Hair-Care Tips

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

Erin Bunch

Photo: Photo: Stocksy / Drew Schrimsher

This year has made it all but impossible for me to hit the salon as often as needed to upkeep my platinum blonde hair. Like everyone else, I’ve been relying more and more on at-home tricks to keep my color fresh in times when regular appointments with a professional cannot be relied upon. The best tip I’ve found? Purple shampoo, which is my main squeeze for maintaining bright blonde hair.

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.

That is, unless you’re using them the wrong way, which apparently I have been. The last time I saw my stylist, he was like, “Girl, step away from the purple shampoo.” According to Ohlmeyer, I’m not alone in failing at what should be the simple art of shampooing. Below, she unpacks the biggest mistakes she sees clients making when it comes to what should, if used properly, be a blonde’s BBF (best beauty friend).

3 most common purple shampoo mistakes

1. Overuse 

Most purple shampoos should not replace your regular cleanser every day—or even multiple times per week. Speak to your stylist about the best product for you and how often to apply it (mine suggests once every two weeks). Otherwise, an overdose of cool-toned purple could make your hair appear darker and more dull.  Limited use allows for the warmer tones in your strands to reflect more light for a healthier overall look.

2. Incorrect application

If you’re anything like me, you might rub your purple shampoo in quickly, as you would your regular shampoo, and then rinse it off and be done with it. 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.”

3. Using purple shampoo (yep, you read that correctly)

That’s right: You could be making a mistake just by using purple shampoo. “Purple shampoos tend to be drying,” she says. “I prefer my clients use a 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, it might be a better bet to skip the toning shampoo in favor of a conditioner or mask meant to serve the same purpose. Or shop a combo shampoo-and-conditioner set, which help tone down brassiness and maintain your overall hair health.

Best purple shampoos, conditioners, and masks

1. Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask in Baby Blonde, $53

christophe-robin-baby-blonde
Photo: Christophe Robin

Baby Blonde is a hydrating mask meant to be left onto towel-dried hair for five to 30 minutes, depending on the desired intensity. It’s made from lush plant butters combined with an acidic pH to fix oxidation and evenly distribute color.

Shop now: Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask in Baby Blonde, $53

2. Davines Alchemic Silver Shampoo, $27, and Alchemic Silver Conditioner, $31

davines-silver
Photo: Davines

This shampoo and conditioner set is meant to work magic on platinum and cool-blonde tones, replacing brassiness with brightness sans sulphates and other harsh chemicals. And while some purple shampoos are indeed drying, this one is infused with moisturizing vitamin B.

Shop now: Davines Alchemic Silver Shampoo, $27 and Alchemic Silver Conditioner, $31

3. Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel, $13

kevin-murphy-angel-wash
Photo: Kevin Murphy

Angel Wash works on any blonde hue and is gentle enough to handle damaged hair. Its calming lavender scent smells absolutely (appropriately) heavenly.

Shop now: Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel, $13

4. Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo, $46, and Bright Blonde Conditioner, $48

oribe-bright-blonde
Photo: Oribe

Gentle enough to be used daily, this combo relies on violet and pearlized pigments to tone down brassiness and play up shine and brightness.

Shop now: Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo, $46 & Bright Blonde Conditioner, $48

5. Shu Uemura Color Lustre Shades Reviving Balm in Cool Blonde, $59

shu-uemura-color-lustre-cool-shades-reviving-hair-balm (1)
Photo: Shu Uemura

Apply this nourishing balm treatment after you shampoo to tone down brassiness and fading. Its linseed oil helps keep an even tone throughout the hair length for foolproof use.

Shop now: Shu Uemura Color Lustre Shades Reviving Balm in Cool Blonde, $59

6. IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Blonde Toning Drops, $29

IGK-mixed-feelings
Photo: IGK

If you just can’t bear to use anything but your go-to shampoo and conditioner yet want to banish brassiness, fret not. This product mixes with any other to give your blonde a refresh. You can even add it into leave-in products for a more pronounced effect.

Shop now: IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Blonde Toning Drops, $29

7. Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo, $17, and Color Balance Purple Conditioner, $19

joico
Photo: Joico

If you’re concerned about overdoing it on purple shampoo, consider this hydrating option that lasts through multiple washes. Both the shampoo and conditioner also help to protect against fading color and boost shine.

Shop now: Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo, $17 and Color Balance Purple Conditioner, $19

8. PRAVANA The Perfect Blonde Shampoo, $20, Conditioner, $20 and Mask, $23

pravana-perfect-blonde-masque
Photo: Pravana

Use this mask just once a week for five minutes to breathe new life into your blonde strands. It can be partnered with the line’s shampoo and conditioner for an added dose of toning and hydration (from its keratin and silk amino acids).

Shop now: PRAVANA The Perfect Blonde Shampoo, $20 Conditioner, $20 and Mask, $23

9. Redken Color Extend Blondage Color-Depositing Shampoo, $23, Conditioner $23, and Mask $29

redken-blondage
Photo: Blondage

Each of the three products in this system contains ultra violet pigments to combat brassiness, but when used together, can help strengthen and tone your hair.

Shop now: Redken Color Extend Blondage Color-Depositing Shampoo, $23, Conditioner $23, and Mask $29

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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