Is your blonde hair starting to give way to brassy undertones? Put down the phone—there’s no need for a full touch up appointment (just yet). Instead, reach for a bottle of purple shampoo. This miracle multitasking product acts as both a cleanser and a toner, easily curbing brassy tones and extending the life and look of your color-treated hair. But how exactly does purple shampoo work? And what's the right way to use it? We've broken all this down for you below with the help of hair colorist and blonde hair expert Lana Grand. Read on to become an expert in this essential hair product for blondes—and even some brunettes, too! We've even highlighted some of our favorite formulas below.
About the Expert:
Grand explains that once you color-treat your hair, it becomes more porous and susceptible to absorbing things like mineral deposits from water, build-up from hair products and heat styling, and damage from the sun, chlorine, and pollution. "These can all cause your hair color tone to change, usually exposing the natural underlying pigments of blonde, which are yellow and orange tones."
Here's where purple shampoos come into play. "Purple is the full opposite of yellow on the color wheel," says Grand. "That's why it cools the gold and brassy tones down." Essentially, because the two are complementary colors, they cancel each other out, and as a result, your yellow tones are eliminated and the hair looks bright, refreshed, and more like it did when you left the salon.
"The best purple shampoos tend to be densely pigmented," says Grand. Rich pigments are essential to getting the most out of purple shampoo's toning and color-correcting qualities. "Don't get scared when using one for the first time," she says. "A good purple shampoo will be rich, dark purple."
"Some purple shampoos can be more drying than others," says Grand. Just like when searching for a normal shampoo, you always want to look for shampoo formulas that are paraben and sulfate-free as they can strip color and dry out the hair. The primary concern associated with using purple toning shampoo is not necessarily hair damage but altering the color too much. "Bleached and/or damaged hair, will absorb more of the purple pigment than healthier or darker shades," says Grand. If the hair takes on too much of the purple pigments, it could turn your hair purple or give it a lavender-like tint.
If you have dry, high porosity, or damaged hair, be sure to use the shampoo according to the directions. You might even consider leaving it in for less than the recommended amount of time to start. Repairing the strength of your hair with conditioners and hydrating hair masks will also make the hair healthier overall and therefore less likely to take on too much color.
Incorporating purple shampoo into your hair care routine is extremely easy. Simply wet the hair in the shower with warm water and swap your normal go-to shampoo for your chosen purple shampoo formula. Incorporate the product from the roots to the ends. "Let the shampoo sit on your hair for a few minutes if your hair is really brassy," says Grand.
As a general guide, blondes with warm tones should wait about one to three minutes before rinsing. Neutral blondes should wait three to five minutes. Cool blondes, bleach blondes, and those with silver hair should leave it on the longest, waiting about five to fifteen minutes before rinsing. If you have damaged, dry hair, Grand says to remember to use caution. Try using it for a little less time than what is recommended for those with healthier color-treated hair. After you've rinsed the purple shampoo out, lather on your favorite hair conditioner to replenish moisture and boost shine.
How frequently you use this hair care product will depend on how much violet pigment the shampoo contains and how much of a toning and brightening boost you need. Typically, "a good purple shampoo would only require using it every other time or a few times a month," says Grand.
If you're new to purple shampoo, start slowly by swapping it out for your regular shampoo once every other week or so and gauge how much it alters your hair color. If you're finding that there's still too much brassiness and yellow tones, begin to use it more frequently. If it's looking too ashy or too purple, use it less often or opt for a less pigmented formula.
While purple shampoo and blonde hair are two peas in a pod, this hair care product can also come in handy for some brunettes. Those with dark brown hair probably won't notice much of a change in the hair's appearance after using purple shampoo or purple conditioner (we recommend blue shampoo in that case). But if you're a brunette with blonde highlights or balayage, purple shampoo can neutralize and brighten up these sections of lightened, colored hair.
Now that you know all about what purple shampoo can do and how to use it, it's time to find the best purple shampoo for you. Here are two of our favorite formulas.
These convenient toning drops allow you to transform your normal shampoo into a toning shampoo by simply adding individual drops to your go-to product. How many drops you add will depend on how brassy your hair is and how light or dark it is. Platinum blondes in need of light toning will only need one to three drops whereas a brunette with blonde highlights in need of more toning may need anywhere between seven to nine drops.
To give your hair a break from all the processing and chemicals, this essential duo uses rich, naturally-derived purple pigments like purple sage oil and butterfly pea extract to brighten blonde and silver hair colors. This set also works to repair the hair's keratin, prevent future breakage, hydrates each and every strand with hyaluronic acid.
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