The world may never really know if blondes have more fun. Regardless, both bottle blondes and those who are naturally blessed know the easiest way to keep their hue looking icy is to incorporate only the best purple shampoos into their wash-day routine.
Purple shampoos are exactly what they sound like: a shampoo with a purple tint. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King notes that the thinking behind purple shampoos is based on the color-wheel theory, the exact same principle people use for color correction in makeup. This theory, which you may have learned in your middle school art classes, states that colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel — which are also known as complementary colors — neutralize each other. When the color-wheel theory is applied to hair, it works to balance out brassy tones.
So where does purple fit into all of this? Well, yellow is actually the complementary color to purple, which is why these shampoos work so well to keep brassiness at bay.
“Purple tones cancel out any unwanted brassy yellow tones and maintain brightness between highlighting appointments,” explains Felicia Dosso, a colorist at New York City-based Nunzio Saviano Salon.
Brunettes, dirty blondes, and other darker blonde tones (think less Marilyn Monroe, more Gigi Hadid’s honey blonde) may want to opt for a blue shampoo instead. Since darker shades have a deeper warmth to their color, they don’t yellow — instead, they turn orange. Blue is a complementary shade to orange, which makes it ideal for toning dark blondes and brunettes.
Though King agrees that purple shampoos typically work best on silver or blonde hair, Dosso notes that brunettes can also enjoy their color-cooling benefits. “The main complaint brunettes have is they their hair turns brassy, so I always recommend purple shampoo to my brunette clients too,” says Dosso. “I suggest using once a week as needed to negate that.”
These shampoos are most often used to balance brassiness for natural and color-treated blondes. While these products can’t shift your color completely, they can help you maintain the current hue you have.
Kiyah Wright — a hairstylist and founder of Muze Hair in Los Angeles who works with Jennifer Hudson, Tyra Banks, and Laverne Cox — advises clients to be careful when using certain purple products though because they can stain. “If you have icy-blonde hair and leave a purple shampoo on for too long, your hair will have a blue-purple tinge to it,” Wright cautions. So be sure to read the instructions carefully and make sure you time your session accordingly.
Now that you’ve been filled in on these vibrant shampoos, it’s time to put all of this information into practice. Between drugstore-friendly picks and higher-end options recommended by pro stylists, here are our selections for the 26 best purple shampoos on the market for all of your brass-busting needs.