on about it and told me there were products I could buy to fix it. I thought she was deluded, my hair was gray with bits of blonde in it, it wasn't brassy or yellow like this woman was implying.

It was only when I returned home and began to really look at my hair, she was right and I was in denial. This began my journey into what caused it, and how to cure it. If your hair has turned yellow or has a brassy tinge, then you'll find this page useful.

Let's first look at what may have made yours and my hair turn yellow. Now although I am saying yellow if you're a brunette or salt and pepper gray, your hair may have an orange hue to it instead of yellow.

Genetics

Sadly some of the things we can't do anything about. Genetics plays a large role in not just our looks but also in our hair color, thickness (or lack thereof), and the ability to retain pigment.

As we age, our hair loses pigment and this is why it goes gray. The pigment is the color, whether you are blond, brunette or a redhead.
Now both of my grandmothers had almost white or light gray hair. My mother, well, although she had auburn hair, I never saw it except in photos taken before I was born. My mother bleached her hair blonde and when my father told her she looked like Doris Day, she remained blonde with the aid of hair coloring and always ranged anywhere from a platinum blonde to a honey blonde.

brassy and yellowing hair
brassy and yellowing hair

Climatic Conditions

The climate you're in also has an effect. This should come as no surprise and most people who spend time out in the sun without a hat, will notice their hair goes lighter. However when you have gray hair, what tends to happen is that the hair goes yellow. This is why mine has begun to yellow. We have a UV rating in the extreme category and although I wear a hat when I am working outdoors, I tend not to wear one when I run errands. Here it is common to see people walking around with parasols or even using umbrellas as a parasol.


Air pollution can also cause gray hair to turn yellow. Again, keeping the hair covered will help ward off these problems.


Smoking

For me, this isn't my cause but it may be for some women. I won't state the obvious that you already know about your health and smoking but it can turn your hair yellow. Much as the air pollution does, you have a lot of smoke around your head. Wearing a bandanna, scarf or fitted hat will help protect your hair. If you have ever cleaned the walls of a room where a smoker lives, you'll know how yellow they will be, this too can be contributing to your yellowing hair. Also if you live with a smoker and there is smoke in the room this could be one of your reasons for the condition.

BlondeMoment Purple Shampoo for Blonde Hair High Lights Toning Toner Violet Blue Grey 8.5 Oz Alcohol Paraben Free Color Safe UV Protectant Winsome & Wisdom Cruelty Free Professional Hair Products
BlondeMoment Purple Shampoo for Blonde Hair High Lights Toning Toner Violet Blue Grey 8.5 Oz Alcohol Paraben Free Color Safe UV Protectant Winsome & Wisdom Cruelty Free Professional Hair Products

My hair is light blonde with a lot of white now showing. To get rid of the yellow, which is just damage from the sun in my case, this is the shampoo. I don't use it as my normal shampoo, just occasionally when I notice a tinge of yellow returning. For me, it is keeping my hair to its intended color and leaves it protected.

 

The Blue Rinse Ladies

When I was younger I always wondered why older women had purplish hair. I never looked into I just thought it was something that had become popular in their heyday and they continued it. Now I know it was a blue rinse to keep the brassy yellow color in check.

These special shampoos and rinses are not only for those going gray, they are for people who color their hair. If you've noticed your hair may look great just after coloring but then it begins to change albeit gradually. The reason for this is the pigments used in the dyes and colors begin to fade over time. The wide range of hair colors is achieved by using different pigment combinations. In these hair colorings, it is the blue tones which tend to fade first. What then happens is you're left with the strong tones of yellows and oranges.

Color wheel
Color wheel

By using a toner shampoo, you can put back just the color you need. If you think of a color wheel, purple and blue are on the opposite side to the yellow and orange. So if your hair is too orange or yellow, commonly called brassy. You need to regain that balance by adding its opposite color, which is blue or purple.
The colors that are suggested are blue for brunettes and purple for blondes and those who have gray hair. Although, as I said, there are blue rinses which are applied in the salon you can also buy the toner and do it yourself or use a blue or purple shampoo.

Have you noticed your hair turning yellow or brassy?

See results

Other Causes for Yellowing

Medications:

If you have noticed a yellowing of your hair after beginning medication, speak to your doctor. Some medications may list it as a side effect but others may not. If you are concerned about the discoloration, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative.


Diet:

As we age, we tend to settle into a routine and may not be eating as well as we did when we were cooking for a family. Examine your diet, and see where you can incorporate healthier choices.

Stress:

Stress is not only bad for your overall health, it's bad for your hair. Although it may take some time to show up, too much stress in your life can cause discoloration and damage to your hair.

Homemade Remedies

If you prefer to find a home remedy and not purchase a rinse there are some home preparations using ingredients that you probably already have.

In an effort to go without shampoo, there was a trend some time ago to use baking soda. It's true that many of the dry shampoos have this as their main ingredient. When applied to the scalp it will remove oil. I have read that people use baking soda mixed with water and apply to the entire hair and then rinse it with apple cider vinegar.
Now I know you have read about the benefits of apple cider vinegar and if you want, go ahead and try it.


However, let's be clear, if you remember from your chemistry class, vinegar is an acid. So although you are toning down the yellow, you are in essence stripping the color away. The contrary is baking soda which is an alkali.
I have strong hair but I still don't want to apply baking soda or vinegar, even in a dilute form because I want my hair to be nurtured. Using a strong alkali followed by an acid isn't the right choice for me. If you have oily hair, then vinegar may help reduce the oil and strip shampoo build up. For me, I prefer not to use something that, although homemade and inexpensive, I feel it is too strong for my hair.

Although some of the rinses and shampoos can seem expensive, they have been formulated to give you the best results. Let's face it if you weren't happy with the results, you'd never buy their product again.


I have read too many reviews in the forums who save their hair felt brittle after applying baking soda followed by a vinegar rinse. My mature hair deserves something better.


© 2018 Mary Wickison

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    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      6 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Dianna,

      We are in a similar climate and the sun can cause problems for our hair. Vinegar, although natural, is quite strong, and we are at an age where we need to protect our hair, not strip it.

      Thanks for your comment and Happy Easter.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 months ago

      I would have used vinegar as a remedy! Thank you for sharing this information and saving my color! I am now at the stage where I must pay attention to what I use on my hair for best results.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Margie,

      Whatever you're doing, keep doing it! It seems to be working well for you. I know what you mean about the dingy gray, let's hope for the best.

      Thanks for the comment, and the compliment.

    • Margie Lynn profile image

      Margie's Southern Kitchen 

      7 months ago from the USA

      Loved your Hub Mary! I am almost 68 and my hair has not turn gray yet! But sure it is just around the corner. I have some of the blue shampoo from when I was high-lightening my hair. So I am ready. My mother had a beautiful white hair when her hair turned gray, hopping mind is like that and not a dingy gray. You have beautiful hair.Thanks for sharing Mary!

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      I'm glad your mother found a good solution. Regarding your hair, let me do some research and see what I can find out.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      8 months ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      My mother had trouble with this, but she was able to take care of it with the rinses. My problem is crazy gray hair...I need to find a way to smooth it without using a flat iron! I'm going to keep searching, you may have written about that.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Audrey,

      I grew up in California and my hair would always go lighter in summer.

      When I moved to Brazil, where it's basically summer year round, my hair was going light again. I thought nothing of it, until the hairdresser I mentioned, commented on it. Where I thought it was just lightening, it was white gray, with yellowing.

      I have now embraced going gray, and just opt to keep the yellow controlled. My days of coloring my hair, are over.

      I know some women find it difficult to allow themselves to go gray.

      I am encouraged when I look at Pinterest of all the women of my age and older who flaunt their gray and white hair.

      I hope whatever decision you make, you'll love.

      Thanks for reading and your comment.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      8 months ago from California

      I am in the midst of trying to figure out whether to let it go white--I have had difficulty keeping the color vibrant as I have gotten more and more gray--and with blonde hair it really does turn yellow--so this was helpful!

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      I agree it is best to have healthy hair. I'm pleased you found the information useful. Thanks for reading.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice and very useful information!

      I didn’t know about the hair turning yellow or brassy. I just want my hair to remain healthy.

      Thanks for sharing the wonderful tips, suggestions and homemade remedies.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      I agree, our hair is our crowning glory. If we feel good about ourselves we see the world in a positive way.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      Kari,

      I had no idea I was going yellow. I just thought it was a shade of blonde. Isn't it funny how it's only now that we learn why all those women had purple hair?

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful facts and suggestions. We need to feel good about our hair; it is such a great part of our total image.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      8 months ago from Ohio

      I always wondered why "old" ladies had blue hair when I was young. Now I know, lol. I'm unsure if my hair is turning yellow, I do not think so. However, it probably will before too long so I will keep this great advice in mind.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Jo,

      If you get the chance to visit, I would recommend it. I haven't had the chance to see much as we have a farm here and that is difficult to leave.

      The Brazilians are very friendly and are proud of what their country has to offer. In this area, very few speak English. Down south it may be different.

      Thanks for reading and your comment.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      8 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Mary, for the useful information. I don't have a great deal of gray yet but may some day need this advice.

      I just visited your continent for the first time ever, but did not make it to Brazil. We have traveled often but this was our first trip to South America.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      This doesn't only affect women, you know. I do however appreciate your support. A happy weekend to you as well.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The only connection I have to this topic is my friendship with you....and that's enough! :) Happy Weekend my friend.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Mary,

      Although we get a lot of international tourists, there aren't many blondes that live here. One time during the carnival festivities, a little boy came up to me and asked if he could touch my hair.

      Down in the south, there are more blondes where there were more Swiss, and German immigrants years ago. There are also some famous (here in Brazil) television personalities who are blonde. In the region I live, it is a mixture of indigenous, black, and Portuguese.

      There are also very few nationals with gray hair, especially the women, as they will color it.

      Most of the men are clean shaven and my husband has a white beard so they call him Papa Noel. LOL

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'm intrigued about living in Brazil from your hubs. That is one country we have not yet visited. Your hair colour would certainly perplex them.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Flourish,

      You're right about those ladies, now they would be trendy.

      I'm glad the mystery of yellow hair, is solved. Now we can both rest easy.

      Great to hear from you. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

      I recall all those blue and purple haired ladies. These days they’d be trendy. I’ve often wondered what made hair yellow and how to fix it so I’m glad you wrote this.

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