How To Use Purple Shampoo Correctly, According to Colorists

Photo: Photo: Stocksy / Drew Schrimsher
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Platinum blonde hair is known for its gorgeous bright color, yes, but it’s also notorious for its dedicated upkeep. That’s because the color can quickly look artificial thanks to roots growing in and the overall hue transforming from bright to brassy. Before you book a hair appointment every two weeks to maintain it, though, remember that purple shampoo exists for this exact reason: to keep platinum hair looking its best between salon appointments. Now that you know what purple shampoo is used for, it’s time to learn how to use its magic (and shop our top picks for the best purple shampoo). 

Experts In This Article

The tinted cleanser breathes new life into dulling color desperate for pro help. "Purple shampoo is used as a very gentle way of controlling extra yellow tones in your hair, which is the underlying pigment in light blonde hair—especially for blondes or those with blonde highlights," explains colorist Juliana Ohlmeyer. "Essentially it is a way to upkeep your blonde at home in between color services." Since purple shampoos don't have ammonia in them, she adds, they're not a permanent solution but rather a temporary fix. They won't totally stand in for your colorist, but they can at least tone down the brassiness between visits. And, since they can stretch the window between appointments, they can lend to your overall hair health, too, considering too-frequent platinum dye jobs can wreak havoc on hair.

Whatever you do, though, don’t just grab any purple shampoo and go to town. Because newsflash: There’s a right way and a wrong way to use purple shampoo (spoiler: leaving purple shampoo in hair for an hour isn’t the right way). When used correctly, the best purple shampoo will quickly become any blonde’s BFF beauty product; when used incorrectly, it can lead to less-than-stellar results. With that in mind, keep reading to learn how to use purple shampoo by way of the top three mistakes to avoid when using the color-correcting hair product. Plus, find out our top picks for the best purple shampoo for blonde hair (and some fantastic options for purple shampoo for gray hair) ahead.

3 most common purple shampoo mistakes and how to use it correctly

1. You’re overusing it.

Most purple shampoos should not replace your regular cleanser every day—or even multiple times per week. While you’re likely curious about how often you should use purple shampoo, the answer is largely subjective. Ohlmeyer suggests speaking to your stylist about the best product for you and how often to apply it since it varies by hair type and exact color. Otherwise, an overdose of cool-toned purple could make your hair appear darker and duller. Limited use allows for the warmer tones in your strands to reflect more light for a healthier overall look.

2. You’re applying it incorrectly.

Purple shampoo is still shampoo, so you might think that the best way to use it is by massaging it into your strands and quickly rinsing it out. Ohlmeyer, however, advises slowing down the process for better results. "Rinsing it off too quickly makes it less effective," she says. "Applying it on damp, towel-dried hair as if you were applying a mask, combing it through evenly, and leaving it alone for three to seven minutes is the most effective [way to use purple shampoo]."

3. You’re using purple shampoo on the wrong hair type.

When thinking about how to apply purple shampoo, it’s important to also consider your hair type. After all, you could be making a mistake just by using purple shampoo. "Purple shampoos tend to be drying," Ohlmeyer says. "I prefer my clients use a nourishing and hydrating shampoo, and follow up with a purple mask or conditioner." If your hair tends not to hold moisture or is dried out due to winter weather (or constant platinum touch-ups), it might be a better bet to skip the toning shampoo in favor of a purple conditioner, mask, or toning drops meant to serve the same purpose.

How long should I leave purple shampoo in my hair?

“The longer you leave purple shampoo in, the more pigmented the purple will be,” says Tiffanie Richards, a colorist and blonde specialist at Louise O'Connor Salon. With this in mind, she recommends starting with less at first to get an idea of how your hair takes to the purple shampoo. “The texture of your hair has a lot to do with timing — if your hair is extremely porous it will soak up the ash tone of the purple very fast and potentially turn a grayish color.” 

To take a “less is more” approach with purple shampoo, you either leave the shampoo on strands for half the recommended amount of time or you can even try mixing a little bit of the formula into your regular shampoo to dilute the pigment.  

Do you use purple shampoo before or after regular shampoo?

When using purple shampoo, you don’t technically have to use a regular shampoo alongside it. However, if you take the double cleanse approach, Devin Graciano, hair stylist and head of product development at Goldie Locks says the best approach is to first use a regular shampoo and then follow up with the purple shampoo. The reason for this is that the normal shampoo can actually strip the purple pigment, reversing the effects of the tinted shampoo. “I always use a clarifying shampoo first,” says Kenna Ehman, a hairstylist, and co-owner of Kenna Kunijo. “The reason for this is that you want to get all of the build-up and oil out of your hair before putting that pigment in there, otherwise it will take unevenly to your hair,” she adds.  

Will purple shampoo lighten hair?

Although purple shampoo might create the illusion of lighter hair, Richards says it doesn’t actually have a lightening effect. “Purple counteracts yellow and taking yellow tone out of the hair will make it appear more neutral which can therefore appear lighter,” she explains. Instead, purple shampoo provides a brightening effect that cools the blonde and gray. 

Things to consider before buying purple shampoo

Hair Type:

As with any shampoo, it’s important to think about your hair type and look for a formula that best suits your needs. Some purple shampoos are formulated with deeply nourishing ingredients that can provide hydration and even strengthen strands of dry hair that are prone to breakage. Other purple shampoo formulas are a little more clarifying and might work better on oily hair types to help balance sebum production and provide a good cleanse that doesn’t weigh down the hair. 


It’s also worth considering the sizes available as this can either make a product more expensive or add to its overall value. Additionally, some purple shampoos come in travel-sized bottles which make it easier to tone on the go without having to check your bags.  

Moisturizing Ingredients:

“To support the health and luster of your hair, it is important to ensure your purple shampoo is leaving behind hydrating ingredients that won’t weigh your hair down,” says Graciano. She recommends looking for ingredients such as glycerin which is a natural humectant and keeps hair’s hydration balanced. 

Frequency of Use:

As far as the usage is concerned, Ehman says “Overusing purple shampoo can cause your hair to have too much pigment in it, so if you’re starting to see a purple tint, back off a little bit.” In general, it’s best to shampoo hair with purple shampoo no more than once a week in order to tone strands as daily could add too much purple to strands and essentially over-tone the hair. 


When shopping for purple shampoo, Richards says more expensive shampoos tend to be worth the investment as their pigments are a bit stronger than cheaper formulas. “Inexpensive purple shampoo tends to be more sheer,” she explains, noting that richer pigment can give more immediate and effective results. 

The best purple shampoos for every hair type

Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer™ Toning Purple Shampoo — $30.00

One of the best purple shampoos for blonde hair is the Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer™ Toning Purple Shampoo, which is designed for all hair types, especially those with dry and dull strands that are in need of a little boost. This shampoo is a bit on the clarifying side of the spectrum so while we don’t recommend it for daily use, it works well as a weekly treatment for blonde and gray hair, helping to tone strands by up to three shades. The formula also features an ingredient called Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, which can rebuild and repair broken or weakened bonds for stronger and healthier strands, too.

Hair Type: All hair types, especially dry hair

Size: 8.5 ounces


  • In addition to toning blonde hair, this Olaplex shampoo also hydrates and repairs dry strands.
  • The formula features Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, which rebuilds broken bonds.
  • It can brighten blondes by up to three shades.


  • It’s a little on the clarifying side of the spectrum, so we don’t recommend it for daily use.
Amika Bust Your Brass Blonde Purple Shampoo — $28.00

Amika is one of our go-to haircare brands for all things shampoo and conditioner, and the brand’s purple shampoo doesn’t disappoint. The Bust Your Brass Blonde Purple Shampoo is designed for all hair types, especially those with dry or damaged strands that need a little elevation. It’s formulated with lots of nourishing ingredients, including a blend of vegan proteins that provides benefits that are similar to keratin (which includes strengthening strands and decreasing frizz) and the brand’s Bond Cure Technology for targeting hair bonds prone to breakage. With the inclusion of ultra-violet pigments, the shampoo has a counter affect on yellow hues for a cooler-toned blonde.

Hair Type: All hair types, especially damaged hair

Size: 16.9, 9.2 ounces


  • The shampoo has vegan proteins which provide benefits similar to keratin.
  • It’s formulated for all hair types, but those with damaged strands will benefit the most thanks to its Bond Cure Technology.
  • It has adorable packaging that is made from recycled materials.


  • We wish it was a little easier to spread onto strands.
VERB Purple Shampoo — $20.00

Another purple shampoo we love is the VERB Purple Shampoo. This purple shampoo is formulated with lots of amazing haircare ingredients including acai berries which are rich in antioxidants and can protect strands from environmental aggressors, coconut fatty acids for deep conditioning benefits, and frankincense oil which adds shine and lightly scents the formula. In addition to the nourishing formula, the shampoo also works well at lifting brassiness and providing a cooling effect on blondes and grays. Plus, you can purchase it in a large 32-ounce bottle for less than $50 which is a total steal for a shampoo of this quality.

Hair Type: All hair types

Size: 12, 32 ounces


  • You can purchase it in an extra large 32-ounce bottle.
  • Its formula features acai berries which provide beneficial antioxidants.
  • It features coconut fatty acids for a conditioning and hydrating effect.


  • It has a frankincense oil scent which some might not prefer.
Dae Violet Hour Purple Shampoo — $30.00

Dae is another one of our favorite haircare brands for its deeply nourishing formulas and incredible scents. The Violet Hour Purple Shampoo is a little on the expensive side but it’s definitely worth the splurge thanks to its potent formula featuring cactus flower extract to strengthen hair and promote a healthy scalp, quinoa protein for moisture retention and hair growth promotion, and moringa leaf extract which can restore moisture in dry strands. In addition to its revitalizing formula, the Dae shampoo isn’t just designed to brighten and tone blondes but also enhance dimension in blondes, grays, and even lighter brunettes.

Hair Type: All hair types

Size: 10 ounces


  • It’s designed to quench dry strands in addition to toning hair color.
  • The formula features quinoa proteins to promote hair growth and seal the cuticle.
  • It smells amazing.


  • The bottle is a little small, considering the price.
Goldie Locks Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo — $42.00

Formulated with lots of nourishing ingredients including avocado oil and glycerin, the Goldie Locks Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo is an excellent formula for those with dry hair who need a little more vibrancy and pH-balancing hydration. In addition to avocado oil and glycerin, the purple shampoo also features sunflower for its antioxidants and a brightening complex made from blueberries and purple yams for toning brassy blonde. What sets this shampoo formula apart from other purple shampoos is the fact that it’s also made with extensions in mind and can help extend the life of blonde extensions.

Hair Type: All hair types

Size: 8.45 ounces


  • It has a pH-balancing formula.
  • We love that it’s formulated to extend the life of blonde extensions.
  • It’s formulated with nourishing and hydrating avocado oil and glycerin.


  • It has a coconut sandalwood musk scent that we love but might not be preferred by some.
  • It’s a little on the expensive side (but if you use it as a treatment, it lasts a long time).
Bondi Boost Blonde Baby Duo — $59.90

If you want a shampoo and conditioner duo that revitalizes dry strands and tones out brass, we love the Bondi Boost Blonde Baby Duoe, which is formulated with a potent blend of vitamin B5, argan oil, avocado oil, and jojoba oil for deep nourishment and hydration. With all of these amazing ingredients, the shampoo and conditioner work in tandem to soften hair and keep frizz at bay. While the formulas are technically designed for all hair types, customers say it’s best for dry hair since the nourishment might feel a little too heavy on oily hair types.

Hair Type: All hair types, especially dry and color-treated hair

Size: 16.90 ounces


  • You get double the brass-busting with this shampoo and conditioner duo.
  • It’s formulated with a powerful nourishing blend of vitamin B5, argan oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil.
  • It provides locks with a softening effect while keeping frizz at bay.


  • It’s a little heavy for oily hair types.

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