4 Purple Shampoos That Combat Brassiness

Even if you're not a blondie, you can totally benefit from shampoo toning.
Publish date:
February 18, 2015
biosilk, lush, brassy hair, purple shampoo, toning shampoo

When it comes to coloring hair, we all have our woes. There's the issue of fading, particularly in the case of redheads and "rainbow heads," a lack of facet, especially when at-home coloring, the battle of the roots, and, of course, brassy undertones, which are a major PIA. The last category isn't a tribulation exclusively assigned to blondes, though, despite what many may think.

Sure, it may be the most noticeable on blondes (natural or otherwise), but redheads certainly deal with brassiness, as do brunettes.

Even those with jet-black hair, who may have more subtle brass going on, can use purple toning shampoo to get hair as glossy and black as Miss Cleopatra herself.

Now, you can tone your hair several ways. One is to visit the salon on a regular basis, but this really does get time consuming and expensive. You could also use an at-home toning kit, which is essentially a semi-permanent dye. Or, you could use good old purple shampoo to gently eradicate those unpleasant orangey undertones.

So how does purple shampoo work? I asked my friend Constance Dunn, author of Practical Glamour, a DIY beauty and style guide.

"If you look at a color wheel from your art-class days, you'll see that purple is the chromatic opposite of yellow," she explains. "Hence, purple shampoo visually smothers yellow tones in the hair."

Basically, the pigments from the purple shampoo give ol' brassy pants the boot, leaving hair slightly cooler than it was pre-shampoo.

One thing you'll notice is that the shampoos are quite pigmented; they don't mess around. Your shower water will even turn a lovely shade of pastel blue as you rinse the product out of your hair.

Words Of Advice

  • Purple shampoos aren't intended for everyday. Use them once a week, or whenever your hair is looking a little brassy. Consider them more of a maintenance product; a cheaper alternative to going to the salon every other week, and more foolproof than potent at-home toner kits.
  • "If you have uber-bleached platinum hair, exercise caution when using purple shampoo. Use it sparingly and rinse it quickly to reduce the chance of stepping from your shower with a violet hue atop your Jean Harlow'd head. This happens because heavily bleached hair is also porous hair, and soaks up color like a sponge," says Dunn.
  • Follow up with a good conditioner after each use. You should be doing that anyway, though. *giving you mom eyes*

I've rounded up four different purple shampoos for you, and have tested each one several times over the course of the last couple months.

I've found that all work equally well where mild, slow toning is concerned, so choosing a favorite comes down to personal preferences.

Clairol Shimmer Lights ($9), available at Sally Beauty, is a longtime classic fave. It's the purple shampoo I've been using for the longest and I do like it. It lathers nicely, makes my hair feel very clean, and doesn't leave too much of a "deposit" feeling. My only qualm is that is smells very soapy, almost chemical-soapy, and I prefer a softer scent. Contains sulfates and parabens.

Biosilk Color Therapy Cool Blonde Shampoo ($16), available at Ulta, is a really luxurious purple shampoo with a salon smell. It's the lightest of all four, so it's not quite as pigmented, but this equates to a gentler toning experience. Because it's less pigmented, it's also better for those of you with platinum hair. I use it with the Color Therapy Conditioner and my hair feels very soft and healthy afterward. Free of sulfates and parabens.

Lush Daddy-O ($10, 3 oz) is a near-black purple shampoo that contains seaweed, citrus, violet leaf, and coconut oil. It lathers decently (though not as well as the others here, since it's a thinner formula) and has an earthy-sweet scent. My hair smells pleasant and looks shiny after using it. I would recommend buying the smaller amounts versus the larger bottles, as you don't need to use the product that frequently and it's better when fresh. Contains sulfates and parabens.

JOICO Color Endure Violet Shampoo ($16) is my second favorite on this list, next to Biosilk. It also has that certain salon smell, which I love, and lathers beautifully. I'd say it has a stronger scent than the Biosilk, and it leans a little fruity. It's also more pigmented than the Biosilk, so I'd recommend it for medium blonde to black hair. I use the Color Endure Violet Conditioner with this one, which is also slightly purple, to keep hair shiny and soft. Free of sulfates and parabens.

  • Have you tried purple shampoo before?
  • If so, what are your thoughts on it? If not, would you consider reaching for a purple bottle? Let's discuss.