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What Does Purple Shampoo Do To Grey Hair?

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So purple shampoo is all the rage at the moment. It is the hottest must-have for blondes and those with grey hair. But what does purple shampoo do to grey hair?

All of the color-toning shampoos like blue and purple shampoo neutralize unwanted tones. But which color do you need?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at purple shampoo, how it works, and what it does to grey hair. We’ll also discuss some other frequently asked questions about purple shampoo with regard to grey hair.


What is Purple Shampoo?

Purple Shampoo

Purple shampoo is what is referred to as toning or color depositing shampoo. It is designed to get rid of brassy yellow tones in blonde and light-colored hair. Rather than changing your hair color, like bleach or dye, purple shampoo neutralizes the unwanted yellow tones.

It doesn’t do much to brown hair, and some use it to counteract the greening effects of chlorinated pools and the like.

To see if a purple shampoo is right for you, let’s have a look at the color wheel.

If you’ve ever asked yourself – why purple? – there is a good reason for this. When it comes to getting rid of unwanted tones in the hair, colors opposite each other on the color wheel cancel each other out.

Purple is opposite yellow. So if you are looking to rid your hair of unwanted brassy yellow tones, then purple shampoo is your go-to.


What Does Purple Shampoo Do To Grey Hair?

Purple Shampoo on Grey Hair

There are a few things to take into consideration if you are thinking about trying purple shampoo for your grey hair and want to know what’s going to happen before you try it out.

1. Understanding how grey hair differs from hair that is not grey.  

Melanin is the natural pigment that determines hair color. All natural hair color is made up of the same four pigments of two types of melanin. Black and brown pigments are called eumelanin, and red and yellow pigments are called pheomelanin.

The shade or depth of hair color is determined by the concentration of melanin. The more melanin produced in the hair, the darker it is.

The tone of the hair is dictated by the ratio of black and brown eumelanin to yellow and red pheomelanin.

More black and brown pigments create a cool-toned hair color, while a predominance of red and yellow pigments creates a warm-toned hair color.

As you get older, melanin production slows down and eventually stops altogether, which is why hair turns grey.

2. Hair undertones and colour depositing shampoos

Bleaching, dye fading, heat styling, and environmental factors can make hair undertones more brassy and prominent (not in a good way). Enter colour depositing shampoos.

Purple is not the only color depositing shampoo. There are also green and blue shampoos to counteract unwanted brassy undertones of a particular colour.

Blondes and those with light-colored hair tend to have yellow undertones, which is why purple should be their go-to toning shampoo to get rid of the brassy yellow tones.

Brown hair typically produces warmer, orange undertones. Blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, brunettes should be using blue shampoo to neutralize the brassy copper tones.

Those with very dark or black hair have more red undertones. For them, green shampoo will remove the red. Green is opposite red on the colour wheel.

Regardless of whether you’ve bleached your hair from black to blonde or dyed your blonde hair to brown, you should be using the color depositing shampoo based on your natural undertones.

3. How grey is your hair?

If you are all grey, then purple should be your go-to color for shampoo, regardless of your previous natural color.

If you are all grey then it means that your hair has stopped producing melanin and all of the above info regarding undertones, no longer applies.

Grey hair can often take on a muddy, yellow tinge. But this yellowing has nothing to do with underlying pigment because the hair has none (or very little).

It’s more to do with external factors which can be attributed to a number of things such as air pollution, hair product build-up, chemicals and minerals in the water, medication, sun exposure, and heat styling.

Purple will cancel out those dingy yellow tones.

However, if you are in ‘transition’ and you still have a fair bit of underlying color, if your natural color is not blonde or very light, and your unwanted brassy tones are more orange or red (depending on your natural colour), you may want to give a blue or green shampoo a try.

For further details, see our article on determining whether blue or purple is right for grey hair.

So coming back to the original question: what does purple shampoo do to grey hair?

If your hair is all grey, purple shampoo will transform dull, muddy yellow-colored grey hair into a fantastic, healthy-looking shade of shiny, ashy silver. It will add brightness, definition, and clarity.

If you still have a lot of underlying pigment, and your natural colour is not blonde or very light, and your unwanted brassy tones are more orange or red, then purple shampoo may not be as effective.

Consider trying a blue or green shampoo instead.


What Is Silver Shampoo?

Silver shampoo

In your search for purple shampoo, whether it be online or in the shampoo aisle at the drugstore, you may have come across silver shampoo.

Silver shampoo is just purple shampoo with a different name, marketing to those with grey hair and meant to neutralize yellow tones.


Does Purple Shampoo Make Grey Hair Darker?

If you are using purple shampoo too often, you can get a buildup of product that can actually make your hair appear darker. If you are not overusing it, purple shampoo will not make your hair darker.


How Often Should I Use Purple Shampoo On My Gray Hair?

Purple shampoo (and any color-toning shampoo) is not meant to replace your regular shampoo. It should be used only once or twice a week at most.


How To Remove Buildup That’s Causing Your Grey Hair To Yellow

We talked about how for some people with grey hair with no pigment, external factors can cause the dulling and yellowing of the hair.

While a purple shampoo will neutralize the unwanted yellow, you may want to also address the issue that’s actually causing your hair to become dull and yellowed. Fix it as opposed to just toning it out.

Clarifying and Chelating Shampoos are like a detox for your hair to remove residue and buildup. Sometimes you will find the words ‘clarifying’ and ‘chelating’ used interchangeably, but they are a bit different.

Clarifying shampoo removes most buildup that accumulates on the surface of your hair, like dry shampoo, styling products, hairspray, gels and leave/in products, as well as buildup from things like smoke and air pollution.

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Chelating shampoos are much stronger than clarifying shampoos and contain specific “chelating agents” which takes it a step further than just removing residue and build up of styling products and environmental pollutants, to removing chlorine, metal and mineral deposits, such as limescale. Chelating shampoos will have one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Tetrasodium/Trisodium EDTA
  • Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate 
  • Oxalic Acid or Sodium Oxalate
  • Potassium or Sodium Citrate
  • Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate
  • Sodium Gluconate and Gluconolactone
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You can use a chelating shampoo (to remove build up) and a purple shampoo (to tone), but neither are meant for everyday use. Make sure you use each as directed.

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