Depending on your color preferences and your skin tones, a cool, ashy hair color may not be the look you desire. Warm or reddish tones can bring added dimension to the hair and add warmth to the complexion. Whether you fancy a trip to the salon or are a DIYer through and through, you have options for warming up your hair when the look is too ashy.
An ashy hair color is one devoid of warmth. Regardless of color, ash is the common silvery-grayish cool tone that appears in hair, whether that hair is dark or light. It can be seen as the undertone of the hair. An ash tone usually might be requested by blondes and brunettes who don’t like warmth or brassiness in their hair. If applied incorrectly and taken a step too far, ash toned hair can also appear green.
To cancel out the cool tones in hair, you need to add warmth. Because ash hair needs cool toned—blues and greens—to cancel it out, use the opposite warm tones, yellows and reds, from the color wheel. Warm toners, color correctors and glosses with reds and golds will be the most effective at removing the ash.
For the most trusted, accurate results, a trained colorist is your safest bet. Tell the colorist what you would like to achieve using words such as sun-kissed, golden and warm. Depending on how drastic a change you need, the stylist will likely use a gloss or toner on all of your hair or apply highlights, warming up certain sections of the hair to create an evenly balanced warm tone.
Toning the hair is a simple process that you can also do at home. Toning involves cancelling out any unwanted tones in the hair. Buy the appropriate toner and developer and apply the mixture to your hair as you would normal boxed dye. In this case, a red-based warm toner would be the best bet. For the least damage to the hair, use 10 volume developer. Developer is what allows the hair to absorb the color, and 10 volume will do the least amount of damage to your hair.
Typically, developer and toner are mixed in a 1:1 ratio and applied on towel-dried hair. However, the correct method of application varies by brand, so read the instructions. Toners act quickly, especially on blond hair, so monitor the color change while the mixture is on your hair. Once you have the desired color, rinse the toner from your hair and shampoo and condition as usual.
Some shampoos and conditioners can work to cancel out unwanted ash tones in between toning the hair—typically every 4 or 5 weeks—and some are made especially for different hair colors. These shampoos will either deposit color onto the hair or extend the life of your color.
If you have brown hair, look for shampoos and conditioners that promote warm or golden brown hair. Blondes should look for similar warming products, making sure to avoid purple and blue shampoos that are often marketed to blondes for maintaining ash. These shampoos will remove warmth instead of add it. For a natural option, try rinsing the hair in V8 to add warmth. To do this, saturate the hair in V8 for 20 minutes and then rinse. The red in the vegetable juice will help warm up the hair naturally.