Home Hair How to Make Brown Hair Ashy (Pro Tips + 10 Styling Ideas)
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How to Make Brown Hair Ashy (Pro Tips + 10 Styling Ideas)

by Sandy Taylor

Ashy brown hair is one of my favorite hair colors. If you’ve got brown hair, giving it an ashy touch is definitely worth your time.

In this post, I connected with a Licensed Cosmetologist and a beauty expert and asked them to provide for me their best tips on how to make brown hair ashy.


How to Make Brown Hair Ashy For the First Time

Krysia McDonald is a licensed cosmetologist with 20+ years of experience. She is currently working at Plaine Products, a brand that specializes in natural and sustainable hair and body care products.

According to Krysia, ashy brown hair is cool-toned brunette colored hair, as opposed to brown hair with warm undertones like caramel or chocolate brown.

For best results, she recommends a trip to the salon to work with a professional stylist to achieve the desired ash brown shade. This professional touch is especially important for hair that has naturally red undertones, which can be particularly difficult to remove.

DIY Method

An easier, DIY method is to use a purple or silver shampoo, which will help control brassiness or orange tones. The purple or silver helps to balance out the unwanted brassiness, so cooler tones can emerge.

For hair that has been professionally colored to an ashy brown, the use of a purple or silver shampoo once or twice a week is a good idea to help maintain color. For additional washings, she’d recommend the use of a natural, sulfate-shampoo to help preserve color.

How to Make Your Brown Hair Ashy Again

If you had brown ashy hair but it began to turn brassy, there are some ways to fix it.

Kerry E Yates is a beauty expert and creator of Colour Collective. According to Kerry, there are 3 options that you can try to make your brown hair ashy again.

Easy At-Home Option

The easiest way to give brunette hair that cool ashy look is to utilize a blue-based shampoo. Try the DpHue Cool Brunette shampoo. The application of this shampoo mirrors your current hair washing process.

Here’s How To Use It:

  1. Wet hair
  2. Apply shampoo to the hair and massage from root to tip.
  3. Rinse, condition as normal.

After a single use, you can immediately see a cool tone present in your hair.

Warning, DO NOT use a blue-based shampoo more than once a week as a replacement for your normal shampoo. Overuse can cause staining and grabbing in porous areas making the hair look drab and in some cases turning the hair a dark blue.

Temporary Color Option

Roux Fanciful Rinse (Shade: Silver Lining) is a popular temporary hair color rinse that offers a great solution for toning down brassy effects and returning your hair to its beautiful ashy brunette.  This product is super easy to apply and requires no defined application skills.

Here’s How To Use It:

  1. On towel-dried, freshly washed hair, apply by gently squeezing product directly from the bottle starting at the root down through the mid-lengths and ends.
  2. Thoroughly saturate each strand. Each strand should receive a generous amount of product.
  3. Wring out any excess product over your sink.
  4. Dry your hair like you normally do.

The silver/blue shade will offset any warmth and will instantly turn your brunette locks back to your desired ashy tone.  As an added benefit, the light-setting lotion within the formula creates long-wearing, smooth, and frizz-free styles for days.

At Home Permanent Color Option

There are some amazing new at-home color lines currently available, Madison Reed is my personal favorite.  They offer multiple shades that will permanently color your hair with that rich ashy brown.

For Madison Reed products, be sure to look for shades that have the letter “A” within the shade name or description to ensure that you will get an “ashy” effect.

For at-home permanent color treatments, the application process requires a bit more care. However, Madison Reed products make the coloring process easy.

Inside a Madison Reed Color Product Box, You Will Find:

  1. a tube of hair color
  2. a bottle of color activator
  3. gloves
  4. a cap
  5. a stain remover
  6. a barrier cream
  7. color-protecting shampoo and conditioner

Here’s How You Use It: 

Before you start, note that you will need to apply the color mixture on hair that has not been washed for at least 2 days. The reason for applying color to slightly “dirty” hair is because dirty hair will have a light layer of sebum that can alleviate scalp sensitization.

If you are worried about the results. You can try to do a strand test. To do this, cut out a small section of about 1/4 inch wide strand of hair, tape it down on a tray, and apply the color mixture to the strand. Wait around 35 minutes and check the strand to see if it’s the color you want.

It is always a good idea to conduct an allergy test before applying permanent hair color to assess if you have any potential allergies. Proceed with the following steps once you have confirmed that the product does not irritate your skin.

  1. Apply barrier cream along your hairline, this prevents the color mixture from staining your skin.
  2. Section your hair into four quadrants; part along the center hairline and then from ear to ear.
  3. Wearing a button-down shirt that you hate (as you will get color on the shirt),  dispense the tube of color into the bottle of color activator.  Close the top and then shake to mix the product evenly.
  4. Once fully mixed, put on your gloves and prepare to apply the mixture to dry hair.
  5. Starting along the partings, gently squeeze the color mixture directly onto the roots.
  6. Take your gloved fingers and smooth along the hair shaft.
  7. After coloring the partings, tackle each section individually. For every section, take 1/4 inch sections and apply the color mixture directly on the hair root area while smoothing color along the shaft.  Repeat this process until the entire head is completed.
  8. Allow the product to work on your hair for 35 minutes. It’s a good idea to clean some product off your skin with a damp cloth while you wait.
  9.  Use the shampoo and conditioner that came with the kit to wash your hair. Remove any dye on your skin with the stain remover.
  10.  Blow-dry! The color results should last for 30+ days!

Ashy Brown Hair Ideas

If you are looking for some inspiration, check out some styling ideas and looks below that rock ashy brown hair!

Ashy Brown Long Waves


The ashy brown long waves look is simple and stunning! If you already have long brown hair, toning your hair ashy and then adding some waves is all you need to rock this look.

Ashy Brown Afro


For Afro lovers, the ash brown afro is a great choice. Pair the afro with dark lipstick and a lighter top can really make your hair stand out.

Ashy Brown Bun (Updo)


The ashy brown bun (updo) is great for those going to a workout or simply want to tie up their long hair. This look is simply beautiful and will work for both casual and formal occasions.

Ashy Brown Long Curls


The ashy brown long curls look is for curl lovers who are simply not satisfied with waves. This look will require more time with the curling iron but it’s definitely worth the work.

Ashy Brown Short Waves


If you’ve shoulder-length hair, then the ashy brown short waves style might be worth considering. Pair it with a light blue top and this is a real head turner!

Ashy Brown Long Straight Hair


This is by far the easiest way to rock your ashy brown hair. The look is even more stunning if you straighten your hair.

Ashy Brown Split Pony Tail


The split ponytail works great with ashy brown hair. You can also add curls at the end of your tail to spice things up. A light top works well for this look.

Is Ash Brown Hair Hard to Maintain?

Ash brown hair is not hard to maintain. It does require some habit changes and products to keep its shine.

Here are some tips to maintain your ash brown hair:

Wash Your Hair Less Often – Wash your hair only once a week. A bit of hair dye gets washed off each time you wash your hair. Therefore, the less you wash, the less hair dye you will wash away. Use a dry shampoo if your hair gets too greasy throughout the week.

Avoid the Sun – Sunlight can cause your ash brown hair to fade faster. Wear a hat or cap when you go outside to protect it from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Use a Conditioner and Avoid Sulfates – When you do wash your hair, use a conditioner to help keep your hair hydrated. This helps to keep the color of your hair longer. Avoid clarifying shampoos or products that contain sulfates because they can remove your hair dye.

Protect Your Hair When You Go Swimming – Chlorine in pool water and salt in lakes can cause your ash brown hair to fade. Wear a swim cap to protect your hair if you plan to go swimming.

Wash with Cold Water and Avoid Heat Styling Tools – Heat can cause your ash brown hair to fade much faster. Avoid washing your hair with hot water, use the cold setting on your blow dryer and avoid using any heat tools to style your hair.

Does Ash Brown Cover Grey Hair?

Yes, ash brown can cover grey hair. Ashy brown hair is generally a combination of brunette and cool tones. The trick to covering grey hair with ash brown is to select a color that is “darker”. An ash brown shade that is “too ashy” will not cover your greys well. This is because cool tones can’t cover hair that is already light, c to begin with.

Here are some of the best ash brown hair colors to cover grey hair:

L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme Permanent Hair Color (4A Dark Ash Brown – 100% Grey Coverage)

This permanent hair color from L’Oréal Paris is one of the best at-home coloring kits for covering grey hair with ash brown. This hair color is formulated with L’Oréal’s “triple protection system” that helps to seal, replenish and condition your hair. It comes with a ceramide pre-color treatment that helps to protect color-treated ends from color buildup. The hair color also contains pro-keratin complex and collagen that cares for your hair before, during, and after the treatment.

It does a good job covering grey hair, even the ones that are very stubborn.

Revlon Colorsilk (Medium Ash Brown – 100% Grey Coverage)

If you want to go slightly lighter than brown, the Revlon Colorsilk is another great choice for covering your grey hair with ash brown. This hair color is ammonia-free and enriched with keratin and amino acid to condition your hair. It uses Revlon’s 3D color Gel technology which delivers rich and natural-looking results.

This is a non-drip, liquid gel formula which allows the product to deposit rich pigments into your hair efficiently. It works great even on stubborn grey hair.

Is Cool Brown the Same as Ash Brown?

Cool brown is the same as ash brown. Cool brown and Ash brown hair is cool-toned brunette-colored hair. They have a cool blend of brown and silver. Choose dark ash brown if you have a warmer skin tone and a light ash brown if you have a cool skin tone.

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