Considering the fact that I'm a natural blonde who's been bleaching her hair a shade or two lighter (be it by way of highlights, balayage, or all-over colour) for the last 15 years, it might surprise you to learn that, until recently, I'd never used a purple shampoo. Sacrilege I know, but I put it down to booking in my salon appointments like clockwork and never truly understanding the benefits of incorporating purple shampoo into my routine. Naturally, however, that all changed this year.
Since April, when my next hair appointment should have been, it's not my darkened roots that have been causing me distress (I've actually come to like my lived-in blonde tresses)—it's the brassiness of my lengths. Instead of staying my preferred cool, creamy blonde, they've gradually warmed until my hair began to resemble the colour of the yellow crayon my nephew uses for my hair when he draws. Unimpressed with my new hue, I consulted my hairdresser friend for advice. "Order a purple shampoo," she told me. While I may have been previously sceptical, I'm now a bonafide purple shampoo convert.
"Purple or violet shampoo is a bit of a miracle product for blonde hair as it cleanses and tones the hair at the same time. That way, clients can tone their hair at home in-between salon visits," says Christel Barron-Hough, founder and colour director at award-winning colour salon, Stil. "The purpose of purple shampoo is to neutralise unwanted brassy hues in blonde hair, whether its dyed or natural. While its effects can be seen on all shades of blonde hair, it's particularly noticeable on hair that's very light blonde to platinum light blonde."
"Paler blonde clients can use a shampoo that's more purple in hue as that will gently tone bright blonde hair leaving it looking cool in hue and bright in tone," continues Barron-Hough. "If the shampoo has more of a blue-purple tone, it will have a staining effect on the hair and create a mauve shade, which can be cool is a pastel look is what you're going for, but it's something to bear in mind in case it isn't."
I was keen to understand how purple shampoo works on different hair textures. "The only thing you need to consider with purple shampoo is that, if your texture is super fine, it can stain the baby hair around the hairline," advises Barron-Hough. "If that's the case, you would need to leave the hairline out when shampooing and just massage it in the last few seconds before you rinse.
"Purple shampoo works very well on Afro hair, too; all of the guidelines I've already discussed apply in the same way. As Afro hair is slightly more porous, if the shade of blonde is super light, then a purple tone shampoo will work best for a brightening effect. The tone should absorb quickly, so you needn't spend lots of time in the shower waiting for it to work."
When I first added purple shampoo to my routine, one of my biggest concerns was knowing how often I should use it. "Depending on how often you wash your hair, I would recommend using a purple shampoo once or twice a week for up to five minutes," says Barron-Hough. "The longer you leave it on, the more it will neutralise any unwanted brassy tones."
And which bottle does Barron-Hough personally find herself reaching for? "I absolutely love TIGI's Toning Shampoo (£25) as it's pure purple in tone and sulphate-free, so it's incredibly gentle on the scalp and hair."