Purple Shampoo on Brown Hair: Can You Use It?

Once brown hair is exposed to harsh elements like sun, hard water and heat, the hair cuticle tends to be porous which results in the color fading. For blondes, the solution is often using the right purple shampoo. But can you use purple shampoo on brown hair?

If you haven’t heard about purple shampoo then you most probably haven’t had blonde or silver hair before.

So what does purple shampoo do?

It’s just a purple-colored shampoo designed to keep the brassy color away and the darker undertones at bay. Purple balances out brassy-yellow tones that are common with bleached hair, giving it a brighter appearance. 

Can you use purple shampoo on brown hair?

Yes, purple shampoo can be used on brown hair. It’s not just for blondes but it’s good for brunettes who want to maintain their hair color and prevent it from getting brassy from all the damaging practices your hair has been under.

Purple shampoo for brown hair is a good option if you want to brighten your tresses, but if you have light or dark hair, the purple tint won’t show up as much on your locks. Note that the goal of purple shampoo is to cancel the yellow tone of the hair so that your tresses will look toned and more vibrant.

How does purple shampoo work?

Purple shampoo works by using the color purple to color-correct warm tones in lighter-colored hair. It’s intended to remove yellow hues from blonde hair, making it fairer and more silvery. 

It does this by counteracting the realign pigment molecules in the hair shaft that create golden or brassy tones. The pigments are removed through a chemical process called chelation, a type of bonding that combines ions and molecules with metal ions. When you chelate your hair, you’re essentially demineralizing it and removing product buildup. This is important for those who have strands that have gone brassy. 

Here’s how purple shampoo works.

  1. Blonde hair has a thick inner medulla and cortex which is what gives it its thick, full appearance. But the downside to this is that blonde hair also takes on yellow tones more easily due to the increased amount of melanin in these sections of the hair shaft (melanin is what gives you a darker color).  These sections of blonde hair can be as much as two times thicker than the rest of the shaft, which means it has more room for pigment molecules to accumulate and turn yellow. This is why blonde hair tends to lose its vibrancy faster than other hair colors and goes brassy faster.
  1. Purple shampoo counteracts those excess pigment molecules and strips them from the hair shaft via a process called chelation. Chelation is a chemical process that uses a molecule or ion to form a larger complex with a metal atom in order to make it soluble in water. In other words, you take a positively-charged pigment molecule and attach it to a negatively charged shampoo molecule, which makes it easier for your shampoo to remove it from the hair.
  2. The excess pigment molecules are carried away when you rinse your hair clean under the faucet.

Does purple shampoo work on gray hair?

woman with platinum hair
Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Yes, purple shampoo works well for gray and silver hair. Any kind of brassiness caused by heat and styling will be canceled out by the purple from the shampoo. 

If you have silver or white hair with golden tones, it means you have ‘golden’ undertones in your hair so you want to use a purple shampoo that has more blue pigment. Remember that yellow and purple are on the opposite sides of the color wheel so they will cancel each other out.

For gray or silver hair with coppery undertones, you’ll need a purple shampoo that has more green pigment in it.

On the other hand, if your grays are very brassy, then there are some shampoos that will remove brassiness as well due to the blue pigment. If you have platinum, silver or white hair and your grays are not brassy at all, then you want to use a purple shampoo that has more violet pigment for keeping them nice and bright.

Why does purple shampoo work on yellow tones instead of green ones?

It’s because blue and yellow pigments are closer in size than green and yellow pigments. This means that the conditioner molecules attach easier to the excess pigment molecules. Blue is on the other end of the color wheel so it can cancel out both green and yellow. 

In theory, blue shampoo works better on brunettes or brown hair than purple shampoo. But purple shampoo should do the job.

Blue vs. Purple Shampoo: What’s the difference?

Blue and purple shampoo are both used to tone and color correct brassiness on colored hair. Purple shampoo is used for blonde hair, while blue shampoo is used for brunettes or darker hair colors. 

It’s not because one color works better than the other, it’s simply because purple shampoo gives the best results with lighter shades of hair while blue shampoo does so on darker shades of hair.

Since both shampoos are used to cancel out a color, they both tend to remove the natural pigment from your hair. So purple shampoo can make your hair appear ashy and grey, especially if it has been abused with too much bleaching. And blue shampoo might make brunettes look like they’ve got roots because of the brassy red or orange tones it removes from the natural pigment.

Both shampoos can also be drying for your hair, so you should only use them every other wash or every 3rd wash to prevent over-drying and breakage. Applying a deep conditioner after using either shampoo is essential if your hair is dry from it.

If you can’t find blue shampoo for your brown hair, then a good purple shampoo will work just fine.

Are brassy tones bad?

Brassy hair isn’t necessarily a bad thing but unless you intentionally want the shade then it’s not something you wish to stay on your hair. Brassiness is when you have lightened your hair and you’re seeing bronze or orange tones that are ruining the shade that you originally chose.

Brassy tones look good on people with neutral or warm undertones. If the brassy tone suits your skin color and you feel that it’s one of the things that elevates your style, then go ahead and wear it proudly. But if you feel uncomfortable and it simply isn’t your style, then tone it down with a good purple shampoo.

Will purple shampoo lighten brown hair?

Purple shampoo is like a toner. So if you have brown hair with highlights, you’ll see changes like lightened locks as purple shampoo will cancel darker undertones. So if you have color-treated hair, this is excellent for toning highlights and eliminating darker shadows so that the brighter color will pop.

Purple Shampoo Before and After

There are different kinds of purple shampoos for different kinds of people with brown hair who want to enhance their naturally dark locks with the help of the shampoo’s violet hue. It’s not an uncommon product that can be found in many different retail shops and even online.

Here’s a video showcasing what purple shampoo can do for your light brown hair:

It’s important to know that even if the shampoo is intended for brunettes, there are still some shampoos out there that will not work on darker hair. This can be due to the fact that the ingredients may be too light for your hair color. If you want a purple shampoo that’s effective, then you should look into which ingredients are inside the formula before purchasing it.

People with brown hair that want to highlight their tresses should look for a high-quality purple shampoo that contains rosemary, safflower oil, and jojoba extracts. The extracts will help your hair retain its moisture by closing the cuticles of the strands. Using this type of shampoo twice a week can make even dark brown hair appear brighter and more vibrant.

How often should you use purple shampoo?

Purple shampoo should only be used once or twice a week. Note that it does not replace your regular shampoo. Use it whenever you see that your hair color is turning a little brassy and you want to quickly refresh it back to a more toned shade.

You need purple shampoo even if you’re not a blonde

Finding the perfect hair color takes time and money. Once you have it, you want to maintain it for as long as possible. You can use purple shampoo in your hair care routine whether you have blonde or brown colored hair.

With purple shampoo, you’re keeping your hair looking fresh and vibrant without the constant need to go to the salon for touch-ups.

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