photos/post: Kristin Ess graphic design: Eunice Chun

If you’re a blonde or even if you have highlights on darker hair, you know that over time the color can turn a hot shade of mellow yellow. It’s hard to get excited about your hair when the tone is off. (Trumpets) Enter purple shampoo. I’ve been using various purple shampoos on my clients for many years. I can tell when someone blonde/highlighted uses it vs. someone who doesn’t and the ones who do tend to come in less often and are happier with their color for a longer period of time. Purple is exact opposite of yellow on the color wheel, which is why it cools the gold/brass tones down. The last time we mentioned purple shampoo in a post, one or two readers expressed their skepticism about whether it works or not. It does, but it’s really important to research and find the right one. The best purple shampoos tend to be so densely pigmented that using it the first time can actually be a little scary. Don’t fret– I’d hope no brand would put a purple shampoo on the shelves that would ruin your hair. A good purple shampoo will be dark purple, not light purple, and it shouldn’t be transparent. You see how dark the one is above? That’s what you should look for. Here’s a photo of one of my clients before and after she started using purple shampoo for the first time. It makes a huge difference in a good way…

Purple shampoo pointers…

  • When you first start using purple shampoo, use it every other time you shampoo and then adjust your useage from there. If you find that it’s still brassy, start using it every time you shampoo. If you see it starting to get just a touch too ashy, slow your usage. I have clients who use it once a week and some who use it every time they shampoo. It really depends on the type of hair you have (and the amount of yellow you’re trying to combat.)
  • If you’re all over blonde, apply a good amount of purple shampoo to the root and let it run out through the ends as you lather and rinse. Typically the top of your hair is more golden/brassy than the ends (if you’re blonde) so you’d want the most concentrated amount up top. The ends are more porous and will grab the color faster so it doesn’t need to stay on the ends as long. Just let it drizzle through the ends and they will catch the color.
  • If you’re not a blonde but have blonde or caramel highlights on hair that’s darker, you’ll want to only apply purple shampoo where you have lightened hair. You can always shampoo your hair with something else up top and then apply the purple toning shampoo to the lighter bits that tend to get brassy.
  • If your hair gets really yellow, let the purple shampoo sit on for 5 min. If you’re just fighting a minimal amount of brass,  a minute or two will be sufficient.
  • If you have a medicated scalp shampoo or just a shampoo that you can’t live without, you can always shampoo twice– once using your regular shampoo to get your hair clean or your scalp taken care of and then once with the purple to tone. I’ve always shampooed my (and my client’s hair) twice to get a super clean canvas for styling. So when I was blonde, I would shampoo once with a cleansing shampoo and then once with purple to tone. Typically purple shampoos aren’t known for their cleansing properties so if you need to get your scalp really clean, try using the two shampoo method.
  • Purple conditioners– not a fan. I would rather not tone the hair twice. It becomes too much and can lead to an ashy tone if you over do it with both shampoo and conditioner. Purple shampoo followed by a good condtioner is more than enough.
  • If, by chance, you ever over-do it and take it one purple shampoo too far, don’t worry. Just hop back in the shower and shampoo with a non-purple shampoo and it will fade off.

My 3 favorite purple shampoos are: THIS ONE called Color Save by Schwarzkopf, THIS ONE called Blonda by Unite, and THIS ONE called Color Endure by Joico. The Schwarzkopf one is my over all award-winner favorite and the one I tell every one of my blonde/highlighted clients to get. The Joico purple shampoo is sulfate free and good for those blondes who have brazilian blowouts or keratin treatments who need to tone down yellow. The Unite purple shampoo is another favorite that does a great job of restoring a more neutral blonde (and it smells delicious!)

Have  you used purple shampoo? Are you terrified? Do you have a great purple shampoo you’d like to share? You know the drill… spill it!