I Tested Products That Keep Your Hair from Turning Brassy, and These Are the Best
This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.
If your hair is blonde, cool brunette, or gray, you’ve likely dealt with unwanted brassiness. In the midst of COVID, you’ve likely dealt with brassiness due to pandemic-related closings. To banish the brass, I went to Sally Hershberger Nomad colorist Dana Ionato for advice. Here, she shares her best tips about why these uninvited tones show up in the first place, which purple shampoo or conditioner is right for your hair hue, and some of her go-to purple hair products.
“The brassiness is not man-made, it’s chemical; the result of oxidation,” Ionato says. To prevent this, you want to make sure you’re using a shampoo for color-treated hair every day. “That’s before you even embark on using a purple shampoo,” Ionato clarifies. This helps prevent the brassiness from occurring in the first place. In other words, if you use the wrong shampoo, it makes your hair brassy faster. Ionato likes Shu Uemura Color Lustre Brilliant Glaze Shampoo ($50, Sephora), Rene Furterer Okara Color Protection Shampoo ($12, Rene Furterer), and Kerastase Reflection Shampoo for Color Treated Hair ($31, Sephora).
What if your blonde or gray is au naturale? Ionato says you can still enhance it with a purple shampoo or conditioner. “It’ll make it brighter, cooler, and cancel out warm tones already present in the hair,” she explains. If you do color your hair, Ionato advises maintaining the color as long as you can without using purple shampoo. “It’s best to start using it two to three weeks out from your last color appointment,” she explains. Purple hair care is not preventative, in other words. “When you put a purple shampoo or conditioner on hair that doesn’t need it, everything that’s white or blonde is going to turn purple,” Ionato says. This will lead to your hair appearing darker, she says.
If your hair is yellow or orange before the two to three-week mark post salon visit, Ionato says that it most likely needs a gloss treatment. “Call your colorist and have her look at it,” she advises. If you’re thinking of using a purple haircare product, it’s best to talk to your colorist first to make sure you’re using one that works well for your color.
Most importantly, Ionato notes that not all purples are created equal. “Purple is a vague word,” she says. There are all different saturations of purple and they correspond to different hues of your hair, Ionato adds. Brunettes and blondes each need a different purple. Brunettes should opt for a deep purple. “Lavender won’t show up on a brunette,” Ianoto says. Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask in Baby Blonde ($53, Dermstore), for instance, is likely too light for a medium blonde, she adds, though it works well for platinum hair. “It’s very diluted—the lightest pastel version of purple,” Ionato says. If a rich brunette were to apply such a light purple product, it simply wouldn’t do much. Leaving it on longer can have an effect, depending on the formulation, Ionato explains. But she says this is unlikely, in her experience using these products.
You want to use your purple hair care once a week, Ionato advises. For best results, she says to mix your purple shampoo with your regularly scheduled shampoo formula in a 1:1 ratio so that it doesn’t dry out your strands. Here are some of our favorite purple hair care formulas we tested.
Best For: A Blonde Or Brunette On A Budget
Shimmer Lights is iconic for a reason. “It’s a deeper purple and works the best for brunettes and blondes,” Ionato says. It won’t ever be too strong for your hair color, she adds. Ionato recommends mixing this shampoo with John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze in Clear Shine ($12, Ulta) and applying the mixture to the roots of dry hair, where hair gets the most brassy. Leave it on for ten minutes, then massage it into the rest of your hair with water before rinsing it out. Then, shampoo once more with another shampoo for color-treated hair (if your blonde/gray isn’t natural) and condition, Ionato says.
Best For: Epic Shine
This purple gloss is an in-between step before your conditioner, after your shampoo. This mess-free at-home gloss not only banishes brassy tones, it keeps your color vibrant for weeks in between salon appointments.
Best For: Foolproof Toning
Ionato says that this conditioner works for any hair hue. “It’s purple but won’t dye your hair purple if it’s left on too long,” she says. If you’re not sure which purple is right for your hair color, this is a great product with which to start.
Buy It: Davines Alchemic Conditioner for Silver and Blonde Hair ($31, Amazon)
Best For: Pairing With A Luxurious Bath
Best For: Multitasking During An At-Home Workout
Now that we’re working from home, masking while tasking is my favorite thing to do. Sometimes, it’s a sheet mask while I’m on a conference call, other times, it’s this amazing toning mask to neutralize unwanted yellow hues in my hair while I indulge in a yoga session.