Professional Hair Colorists Say Brunettes With Highlights Need To Use Blue Shampoo, Not Purple—So I Tried It
Purple shampoo is a blonde's best friend. The violet formulas work to neutralize yellow tones to leave strands looking whiter and brighter, and most stylists consider them a non-negotiable for maintaining your color between appointments. As a natural brunette with golden highlights, I've always assumed that just like my blonde friends, I too should be treating my strands to a regular lavender lather. But after my most recent appointment at Rob Petoom Salon in Brooklyn, I learned that there's an even better type of toning shampoo that I should turn to keep my balayage bright.
Enter: Blue shampoo. According to Emily Claire, a Davines colorist at Rob Petoom, cobalt-colored formulas are more effective than their purple counterparts for maintaining highlights on darker hair.
"[In general,] 'tinted' or 'toning' shampoos are meant to act as a 'quick touch up' in between lightening services—they help make the gloss you got at the salon last longer," says Claire. "Unlike purple shampoos, which are meant to neutralize light yellow tones in the hair to reveal an icy blonde, blue shampoos are meant to either reduce brassiness found in brunettes or reduce darker yellow tones in blonde hair to reveal a beige or champagne blonde."
How does blue shampoo work?
To understand how it works, think back to color theory 101. Because blue sits opposite orange on the color wheel (the same way purple sits opposite yellow), it's better for neutralizing the type of orange-y discoloration that tends to appear when golden highlights start to fade.
“You want to go opposite of the color wheel, so the color on the opposite end of orange is blue,” confirms Matrix celebrity colorist George Papanikolas. “Use gentle, hydrating formulas that keep the cuticle tight. Anything volumizing will cause the cuticle to swell, and your color will fade faster.”
The blue shampoo and conditioner I used
Per Claire's recommendation, I swapped my standard purple shampoo for Davines Heart of Glass Silkening Shampoo ($36) and Rich Conditioner ($42), a blue-hued duo that fits Papnikolas's criteria and is specifically designed for maintaining highlights on brown hair.
Both products—which, by the way, are the prettiest shade of periwinkle—use jagua blue extract that comes from a sustainably-sourced fruit in the Colombian rainforest to neutralize orange tones and enhance shine. Beyond that, each step does its standard job: the shampoo cleanses and clarifies the scalp while the conditioner offers moisturizing and repairing benefits.
Following Claire's directions, I started my toning routine three weeks after my color appointment, and have continued to use the blue products twice a month since. "I tell people to use them 'as needed,' and for most people that means one to three times a month," she says. "An important note is that if you find yourself having to use it more than that, there is something worth looking into. It could mean you need a new filtered head on your shower, or it could mean that the shampoo you're using to wash regularly is stripping your toner off."
In my case, twice a month has been a perfect balance. Davines' blue shampoo and conditioner have given me the type of gorgeous, golden highlights people can't stop complimenting—even dozens of washes and heat-styling sessions later (and not to toot my own horn, but even I've gotta admit they look good). So to all my brightened brunettes out there: Do yourself a favor and add some blue shampoo to your routine, too . Shop a few of our favorite options below.
Papanikolas previously recommended this drugstore blue shampoo, which will keep golden highlights fresh while also infusing the hair with moisture and shine.
Designed for color-treated curls, this “no poo” treatment will reduce brassiness without stripping your strands.
In lieu of a blue shampoo (or, if you’re really feeling brassy, in combination with it), try a blue treatment mask. This particular formula will revive your color while quenching your hair with moisture and repairing damage in only five minutes.
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