Whether you've recently bleached your hair blonde or you simply want to make your natural blonde hair lighter, one of the most essential products you can have in your arsenal is purple shampoo. Its importance cannot be overstated. If you're a natural blonde, perhaps you want to go a little lighter or even go platinum, or just tone down some of the brassiness in your hair if your blonde is naturally quite warm. And if you're not a natural blonde, then you are definitely going to struggle to keep warm yellow and orange tones out of your hair, no matter what kind of blonde shade you're trying to achieve. If your ultimate goal is platinum, then you need purple shampoo more than anyone.
Why purple though? Heather Cie, celebrity stylist and colorist and co-founder of Cie Sparks Salon, tells me, "In between salon visits, constant washing and styling can cause blonde hair to turn brassy and yellow and those that experience in these color changes should invest in good quality purple hair products. On the color wheel, purple is opposite of yellow which works to neutralize brassy hues." That's why you want a purple shampoo — and the darker the purple, the better. If it's a light lilac color it's not going to do much.
Other considerations when looking for a purple shampoo include your personal preferences for things like the price, ingredients such as sulfates and silicones, the shampoo's scent, and how drying it is (since some purple shampoos can be somewhat harsh). You may also want to consider a purple conditioner as well. Since I have years of experience with keeping brassiness out of my own bleached blonde hair, I thought I would share the purple shampoos and conditioners that I rely on.
Most blondes know what you're talking about if you mention Shimmer Lights; as far as purple shampoos go, this one is a classic. If you've never tried purple shampoo before then this is a good place to start for two reasons. First, the price is reasonable. And second, it works.
Shimmer Lights does contains sulfates, so if you're prefer to use a sulfate-free shampoo then you may want to skip this one. But unless you're worried about irritants because you have (for example) eczema on your scalp, recent studies have shown that sulfates are probably harmless to the majority of the population.
Below you can see how the shampoo (on the left) got its name; it really is shimmery. Also, due to my poor bathroom lighting, I had to use the flash for all of the photos which may make the products seem lighter or more blue — so just keep in mind they're an even darker purple in real life.
I will say that although I find the shampoo is very effective at keeping brassiness at bay, especially when I leave it in for 10-30 minutes before my shower, it can definitely have a drying effect. The conditioner helps to add some hydration back to my hair while also fighting brassiness, but you may want to add a deep conditioning treatment to your routine if you use Shimmer Lights. Also, the Shimmer Lights fragrance is very strong: sort of like an old-fashioned perfume. It lingers for a while after washing your hair, too.
Bottom line: If you're on a budget and don't mind sulfates and a strong fragrance, Shimmer Lights is an excellent choice. Just be sure to invest in a good deep conditioning mask as well and don't use it more than two or three times a week lest you dry out your hair too much.
Next we have this purple shampoo by Tigi. It's more expensive than Shimmer Lights, but if you don't mind that then this is a really good option. It's a deep, dark purple so it's very effective at eliminating brassiness. Plus it's sulfate-free so I feel like it's not quite as harsh on my hair as the Shimmer Lights Shampoo (although it is still drying, so be sure to pair it with a good conditioner).
As an added bonus, I think this Tigi shampoo smells amazing: not too strong, just very sweet and clean-smelling. I also love the pump packaging because it makes my life (or at least my shower) so much easier.
I also recently tried Tigi's Toning Protection Spray. Although it's not a shampoo or conditioner, it still deserves a spot on this list because it works so well to ward off brassiness. This spray actually comes out as a light purple color, which can be a little alarming at first since you don't wash it out but no worries: it doesn't actually turn your hair purple.
Not only does it diminish yellow tones, it also protects hair from heat. If you blow-dry or heat-style your blonde hair at all after your showers, then you need this multitasking product to reduce heat-related damage while keeping brassiness away.
Davines hair products have a cult following for a reason. They're on the pricier side, but well-worth it because of the quality of the ingredients, the attractive packaging and appealing fragrances, and the efficacy of the products. Their Alchemic line was created specifically for colored hair to help retain and improve the color. The shampoo is (as you can see below) the most watery shampoo on this list whereas the conditioner (pictured at the bottom of the image) is extremely thick.
Although both are great for fighting brassiness, the conditioner is my favorite of the two. They both have the same scent (it's kind of sharp and spicy and makes me think of Christmas) as well as milk proteins for nourishing hair. The conditioner is a very dark purple, so that helps with toning, but it also feels extremely nourishing. When I wash it out my hair feels ten times softer and more hydrated.
Andi Scarbrough, Pureology Educator, Redken Certified Colorist, and Co-Creator at Framed Salon says, "A tinted conditioner or masque is often a far more beneficial solution. Sure it may take you an extra 3-5 minutes, but the benefits are vast. You are getting your (ideally weekly) deep treatment in while you home-tone!" For that reason she recommends using this Davines conditioner, and also using a purifying shampoo first if possible.
Finally, we have this product: Not a shampoo or conditioner, but a silicone-free balm or "gloss" that deserves a spot on the list because of its toning and hydrating abilities. It's an incredibly thick, dark purple that sticks to your hands like glue until you rinse it off. You can use it after your usual shampoo and conditioner routine, leaving it on for about ten minutes before rinsing, to help fight brassiness and improve hair's hydration and shine.
Although it's the most expensive product on this list, it's also probably my favorite (go figure). I'm a sucker for nice-smelling hair products and this balm has an amazing fragrance made up of notes of roses, mandarin, grapefruit, black-Currant, cardamom, freesia, violet, sandalwood, musk, and vanilla. I also love how much softer and brighter my damaged hair looks after using it. If your bleached hair needs a deep conditioning treatment or a gloss to restore shine or a toning session, you may want to try this product before making a salon appointment.
This is a quick snap of my hair after I bleached and toned it:
It was very yellow. After a second toning session and a couple weeks of using purple hair products (I tend to rotate all of the above-mentioned products since I get bored easily), my hair looks like this:
Here's a closeup:
As you can see, it's a work in progress: some parts are lighter/cooler than others. This is fine because I'm in no hurry to take my hair all the way to platinum right now; instead I'm taking my time to reduce damage. Using the above products help to keep my hair shiny and soft while keeping brassiness from taking over.
So just a few more tips to keep in mind once you've decided on a purple shampoo: Be sure to use it sparingly, since most purple shampoos can be a little harsh and can even turn your hair purple. You can use any of the above as a toning mask before showering, but again beware of drying out your hair or turning it lavender. Remember that if your hair has a lot of dark orange, brassy tones then you shouldn't rely on purple shampoo alone to fix it; you'll probably need a professional toning session.
Finally, don't forget to pair your purple shampoo with a hydrating treatment, whether it's a purple conditioner, a hair mask, or a hydrating gloss. Finding the right purple hair product for you — and using it regularly — will ensure that you'll have a great shade of blonde without sacrificing shine or hydration.
Images: Kelly Dougher