If blondes have more fun, there’s a reason: They need to make up for all the man-hours spent keeping up with the world’s most coveted hair color. (Yeah, we know, you were born with it, but humor us.) From single-process dye jobs to highlights to seeking out the perfect pillowcase, it’s tough work caring for all those golden locks, and things like pollution and sun damage aren’t helping matters. But what if we told you a silent villain could be sabotaging all of your efforts to achieve the G.H.O.A.T., turning blonde strands brassy without you even knowing it?
We’re talking about your shower—that warm friend who happily greets you at the end of each day and the start of every new one—but more specifically, the sediment found in the water that runs out of it. Before you go rolling your eyes and swiping left, hear us out.
“If you live in an old building or home, the mineral buildup in the pipes can start to deposit color on your hair,” says Marcy Cline, a colorist and educator at Bumble and Bumble in New York City’s Meatpacking District. “Generally speaking, if it’s from your pipes, it will result in a gold-to-green brass.”
That’s not just an urban legend. We also reached out to Chuck White, the vice president of regulatory affairs for the (and a natural blonde), and while he was very clear that he has never experienced it, he didn’t outright dismiss it.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of that, but if you have water with high iron levels, I can see how it’s possible,” he says, also mentioning copper, which has been the primary material for plumbing pipes since forever. “But without someone testing the water,” he says, “it’s really just a guessing game.”
Sooo you’re saying there’s a chance!
The good news is that there are plenty of easy ways to combat this silent hair killer. Both White and Cline suggest investing in a filtering system that can be connected directly to your shower pipe (more powerful ones can be placed at your home’s water source). While most water softeners are designed to target calcium, they can also help eliminate the trace metals and impurities that are turning your blonde hair brassy. Cline likes the AquaBliss High Output Universal Shower Replaceable Multi Stage Filter.
Short of installing hardware, you can also restore locks to their flaxen sheen by switching out your bargain shampoo for one that’s chemically designed to battle brassiness. Cline recommends using once a week to remove buildup, while Zoe Wiepert, her colleague at Bumble and Bumble in Midtown Manhattan, suggests and to help maintain tone between visits. Cline adds, “If you have reason to believe the brassiness is coming from the pipes, I would not recommend using purple shampoo [which typically neutralizes brassy tones] without removing the buildup first.”
Of course, it’s more probable that your brassy hair is the result of several hard-to-diagnose factors. “It’s possible that hair can turn brassy from the minerals in water, but most likely it happens when the hair is processed blonde,” Wiepert says. “Blonde hair is more porous than dark hair; going from dark to light causes the cuticle to become thinner and less sustainable to the elements—including hot tools, sun exposure, buildup of products, even second-hand smoke. But it’s also possible that the color was not lifted light enough to begin with during the dyeing process.”
Still, every battle helps win the war against brassiness. Consider it one small step for blondes, one giant leap for blonde-kind.
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