Ah, blonde hair. It conjures up the nostalgia of Sun-In, the sexiness of Brigitte Bardot and makes us wish we all could be California girls. Except when brassy tones creep in and ruin the sun-lifted effect. There's no need to lose your cool (pardon the pun), though, as that's when the best purple shampoo swoops in with its impressive hue-restoring powers.
If you're new to this kind of shampoo, you're in luck – we've spoken to some of the industry's biggest hair experts to explain exactly how it works and how to use it. Keep reading for everything you need to know and for the products to keep brassiness at bay...
Our Senior Beauty Editor, Katie Thomas, Editor, Sunil Makan and Executive Beauty Editor, Shannon Lawlor have handpicked their favourite purple shampoos after testing. And any that the trio weren't keen on didn't make the list.
Katie makes regular trips to see her colourist for 6-weekly highlights and loves it to have an ashy tone. Sunil, who has thick and naturally black hair has recently reached for the peroxide (a late-thirty-something-crisis). And Shannon has naturally straight, brunette hair but has bleached balayage which needs constant management.
The things that they particularly focused on were: how the shampoo left hair feeling afterwards - did it feel dry at all or soft to the touch, how long the effects lasted and -most importantly - how well it took down brassiness.
While you're here, don't forget to check out our guides to the best shampoo for greasy hair, the best shampoo for hair loss and even the best dry shampoo. If you're not rocking blonde hair yourself, we've also done a roundup of the best blue shampoos for brown hair. You are welcome.
What is purple shampoo?
Put simply, violet-hued shampoo is the haircare equivalent of a surly bodyguard. It protects against dullness and unwanted warm tones between colour appointments.
"Purple shampoo neutralises the yellow in blonde hair, leaving a creamy to ash result," explains leading colourist and celebrity favourite, Josh Wood. "This is because yellow and purple sit opposite each other on the colour wheel."
What causes brassy hair?
It's arguably blonde hair's biggest nemesis: brassiness. Why does it happen? "Lighter strands often struggle to look shiny and healthy," says Steve Shiel, scientific director at L’Oréal. "This is because free radicals in the colouring process break down protein so blonde hair becomes porous."
This porousness means bleached hair soaks up unwanted minerals and metals in your tap water and acquires a yellow tinge over time. "It also means that blonde hair absorbs light instead of reflecting it and is more prone to damage," adds Shiel.
How to use purple shampoo
This may seem obvious, but a violet-based shampoo is not made for your daily lather.
Those who bleach their hair and live in hard water areas (which creates more mineral build-up on strands), should only use it once a week. Meaning, one bottle will last you until your next colour appointment, if not longer.
But Zoe Irwin, creative director at John Frieda Salons, advises clients to be careful as purple-based products can be drying.
"I decant half my purple shampoo into half a bottle of Oribe Shampoo For Moisture Control," she says.
"The effect is softer, both in terms of the colour and how my hair feels afterwards. I wouldn’t recommend taking your purple shampoo right down to the ends. The hair there can be up to four years old so will grab onto too much of the purple pigment.
"If you can’t avoid it, coat the ends in conditioner first to create a hydrating base and to dilute the shampoo. Then apply your purple shampoo in an 's' shape on mid-lengths and work it in with your fingers to deposit the pigment evenly."
For how long should you leave purple shampoo in?
It all depends on the instructions on the specific bottle, but not overdoing it is key. "If you leave a purple shampoo on for too long, your hair will have a blue-purple tinge to it," Irwin cautions.
Session stylist Ali Pirzadeh concurs and recommends using your regular conditioner afterwards. "I wouldn't bother with a purple conditioner as well, as you want to make sure your hair is still being nourished."
What's the difference between toner and purple shampoo?
Toners cool down or warm up your colour in between salon appointments.
An at-home version is the equivalent of a semi-permanent colour treatment mask. Free from peroxide or ammonia, it won't actually lift your colour, but it penetrates the hair cuticle and deposits a small amount of lilac colour. This brightens old hair dye and boosts its undertones as well as preventing fade and ramping up the shine.
So when you wash with this particular shade of shampoo, it deposits purple pigment into blonde hair, to counteract any yellowy tones that start to shine through.
The best purple shampoo to try in 2024
1. Fudge Professional Clean Blonde Shampoo
Fudge Professional Clean Blonde Shampoo
What Katie says: "This was actually one of the first purple shampoos I ever used and I always find myself going back to it when I want that really icy tone to my hair. It uses ultra violet pigments to neutralise yellow tones and works brilliantly on balayage, highlights, full-on bleach and grey-blondes."
What Sunil says: "I was recommended this product by a beauty editor with many years of industry experience, so naturally I had to give it a go. IMHO it is THE very best purple shampoo on the market if you want that real shot of iciness. To get my hair blonde, it needs some serious bleaching, and suffice to say, it needs all the help and conditioning it can get. This instantly banishes any trace of brassiness. As long as I dye my hair blonde, there will be a bottle of this in my bathroom."
What Shannon says: "I've got to agree with both Katie and Sunil here, this is without question, the best shampoo I've ever used for achieving that icy blonde look. If you have even a hint of brassiness, one wash with this will sort things out straight away. It's so good, in fact, that I highly recommend giving your nails a good scrub immediately after rinsing to avoid any staining."
2. Olaplex No 4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo
Olaplex No 5P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo
What Katie says: "This is the product I never knew I needed. The Olaplex system is the ultimate product range for protecting and caring for bleached hair. So the idea of a toning shampoo with the Olaplex technology inside is mind-blowingly exciting. It has become a must-have for me, as I use it alongside the rest of the range. I particularly like to use it straight after I've had my colour done when my hair is at its most vulnerable. If you're looking for a product that you can 100% rely on, this is that product."
What Sunil says: "A full believer in the restorative and transformative powers of Olaplex, after having recently gone blonde, I was thrilled when they launched this product. It doesn't leave my hair feeling dry - my hair ACTUALLY feels better after using - and the colour payoff is seriously impressive."
What Shannon says: "I've been bleaching my hair for over 15 years, and the damage needs a lot of management. The bond-restoring benefits of this purple shampoo means my long hair is left feeling stronger, looking less brassy and is less prone to breakage."
3. Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Lumière Illuminating Shampoo
Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Lumière Illuminating Shampoo
What Katie says: "When this first came out, it was truly revolutionary. Kérastase know that dyed blonde hair causes damage, they also know that so many of us use purple shampoos to tone. Which can further dry the hair. So they created this clever formula that uses skincare ingredients such as hydrating hyaluronic acid and brightening edelweiss flower to dive deep into weaker follicles. Doesn't give you that super ashy look, but will take down brassiness."
What Shannon says: "This isn't the purple shampoo for you if brassiness is your concern. However, if you have found your bleached strands to look dull and flat, this is one for you. It adds instant nourishment and a shine that leaves your blonde looking like its most expensive self."
4. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Yubi Blonde Glow Revealing Shampoo
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Yūbi Blonde Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo
What Shannon says: "This is my favourite purple shampoo to use. Much like the aforementioned Fudge option, this purple hue packs a serious punch, leaving blonde cool, icy and fresh looking. The best thing about this formula is just how luxe is feels. It transforms into a rich, creamy lather, smells beautiful and leaves hair looking glowing and soft."
5. Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo
Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo
What Katie says: "If you're looking for a vegan purple shampoo, then say hello to Pureology. It's 100% vegan. Not only does this shampoo corrects yellowness, it also prolongs colour with an anti-fade formula and improves the strength of fragile bleached strands thanks to repairing ceramides and astaxanthin (a powerful nature-derived antioxidant)."
6. Redken Blondage Color Extend Shampoo
Redken Blondage Color Extend Shampoo
What Katie says: "Redken is known for being a colour-expert brand, as well as one that pushes the boundaries of traditional colour. So it comes as no surprise to me that this is a punchy formula. If you used it every day (which I wouldn't recommend) I reckon you would be almost silver within the month. It eliminates brassy undertones from the first wash and contains proteins to protect against breakage. Think a brighter blonde with salon-worthy shine."
What Shannon says: "This shampoo is so good that if you leave it on for too long, you will notice a slight purple tint to your blonde immediately after washing. However, if you time it right, this is one of the fastest acting purple shampoos in existence."
7. John Frieda Violet Crush Intensive Purple Shampoo
John Frieda Violet Crush Intensive Purple Shampoo
What Katie says: "The brand claims that you'll see results in one wash and they weren't wrong. Hello, icy blonde hair. A really, really good shampoo at a really affordable price. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards."
8. Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo
Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo
What Katie says: "Before you have a go at me for the price, the bottle is 1000ml. It lasts me months and months and months. A few weeks after a colour appointment, hair can start looking dull. This isn't the strongest of purple formulas - but that's actually the beauty of the product. No harsh ingredients lift your colour so you avoid damaging it in the long run. Aveda have just been awarded the Leaping Bunny certification for cruelty-free and they're 100% vegan."
9. Bleach London Silver Shampoo
Bleach London Silver Shampoo
What Katie says: "So, silver shampoos work in the same way as your regular purple shampoo by neutralising brassiness, but it also adds silvery, ashy tones for the perfect peroxide blonde. If you're looking for help with your colour, there really is no other place to turn to than Bleach London. I have had balayage and highlights at Bleach and let me tell you, my blonde never looked better. This super affordable shampoo brightens silver tones and keeps the lightest blonde shades 'ice ice baby'."
10. Provoke Touch Of Silver Brightening Shampoo
Provoke Touch of Silver Purple Shampoo
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
What Katie says: I used to see this in my granny's bathroom all the time when I was a child and I would wonder why on earth she use a shampoo that was that colour. And now I get it. Her hair is always the brightest, cool-toned grey and it's all down to this. It's the ultimate toning shampoo. Plus, just look at that price."
11. Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Strengthening Shampoo
Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Strengthening Shampoo
What Katie says: "This shampoo is infused with citric acid, which cleanses the hair really gently. Bleaching hair damages the strand, but this formula seals the cuticle to prevent further everyday damage. Hair is left looking and feeling softer and more manageable."
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.
- Sunil MakanEditor
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