Whether you’re a natural or bottle blonde, chances are you’re used to battling those stubborn warm tones that creep into your golden tresses thanks to a combination of UV, pollution and heat damage. But, while they might be an annoying reality of having fair hair, that doesn’t mean you need to put up with them.
If you’re looking to say goodbye to brassiness in-between salon visits, a purple shampoo is the hardworking hair saviour you need to add to your routine. Purple shampoo is colour theory at its simplest – on the colour wheel, purple is the direct opposite of yellow, which means purple and yellow cancel one another out. So, when you use a purple pigmented shampoo on brassy or yellow tones, it colour-corrects the hair, restoring it to its former brightness with cooler hues. It also work swell on grey or white hair too.
In recent years, the purple shampoo market has expanded enormously, which can make the quest to find the right one for you a tricky task. When doing so, it’s important to consider the type of shampoo that will suit your hair best and also help you achieve your desired result. But, as a rule of thumb, the lighter the shade of purple, the more subtle the results will be and vice versa.
Similarly, when it comes to application, directions will vary depending on the shampoo’s intensity. While some are suitable to use for your daily lather, others are designed to be left on for two to five minutes before rinsing thoroughly. If you’re adding a purple shampoo to your routine, start by using it once a week and build up from there if needed because, while it is a beneficial tool in helping to keep your colour fresh, going overboard could result in lavender-tinted locks.
How we tested
To help you on your path to a brighter barnet, we put a crop of purple shampoos to the test on our balayage blonde hair to see if they could not only help combat brassiness but also restore shine and boost the health of our strands.
The best purple shampoos for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Fudge clean blonde violet toning shampoo: £4.25, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for daily use – Philip Kingsley pure blonde/silver brightening daily shampoo: £20.50, Feelunique.com
- Best for great scent – Lush daddy-o shampoo: £14, Lush.com
- Best luxury buy – Oribe bright blonde shampoo: £44.50, Spacenk.com
- Best for dry or damaged hair – Kevin Murphy blonde angel wash: £24, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for bleach blondes – Osmo super silver no yellow shampoo: £7.90, Justmylook.com
- Best for fine or limp hair – Sachajuan silver shampoo: £23, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for shine – Kerastase blond absolu bain ultra violet shampoo: £19.95 Lookfantastic.com
Fudge clean blonde violet toning shampoo, 50ml
Best: For instant results
If you’re looking for a shampoo that will restore your blonde hair after just one wash, this is it. Available in three sizes, it’s fortified with salon-strength purple micro-pigments, which give the shampoo its deep hue and also help to knock out any unwanted brassiness from your locks in an instant.
The formula, which smells a little like Play-Doh to us, doesn’t lather as much as standard shampoos and, as per the instructions, we left it on for just a couple of minutes before rinsing off. We couldn’t quite believe how good the results were from this product considering the price – our hair looked as though it had been professionally toned. Even the most stubborn areas were restored to their former icy blonde hue and our locks felt super-soft, too.
But, while we can certainly attest to this shampoo’s brass-battling abilities, we must also share a word of warning. It’s so powerful that our fingernails were left slightly stained – though this washed off eventually – and, if you leave it on any longer than the recommended five minutes, you could run the risk of sporting a blue rinse. In fact, we’d suggest leaving it on your hair for just one minute at first and working your way up from there, or mixing it together with a standard shampoo.
Philip Kingsley pure blonde/silver brightening daily shampoo, 250ml
Best: For daily use
This colour-saving shampoo is the lightest in hue of all the ones we tried, making it a great choice for anyone who finds the usual dark purple tones off putting. Designed with subtle violet shades and optical brightener, it has a relaxing lavender scent and forms a really generous lather, meaning a little bit of product goes a long way. We also really loved the unusual cap on the bottle, which was super-easy to open with wet hands.
Because of its lighter colour, we didn’t see much of an instant toning effect with this shampoo, but instead saw an improvement in brightness and shine over time after daily use. It was one of the most hydrating products we tried, leaving our hair feeling beautifully soft, especially when used in conjunction with the coordinating pure silver conditioner (£20, Boots.com).
Lush daddy-o shampoo, 250g
Best: For great scent
Lush might be best-known for its bath bombs but this purple-tinted shampoo is another of its most-loved products, and for good reason. Firstly, we have to talk about its scent, because daddy-o is hands-down the best-smelling shampoo we have ever used: sweet, fruity and a little nostalgic, it reminded us of Parma Violets and delivered a powerful fragrance that lasted on our locks all day long. As for the formula itself, the shampoo has a deep purple colour that looks almost shimmery and lathers up nicely on your hair.
It definitely gave our blonde hair a boost in terms of shine and brightness, but we didn’t experience much of a toning effect. However, this meant we could use it more regularly and would even recommend it to brunettes. We also found the shampoo to be super-clarifying, leaving our hair feeling squeaky clean and, while this did cause it to feel a tad dry, it was nothing a little conditioner couldn’t fix.
Oribe bright blonde shampoo, 250ml
Best: Luxury buy
While it is pricey, we think this is well worth the investment should your budget allow, as it successfully managed to cancel out any yellow tones in our hair. And, because we only needed to use it once a week for optimal results, it’s guaranteed to last for many months. We found it worked best when left on the hair for a few minutes and couldn’t get enough of the way the decadent pink bottle looked on the side of our tub.
You can rely on luxury haircare brand Oribe to make a purple shampoo that makes a difference to not only the appearance of your locks but also its condition. True to form, the product has a violet colour that forms a creamy lather and it also contains a number of hydrating and nourishing ingredients like watermelon and lavender, which help to counteract the dryness that correcting brassiness can sometimes cause.
Kevin Murphy blonde angel wash, 250ml
Best: For dry or damaged hair
Kevin Murphy is a brand that takes inspiration from skincare, so it should come as no surprise that this shampoo is enriched with luscious natural extracts – including lavender flower and shea butter – and is free from sulphates. The result? Healthier-looking and -feeling hair that’s gently cleansed without being stripped of its essential oils. As for its toning powers, we found it balanced out those sneaky brassy tones perfectly without feeling too drying, and didn’t leave any residue or unwanted purple build-up after a few uses. The only thing we found slightly irritating was the packaging, which made the product a little difficult to dispense.
Osmo super silver no yellow shampoo, 300ml
Best: For bleach blondes
If you have super-lightened or bleached hair and you’re struggling to shift stubborn brassiness, look no further than this intense, sulphate-free treatment shampoo, which is so powerful it’s used in professional salons. Formulated with strong violent pigments, this one has the potential to stain your hands, so, if you’re worried about ruining your mani, we’d suggest wearing a pair of gloves to apply it. The directions state that you can leave this on wet hair for up to five minutes, but we found that just one to two minutes was long enough for this product to work its magic and restore the ashy tones in our tresses. It wasn’t the most conditioning shampoo we tried, so we’d recommend following it up with your usual conditioner if your hair is particularly dry.
Sachajuan silver shampoo, 250ml
Best: For fine or limp hair
The brainchild of Stockholm-based Sachajuan, this shampoo is a deep violet hue, making for a powerful formula that tones and neutralises your hair. We loved the glossy white bottle, the flip-up cap, which makes it easy to use, and its addictive fragrance, which has hints of citrus and lavender. After just one use, we found that this shampoo managed to diminish any unwanted warmth and, thanks to the brand’s renowned “ocean silk technology” (which features sea algae and proteins), our locks felt hydrated and shiny. This was one of the only shampoos we tried that also gave our hair more volume, making it a great choice for those with fine tresses.
Kerastase blond absolu bain ultra violet shampoo, 250ml
Best: For shine
Great for use between salon visits, this shampoo is ideal for cool blondes looking to maintain their icy hue as it’s packed with nourishing benefits, such as hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower, which help to neutralise brassiness and keep your hair hydrated and healthy at the same time. Designed to be left on for between two to five minutes, we found this shampoo had a generous lather and, thanks to its nourishing formula, left our hair feeling beautifully conditioned. It also left our hair, which is prone to dullness, looking super-shiny and helped to reduce flyaways and frizz in the heat.
The verdict: Purple shampoos
If you’re looking for a purple shampoo that will knock out any brassiness after just one wash, we highly recommend Fudge’s clean blonde violet toning shampoo. It neutralised unwanted tones in an instant and left our hair feeling squeaky clean – just make sure not to leave it on too long. For a product you can use every day, we’re torn between Lush and Philip Kingsley – while the former has become our go-to because of its amazing scent, the latter is slightly more nourishing.
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Give your locks a helping hand with pur round-up of the best hair vitamins
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