Hair-Care Tips

‘I’m a Colorist, and You’re Making a Big Mistake With That Purple Shampoo’

Photo: Photo: Stocksy / Drew Schrimsher
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.

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. When used correctly, 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.

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.

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