Can You Use Purple Shampoo On Brown Hair?
Bottle brunettes have always been told that blue shampoo will be their new best friend. It’s perfect for your brown locks, they say because it has the power to cancel out brassiness in rich, brown hair.
And it’s true—blue shampoo works amazingly well on brown hair, and it’s definitely a must-have on your hair care shelf.
That said, blue shampoo is undoubtedly the less popular toning solution when compared to purple shampoo, which is considered the king of color-depositing shampoos.
Purple shampoo is super popular for blondes. Any reputable hair brand will carry at least one purple shampoo in their line to help people get rid of brassy yellow tones that ruin freshly colored locks.
It’s so loved and raved about that it overshadows other toning shampoos, like blue shampoo.
It can be difficult to find blue shampoo at the drugstore since all they carry are shelves of purple shampoos from different brands.
So where does that leave brunettes in dire need of toning their tresses and getting rid of gold tones that make their hair look overly warm and gaudy? Could purple shampoo actually be a good option for brown hair?
What exactly is purple shampoo?
When people learn about purple shampoo for the first time, it kind of freaks them out.
It contains special violet pigments that tone your hair and cancel out any brassiness that makes your locks look less cool and ashy than they originally were when you first got them colored.
But don’t worry—purple shampoo doesn’t dye your hair and turn it from a beautiful, dainty light brown to a loud purple.
The pigments simply bond into your hair strands and neutralize any gold or yellow tones you might not want, effectively balancing them out and pulling back your hair’s warmth.
When you get your hair bleached and colored, you may notice a few weeks later that your hair pulls warmer than usual.
Things like too much heat styling, shampooing with sulfates, and going out under the sun without a heat protectant can lift your hair color, exposing the lightened pigments underneath.
This creates a glaringly warm tone in your hair, otherwise known as brassiness.
For brunettes, brassiness will pull back cool blue tones that make your hair look rich and light-reflective. Instead, it will reveal a yellow-orange hue similar to carrot top hair in redheads.
It can be super unflattering, which is why people turn immediately to purple shampoos when this happens; yes, even brunettes.
Purple is the best color to do this task because it sits on the opposite end of yellow on the color wheel. That means it’s perfect for canceling out gold tones that make your brown locks look unnatural.
Think of it like color-correcting concealer in the makeup world.
Some color-correcting palettes include a yellow cream concealer to hide purple marks on your skin from bruising or dark eye-bags from a rough night.
The same goes for hair—purple cancels out yellow to erase undesired warmth in your locks.
Not only can purple shampoo help tone your hair and restore its brown glory, but it’s also a safer alternative than regular sulfated shampoos.
Most purple shampoos are designed to be safe for color-treated hair, prolonging the lifespan of your brown color so you can enjoy it for longer.
Why are brunettes told to use blue shampoo instead?
Blue shampoo is usually the first thing that comes to mind when stylists and colorists think about toning brown hair.
Brunettes typically fall under the more medium shade range in fur, with underlying orange pigments, not yellow ones.
Let’s go back to your dear friend, the color wheel. According to the wheel, blue cancels out orange, so it’s the best color to remove copper brassiness in hair.
Blue can neutralize the typical orange undertone that pulls from brown hair to bring it back to that rich, chocolatey color.
But brunette hair doesn’t always fall in the medium to dark shade range. Some brunettes have a lighter, caramel-toned color instead of a sultry dark brown.
Lighter brown colors like those are more susceptible to yellow tones when brassiness peeks through, begging the question of purple shampoo on brown hair.
Can I use purple shampoo on brown hair?
Yes, in some cases, you can use purple shampoo on brown hair. Many brunette ladies will find it beneficial to add purple shampoo to their hair care regimen to keep yellow tones at bay.
If you have light brown hair, like a light caramel or toffee brown, there’s a high chance that when brassiness starts showing up weeks after your bleaching and coloring job, the first color you’ll see is yellow.
It’s definitely still possible, even if orange is more common for brunettes.
Even if you have true chocolate brown hair, you could still be unlucky enough to see warm gold tones peeking through once in a while.
It could happen if you’ve been stressing your hair out a lot with hot tools or exposing it to chlorinated water in the neighborhood pool. If this is your case, then purple shampoo can definitely help alleviate that dilemma.
You’ll also find purple shampoo super useful if you have brown hair with brighter highlights.
In this case, you might want to use blue shampoo for your orange tones in conjunction with purple shampoo for the gold patches that might sneak up on you in the areas of your hair that were bleached and highlighted.
So as you can see, there are lots of reasons why a brunette like you would reach for a purple shampoo, even if the label says it’s formulated for blondes with platinum or silvery shades.
Never lose hope that it can work for you too.
Using purple shampoo is easy—incorporate it into your routine the same way you would blue shampoo. Replace your regular daily shampoo with purple shampoo once or twice a week.
Clean your hair as you usually would, but with some extra massaging action in your roots and hair shaft before rinsing.
If you feel like the gold tones are a bit stronger than usual, the time you can leave purple shampoo in is for 5-10 minutes before washing it out.
And voila! Toned brown hair without the harsh, yellow brassiness.
Why isn’t purple shampoo doing anything to my dark brown locks?
The sad news is that purple shampoo isn’t compatible with all brunettes.
If you have incredibly dark brown hair that almost looks black, don’t get your hopes up about a dramatic change in the tone of your hair.
Rich, deep brown hair will likely have underlying red pigments beneath the hair shaft. That means that when brassiness peeks through, it will pull a darker warm tone—more red than orange or yellow.
And purple doesn’t have the ability to cancel out red, which is why it likely won’t deliver a noticeable difference for brassy dark brown hair.
But don’t be discouraged!
It’s important to remember that to find out if purple shampoo will work for you, you need to take a closer look at the brassiness in your hair, not just how dark your base shade is.
Let’s say you were a blondie and wanted to deepen your hair color, so you did a box dye at home to darken it to black without filling in your hair pigments as a professional stylist would.
Related: How to Fix Orange Hair with Box Dye?
Although your hair is darker to the naked eye, your natural underlying pigment may still contain some yellow tones.
That means even if you have dark hair, you could still pull harsh golds and intense yellows over time. In this case, purple shampoo is still worth a shot.
It will be a godsend to get rid of the warmth and neutralize your hair, restoring its deep brown shade.
Which toning shampoo will my brown hair respond to better?
Depending on how complicated your hair’s history has been, it could be tricky to pinpoint immediately whether purple or blue shampoo could work well for you.
This is something you have to gauge on your own since it’s on a case-to-case basis.
Some brunettes will effortlessly freshen their hair color with one use of purple shampoo, while others won’t notice a significant change at all.
Just make sure you know the color wheel by heart to gauge whether purple shampoo could be of any help to the crude brassiness ruining your gorgeous brown locks.
If you have a medium brown hair shade and aren’t sure which shampoo will work best for you, you can always do trial-and-error. Switch between purple and blue shampoos to see which tones your hair better.
(You can also read my comparison of Blue and Purple Shampoo)
A great purple shampoo you can use is the BIOLAGE ColorLast Purple Shampoo.
It’s not as strongly marketed towards blondes as other purple shampoos. On the contrary, it’s formulated for color-treated hair of any shade.
The purple pigments in this shampoo work to neutralize your unwanted warm tones, be it gold, yellow, or even on the yellow-orange side.
It’s enriched with conditioning ingredients to soften your hair, protect it from breakage, and add some healthy shine back.
In some cases, you might even want to have both shampoos on your bathroom shelf, especially if you pull unwanted copper and gold tones simultaneously.
Another option is to cop a purple shampoo with some blue pigments in it too, like the Vitamins Keratin Purple and Blue Shampoo.
Because of its unique combo of purple and blue pigments, it can eliminate yellow-orange streaks of brassiness in your locks.
It prevents split ends and controls frizz as well, so that you don’t have to worry about your hair looking messy and disheveled.
This shampoo is perfect if you pull both gold and copper brassiness that takes away from the beauty of your brunette hair.
It’s also fantastic if you have a brown base that pulls orange tones, and a few blonde highlights that turn yellow now and then. You get the best of both worlds in one shampoo.
While it’s not exactly the first choice for brunettes, purple shampoo can work very well if you have light brown hair, caramel highlights, or just see yellow tones that you hate when you happen to take a glance at your reflection.
Purple shampoo is an excellent product to have on-hand for hair emergencies, even if it’s targeted primarily for blondes and not brunettes.
A bottle of high-quality purple shampoo in your drawer won’t hurt, especially if you’re prone to pulling gold tones that take away from the richness of your chocolate brown hair or hazelnut-colored balayage.
Let the decadent brown in your shine through by kissing those ghastly yellow patches in your hair goodbye with a fantastic purple shampoo today!