Having blonde hair can be a lot of fun, but anyone who has — natural or not — knows the work that can go into maintaining a fresh color. If you don’t take care of your color, you may begin to see some unsightly, brassy tones in your hair. To prevent this, many blondes and even light brunettes like to incorporate a purple shampoo into their haircare routine, which deposits purple pigment onto hair to neutralize these tones and keep color true, cool, and ashy.
Recently, there’s been a hack floating around that recommends applying purple shampoo on dry hair, rather than on wet hair in the shower (as recommended). So we went straight to hair expert Joseph Maine, celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Trademark Beauty, for the lowdown on whether you should use purple shampoo on dry hair.
Should you apply purple shampoo on dry hair?
The short answer: No! People have been trying this technique because your hair will absorb more of the purple pigment when it’s dry. “Unfortunately, hair is not evenly absorbent when dry due to porosity levels,” Maine explains. “Typically, your ends, or highlighted areas will absorb more moisture than virgin hair closer to your roots. This can lead to very uneven pigmentation.”
So what is the best way to use purple shampoo?
If you want to use a purple shampoo, Maine recommends “soaking your hair with water and even adding a little conditioner on your ends” beforehand, to prevent the porous tips from absorbing too much pigment. It’s also important to follow the directions on your purple shampoo's packaging: Don’t leave it on your hair too long (usually no more than five minutes). If used incorrectly, "purple shampoo can stain your hair for weeks or even months,” Maine says. “It also can be very hard to remove from your hair and can cause dryness.”
If you've overdone it, be patient. Purple shampoo "is a stain, so it will wash out over time,” Maine says. The more frequently you cleanse with regular shampoo, the faster it will fade. “For very light highlighted hair, it can require an expensive in-salon color correction where they mix heavy bleach to remove the pigment off of hair.” So, if your hair is looking like an abstract purple painting (and not in a good way), it’s probably time to call up your stylist.
How to tone hair without applying purple shampoo to dry hair
To keep blonde hair on tone, Maine recommends Color Wow Dream Filter, “a pre-shampoo mineral treatment that removes minerals and metals.” This is important because “colored, highlighted, and processed hair becomes a magnet for those minerals and metals both from pollutants in the air and the water we shower with daily,” which causes discoloration.
Look for leave-on toning products like stylers, which tend to have less pigment than purple shampoos and conditioners. Maine likes Color Wow Color Control Toning and Styling Foam as a great alternative to purple shampoo that neutralizes brassiness, and it comes in a purple tone for lighter, blonde hair and a blue tone for darker, brunette hair. “It gives the perfect amount of pigment, thermal protection, and hold in your hair,” he says. “That way, you can focus on using a shampoo that gently cleanses and protects your hair, not strips and dyes.”
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