How Hair Colorists Want You To Use Purple Shampoo

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One thing I wasn’t warned about when I dyed my hair from dark brown to strawberry blonde was that I had to adopt a whole new hair care routine, which included learning how to use a purple shampoo to make my hair look fresh.

My hair stylist at the time told me to moisturize my curls regularly, but other than that, I had no idea how much maintenance my new hair would require. So imagine my surprise when my blonde hair faded in just a few weeks and I had to call in a new professional to correct my color. Up until then, I didn’t know that purple shampoo was the secret to keeping my dyed blonde hair in place.

Many of us who are not natural blondes are familiar with purple shampoo, but for those who are not natural blondes, it’s a “makeup designed for blonde, gray or light-colored hair that removes yellow or brassy tones,” says Kristen Krell, a makeup artist at Salon SCK in New York City. “The purple tones in the shampoo control the temperature of the hair by neutralizing the yellow – making the hair look (darker) and cooler.”

Krell says using a purple shampoo, once every few washes, maintains a fresh blonde look and prevents hair from looking brassy and yellow. But as with any hair care product, there are some caveats. The last thing you should do is damage your hair by using the shampoo incorrectly, so if you want to go blonde soon (or if you’re just curious about how the product works), read ahead for a quick guide on how to use purple shampoo.

What is a purple shampoo?
Think of purple shampoo as a coolant. Bleached blonde hair oxidizes, which is why unwanted yellow tones form in the hair. Stephanie Brown, a hair colorist at IGK Salon in New York, says colored shampoos can improve brassiness and make your blonde hair cooler. “They dye the hair brassy yellow. Purple and yellow are complementary colors on the color wheel and can cancel each other out.”

Who should use purple shampoo?
Brown says purple shampoo should only be used on “blonde to light brown hair.” “It’s for those with yellow hair that don’t like it.” People with dark hair or red hair can use purple shampoo, but their hue won’t change, Krell says. That said, to bring back the orange tint to dark eyeshadow or hair, Brown suggests using a blue shampoo.

What are the benefits of purple shampoo for hair?
With blonde hair, it may take a few different sessions with a painter to get you the color you want (especially if you’re going platinum), and since the dye and bleach have been damaged, you want to avoid having to re-do them as much as possible.

Continuing to dye your hair with purple shampoo can “help extend the time between dyes and reduce the damage caused by over-bleaching,” says Krell. That said, that doesn’t mean you should avoid going back to the salon altogether. Purple shampoo is only a temporary solution, and there’s only so much colored shampoo can do before you need to re-wash the color.

How do I use purple shampoo?
According to Brown, purple shampoo is usually very strong, so when you add purple shampoo to your routine, she recommends mixing it with your regular shampoo so it doesn’t weigh down your hair. She says: “I find that a lot of purple shampoos are drying out, so I like to mix them together.” “When your hair starts to turn brassy and yellow, use it about once a week.”

Because purple shampoos smell so strong and leave a lot of pigment in your hair, she says, don’t use too much or too little. Not using enough purple shampoo won’t improve your brassiness, and using too much too often can turn your hair gray or purple. It’s best to use it “once a week, depending on how often you wash your hair,” Brown says.

On the other hand, Krell doesn’t recommend mixing, saying purple shampoo should only be used three to five times. She also adds that purple shampoo shouldn’t be replaced by an everyday shampoo. Ultimately, which maintenance you choose depends on your hair and its needs.

Should I use a purple conditioner too?
According to Krell and Brown, purple conditioner and shampoo are equally effective, and using both may dry out your hair, Krell added. Plus, purple shampoo can harden your hair immediately after washing it, so doubling up on purple hair care products is unnecessary. To prevent dry hair, Krell recommends following up with a “strengthening or repairing conditioner.

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