We have all heard the buzz about purple shampoo, but many of us don’t understand WHY purple shampoo actually works, how/when to use it, and the realistic benefits of using it. Why does salon-quality purple shampoo help with maintaining blonde, particularly icy blondes? To find the answers we’re going to dive deep into color theory.
Let’s start at the beginning:
Virgin hair. Natural hair colors start at black, then lifts to brown, then red, then orange/copper, then yellow, and, finally, pale yellow. The darker your hair is, the more warm undertones you have in your hair, and if you are lightening your hair from brunette, you MUST lift through ALL of these colors to reach a bright blonde. This may and will probably take multiple sessions to maintain the integrity of your hair. The lighter your natural color, the easier it is to lift because you have less underlying pigment in your hair. Doing things like box-dying your hair, using henna, using over-the-counter “temporary” dyes such as Splat or Overtone, and even water quality or medications can all affect how your hair will lift. It is so important to be honest with your stylist about what you have on your hair, your routine, and your lifestyle.
Once you have lifted to your desired level, you are left with a raw lift color and whatever pigments were exposed during the lightening process. This is where professional toners (gloss, finishing color, top coat, etc.) come in, usually at an additional charge. Your stylist will create a custom formula for your hair, taking into consideration things such as color theory, chemistry, and porosity of your hair (how the hair will soak up the color). Your stylist may also choose not to tone at all. This is where the power of professional purple and (though it is not as talked about as often) blue comes into play! Salon-quality purple pigments neutralize yellow tones and blue neutralizes orange tones. The toner should counteract the brassy/orange and yellow tones of the raw lift and create a beautifully even-finished look!
Color pigments CANNOT lift your hair! Only a lightener can do that. Because toners are formulated to combat certain pigments, they will not affect hair that is lower than the toner is formulated for (so toners should not affect your natural or lowlights). Using purple/blue pigments in-salon will ONLY neutralize and ONLY if your hair has reached a specific level. If you feel brassy or yellow on the same day as your salon visit, you should discuss it with your stylist as it is likely your toner needs to be adjusted.
Now that you have your amazing color fresh from the salon, it’s up to you to maintain your color until your next visit.
This is where professional purple shampoo and conditioner come in. Your tone is temporary and will fade over time depending on your maintenance. Things like washing in hot water, using non-professional or non-color-safe products, using heat (especially without a heat protectant), and environmental factors such as pollution and sun exposure can all make your color fade faster and expose those unwanted brassy/yellow undertones. If you’re feeling yellow you can use a professional purple shampoo or conditioner to help neutralize those tones; If you’re feeling more brassy/orange, use a salon-quality product with both blue and purple in it. You most likely will not need to use purple/blue products for every wash; you only need to use it if you’re feeling like those unwanted pigments are coming through. Also, you may not need both pigmented shampoo and conditioner; your stylist may choose one or the other depending on your hair’s needs.
I like to recommend conditioners over shampoos because you are more likely to let a conditioner sit for a couple of minutes. No matter which product you’re using, you should make sure to let it sit at least three to five minutes so that it can do its job. No product can give you instantaneous results and you may need to play with the timing to figure out your hair’s needs. The pigmentation of your product is also vital to its effectiveness. The deeper the pigment, the deeper the tone. Here is a list of our top three blonding shampoos/conditioners available at Studio Be; they are listed most sheer to most pigmented:
- Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde has a shampoo, conditioner, and toning spray.
- R+Co Sunset Boulevard has a shampoo, conditioner, and toning masque.
- Surface Hair Health Pure Blonde Violet has a variety of products; please see below.
All of these professional products will help fight yellowing/brassiness, but make sure to have a conversation with your stylist about which line would work best for your blonde in particular. Not all purple products are created equal!
Generally speaking, I prefer the Surface Hair Health Violet line because it has both those purple and blue pigments, giving the deepest tone. There are a variety of professional products in their line including a shampoo, conditioner, blowout cream (has heat protectant!), leave-in toner spray, and a nourishing mask. Again, this is my favorite, but talk to your stylist about which line is best for your hair and budget! After all, no one likes feeling like they wasted money on a product they don’t like or don’t use!
Thanks for reading and cheers to happy, healthy hair!
Victoria S. – Studio Be Salon Boulder