Say goodbye to brassy hair! I consulted a top colorist, as well as tested a pile of products, to suss out the best purple hair care products.

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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.

keep hair from turning brassy
Credit: Courtesy of Amber Katz

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.

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Shimmer Lights shampoo blonde & silver
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

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.

Buy It: Shimmer Lights Shampoo ($13, Ulta)

Rita Hazan True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss
Credit: Courtesy of Rita Hazan

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.

Buy It: Rita Hazan True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss in Breaking Brass ($26, Amazon)

Amica bust your brass cool blonde shampoo
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Best For: A Sulfate-Free, Keratin-Infused Cleanse

Great for blonde gray hair of all textures and types, this avocado oil-enhanced shampoo gently cleanses while imparting moisture to parched strands.

Buy It: Amika Bust Your Brass Purple Shampoo ($20, Sephora)

Davines Alchemic conditioner
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

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)

Leonor Greyl Icy blonde conditioner
Credit: Courtesy of Leonor Greyl

Best For: Pairing With A Luxurious Bath

A luxe must, Leonor Greyl’s formula keeps platinum blondes cool. Made with natural ingredients, this rich purple formula features meadowfoam seed oil and rice proteins to nourish the hair while spotlighting its highlights.

Buy It: Leonor Greyl Soin Repigmentant in Icy Blonde ($65, Leonor Greyl)

R+Co Sunset BLVD Blonde Toning Masque
Credit: Courtesy of R+Co

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.

Buy It: R+Co Sunset BLVD Toning Mask ($42, R+Co)

Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo
Credit: Courtesy of Joico

Best For: Daily Hair Washers

This mid-priced shampoo from Joico boasts tone-correcting pigments that attach to the fibers of your hair and stay there through multiple shampoos. It also has a complex that fights fade and frizz while imparting shine.

Buy It: Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo ($17, Ulta)


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