The key to maintaining a head-turning blonde, silver or gray hue? Striking the right tone. Enter: purple shampoo and conditioner. These at-home treatments help to brighten, balance and beautify lightened hues—ideal for keeping your color-treated hair fresh between touch-ups or boosting the brilliance of your natural shade.
Here’s everything you need to know about how and when to use them.
What is purple shampoo?
Purple shampoo is a type of color-toning product. Color toners help to emphasize or deemphasize certain tones in your hair by depositing pigments (in this case, purple ones) onto your strands. There’s also purple conditioner, which has the same color-toning properties as purple shampoo with the bonus of added moisture, softening and smoothing. Together, they’re quite the color-beautifying bundle.
How does purple shampoo work?
If you’re familiar with color theory, you know that purple and yellow fall directly across from each other on the color wheel. (And if you didn’t, you do now!) As complementary colors, they effectively cancel each other out when mixed together. That’s the idea behind purple shampoo and conditioner: by depositing purple pigments onto the hair, they neutralize unwanted yellow undertones that make hair look brassy—so that your color stays the shade you want it to.
Is purple shampoo only for blonde hair?
Newsflash: Purple shampoo is not just for blondes! It’s actually a great option for anyone looking to keep their light-colored locks looking vibrant—including gray, silver and brown/dark hair with blonde highlights. Using a purple regimen can help banish and prevent brassiness in both color-treated and natural hair.
(P.S. If you were wondering, purple shampoo won’t really do anything for fully dark hair colors.)
What causes brassy hair, anyway?
Brassy hair happens when your color (natural or not) starts to fade. We all have warm undertones lurking in our locks, but damage from too much sun exposure, heat styling, chlorine or other stressors can fade the colors covering them up and bring out more of those yellow-y tints. That’s when bright, beautiful hair may become dull and brassy.
How to use purple shampoo + conditioner for the best results
Purple shampoo and conditioner banish brass to keep your color looking just as nature—or your stylist—intended. Here are some tips to make the most of these treatments in your routine:
- Don’t rinse them out too quickly. Depending on how much brass you’re dealing with, you’ll typically want to let your shampoo or conditioner sit for 2-5 minutes so it has time to do its toning.
- Always use conditioner. Purple shampoo can be drying, so be sure to follow up with a purple conditioner and/or your favorite color-protecting hair mask to restore lost moisture.
- Keep up the protection outside the shower, too. What’s better than banishing brassiness? Avoiding it altogether! Take care to treat your hair gently: use color-safe products, heat protectants, all that healthy stuff. And, y’know, do things like wear a hat when you’re out in the sun.
How often should you use purple shampoo + conditioner?
Fun as it is to basically fingerpaint your hair violet, using purple shampoo too often can overcorrect your color, leaving you with lilac-tinted locks or dull, darkened strands. For the best results, use your purple regimen no more than 2-3 times a week. And in between, make sure you’re using color-safe products to protect your hue.
How long should you leave purple shampoo + conditioner in your hair?
Leaving purple products in your hair longer than recommended (generally a few minutes at most) can also lead to the lilac tints or dark tones mentioned above. Rule of thumb? Stick to the instructions on the bottles, and you should be good to go.