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Blue vs. purple shampoo: Experts explain the difference and share their go-to products for vibrancy

Find out which one you should incorporate into your hair care routine.
Vivian Le / TODAY

As someone who's switched back and forth from brunette to blonde hair a countless amount times in the past (at home and at the salon), I've become fairly familiar with the difference between blue and purple shampoo. While both work to neutralize hair tone, they're each meant to target different shades of orange or yellow that appear over time as a result of bleach.

With that being said, there are a few things to consider while choosing between a purple and blue shampoo, like your current hair color and the hair color you're trying to achieve.

Before you drop your hard-earned cash on top-notch products (which are totally worth it, by the way), read the following advice given by hairstylists to figure out which shampoo is best for you.

What does blue shampoo do to your hair? | What does purple shampoo do to your hair? | Best blue shampoos | Best purple shampoos | Editor favorites | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best blue and purple shampoos

What does blue shampoo do to your hair?

In a nutshell, blue-tinted shampoo is formulated to address unwanted brassiness that occurs in darker hair after brightening treatments.

Jennifer Korab, a hairstylist based in Hillsborough, New Jersey, specifically tells us that "the purpose of a blue shampoo is usually to neutralize any orange or brassy tones in the hair."

Michelle Cleveland, a hairstylist based in Toms River, New Jersey, goes on to say that "this shampoo works best for brunettes who have highlights or are on a journey to becoming blonde."

Cleveland continues, "Blue is a primary color and as such has stronger coverage making it ideal for brassy [and] orange hair..." On the other hand, she says that "purple is a secondary color and as such is less strong and corrects yellow tones in the hair."

What does purple shampoo do to your hair?

According to Cleveland, "the purpose of purple shampoo is to neutralize yellow tones in the hair." She goes on to say that "this shampoo works best for blondes who desire a cool ashy tone but still see 'yellow.'"

Blondes aren't the only ones who can benefit from purple-tinted shampoo, though. Korab tells us that people with silver or gray hair can also use purple-tinted washes in effort to address unwanted yellowness post-hair treatment.

Best blue shampoos, according to experts

Matrix Brass Off Blue Shampoo

What we like
  • Customers love the smell
  • Works great on highlights
  • Leaves hair feeling softer
Something to note
  • Customers say it can stain
  • Customers say it can be drying
  • Contains sulfates

Size: 10.1 ounces | Recommended use: Every other day until desired shade is reached

As far as blue shampoos go, Korab recommends Brass Off by Matrix, which only takes a few minutes to start working in the shower (three to five, to be exact). The blue- and violet-pigmented formula is designed specifically for brunettes going brighter, but it can also be used on natural, non-dyed hair.

Oligo Professionnel Blacklight Blue Shampoo

What we like
  • Keeps blonde vibrant
  • "Works exceptionally well"
  • Customers love the scent
Something to note
  • Customers say it can be drying
  • Some customers reported leaks

Size: 8.5 ounces | Recommended use: As needed

This sulfate-free shampoo comes recommended by Cleveland, who says that you should “look for sulfate-free shampoos as they cause less stripping of natural oils.”

This blue-pigmented wash is not only sulfate-free but also hydrating, thanks to the addition of amino acids and argon oil.

dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo

What we like
  • Makes hair feel softer
  • "Has a nice scent"
Something to note
  • Customers say it can be drying

Size: 8.5 ounces | Recommended use: Weekly

Korab also recommends the Cool Brunette Shampoo by dpHue, which has a blue-tinted vegan formula that's totally free of sulfates, parabens and silicone. According to the brand, the longer you leave this product in your hair, the more results you'll get. Plus, it has a pleasant citrusy scent.

Best purple shampoos, according to experts

Matrix So Silver Purple Shampoo

What we like
  • Adds brightness
  • Helps soften hair
  • Thick, "luxurious" formula
Something to note
  • Some reported "flimsy" bottle
  • Customers say it can be drying
  • Contains sulfates

Size: 10.1 ounces | Recommended use: As needed

Korab suggests using So Silver by Matrix, which helps brighten platinum-blonde tresses. While washing with the bold, violet-hued formula, the brand recommends wearing gloves, as the tint can stain your hands. In addition to brightening capabilities, the shampoo has a soothing rosewood-and-jasmine scent with a touch of "leafy greens."

Redken Blondage Shampoo

What we like
  • Over 10,000 five-star ratings
  • Brightens blonde quickly
  • Customers love the scent
Something to note
  • Customers say it can stain
  • "It is a little drying"
  • Contains sulfates

Size: 10.1 ounces | Recommended use: As needed

With over 10,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon, it's clear Redken's Blondage purple shampoo is a favorite amongst those with bright blonde and gray hair. Korab also recommends this shampoo, which is formulated with violet pigment for powerful, long-lasting results after lathering for three to five minutes.

Olaplex Toning Shampoo

What we like
  • Strong formula; works quickly
  • Customers like the scent
Something to note
  • Isn't very hydrating

Size: 8.5 ounces | Recommended use: 2 to 3 times per week

Olaplex also has a toning shampoo specifically formulated for those with blonde and gray hair, and it comes recommended by Cleveland. The sulfate-free product is designed to both strengthen and brighten hair after just three minutes of lathering. However, the brand gives the green light for leaving the lather in your hair for up to five minutes for brighter results.

Kérastase Purple Shampoo

What we like
  • Keeps blonde bright
  • Works quickly
  • Bottle lasts a long time
Something to note
  • "Vibrant" purple; might stain
  • Contains sulfates

Size: 8.5 ounces | Recommended use: 2 to 3 times per week

This high-quality purple shampoo from Kérastase is recommended by Korab, and based off high reviews on Amazon, it's well worth its price tag. The violet-colored formula is infused with hyaluronic acid, making it a hydrating option. It's intended for use on color-treated hair and can help prevent blonde from fading.

Editor favorites

L'Oréal EverPure Purple Shampoo

What we like
  • Purple color doesn't stain
  • Works well after a few uses
Something to note
  • Can feel drying if used often

Size: 6.8 ounces | Recommended use: 2 to 3 times per week

I personally recommend this Shop TODAY Beauty Awards winner, as does associate editor Emma Stessman. After bleaching my hair in the past, I've turned to this sulfate-free purple shampoo from L'Oreal Paris to help keep my blonde vibrant over time. The formula is bright violet in color, but it hasn't stained my hands during use. It's kept my faux blonde icy and bright, but it is a little drying. I'd recommended using the conditioner in conjunction with it.

Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo

What we like
  • Impressive price point
Something to note
  • Can be messy to use
  • Contains sulfates

Size: 16 ounces | Recommended use: As needed

Nina Bradley, a commerce editor at Shop TODAY, recommends this purple shampoo by Clairol Professional. She says, "This shampoo helped tone the brassiness of my hair when it was dyed blonde. I used it along with the Clairol’s Professional Shimmer Lights conditioner and It did a great job of cleaning and keeping it properly moisturized."

Sun Bum Blonde Purple Shampoo

What we like
  • Works well with other products
  • Smells nice
Something to note
  • A little pricey for its size

Size: 10 ounces | Recommended use: 1 to 2 times per week

Sierra Hoeger, an editorial assistant at Shop TODAY, suggests using this sulfate-free purple shampoo from Sun Bum. She says, "I’m a huge fan of Sun Bum’s products and I’ve been using their hair lightening spray for as long as I can remember. When they came out with purple shampoo and conditioner, it seemed like the obvious choice to keep my hair looking light and non-brassy."

Hoeger continues, "This set was easy to incorporate into my routine, and it works in tandem with their other hair care products, such as their scalp scrub and hair lightening spray."

How we chose

We spoke with hairstylists about the differences between blue shampoos and purple shampoos and inquired about the benefits of each based on hair color. We then included their go-to picks, along with some favorites from editors at Shop TODAY who have experienced washing (and maintaining the brightness) of blonde and brunette hair in the past.

Meet the experts

  • Jennifer Korab is a hairstylist based in Hillsborough, New Jersey, who specializes in hair color and extensions. She's also the founder of Renaissance Salon and owner of Revival Barber Shop.
  • Michelle Cleveland is a hairstylist based in Toms River, New Jersey who has an impressive celebrity and television clientele. She currently works at Hair Addict Salon & Extension Bar.