We love yellow. It’s charming in daffodils, daisies and kids’ paintings of happy, smiley suns. But when it comes to hair color, “yellow” does not make us happy. It is just plain cringe-worthy. No one wants yellow-blonde hair. If you’ve found yourself asking, “Why is my blonde hair turning yellow?” Don’t panic.

At Color Wow, we don’t take our blonde lightly, or for granted. It’s a precious commodity (um, kind of a big investment of time and $ at the salon). Not to mention that color-treated blonde hair can be fragile to boot. So we treat it right. And none of us wants to see luxe, ashy, cool blonde tones turn a yellow blonde that looks cheap, flashy and brassy.

So today we’re taking a trip to the Color Wow Lab to learn how to keep blonde hair from turning yellow, and why it happens in the first place.

Our go-to guy to explain the WHY in yellowing hair is Dr. Joe Cincotta, Color Wow’s beauty chemist extraordinaire and undisputed expert of all things “hair”.

Why does blonde hair turn yellow?

Dr. Joe told us there are three main reasons blonde hair turns yellow. Two of them have to do with hair color chemistry and the environment.  But the third reason your hair turns yellow will really take you by surprise, so that’s the key intel we want to share with you RIGHT NOW! Because it’s something we take super seriously at Color Wow.

One other possible reason could be ingredients.

“Ingredients (fragrances, chemicals) commonly used to make many hair care products will make your hair yellower with every use,” Dr. Joe says.

What??!! How can that be?

Dr. Joe went on to explain: “When companies make hair products (even totally organic formulas) they choose ingredients based on the results they want to achieve without considering the fact that these ingredients can actually have a negative impact on color. Their good intentions for hair texture end up often having really bad side effects on hair color.”

We asked Dr. Joe to break it down for us.

Dr. Joe explained that there are two ways that certain ingredients can make your hair turn yellow: by the process of oxidation OR by staining (actually depositing a yellow tint). Then he went on to explain more in detail. (Warning: Things are about to get a little technical.)

1. Oxidation changes your hair color

“Oxidation” is the yellowing, darkening response that happens when nitrogen-containing compounds are exposed to UV light and air. Why should you care, and what does that matter for your hair? Because most products today are made from ingredients (conditioning agents, styling resins and proteins/amino acids) that contain nitrogen compounds.

When you use these products, whether conditioners, sprays or heat stylers, you are literally loading your hair up with nitrogen-compounds. Which is 100% guaranteed to darken and yellow your hair color a little bit more everyday.

Yikes! Chemical agents attacking and yellowing your color! Makes you want to run straight to pure, organic hair care brands, right? Well...hold that thought.

2. Natural ingredients stain and alter hair

So, if you recall.... chemical oxidation from synthetic ingredients is one way hair turns yellow. The other is “staining”, and that is where natural ingredients come into play in a big way. 

According to Dr. Joe, “natural” ingredients, which most of us assume to be safe and gentle in every regard, can really do a number on your hair color. His list of natural ingredients that can cause hair to take on harsh yellow hues includes:

  • Fruit and citrus-based extracts (such as apple, lemon, orange, goji berry, melon, avocado, pumpkin)
  • Vegetables extracts (like carrot, tomato, sweet potato)

Another natural ingredient to avoid? Fragrances, especially those with a high level of citrus extract. Fragrances will give hair a yellow caste, as will essential oil blends like rosemary, vanilla, eucalyptus and peppermint.

How to get rid of yellow blonde hair

Like most problems, it's about prevention first. Then, correction as needed!

First and foremost: Choose hair products that give you great styling options, protect your hair’s health, and have no ingredients that will distort your color

We developed our Color Wow products to meet this “higher standard of care”. Of course, our products have no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, DEA, and are gluten-free, cruelty free. But when it comes to ingredients, we’ve raised the bar. Ninety-five percent of our formulas have heat protectant built in to help keep your hair its healthiest.

And (this is where Color Wow is unique!) we scrupulously vet all of our ingredients to ensure there will be no negative impact on your hair color. In fact, we've officially banned over 60 commonly used ingredients from Color Wow formulas (our "never-never-list") to help protect the integrity of your color.

While most conditioners and hair sprays will oxidize and yellow your hair, these Color Wow formulas never will!

Color Security Conditioners are made with unique conditioning agents that will not oxidize and are also translucent so they will not yellow or darken your hair.

Cult Favorite Firm and Flexible Hairspray is truly one-of-a-kind because the styling resins we use will never yellow, darken, or cloud your color.

But...if your hair color skews yellow and brassy (which could be caused by the environment or your hair color chemicals) we’ve got easy, effective answers.

Dream Filter Pre-Shampoo Mineral Remover Spray
works in 3 minutes to remove minerals from water that oxidize and turn hair yellow and brassy.

Color Control Toning Foam is a leave-in foam (lavender for blondes, blue for brunettes) that neutralizes brassy yellow and orange tones, and delivers fresher, brighter color, and renewed bounce.

Count on Color Wow to keep your color tones fresh, cool, and un-brassy. And to help make sure you never have to suffer from the “yellow hair blues”. 

Take a look at our collection of products specially formulated for brassy hair for more inspiration on how to keep blonde hair turning yellow.


Read more about banishing brassiness on the Color Wow Blog:

  • What does purple shampoo do?
  • How to keep your color fresher for longer
  • Is hard water bad for your hair?

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