The Purple Shampoo that Saved My Gray Hair from Brassiness

Cady Lang

For the past three weeks, I have doted on my hair with the kind of loving care that potential suitors would be envious of.

After dyeing my hair gray (my first bout with bleach ever), I’ve used more hair products in the last month than I have in my whole life, which is actually pretty exciting for me, since my idea of heaven on earth is rummaging through the beauty closet. Hair masks, deep conditioners, detangling sprays, protective balms—a whole new world of hair products that would have weighed down my hair in the past have suddenly become very necessary.

For the first time, however, I couldn’t use the drugstore shampoo I’ve always bought. So I grabbed a shampoo and a conditioner meant for blondes. But after my first wash with them, my hair went from a silvery, pearly gray to a brassy, gray-ish blond. Noooooo!

My colorist had warned me that gray was one of the hardest colors to maintain, so I hadn’t washed my hair for nearly a week prior (enabled by my hair’s straw-like texture from the bleaching, plus tons of dry shampoo), but it seemed that my prolonging couldn’t keep my color from escaping. I still had horror flashbacks to the bleaching process, when my hair was flaming orange, and the brassiness I was seeing was too close to that for comfort.

Thankfully, when I took my woes to our beauty director, she suggested that I try a deep purple shampoo and conditioner that would tone and balance out the brassiness in my hair. Remember those color wheels that you learned about in elementary school with primary and complementary colors? Purple is the complementary color of yellow, which basically means that when you put purple shampoo on your brassy bleached hair, it visibly cancels out the yellow.

Joico Purple Shampoo

Image: Courtesy of Joico

That night, after doing a hair mask, I went to work with my purple shampoo and conditioner. I opted for Joico’s Color Balance Purple Shampoo ($16) and Conditioner ($18), which were bright violet and deep lavender, respectively. I worked the shampoo through my hair first and left it on for the recommended three to five minutes, then rinsed; next I massaged the conditioner into my hair while silently praying to the good hair goddesses that the brassiness would rinse out.

Et voilà! After my hair dried, the brassiness was visibly gone, the yellow tones banished! My hair was silvery and bright again. All was right in the world (well, at least my world) thanks to this purple shampoo.