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How to Tone Brown Hair to Ash At Home: DIY Guide

Have you ever gone to the salon and told your stylist you wanted a beautiful ashy brown color only to be disappointed? Why not tone your brown hair to ash at home if you have the experience?

Maybe in the salon you said “I don’t want any red or copper tones,” and when you went home and looked in the mirror, that’s all you saw! Perhaps you showed your stylist something similar to the below picture on the left but walked out with the color on the right.

getting ash brown hair
(Left) Ashy Brown Hair Color vs Ashy Brown Hair with Red/Copper Tone (Right)

Both colors are beautiful, but if you were expecting an ashy cool brown like the picture on the left, it’s disappointing to look in the mirror and see the color pictured on the right.

So, how to tone brown hair to ash at home the right way? Well, it isn’t a cup of tea for everyone so you better take help from a professional colorist. But if you know you can do this at home, here’s how you can tone brown hair to ash.

Why Does My Hair Always Turn Red/Copper?

Even with the most skilled stylist, it can still be quite difficult to achieve an ashy brown color and keep it that way.  Why? Because most people have red undertones in their hair.

Very few people have natural ash undertones, so it can be difficult to achieve an ashy color, especially if you are lightening your hair as well. Even more difficult is keeping your hair an ash-brown color because as your color fades, your natural undertones will begin to show.

How Do I Tone My Brown Hair to Ash?

If done correctly, you can achieve a beautiful, ashy brown hair color at home. Of course, I would always recommend visiting your local stylist for their expertise, but if this option is not available to you, here is a step-by-step guide for toning your own hair:

Purchase a Demi-Permanent Ash Hair Color

demi-permanent toner to tone brown hair to ash

You can purchase a demi-permanent ash hair color at most beauty supplies. I would recommend going to a store that is specifically a beauty supply store, rather than purchasing hair color at a grocery store or other nonspecific store.

One of my personal favorites is Shades EQ by Redken. You can purchase their products online or in certain beauty supply stores.

First, you want to look at the level of the hair color, or the number listed on the box or bottle. Use a color chart to try to match the level of your hair to the level of hair color that you buy. Then, look at the letters listed with the number.

You will most likely want to choose a color with the letters N (neutral), V (violet), or A (ash). All three of those options can eliminate red and copper tones. Color swatches can also be helpful when making your selection, and you may be able to find a color chart online.

Note: Be careful when using ash toners on light hair. It is possible that the hair can turn green. I would recommend using violet or neutral toners on lighter hair.  

Cleanse Your Hair Thoroughly

In order for the toner to fully absorb, your hair should be as clean as possible. Shampoo your hair, and don’t condition afterwards. This will prepare your hair for the demi-permanent hair color.

Apply the Demi-Permanent Toner

Toning Brown Hair to Ash - Apply the Demi-Permanent Toner

The process for applying your hair color will change depending on the type of toner you purchased.

Creme Toner:

Make sure that your hair is dry when you apply a cream toner. You can blow dry your hair or just let it dry naturally after shampooing. Make sure to mix it with the proper developer, and use the recommended ratio of hair color to developer.

Apply the color to each section of your hair with a color brush, and after you are done applying the color, start a timer so that you can leave it on for the recommended time. Afterward, shampoo your hair with a gentle, moisturizing shampoo, and deep condition it. 

Liquid Toner:

The Shades EQ demi-permanent hair colors are liquid, and are a bit easier to apply. You can apply this color on damp hair, so you don’t have to wait too long after shampooing it.

Mix the recommended amount of toner and developer in an application bottle and apply it to your damp hair, making sure to saturate all of your hair.

Then, let it process for the recommended amount of time. Afterward, shampoo your hair with a gentle, moisturizing shampoo, and deep condition it.

How Do I Maintain My Ashy Brown Hair?

maintaining ashy brown hair

Once you have achieved your perfectly ash-brown hair, it is imperative to maintain it properly. Here are a few tips for maintaining your beautiful ash color:

  • Use a purple shampoo to eliminate any brassy tones in your hair.
  • Make sure your hair is moisturized by using a good conditioner. Regular moisturizing treatments will also benefit your chemically-processed hair.
  • Use cool water to rinse your hair. Warmer water will cause your color to fade more quickly, so by using lukewarm water to shampoo your hair, and cool water to rinse out your conditioner, you will ensure that your hair color stays for as long as possible.

In Summary

Ashy brown hair can be difficult to achieve and maintain, but it is not impossible! By using the right toner and maintaining it with high-quality products, you can enjoy your beautiful, ash-brown hair.

Key Things to Know

  • Most people have red/copper undertones in their hair, so it may be difficult to eliminate all warm tones in brown hair completely.
  • Purchase a high-quality demi-permanent toner like Redken’s Shades EQ.
  • Make sure to use a toner that is Neutral, Violet, or Ash to eliminate brassy or warm tones.
  • Maintain your color with a purple shampoo and deep conditioning.
  • If at all possible, visit your hair stylist for their expertise.

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