Have you noticed that your once bright blonde or polished gray hair has become dull and brassy? There’s an easy way to fix it: Say hello to purple shampoo, the secret weapon relied upon by those with cool-colored hair. This violet-toned shampoo works wonders on blonde and gray hair to counteract unwanted yellow tones and restore vibrancy to strands in just a few minutes. Keep scrolling to learn how easy it is to use — plus, see the purple shampoo before and after photos that show how well it works.
What is purple shampoo?
Purple shampoo is a color-correcting and color-depositing shampoo that helps brighten and combat yellow tones in the hair, says Meaghan Phelps, a colorist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in New York City. It works based on color theory: since yellow and purple lie opposite from each other on the color wheel the shampoo’s purple tint cancels out any yellow tinges in hair to restore brightness to lighter locks.
Phelps says this shampoo can reduce brassiness and restore shine to both blonde and gray hair. And if you have salt and pepper hair, it can make the silver strands appear sharper. What’s more, the tinted shampoo extends the life of color and highlights, she adds so less touch ups are needed.
How does purple shampoo differ from blue shampoo?
“Blue shampoo works better for brunettes, [as it’s] made to counteract orange tones and are designed specifically for darker hair tones,” says hair colorist Rita Hazan, who’s worked with Beyonce and Mariah Carey. It also removes any orange tones from gray hair. Whereas, says Hazan, “purple shampoo works like a toner, fighting yellow tones and helping to cut salon trips” for those who color their hair blonde or have gray hair.
Who should use purple shampoo?
“Those with blonde hair or highlights should occasionally use purple shampoo to brighten up oxidized hair color,” says Phelps. Hazan agrees that blondes and gray hair colors are the best candidates for the treatment. “It’s best for maintaining their hair color’s depth and dimension to have a striking blonde shade, fight off yellow brassy tones and keep shade vibrant.”
One caveat: “If your hair is porous and can’t retain the moisture, it’s going to suck the pigment faster out of the product, says Dana Ionato, a colorist at Sally Hershberger NoMad Salon in New York City, who’s worked with Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson. “Those who do not have healthy hair are more likely to get a bad result from the shampoo. And if you see a professional colorist year-round, ask them their preference of purple shampoos.” They’ll know what works best for your hair. She adds that many brands make purple shampoos, but there are many options out there that aren’t great for various blonde and silver tones.
This instagram post from @cheveuxhairboutique shows how to know which hair tone purple shampoo works best on.
How to use purple shampoo
As far as how often to use this treatment, Hazan says to begin using it once a week when your color starts to appear dull. “It’s important to never overdo it with purple shampoo. While the results can be appealing, you don’t want your hair to become a violet color,” she warns. “Go about your normal hair routine and add in an extra rinse for the [purple] shampoo, then go in with your conditioner of choice. Make sure to not skip conditioner to add nourishment to the strands.”
Phelps says you can leave purple shampoo on in the shower for 3-5 minutes. “I don’t recommend any longer to avoid dullness. I encourage clients to use it when they are nearing a color appointment and just want to refresh before they get their color done,” she says. If used too frequently, purple shampoo can have the opposite effect on color, she adds. “It can cause the hair to look dull, gray and lackluster.”
Watch the video from @BlowoutProfessor on YouTube for more tips on using purple shampoo.
The best purple shampoos according to colorists
Clairol Shimmer Lights Purple Shampoo (Buy from Amazon, $15.99)
Ionato says this brightens up gray hair and removes the yellow tones. “It won’t actually turn the hair purple, because there’s nothing worse than being dyed purple when you just want to neutralize tones,” she says. It is a milkier, creamier consistency of a shampoo, she adds, and it doesn’t make hair too ashy.
Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo (Buy from Sephora, $30)
This pick is a favorite of Phelps’ because she finds it doesn’t dull the hair. She also says it’s user-friendly and simply just brightens blonde color without over-drying the hair.
Dae Violet Hour Purple Shampoo (Buy from Sephora, $30)
Hazan likes this formula because of its hair-nourishing properties as it contains plant extracts. Plus, she says it conditions the hair while addressing unwanted brassy tones at the same time.
Redken Blondage Shampoo (Buy from Redken, $26)
“This one I find a bit stronger of the purple shampoos, which is nice because it can be used less often,” says Phelps. To get the best results, rinse hair with this shampoo twice.
Philip B Icelandic Blonde Shampoo (Buy from Philip B., $48)
Phelps says this rich-toned purple shampoo does a nice job of brightening and combating yellow tones without over-drying hair or causing dullness.
Sun Bum Blonde Purple Shampoo (Buy from Amazon, $10.44)
Have silver or platinum hair? Ionato recommends this one since it’s a lavender hue that prevents lighter locks from turning purple. She adds that it’s “also good for natural blonde hair to take out yellow tones as it does not dry out the hair.”
Kérastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo (Buy from Sephora, $42)
Another favorite of Hazan’s, this shampoo is also formulated to protect against environmental factors. It’s “perfect for canceling out yellow tones and has hyaluronic acid to maintain hair health while preventing color fade,” she says.
Purple shampoo before and after photos
Instagram user @hairbylely shares a before and after using purple shampoo that shows how blonde hair went from brassy to beautiful.
Instagram user @haircolorkim shares her client’s refreshed blonde hair after using purple shampoo.
Curious about how purple shampoo works on dark hair with blonde highlights? TikToker @findingfiona showcased just that and how the treatment got rid of unwanted warm tones in her hair.
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