If you've ever tried to lighten your hair at home — or caught sight of your reflection halfway through a double-process treatment — you're familiar with the dull, one-dimensional yellow that remains after bleaching. It's not an especially natural or flattering shade, which is why a good colorist will then apply highlights, lowlights and toner. (Side note: This is also why your salon visit takes four hours and costs a small fortune.)
Unfortunately, dyed hair likes to slowly creep back toward that brassy yellow over time. That's where purple shampoo, which is kind of a "toner lite," comes in. Want to learn more and see our experts', editors' and shoppers' favorite picks? Read on or use the links below.
What is purple shampoo? | Best budget | Best overall | Runner-up | Best for brassiness | Best set | Best for gray hair | Most moisturizing | Most smoothing | Best bar | Best customizable | FAQs | How we chose | Meet our experts
What is purple shampoo and what does it do?
This kind of shampoo goes on — you guessed it — purple. Specifically, the hue tends to be a bold, somewhat alarming violet that will stain your bathtub if it dries, but it rinses out clear. Because purple is on the opposite side of the color wheel as yellow, it helps to combat underlying brassiness in the hair and get rid of yellow pigment, according Lauren Grummel, a New York City-based colorist.
While an over-the-counter purple shampoo can't replicate the nuanced work of a skilled colorist, it's useful if you're in between appointments. "It can help keep your color fresher for longer outside of the salon," Grummel says.
Best budget purple shampoo
Formula: Creamy | Best for: Color-treated or bleached hair | Recommended use: Weekly | Scent: Violet, fig, thyme, coconut | Sulfate-free? Yes
For an affordable option that delivers intense results, look no further than one of our Shop TODAY Beauty Awards winners: L'Oreal's EverPure Purple Shampoo. Our staff testers bestowed this Best for Blondes winner near-perfect ratings in the categories of value, quality and user satisfaction.
Mirjam Lablans, integrations producer at NBC News and longtime user, reports, "This shampoo really helps bring the color into the right spectrum so it doesn’t look as yellow or brassy and restores the color and tone to a true 'cool' blonde."
And lest you think only our editors are fans, L'oreal's purple shampoo also happens to be a top-rated pick (on Amazon alone it's garnered over 15,000 verified five-star reviews), this shampoo is enriched with hibiscus and purple pigments and is free of sulfates, parabens and harsh salts.
STAFF REVIEW: "I feel like it helps me save money in the long run by stretching the time I can go in between appointments, since it keeps my blonde looking fresh and bright." — Emma Stessman, Shop TODAY associate editor
Best overall purple shampoo
Formula: Thin cream | Best for: Blonde and highlighted hair | Scent: Delicate | Recommended use: 2-3x a week | Sulfate-free? No
Kasey Bertucci, hairstylist and co-founder of Salon 120 West in Boston, likes this shampoo from Redken. Ideal for blonde and highlighted hair, the formula has salicylic acid which she said can also help remove unwanted pigment.
RAVE REVIEW: "I use this daily and about once I week I make sure to leave it in for about 10 minutes. Definitely helps fight brassy tones and one of the more affordable purple shampoos that actually does something. Be careful leaving it in too long though or you WILL have violet tinted hair until your next wash." — Amazon reviewer
Runner-up, best overall purple shampoo
Formula: Runny cream | Best for: Brassy blonde, lightened or gray hair, dry hair | Scent: None | Recommended use: 2-3x a week | Sulfate-free? Yes
Olaplex's No. 4 Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo boasts a highly concentrated formula that promises to strengthen and hydrate hair while neutralizing unwanted brassy tones.
"It’s part of their hair-restorative line, so if you are highlighting and your hair feels a little brittle and needs a bit of reconstruction, that’s a great option," Bertucci says.
WHY IT'S A RUNNER-UP: In addition to our expert's endorsement, dozens of users have expressed satisfaction with the product's efficacy on Instagram, Olaplex's website and other retailers. However, we decided to place it in the Runner-Up category due to the no-small number of reviews on Sephora, Amazon and other sites that report how brittle, tangled and breakage-prone it can make some users' hair. Several others note that the tint is too strong and even using it for a minute or less leaves a purple or lavender tint to their locks. We highly recommend patch-testing or diluting with another product before use.
Best purple shampoo for brassiness
Formula: Creamy | Best for: Color-treated hair | Scent: Citrus notes | Recommended use: Daily | Sulfate-free? No
"This stuff is like magic!" an Amazon shopper says about John Frieda's purple shampoo, and countless others agree with this sentiment. This option utilizes crushed violet pigments to counteract your tresses' brassy tones, resulting in a cooler tone after just one use.
RAVE REVIEW: "As far as masks go, this is absolutely hands down the best I have tried. It smells SO GOOD and your hair feels as soft as silk after you use it. It tones incredibly. I prefer to leave it on from 5-10 minutes. I find I get the best performance from it that way." — Amazon reviewer
Best purple shampoo and conditioner set
Formula: Creamy | Best for: Blonde and silver hair | Scent: None | Recommended use: 2-3x a week | Sulfate-free? No
Preserve the color of your highlighted, blonde, gray or ombré hair with this purple shampoo and conditioner set. Along with the purple pigment, they contain hair-healthy ingredients like rosehip oil, arginine, green tea extracts and keratin, making it a great all-around treatment.
And don't just take our word for it, you can also look to the impressive Amazon review section for evidence: It currently has over 6,400 glowing (and verified) five-star ratings.
RAVE REVIEW: "It had been about 10 weeks since my last highlight. It gave my hair an incredible boost — felt like day one of leaving the salon. No brassiness. My hair felt nourished, extremely soft, light and healthy." — Amazon reviewer
Best purple shampoos for gray hair
Formula: Liquid | Best for: Gray or de-colored hair | Scent: Like black licorice | Recommended use: Once a week | Sulfate-free? No
This pick from Bertucci also just so happens to be an Amazon reviewer favorite with an impressive 42,000-plus verified five-star ratings.
"I would recommend using a cleansing shampoo first and then following up with the Fanola, just to make sure that you have a nice, clean slate before applying," Bertucci says.
RAVE REVIEW: "Takes the yellow out of gray. Use it at least once a week depending on how often you wash your hair. The more often the better. Pretty blue/grey in color and does what it claims. Covers up the yellow which was caused by putting a toner on my natural gray. Wear gloves! I took the bottle to the salon and every hairstylist knew exactly what it was and agreed it’s the best purple shampoo out there." — Amazon reviewer
Formula: Thin cream | Best for: Light blonde, bright gray or light hair | Scent: Berry with floral notes | Recommended use: Users recommend once or twice a week | Sulfate-free? No (but SLES-free)
The ingredients of this buzzworthy purple shampoo might indeed call to mind a literal milkshake — organic berries! milk protein! — but those same ingredients also deliver much-needed brightness and nourishment to your thirsty locks (not to mention a wonderful fragrance). Just take it from the almost-9,000 verified shoppers who've rated this option a perfect five stars.
A few tips from several users, though: Make sure to wear gloves (it'll make your hands purple) and use a salon-quality conditioner the rest of the week for best results.
RAVE REVIEW: "Wonderful smell. I made the decision to embrace my grays at 50 and I've never looked back. I use this shampoo once a week to keep my hair bright and vibrant." — Amazon reviewer
PICKS FOR GRAY OR SILVER HAIR ALSO WORTH CONSIDERING
- Virtue ColorKick Debrassing Blue, Purple Shampoo (currently $33 at Sephora)
- Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Ultra-Violet Purple Shampoo (currently $40 on Kérastase)
Most moisturizing purple shampoo
Formula: Creamy | Best for: All hair types (blonde and gray) | Scent: Not listed | Recommended use: Once a week to every other wash | Sulfate-free? Yes
A top-rated crowd favorite, Amika's purple shampoo can't be beat when it comes to both banishing brassiness and boosting hydration (its key ingredients include keratin and avocado oil, among other nourishing ingredients). Dozens of reviewers on both Sephora and the brand's site highlight the shampoo's creamy, rich formula and how silky and soft their hair feels after a treatment.
Plus, in addition to its violet pigments and vegan proteins, the formula also boasts bond-targeting technology to help prevent breakage.
RAVE REVIEW: "[It] smells nice and keeps my hair a great shade of blonde! I have ash blonde highlights and this shampoo helps to keep the colour looking fresh. I don't find the smell too strong compared to other purple shampoos. I also find it a better consistency as some purple shampoos are too runny. I would definitely recommend this product," — Sephora reviewer
Best smoothing purple shampoo
Formula: Creamy | Best for: Natural or color-treated blonde and brown hair| Scent: Not listed | Recommended use: 1-2x a week | Sulfate-free? Yes
We love this gentle formula that not only works wonders to brighten blonde and brown hair of all kinds (just take a look at its average 4.8 star rating on Sun Bum's site), but it's also formulated with nourishing and deeply hydrating ingredients like banana, spirulina, violet extracts and sunflower seed oil. Bonus? It comes with UV protection.
STAFF REVIEW: "My go-to is the Sun Bum blonde shampoo and conditioner, paired with their hair-lightening spray! My sister always yields better results than I do, but blonde streaks always tend to show more when I use this hair regimen compared to 'normal' shampoo!" — Sierra Hoeger, Shop TODAY Editorial Assistant
Best purple shampoo bar
Formula: Bar | Best for: All blondes (treated and natural) | Scent: Like a subtle scented candle | Recommended use: 2+ days a week | Sulfate-free? Yes
For a pick that has eco-friendly ingredients, is free of sulfates and packaged in recycled paper instead of plastic — and one that's a crowd favorite, couple thousand five-star reviews on Kitsch's site — go for this purple shampoo bar and its accompanying solid purple conditioner. Kitsch's toning products also include biotin, which is said to strengthen hair strands and boost their shine.
Here are three of our blonde editors' varying experiences (long-time purple shampoo users), so you can decide if this product is worth trying for your needs.
"The instructions on each box (both shampoo and conditioner) were very clear, and it was very easy to use. ... I was worried that because this was a bar that was going to [dye my hands], but it was totally fine! ... After the shampoo bar [my hair] felt a bit dry, but then the conditioner bar left it feeling so smooth, silky and shiny." — Klay Drageset, Commerce Partnerships Associate
"My hair felt better overall after using, [but] I don't think they're as effective as other formulas that I've used. The lather that you get on your hands isn't very pigmented, which (maybe it's just a mental thing) makes me think that it might not be as effective. Because of the bar design, it's also hard to get a ton of product out. ... With other products, I like being able to easily double up on days when I feel like my hair needs that extra brass neutralizing." — Emma Stessman, Shop TODAY Associate Editor
"I used both until they were small and definitely noticed a difference in terms of brassiness in my hair. My hair could go longer in between washes and was so silky smooth the mornings after!" — Sierra Hoeger, Shop TODAY Editorial Assistant
Best customizable purple shampoo
Formula: Liquid drops | Best for: Blonde and silver hair | Scent: None | Recommended use: 2-3x a week | Sulfate-free? No
Looking for a solution that lets you stick with your favorite shampoo but still tackle those unwanted yellow or orange pigments? Go for this pick, which lets you turn your favorite shampoo (and conditioner) into a blonde toning product — and perhaps even save money in the long run.
STAFF REVIEW: "I tried for the first time this year. I really like how you can customize the amount that you need, and you can add to your favorite shampoo!" — Emma Stessman, Shop TODAY Associate Editor
Questions about purple shampoos, answered by experts
Are purple shampoos only good for dyed blonde hair?
We're glad to report that purple shampoos are not just for dyed blondes. It can also be used to touch up highlights, keep trendy pastels looking crisp, or give grays (natural or otherwise) those chic blue undertones.
Plus, "a natural blonde could use it if their hair is feeling a little dull and they wanted a bit of vibrancy," Grummel says.
How often should I use purple shampoo?
Grummel recommends starting by using the product once a week and then bumping it up to two times per week if you feel like you need more. We recommend checking the Q&A or FAQ sections on each shampoo's product page to get specific usage instructions (Amika's shampoo, for example, can be used up to every other day, according to the brand).
The colorist also says that if you use purple shampoo too often, you might notice your hair starting to look a little flat or ashy. You can remedy this by washing with your regular shampoo and conditioner.
What should I watch out for when using purple shampoo?
In addition to the previously mentioned overuse of purple shampoo, as well as the color it might leave behind on your hands or your tub, many reviewers and users on social media advise using the product alongside a high-quality, hydrating shampoo and conditioner (steering clear of no-name products from the local convenience store).
Others also mention making sure to not use these shampoos for too long, as you might be left with violet or lavender hair.
How we chose the best purple shampoos
To come up with our definitive list of the best purple shampoos, the Shop TODAY team spent hours researching, interviewing hair experts, and trying out top-rated products (across all budgets) ourselves. We also combed through dozens of product reviews and social media comments, as well as sought out the highest-rated picks on various bestseller lists, to find the best of the best purple shampoos available on the market today.