How to Use Purple Shampoo on Gray Hair: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you tired of hiding your silver hair? It’s time to embrace your true colors.

Transitioning to gray hair means you don’t need to have frequent hair dye sessions anymore.

It’s a liberating feeling to finally say goodbye to the dye.

A woman is brushing her gray hair in front of a mirror.

But not having to cover your grays doesn’t mean you don’t need to care for them anymore. Without proper maintenance, your gray hair can turn brassy and lose its luminous appearance.

To keep your silver locks cool and vibrant, you might be thinking of the all-time remedy for brassy hair: purple shampoo.

While this product is commonly used by blondes, can you also apply purple shampoo on gray hair? The answer is a resounding yes!

Read on as we explore why gray hair turns brassy and how purple shampoos combat this issue. We’ll also give you a rundown of the best purple shampoos for your gorgeous silver tresses. 

Why Does Gray Hair Turn Yellow or Brassy?

Did you know that gray hair turns brassy more quickly than blonde hair? 

While there are many reasons why this happens, it all boils down to one root cause: melanin loss.

As we age, our hair becomes gray. This is because as we grow old, the cells that produce melanin — the pigment that gives our hair its color — dwindle in number and slowly die.

So when the amount of melanin in the strands decreases, they become transparent and thus appear white. 

Because gray or white hair contains little pigment, it easily picks up yellow pigments from environmental elements and hair products like the following:

  • Shampoo residue
  • Mineral deposits in hard water
  • Pollutants

These leave an unsightly yellowish tint on gray hair.

Additionally, gray hair can also become brassy when it’s exposed to elements like the following:

  • Chlorine
  • Heat styling
  • Sunlight

These destroy what little melanin gray hair has left and bring out its underlying yellow tones, making it appear dull and overly warm. 

Can You Use Purple Shampoo on Gray Hair?

So if everyday activities like showering or walking in the sun lead to yellowing gray hair, it’s best to have a quick remedy for the issue on hand.

One of the best solutions for fixing brassy gray? Purple shampoo! 

Purple shampoo is a toning shampoo that deposits purple pigments onto hair to counteract brassiness. 

While it’s typically used on blonde hair, it can also get rid of yellow or orange undertones in gray, white, or silver hair. 

But don’t worry. When used correctly, it won’t turn your hair purple! 

All it will do is bring out the cool tones of your hair, creating the illusion of brighter, shinier locks.

What Does Purple Shampoo Do to Gray Hair?

Purple shampoo cancels out warm tones in yellowing gray hair to restore its vibrance. To understand how it does this, let’s first take a look at color theory.

Color theory is the science of using, combining, and categorizing colors based on the color wheel. 

The same rules and guidelines that govern color theory are also applied to the hair color wheel, which helps us determine which colors to mix to achieve a specific shade and which colors neutralize each other.

In hair color theory, complementary colors — or those that are opposite each other on the color wheel — cancel each other out. 

Yellow and purple are examples of complementary colors. 

When combined, they’ll cancel out each other’s tones and create a light neutral color like gray or brown.

This is how purple shampoo works. When you use purple shampoo on silver hair, its violet pigments will neutralize brassy yellow tones. 

The result? Gray strands with a fresher, more neutral color. 

How to Use Purple Shampoo for Gray Hair

Want to fix gray hair that’s turning yellow? No need to hit the salon; all you have to do is use purple shampoo at home.

A woman on the bathroom is washing her hair with a purple shampoo.

Here is a step-by-step guide to using purple shampoo on gray hair:

Do a strand test

Before using purple shampoo, we recommend that you do a strand test first. This will help you determine your hair porosity, which will then allow you to identify the right amount of time to leave the product on your hair. 

If your hair is too porous, it will absorb the pigments in purple shampoo too quickly. So after using it, your strands may take on a visibly purple tint. 

In this case, make sure not to leave the product on your hair for longer than a few minutes. 

Wet your hair with warm water

Get your hair completely wet. Use warm water — not hot — to help lift your hair cuticles. This way, your hair can absorb the shampoo pigments better.

Apply the purple shampoo onto your hair

Massage the shampoo into your strands, working your way from the roots down to the tips.

Make sure to start at the roots because they need more time to absorb the shampoo. Plus, the ends are more prone to damage, so it makes sense to leave them for last.

It’s also best to prioritize the problem areas where your hair is more brassy.

Wait for a few minutes

Keep in mind that it’s crucial to let the product sit for a while. If you rinse it out too quickly, it won’t be effective in combatting yellow tones in your hair. 

So it’s typically best to leave the shampoo on for about 3 to 5 minutes. However, this will depend on your strand test or the instructions of the specific product you’re using.

Remember not to leave the purple shampoo on gray hair for longer than 10 to 15 minutes to prevent your strands from turning purple. 

Rinse it out and follow it up with conditioner

Rinse purple shampoo out of your hair thoroughly until there’s no residue left. 

We also recommend using a purple conditioner or any conditioner after rinsing, as purple shampoo can dry out your hair.

How Often to Wash Gray Hair with Purple Shampoo

Purple shampoo isn’t like a regular shampoo that you can use every day. Even the highest-quality shampoo of this type can weaken and dry out your hair if used too frequently, leading to hair loss and breakage. 

To avoid this, use it only once or twice a week, and don’t leave the purple shampoo on your hair for more than 15 minutes. 

Otherwise, your hair will become dry and lose its elasticity.

Top 3 Drugstore Purple Shampoos

Purple shampoo can be your new go-to product for maintaining your gray locks. But how do you choose the best purple shampoo for naturally gray hair?

It’s simple. Choose a high-quality shampoo from one of our top picks below! 

1
Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo

Purple shampoos are notoriously drying, but not this one! Because it’s packed with nourishing ingredients, it can make your hair soft and silky.

Primary Benefits: Cools brassiness and eliminates warmth; keeps hair hydrated with lots of shine

Features:

  • Hydrating natural ingredients
  • Vegan; paraben- and gluten-free
  • For light blonde and gray hair

Keep your gray hair bright and conditioned with the Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo.

 

The Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo brings out the best in your white and silver hair by using violet pigments to neutralize yellow tones.

Plus, it has conditioning ingredients that hydrate and add shine to your tresses, including

  • aloe,
  • jojoba, 
  • chamomile, 
  • white ginger, and 
  • rosemary leaf. 

After using this shampoo, you’ll notice that your hair still feels soft and smooth! This is because it’s not as drying as other purple shampoos for gray hair.

Users also love its refreshing scent of cucumber melon with a hint of floral fragrance.

You can also opt to buy this shampoo in a set that comes with a conditioner and toning spray for best results.

2
Pantene Silver Expressions Purple Shampoo

One of the main causes of yellowing gray hair is shampoo and hair product residue. Pantene Silver Expressions can help with that by removing dullness-causing residue to reveal luminous silver hair.

Primary Benefits: Reduces brassiness; nourishes for effortless detangling; leaves hair shiny

Features:

  • Pro-V formula
  • No parabens and silicones
  • For naturally gray, white, and silver hair

Take care of your gray hair the right way with the Pantene Silver Expressions Shampoo.

 

Pantene is one of the most recognizable drugstore brands that we’ve known and loved for years. And they’ve formulated a purple shampoo that’s ideal for those on a budget.

But just because it’s less expensive than other brands doesn’t mean it’s less effective. It can color-correct your gray hair to bring back its original look and tone.

Silver Expressions is the perfect purple shampoo for naturally gray hair because the violet pigments aren’t too intense, so they won’t make your hair purple.

Moreover, you can enjoy its fresh, light lotus flower fragrance that’s both luxurious and subtle — perfect for those with sensitive noses.

This is indeed an affordable yet high-quality product.

3
Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo

If you’re looking for visible results after just one wash, this product is for you. Its intense violet pigments combat yellow tones in a jiffy using a powerhouse formula.

Primary Benefits: Removes brassy and yellow tones; refreshes hair color; leaves hair feeling soft and smooth

Features:

  • Contains UV filters
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • For blonde, platinum, and gray hair

Get incredible toning results from the comfort of your home using the Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo.

 

The Bold Uniq brand was founded on the principle of celebrating self-expression and enabling users to live their best lives.

When you use their purple shampoo, you can embrace and care for your naturally gray hair with total ease.

It contains intense purple pigments that remove warm yellow tones on your strands. But despite its powerful formula, it won’t dry your hair because it has no harmful ingredients like

  • sulfates,
  • parabens,
  • mineral oil,
  • phthalates, or
  • formaldehyde.

This purple shampoo also has UV filters to protect your hair from the sun’s harmful rays, so you can help prevent your gray hair from turning brassy due to UV exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Purple Shampoo Make Gray Hair Lighter?

No, it doesn’t. 

Just like any hair toner, purple shampoo can’t darken or lighten your hair. What it does is neutralize warm tones and bring out cool tones in your gray strands. This creates the illusion of lighter hair. 

Do the Effects of Purple Shampoo Wash Out?

If you accidentally leave the shampoo on for too long and get purple-tinted hair as a result, you can easily remove the color using a clarifying shampoo.

Purple Shampoo vs. Blue Shampoo: Which Is Better for Gray Hair?

Purple shampoo is a more ideal choice for gray hair than blue shampoo. 

While they both counteract brassy tones, purple shampoo gets rid of yellow pigments in light hair, and blue shampoo neutralizes orange and copper tones in brown hair or dark hair.

Because gray hair has a lighter color and tends to take on a more yellowish hue, purple shampoo can address its needs better. 

Start Using Purple Shampoo on Gray Hair Today

Want to prevent your gray locks from turning brassy? Adding a purple shampoo to your hair care routine can help keep your strands cool and radiant.

A woman combs her long gray hair in front of a mirror.

Just make sure to follow our guidelines above to help you use this product the right way. You can also pick a product from our list of the best purple shampoos for gray hair to help you choose the most ideal one for your needs. 

This way, you can show off your chic and beautiful silver locks with confidence!  

Want to Learn More About Purple Shampoo and Other Hair Toners?

Check out these articles:

Authors

  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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