DIY Hair: What Is Purple Shampoo and How Do You Use It?

Updated on March 31, 2018
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I love to dye my hair all colors of the rainbow. I love all things vintage, and I enjoy creating art, taking photos, and doing it myself.

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Do you have blonde hair, natural or bleached? Are there yellowish, brassy tones coming through? Scared of using harsh chemicals? If you are looking for a safe, easy way to cool down and neutralize those tones, consider using a purple shampoo.

What Is Purple Shampoo?

Literally, it's shampoo that's purple.

It serves a purpose though! You can't just go out and buy any old purple-colored shampoo - this stuff has a particular formula that uses a very strong violet pigment to cover up brassy tones.

What's a brassy tone? You've surely seen someone who is bleach blonde and been able to tell it's not natural. Usually this is due to a really bad bleach and tone job. Toning is essential to making an artificial blonde look REAL.

The goal of toning is to remove unnatural red, orange, and yellow brassy undertones that come through on blonde or bleached hair. A super easy way to neutralize the warmth at home is through the use of purple shampoo - and it all lies in color theory.

Color Theory

Take a look at a color wheel. Colors do, in fact, have opposites. Opposing colors are directly across from each other on the color wheel, and when mixed, they neutralize each other.

This is the idea behind purple shampoo. If you've bleached your hair and find yourself with lots of unwanted yellow tones, take a look at the color wheel. Purple is the opposite of yellow, and therefore neutralizes it.

Likewise, blue will counteract orange tones, and green will counteract red tones. Keep this in mind when choosing a shampoo that will help tone your own hair color.

How Does Purple Shampoo Work?

Essentially, purple shampoo will deposit a small amount of violet pigment into your yellowy hair. To achieve this, you'll want to follow these steps:

  • Rinse your hair with hot water, to open up the hair shaft.
  • Apply a LOT of purple shampoo. I seriously will use 2-3 handfulls on my long hair (it goes almost to my belly button).
  • Leave the shampoo in for at least 5 minutes. It helps to use a giant butterfly clip to keep it up and out of the shower water.
  • Rinse your hair with cold water, to seal in the color and close your hair shaft.
  • Enjoy your cool-toned blonde!

Keep in mind, the longer you leave it in the more it's going to stick to your hair. Sometimes when I am in MAJOR need of a tone, I'll put purple shampoo in outside of the shower and leave it in for about 30 minutes before rinsing out.

Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Purple Shampoo results
Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Purple Shampoo results | Source

What Happens When You Use Purple Shampoo?

This stuff will NOT turn your hair purple, I promise! The only way that's happening is if you don't rinse it all out. Purple shampoo is not dye, but it is pigmented. Like I said, it's only going to deposit enough color into your hair to tint it. If you overdo it and somehow manage to get purple hair, just rinse and it will come out.

Purple shampoo is a lifesaver in upkeeping blonde hair. It prevents you from having to use ammonia toners regularly, which can be damaging to your locks. When used several times a week, this shampoo can keep your hair cool all on its own. If you start to see an overwhelming amount of brassiness coming through again, it may be time to do a full tone - and you can learn how to do that using Wella Color Charm Toner here!

What If It Doesn't Work?

Sometimes it may be difficult to see results with purple shampoo. If you're not getting what you want out of it, there are a few fixes.

You may not be leaving it in long enough, or getting full coverage. A way to remedy this is to apply it out of the shower, combing the shampoo through your hair and taking extra care to get an even coat. Leave the shampoo in for as long as you want! Five minutes in the shower works, but like I said, I've left it in up to 30 minutes before rinsing. This will give it more time to soak into your hair.

Another reason why your shampoo may not be working - your hair isn't light enough. Purple shampoo is specifically designed for hair with yellowy tones. If you've got darker hair and orange tones, blue shampoo is going to be better for you. Or, you may want to consider lightening your hair a little more with a bleach and tone. Purple shampoo has the best results on light yellow hair.

Cool, ashy tones with Generic Brand Purple Shampoo
Cool, ashy tones with Generic Brand Purple Shampoo | Source

What Are Some Good Brands of Purple Shampoo?

There are plenty out there, but I'll start with my favorite.

Generic Brand Purple Shampoo
This stuff is absolutely great - it's inexpensive and can be picked up at Sally's. It's made to mimic Clairol Shimmer Lights, a higher-end purple shampoo formula, without breaking the bank.

Clairol Profession Shimmer Lights
Clairol's purple shampoo formula is protein-enriched, and you can use it on blonde and silver hair and highlights. It's also pretty easy to find!

Unite Blonda Shampoo Tonic
This stuff is a little bit more expensive, but it's paraben and sodium chloride free! If those are features you're interested in, you can find it on Amazon and sometimes on the shelf at WalMart.

More Hair DIYs

Now that you've figured out what the heck purple shampoo is, and realized it's very simple, it's time to up your hair skills! Check out some of my hair DIYs, from bleaching to toning to coloring!

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