Purple shampoo is exactly what it sounds like: shampoo with purple pigments in it. It’s an essential hair care product for blondes, natural and otherwise, explained Seattle-based hair colorist Kyle DeToure. It can “refresh the visual brightness [of the hair] and help eliminate undertones of brassiness and yellow,” he said, but it needs to be used properly or it can potentially give your locks a violet tint.
We spoke to hair stylists about how purple shampoo works and rounded up their favorite options — as well as some of our own, based on their guidance.
The best purple shampoos
Below, we rounded up our expert-recommended purple shampoos, including a personal favorite.
Harvey highlighted this purple shampoo from Schwarzkopf as one of her favorites, because of its “deep violet pigment” to reduce the appearance of any brassy hues. The shampoo also has bond repairing technology that the brand says simultaneously strengthens your locks.
Olaplex — the hair care line that Select writer Hannah Horvath credited with saving her “lifeless, dead hair” — also makes a purple shampoo that Harvey recommended. According to the brand, the shampoo is formulated to brighten grey hair as well as both natural and color-treated blonde hair. The shampoo also contains the brand’s bond-building technology to repair any damage.
Harvey said she’s also a fan of Joico’s Blonde Life Violet Shampoo. According to the brand, this purple shampoo contains several ingredients to hydrate and strengthen hair, including monoi oil, tamanu oil and arginine.
I use Kerastase’s Blonde Absolu line at the recommendation of my stylist. This isn’t the first purple shampoo I’ve used, but it’s my favorite by far. Not only does it keep my color looking vibrant, but the hylauronic acid in its ingredients keep my locks healthy and gives my hair a salon-level softness.
Licensed cosmetologist and hair stylist Jasmine Burnside recommended Redken’s Color Extend Blondage Purple Shampoo as a good, salon-quality option. “I’ve used it before and I really like it,” she said. In addition to purple pigments, the shampoo contains citric acid to repair damaged hair, according to the brand.
Burnside also recommended Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo as a good at-home option for managing brassiness. According to the brand, ingredients lemon, ginger root and chamomile extract work together to improve the brightness and tonality of the hair. Stylists have previously recommended Oribe’s leave-in conditioner and anti-frizz mist to us, as well.
Burnside said that the brand’s purple shampoo is a great option for fighting brassiness. The brand says that the shampoo contains vitamin B to add moisture to the hair as well. I personally use the Alchemic Conditioner, and I find that it leaves my hair nourished and silky smooth and tones my color well whenever I use it.
Shab Caspara, a NYC-based trichologist and hair health expert, likes this option from French haircare line Klorane. The formulation “utilizes organic centaury (violet flower) to neutralize unwanted yellow and copper tones” in blonde, silver or gray hair, Caspara said.
Although technically not a shampoo, this mask from Christophe Robin has been recommended to Select editorial director, Lauren Swanson, by several hairstylists. “Liz Rhodes, a colorist at Spoke and Weal in NYC, was the first one to tell me about this mask, which is great for toning and hydration,” she said. According to Rhodes, this mask doesn’t deposit pigment into the hair, therefore preserving the overall color. Swanson uses this mask weekly in place of a conditioning treatment.
What does purple shampoo do?
The pigments in a purple shampoo are “used to cancel [and] neutralize yellow/gold tones in hair,” explained Philadelphia-based hair stylist Shawn Harvey, owner of ShawnCutMaster Inc.
“It’s based on the universal color wheel for hair,” said Detoure. “Purple is the immediate counteract directly across from yellow, [so] purple will neutralize the yellow undertone.” At the salon, stylists typically use toners (a hair coloring treatment that changes the tone of your hair, but not the color) to eliminate any brassy undertones, but in between salon sessions, using a purple shampoo at home can help you reduce the appearance of yellows.
Not everyone needs to use a purple shampoo, though. “It’s not suitable for persons with brown hair because there are no visible yellow tones,” said Harvey: ash blond, platinum, gray and white hair tend to benefit the most from the pigmented product. Though a purple shampoo may help any hair color that tends to get brassy.
If you’re unsure, check in with your stylist or hair colorist. (If you have color-treated hair on the darker end of the spectrum, or your hair tends to get dry, you might consider using a color-safe shampoo instead).
How to use purple shampoo
The most important thing people trying a purple shampoo need to keep in mind is how frequently they’re using it. Overusing a purple shampoo can strip your hair of its natural oils or “alter your custom color and add too much pigment,” Harvey warned.
Typically, DeToure said that washing your hair with purple shampoo once or twice a week should be enough for most people. “The trick to getting the most out of your tinted shampoo is to squeeze excess water from the hair before application and leave it in the hair for a few minutes to increase the absorption and neutralizing capability," Caspara said. Burnside recommends you leave the shampoo in for at least five minutes, or up to 10 minutes if you have the time. The result should mean platinum whites shine brighter and blondes of any color (natural or not) have no yellow-y tint.
Not all stylists are fans of purple shampoos, however. Saint Latimer, a colorist at New York City’s Suite Caroline salon, cautioned that purple shampoos "can be very drying, and hydration and protection are key for fresh blonde hair.” Instead, he encourages his clients to try a color-safe shampoo, or apply a purple mask — like the Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask - Baby Blonde — for a few minutes every two weeks. Or even better, go to the salon for a gloss.
If you’re worried about accidentally overdoing it with a purple shampoo, talk to your hair stylist about the best frequency for your color.
What can I do if my purple shampoo tints my hair purple?
If it’s left on for too long or if you use it too often, purple shampoo can tint your hair purple. Burnside said this is more likely to happen if your hair is dry or porous — “it will soak up anything that you put on it,” she explained.
If your purple shampoo tinges your hair, Harvey recommended using a clarifying shampoo to help wash out the unwanted pigment. If the color still doesn’t come out after several washes, she advised taking a trip to see your stylist.
Does my purple shampoo need to be sulfate-free?
When browsing purple shampoos, you’ll likely come across options that are marketed as sulfate-free. Sulfates, like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are detergents that help achieve a deep cleanse and give products a foamy consistency. “Their goal is to really cleanse and get oil and dirt off of the hair and the skin,” Burnside explained. The dermatologists and other hair specialists Select has interviewed in our guides to the best drugstore shampoos and the best clarifying shampoos have cautioned that these ingredients can be harsh on one’s hair, and potentially drying, but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad option for all, especially if your hair tends to get oily.
“It really just depends,” Burnside added. “If you’re someone who’s washing every day, I would look for an alternative to a sulfate that’s less cleansing.”
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
Kyle Detoure is a Seattle-based hair colorist at the Winslow Salon.
Shawn Harvey is a Philadelphia-based licensed cosmetologist and curly hair specialist.
Jasmine Burnside is a New York City-based licensed cosmetologist and hair stylist.
Shab Caspara is a New York-City based trichologist and hair health expert.
Saint Latimer is a colorist at New York City’s Suite Caroline salon
Why trust NBC Select?
Former Select senior editor Morgan Greenwald covered numerous self care topics, including hyaluronic acid, moisturizers for dry skin, chafing and retinol. Greenwald has dyed her hair blonde for several years and has used many purple shampoos. For this story, Greenwald spoke to several hair stylists and color experts. Based on their guidance and recommendations, Greenwald reviewed the features and ingredients of highly rated purple shampoos — she also asked experts and Select staffers about the best purple shampoos they’ve used.
CORRECTION (Sept. 26, 2022, 4:15 p.m.) An earlier version of this article misstated Saint Latimer's pronouns. He goes by he, not she.