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Why You Need to Use Purple Shampoo For Grey Hair

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You finally did it. You threw in the towel (pardon the pun) on keeping up with your grey roots and you’re now flaunting gorgeous grey hair! Yay you. Your whole hair care routine will change including what you use to wash your hair. We’re gonna talk about why you need to use purple shampoo for grey hair in this article. 

Many are still slightly confused about whether to use purple or blue shampoo, how often to use it, and why you should. We’re going to answer your burning questions and a few more. 

But first…
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The difference between blue and purple shampoo

So really, what is the difference between blue and purple shampoo? For this question we’re going back to elementary school and the colour wheel.

You remember the colour wheel right?

Have you transitioned to grey but not liking the look? Here are reasons why you need to use purple shampoo on your grey hair to get it looking gorgeous.

Now we really only need to look at 4 colours here. Blue, purple, orange and yellow. If we trip down memory lane and go back to school, we’ll remember that blue cancels out orange, purple cancels out yellow. 

You can clearly see this in the chart above. 

The trouble with grey hair is that sometimes it can take on hues of orange or yellow depending on how you live, where you live and a few other things like:

  • If you use hard or soft water
  • If you smoke
  • How often you wash your hair
  • What kind of products you use in your hair

Just to name a few things. 

Because of these factors, your hair will either have orange hues or yellow hues (stains). This will determine what colour shampoo you should be using, purple or blue. 

Why does grey hair turn yellow?

The hairstylist in me comes out for this whole article (and she gets kinda excited!). 

So why does grey hair turn yellow or even sometimes orange? It’s important to know that grey hair has no pigment whatsoever. Because of this, it will pick up whatever colour it is exposed to. 

If  you happen to swim in a pool with chlorine an awful lot, without a swimming cap, you will notice your hair will pick up a green tinge. Whatever colour you put in your hair, it will grab it immediately. 

That’s how grey hair works. Which brings us to the next two super important questions.

What does purple shampoo do to grey hair?

Let’s go back and look at that colour wheel. 

Blue cancels orange, purple cancels yellow. Cancels=neutralizes. If you have hints of yellow in your hair from whatever substance from the environment (or from smoking) washing your hair with purple shampoo will neutralize the yellow and brighten up your grey hair again. 

Consider it a colour toner. It works the same with blue shampoo and women who may have brassiness or “orange” hints in their grey hair. The blue shampoo will neutralize (tone) the orange, and eliminate it. 

Isn’t colour amazing?

Now this brings us to our second important question. 

How often should you use purple shampoo for grey hair?

Please pay close attention to this section. 

You ever wonder where the term ‘blue haired ladies’ comes from? Ever wonder why their hair is blue? Because they use blue (or purple) shampoo WAY too often. That’s the power of these shampoos. 

Remember, grey hair has no pigment so it will pick up any and every colour if you use it enough (or too much, without caution). 

So how often should you use purple shampoo for grey hair?

Only when you need to!

On other days, you should be using a gentle clear shampoo. If you use a lot of styling products (mousses, gels, hairspray, etc) you may want to use a clarifying shampoo once a week as well. Clarifying shampoos are great for anyone really who uses lots of products or who have hard water. 

If you are a smoker or in an environment where you are exposed to a lot of smoke or other air pollutants, and you are starting to notice a yellow tinge in your hair, then it’s time to use your purple shampoo. 

Some people can get away with using it only once a month. Some may use it once a week. It really depends on what conditions your hair goes through daily. 

Wait, what about the green hair from chlorine?

I was hoping you’d ask. We are going back to the colour wheel for this one. You cannot use purple shampoo to remove green from chlorine. It doesn’t work that way. 

Purple removes yellow, not green. 

You most likely believed chlorine to be the culprit from that point on. You’re not completely wrong, but the truth is, copper is actually the main factor at fault. Copper is a metal found in water. Even tap water with a high copper content can give your hair a green tint! However, the green color is more likely to show up after swimming in the pool because pool water contains chlorine. Chlorine and copper bond together to form a film that sticks to the proteins in each strand of hair, causing the hair to turn green.

Source: Pool Scouts

In the Pool Scouts article, they give you 9 tips to remove green from hair and while this article is for blondes, it also holds true for people with grey hair, however, sometimes a simple wash with baking soda and a clarifying shampoo will do the trick!

Hair tip: wear a swim cap if you plan on using a pool a lot. 

Best drugstore purple shampoo to use for grey hair

Now before I get ahead of myself here I am only suggesting the best drugstore purple shampoo to use for those of you who stick to a budget and don’t spend foolishly on items that could otherwise be purchased for a more reasonable price at the drugstore/grocery store. 

As a former hairstylist, I understand that salon professional products can be quite expensive and we don’t all have the money for a $30 8 oz bottle of shampoo. Because of this, I have no problem recommending decent drugstore shampoos. 

However with that said, for those women with coloured or damaged hair, sometimes salon professional products make all the difference in the world. 

But for purple shampoo, a drugstore brand will do just fine. It’s not so much the brand or the quality, it’s more about how you use it and how often you use it that can make or break the results. 

Best drugstore purple shampoo

This post may contain affiliate links – which means if you click on them and buy something, I may earn a small commission. For full disclosure policy, click here.

Most of these fit well into any budget at under $15. I did my best to find good and affordable ones. Remember cheap doesn’t always mean good. You get what you pay for. Don’t forget that. 

L’Oreal Ever Pure 

The salon I retired from was a L’Oreal Professional Salon. I love anything and everything from L’Oreal, even their knockoff drugstore products. You can’t go wrong with this one. 

Clairol Shimmer Lights

Though this one doesn’t come in under $15 (a little over $20), these bottles are 16 oz each and Clairol has been used in salons for years! There’s comfort in knowing this is an award winning product too! For good reason. It works really well!

Matrix So Silver

Matrix is another salon professional brand that I worked an awful lot with and also a super great product. The conditioner is sold separately. 

Aussie Purple Dayz

This is a yummy one made with Australian ingredients like lemon myrtle and Australian Cacadu Plum. Another reason why I love this one is that it’s certified PETA cruelty free. 

Can I use blue shampoo for grey hair?

Well, unless you have orange hues in your hair I wouldn’t recommend it. Remember blue cancels/neutralizes orange, not yellow. Also blue shampoo works best on blondes or very light brunettes who have orange tones in their hair. 

If you are purchasing your shampoo from a salon, talk to a stylist or a salon professional so they can help you find the best purple shampoo for your grey hair. They may also have other recommendations for you for your hair. 

If you’ve made the mistake of using too much purple shampoo and now your hair is slightly purple, fear not. 

A gentle baking soda clarifying wash should take care of that. If that doesn’t work (though it should) you can go to a salon and have them give you a deep clarifying wash and condition (you may be required to sit under a hooded dryer for this) to get your beautiful grey hair back to normal. 

Using purple shampoo on grey hair isn’t rocket science

This may be one of those times where I tell you not to read the label. You have to pay attention to your hair on this one. Using purple shampoo on grey hair isn’t that hard to figure out but you still need to be careful not to overuse it. 

If your hair starts turning purple, well, it’s time to cut back on your use and cue the baking soda cure. 

Everyone’s hair is different too. You may try one purple shampoo that makes your hair beautiful and shiny but you may not like how it makes your hair feel. Unfortunately, this is where trial and error comes in. 

Find the one that works best for your hair type and use it wisely! Here’s to your beautiful shimmery grey hair!

About the author:

Iva Ursano is a retired hairstylist turned freelancer from Northern Ontario Canada living a life of freedom, peace and joy in sunny Guatemala. Her two main goals in life are to inspire people around the world with her blogs and to feed hungry little bellies in the poor town she now calls home. Follow her here on Pinterest or head on over to her website, Women Blazing Trails, and check out some of her women over 50 blogs!

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