How To Remove Red Tones From Brown Hair

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If you’ve noticed your naturally brown hair starting to turn red, or you colored your hair brown only to end up with a lot of red tones, don’t worry.

In this article, we’re going to look at how to remove red tones from brown hair. Hair toner, or more specifically color depositing shampoo, is just what you need to cool down those warm red tones.

Which color depositing shampoo you need will depend on whether your “red” tones are actually red or more orange.

In this article, you are going to get to know your hair and find out why you have red tones coming through. We’ll also go over the difference between color-depositing shampoos so you make sure you are using the right one for your hair.


Understanding Your Hair Tones

First things first – in order to fix the red coming though, you need to understand a bit about your hair structure and what makes up your natural color so you know why it turned red in the first place.

Every strand of hair is made up of two or three different layers.

1. The cuticle

The cuticle is the outermost, colorless layer. It’s made of flattened cells that overlap like the scales on a fish or clay tiles on a rooftop. The cuticle protects the inside of the hair shaft from damage.

2. The cortex

The Cortex is made up of long proteins that twist, like old-school telephone cords. Those twists give the hair elasticity and allow it to stretch to a certain point, without breaking. The pigments that give your hair its natural color are found among these protein strands.

3. The medulla

The medulla is not present in every hair. It’s a soft, spongy tissue that is generally found in coarse, thick hair. Fine hair doesn’t tend to have a medulla.

The medulla does not affect the color of your hair or how it behaves, so we don’t need to worry about it.

Your natural hair color is made up of melanin. All natural hair color is made up of four pigments of two types of melanin—black and brown pigments called eumelanin, and red and yellow pigments called pheomelanin.

The shade or depth of hair color is determined by the concentration of melanin. The more melanin produced in the hair, the darker it is.

The tone of the hair is dictated by the ratio of black and brown eumelanin to yellow and red pheomelanin. More black and brown pigments create a cool-toned hair color, while a predominance of red and yellow pigments creates a warm-toned hair color.

More black and brown pigments create a cool-toned hair color, while a predominance of red and yellow pigments creates a warm-toned hair color.

Blondes and those with light-colored hair tend to produce yellow undertones. Brown hair typically produces warmer orange undertones. Those with very dark hair have red undertones.

And if you bleach your hair, often your hair undertones don’t lighten evenly, producing weird color tones. This is why people often tone their hair after bleaching.


Why Am I Getting Red Tones in My Brown Hair?

There are 3 main reasons brown hair will start taking on red tones.

  1. Hair dye
  2. Environmental exposure
  3. Heat styling

When it comes to red tones showing up in your hair after having colored it brown, that can often just come from having picked a warm brown color, rather than a cool brown hair dye. The warm color, in combination with heat styling and environmental exposure, can start to break down the hair color and leave you with reddish tones.

If you have naturally-brown hair, heat styling and environmental exposure alone can bring out your natural reddish undertones.

Other things, like chlorine, hair care products containing alcohol (mousse often contains alcohol), certain medications, and even natural aging can also cause your hair to start showing warm reddish undertones.

Heat styling, alcohol, chlorine, and sun exposure all break down the melanin (the pigments we were talking about earlier) in your hair.

And if you remember, the cooler color pigments are always the first to go because they are smaller molecules and easier to break down.

The larger, harder-to-lift warm color molecules (a.k.a. the red and orange pigments) are the last to break down. So that’s why you are left with reddish tones.


How To Remove Red Tones From Brown Hair

The trick is not “fix” or “remove” the red undertones, it’s learning how to neutralize them. The fastest, easiest way to do that is to use a color-depositing shampoo, which is also often referred to as toning shampoo, or toner.

Note: Toners and toning shampoos are different things. Toners are more like dyes, and should be avoided unless you know what you’re doing. Toning shampoos are much easier to work with but give gradual results.

Note: Toners and toning shampoos are different things. Toners are more like dyes, and should be avoided unless you know what you’re doing. Toning shampoos are much easier to work with but give gradual results.

There are different color toning shampoos – purple, blue, red, and green. The color of the toning shampoo you need will depend on the color you are trying to neutralize. We’ll explain below.


Are Your Unwanted Undertones Red Or Orange?

Now because naturally “red hair”, which is basically orange, is called red, this may lead to a little confusion. Are you really looking to get rid of red undertones or more copper/orangey undertones?

Are you really looking to get rid of red undertones or more copper/orangey undertones?

This makes a big difference because the color of the toning shampoo you need will depend on the color of your unwanted undertones.

Toning shampoos work to neutralize unwanted undertones by depositing the complementary color of the color you are trying to get rid of. The complementary colors of orange and red are different.


What Color Cancels Out Red Tones?

Blue color depositing shampoo neutralizes orange/copper undertones and green color depositing shampoo neutralizes red undertones.

See the below articles for some additional context:

If you have lighter brown hair or you colored your hair brown, the ‘red’ undertones are most likely an orange tone. Likewise, if you have naturally really dark brown hair, chances are the undertones coming through are red tones.

If you have lighter brown hair or you colored your hair brown, the ‘red’ undertones are most likely an orange tone. Likewise, if you have naturally really dark brown hair, chances are the undertones coming through are red tones.

1. If your red undertones are orangey-copper…

If your red undertones are more of an orangey-copper, use a blue color depositing shampoo, like Fanola No Orange Shampoo .

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2. If your red undertones are red-red…

If you have red undertones, like red-red, use a green color depositing shampoo, like MATRIX Total Results Dark Envy Color-Depositing Green Shampoo .

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And that, friends, is how to remove red tones from brown hair.


Can I Use Blue Shampoo On Red Undertones?

If your undertones are truly more red than orange, blue shampoo (in the best-case scenario) will not do anything at all. But worst case: you may end up with muddy colored hair with a slight greenish tinge.

The same goes for using green shampoo on orange hair. Use the right color depositing shampoo based on the color you want to get rid of: green shampoo for red undertones and blue shampoo for orange undertones.


How Often Should I Use A Color Depositing Shampoo?

Blue shampoo is not meant to replace your regular shampoo. It should only be used once (max. twice) a week. Overuse of color-depositing shampoo can result in drying out your hair or possibly getting pigment staining from the shampoo.

You probably don’t want to be walking around with blue or green-stained hair!


Conclusion

A color-depositing shampoo can remove warm undertones from your brown hair. If the color you want to remove is actually red, then use a green color depositing shampoo. If your unwanted undertones are more orange than red, use a blue color depositing shampoo.

Written by Kayla Young

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