I originally wanted to write this post about purple and blue shampoos, and mainly why I don’t really care to use them. The Universe has a funny way of whispering in my ear though…as my summer progressed I ended up learning quite a bit about the evolution of violet shampoos and their natural counterparts. So to start, I will go back to my beginning idea of explaining what purple shampoo is and why I don’t use it. Then, for the second part, I hope you will read on and play in my garden with me.
If you know anything about my journey with QuickSilverHair Clay, I was having trouble with the idea of purple shampoo in general; I wanted to find out if there was a way to remove the yellowing on silver hair rather than covering it up with purple shampoo.
Part One: What is Purple Shampoo?
So let’s look at the science behind purple, violet, and blue shampoo’s…
What is Purple Shampoo?
Purple shampoo is a tinted shampoo specifically produced for people with blonde to white or gray hair for toning or covering yellowing hair that can be caused by heat damage, mineral buildup, sun damage, chlorine damage and other environmental toxins, chemicals, and pollutants. It is available in almost any store, salon, or beauty supply.
What is Blue Shampoo?
Blue shampoo is a tinted shampoo specifically produced for people with darker colors of hair like medium blonde to dark brown that have a brassy hue to their locks. It is available in most beauty supply and some salons depending on what salon brands they carry.
(By the way, you can get tinted conditioners as well so I will say shampoo but the ingredient for the dye is the same in the conditioner.)
Why Purple or Blue?
First, a basic grasp of the color wheel is helpful. A color wheel is an artist tool to help us with blending hues and understanding what is complimentary, clashing, or blending. A basic color wheel is first made up of primary colors red, blue, yellow, and then secondary colors, which are the mixes of the color beside it, orange, purple, green. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are considered complimentary to each other.
Purple is opposite yellow on the color wheel, so it helps cover or conceal yellow tones. Blue is opposite orange on the color wheel so it helps cover or conceal oranges. You mix orange and blue and you get brown. You may have heard your hair stylist use the term ash, which is the green that cancels out red tones in your hair, because green is opposite red.
So where did putting purple, violet or blue on your hair come from?
Back in the day, older women were dubbed “blue haired” because they would go to the salon and have a tint put on their hair called bluing. Eventually these tints were anything from pink (think pink ladies) to dark violet giving that intense purplish hue to their silver hair.
There even used to be a blue tint you could put in your washing machine, to tint your white clothes blue so they appeared a whiter white; also called ‘bluing.’
What is in purple shampoo?
It actually contains a dye. Known mainly as Ext. D&C Violet 2, the ‘ext.’ means external use only and ‘d&c’ means safe for drugs and cosmetics. It is generally considered safe as most dyes are concerned, but it cannot get into any mucous membrane, so it cannot be used for lipstick or eye makeup. In addition, it is ranked as a moderate skin irritant. It is made from petroleum and the coal tar industry.
What is in blue shampoo?
Also a dye, it is made with FD&C Blue No. 1, in this case ‘f’ is for food and ‘d&c’ are drugs and cosmetics. Aside from color, the primary difference here is Blue dye is ingestible. It is still made from petroleum just as Violet 2 is, but Blue 1 is considered by the FDA to be safe for mucous membranes and can be used for eye makeup, lipstick, and food and medicine coloring. There is an interesting study that now proves that maybe FD&C Blue No. 1 may not be as safe as once thought; even on the skin, it was found to absorb through damaged skin or mucous membranes. Why does this matter? The dye was found to inhibit cell respiration, and that creates a cell malfunction. Blue dyes have been linked to allergies, asthma, and even ADHD.
On that note:
This is where my conundrum comes in. I stopped using hair dye for many reasons, but one main one was I live an organic lifestyle, especially with my food, and my body products. It was time for me to stop dying my hair for the chemical exposure alone. After 20 plus years, I did not want to put dye on my scalp or hair anymore. I’m allergic to perfumes, and many shampoos and conditioners leave me itchy at minimum and broken out in cystic acne at my worst reactions. I have a pock scar covered back from this life-long issue. It just didn’t make sense anymore for me to slather on the chemicals every three weeks.
Should you use purple shampoo?
If you have a full head of silver hair, or blonde hair that is yellowing you can try purple shampoo to help with combating that problem. Because of its moderate potential, to cause skin irritation it can cause skin reactions. For me, most of them make me itch. Because of more permanent causes of yellowing, you may still need purple shampoo.
Which leads to the next question:
Are there any natural purple shampoos?
Yes. Blue Malva is nature’s blue/violet dye. Blue Malva is a flower in the Malvaceae or Mallow family. Used as an herbal remedy it is usually used for digestive issues because it coats and soothes the stomach and digestive system, it is an anti-inflammatory, and also an expectorant so it naturally soothes the throat and relieves coughing.
How did mallows find their way into hair products, exactly?
Because mallows are a mild astringent, with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties it can be used as a remedy for conditions ranging from boils, wounds, rashes, eczema, bites to acne, and the purple mallows make a beautiful natural non-toxic dye.
There are a couple of products made with Blue Malva:
Aveda’s Blue Malva Color Shampoo (available in Aveda Salon’s).
Part 2: Adventures in My Garden Making Natural Purple Tint
This summer I had my first crop of hollyhocks. As a child, we had them growing wild around our home. Each year my dad and I would take tape measures and see how tall they would get. I noticed a couple of years ago that a neighbor down the road had them in their garden; so I gave it a shot to see if I could get them to grow.
Growing hollyhocks is not difficult but it does take patience, they take two years from seed to flower. I planted several seeds in my raised bed on the south side of my yard last year. I ended up having these fantastic double blossom hollyhocks this year. Part of growing them is plucking off the dried bit of flower after it is done showing. Then the next blossoms have room to bloom above the finished blooms.
You may be wondering why I am telling you all this, but this spring I was asked by a silver sister if I had any plans on adding a purple shampoo to my QuickSilverHair line. I actually have put a lot of thought into this, even while I was developing the clay mix. While the QuickSilverHair Clay works to remove build up and some minerals that cause yellowing on our lovely silver hair, it doesn’t work for sun damage, heat damage and other more permanent yellowing problems.
Anyway, while I was in the researching phase of what was used in natural purple shampoos or other possible herbal rinses that could be made. I had made an elderberry tea that had me scared my hair would end up pink…so that was out. I looked at the ingredients of Shikai Color Reflect Platinum Shampoo at the grocery store one day and realized it was Blue Malva that was being used. I started hunting for blue malva dried flowers at my distributors, and for some strange reason everyone was out of stock or it had been discontinued. What’s a hair magician to do?
Anyway, back to the hollyhock blossoms, I was just starting to pull the spent blooms off the hollyhocks when one afternoon we got a nice drenching rainstorm. I noticed there were many spent blossoms and started pulling them off, this was the first time I had done this while they were wet. As my hand filled up, I noticed my skin was turning purple… I continued collecting them and grabbed a white t-shirt to see if I could create a floral dyed shirt. I was inspired by this beautiful artist, Cara Marie, to try my own version.
As it turns out, it did dye the fabric, but mostly rinsed out in the first wash, except the purple flowers had dyed the garment blue. When I pulled the t-shirt from the dryer, I was onto something. This led me to collect all the spent blossoms and dry them…fancy right…in a wine box even.
They do tend to get lots of tiny critters so I left the box outside so the critters would take a hike. Once my hollyhocks stopped showing for the year, I let the remainder of blossoms completely dry out.
Then I did a little herbal research on hollyhocks as herbal remedies: did they have any healing properties and could they be used safely on the skin? As luck would have it, hollyhocks are of the mallow family, which is the same family of flowers the blue malva …and here we come full circle. I started digging deeper and hollyhocks can be used the same way for teas and skin tonics as blue malva flowers. You may remember from earlier in this post that mallows are a mild astringent, with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties they can be used as a remedy for conditions ranging from boils, wounds, rashes, eczema, bites to acne. Marshmallow root, is derived from the root of mallows and is widely used in the curly girl community for what we call ‘slip’, meaning it helps with detangling and curl control. The flower also has been used for centuries for detangling and conditioning hair, in addition to being used as a fabric and hair dye.
Purple Hollyhock Tinture
First, I collected a small jar full of dried flowers and packed them in pretty tight. I filled the jar with cold filtered alkalized water, I put the lid on the jar, and let the cold tea brew for 24 hours. The next day I strained out the flowers with a bit of cheesecloth and collected the tea. I boiled the tea for ten minutes to kill off any mold or bacteria so I could keep the tea for a few days of experimenting.
Next, I made a tinted conditioner. I used this for conditioning that day rather than my normal conditioner. However, upon rinsing the conditioner out, I also rinsed out the tint. Really, no noticeable difference in my hair color, except it was very soft and detangled.
On the next wash, I took a hair applicator bottle and filled it with the remainder of my hollyhock tea. After I had washed, conditioned, and rinsed, I poured the tea directly on my hair, rinsed my skin, and put my leave-in in.
This worked quite well. I had a noticeable darkening of my white hair, and my silver hair looked shiny and silvery. It did wash out on the next wash but this would be a perfect leave-in rinse for any special occasion where you might be photographed. I would definitely recommend this tea for anyone on the more silver and salt and pepper side of the gray hair color range.
I have harvested and saved all the dried flowers and will put them up for future use. Also, I am on the hunt for more so I can get some on the site for you if you want to try this rinse.
I have harvested all the seeds, I’m thinking of adding them to the QuickSilverHair store, just because I have 1,000’s of seeds. Email me if you would like to try growing your own for a Purple Hollyhock Tinture…or just for having some hollyhocks in your yard.
Thanks for hanging in here with me on this post and wondering through my garden with me.