This post may come as a surprise to many of you. First, let me say, I am not opposed to the use of purple shampoo and other purple products, the basis of my company was to formulate a product that removed yellowing rather than cover it up.
While I use the QuickSilverHair Clay Mask, at least once a month, even I am not immune to yellowing of the permanent kind.
You may find you have a similar issue where no matter what you do, sections or part of your hair isn’t quite the way you want it to be. It may not be damage even, you may have done everything right to protect your hair and still pop up with yellowing. I wish I had a more definitive answer because believe me I’ll be the first to try to fix it.
Like many of you reading this post, in 2020, I lost a lot of hair from telogen effluvium, due to the physical and mental stress of it all. If stress can make a brown hair white…if stress can make you lose 30-50% of your hair density, then it makes sense it could affect your hair in other ways.
The natural patina of my champagne-color silvers has taken on a slight blondish hue towards the ends. This could be because more white grew back than brown, this could be oxidative stress, or it could be stained from some product I didn’t realize was discoloring my hair.
Whatever the reason or cause, I can’t change it, so it is time to find some purple products. While I embrace my natural color and accept the patina from the length and age of it, I do want it to look similar in color from root to tip. Of course, if you know me, my difficulty was finding a product I wasn’t allergic too. I will get to that in a moment.
In the meantime, I want to answer the most commonly asked questions about purple products. I see the confusion in our silver community about purple products all the time so let’s clarify a few things about toning shampoos, conditioners, and masks.
Table of Contents:
- When is it time to use purple shampoo or purple hair products?
- What is Purple Shampoo?
- What does purple shampoo do to gray hair?
- How often can you use purple shampoo on gray hair?
- Does purple shampoo strip your hair?
- Is purple shampoo good for natural gray hair?
- Does purple shampoo rob your hair of protein?
- Can men use purple shampoo?
- Does purple shampoo prevent yellowing?
- How should I apply purple shampoo: to wet or dry hair?
- Does purple shampoo really work on gray hair?
- Is there a 100% organic purple shampoo?
- Can I still use QuickSilverHair Clay and purple shampoo?
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When is it time to use purple shampoo or purple hair products?
The myth: If you have silver hair, you must use purple shampoo. Not true.
You don’t NEED purple products of any kind. Unless, you have bleached blonde hair that needs toning, or your gray hair has permanent yellowing.
Permanent yellowing can be caused from heat and sun damage, the age of your hair (length), and a few other factors, which I discuss in detail in this article on yellowing.
If you only have buildup, it can be removed with QuickSilverHair Clay Mask or chelating shampoos if it is mineral buildup.
What is Purple Shampoo?
Purple shampoo is a temporary dye known as toning shampoo; most contain a petroleum based dye called D&C Violet 2 as their primary purple coloring, it is a water-soluble dye for cosmetic use. Since they are water-soluble they usually wash out on the next shampoo; unless, you use them repeatedly then they buildup over time tinting the hair purple, blue or even pink.
What does purple shampoo do to gray hair?
Purple shampoo neutralizes the yellow tones in white hair (specifically), which makes it appear whiter. Purple and violet are opposite yellow on the color wheel; opposite colors neutralize each other.
It takes a specific violet to accomplish this toning.
- If you have more of a darker “pepper” picking up orange tones, blue shampoo may work better for you.
- If you have more salt (or white hair) than pepper, purple will likely be better.
- Just remember blue plus yellow makes green so if you have prominently white hair and it is yellowing or blond hair, stick to purple.
How often can you use purple shampoo on gray hair?
It is widely recommended only using purple shampoo on gray once a week. If you only wash your hair once a week, I’d move to only using it once a month.
Can you overuse purple shampoo?
If you overuse it, it will give your hair a purple, blue, or even pink tint, if that is what you want…no problem. However, if you just want to neutralize the yellowing then only use it when you notice the yellow returning.
It can also be very drying. So follow with a good conditioner to replenish moisture in your hair. Or better yet, use a purple conditioner instead.
Does purple shampoo strip your hair?
I believe it would be more about the surfactant (soap) ingredients than the purple dye in the shampoo. Some of the popular shampoos are very drying because they are formulated with harsh sulfates.
If you are going to use it, start with a sulfate-free variety.
Is purple shampoo good for natural gray hair?
Yes and No.
Think of purple shampoo as a solution instead of a necessity. Not everyone yellows. Not everyone NEEDS to cover their natural color with a toning shampoo. If you have a permanent issue that you cannot resolve via clarifying or using QuickSilverHair Clay, then it might be something you want to use.
Is it bad for your hair? No, so long as you are using a quality product that doesn’t leave your hair feeling dry or stripped.
Does purple shampoo rob your hair of protein?
It might, but I don’t know.
I have yet to find any real evidence behind this claim. It can dry your hair out, but if a purple shampoo has protein in it, then it would not be robbing your hair of protein. In addition, I’m not sure how it would accomplish this.
Clarifying shampoo can strip the protein out of your hair but it is designed to do that along with other buildup like minerals and waxes. Purple shampoo’s primary job is to deposit temporary color… so I guess the answer would be it all depends on the formula.
Can men use purple shampoo?
Anyone with blonde, white, gray, or silver hair can use purple shampoo.
Does purple shampoo prevent yellowing?
This is a common misinterpretation. It only covers up yellow that is already present. To prevent yellowing you need to be aware of what causes yellowing, especially permanent yellowing, and work to prevent it before it starts.
I have Ultimate Guides on heat and sun damage if you want to learn more:
Does purple shampoo remove yellowing?
This is the number one misconception about purple shampoo, it deposits toner onto your hair to cover up the yellow. Once you remove the purple toner, the yellow will likely remain.
What removes yellowing from gray hair?
My most popular post will help you learn ways to brighten your gray hair before you try purple shampoo or other purple remedies.
Chelating shampoos (like the ones below) can remove extreme hard water or well water buildup.
How should I apply purple shampoo: to wet or dry hair?
If your hair is porous, coarse, damaged, dry, or seems to grab everything you put on it, apply to wet hair.
Does purple shampoo really work on gray hair?
For some people, myself included, it rarely works at all. For me, by the time I have shampooed, rinsed, conditioned, rinsed, added leave-in, and styling products, there doesn’t seem to be any violet left. I also have fine, low porosity, and dye resistant hair.
For others, toning shampoos work great to keep silvers looking shiny all the time. Lucky you, if you are in this group!
Does purple shampoo work on dark gray?
As mentioned above, it may not; you may need blue shampoo instead depending on your base color. If your “pepper” hair is a dark brown and taking on a brassy orange tone then try the blue varieties.
Is there a 100% organic purple shampoo?
Because most purple shampoos contain violet dye (usually D&C Violet 2 or Acid Violet 43), they cannot be 100% organic since both violets are petroleum or coal tar derived. Some companies like Aveda (not organic) use botanicals like blue malva, but this is misleading as they also contain D&C Violet 2.
D&C Violet 2 or Acid Violet 43, are usually found near the bottom of the ingredient list, likely only making up less than 1% of the formula, so this isn’t a risky exposure, in my opinion.
Most of the botanicals that are purple (purple carrot, blue malva, blueberry, etc.) do not have any staying power, they rinse off when you rinse the shampoo out. This has been the industry wide struggle in making something organic for violet toning.
I have tried several of the more natural brands of purple shampoo, mostly to let you know how they worked. After this new problem cropped up on my long hair, they weren’t packing the punch I needed. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with these products, it just meant they were not right for my hair.
However, as I mentioned in the beginning, I have found something that DOES work…
Introducing Loma Beauty Violet Shampoo & Conditioner
I have discovered a new to me line of Organic Based Hair Care…and I am in LOVE!!! For a multitude of reasons.
These are the first violet shampoo and conditioner I have tried on my low porosity, fine, and dye resistant hair in six years that actually made a toning difference I could see, and I didn’t have a reaction of some kind to them.
No itchy scalp.
No synthetic fragrance, it is scented with natural essential oil blends which doesn’t bother me in the least.
They both contain a shampoo soluble silicone, and I have seen no issues, thus far, so I am not worried. The shampoo is sulfate-free but contains a chelating ingredient, which makes me think it might be helping remove mineral buildup as well as toning. The conditioner had me “ooing and awing” at the slip and softness of my hair.
Majorly impressed. And, as you can see in my after photo, the curls are sooooooo happy!!! Bonus points!!!
I love these products so much, I became a brand ambassador (affiliate) for Loma Beauty. A full post of my favorite products will be coming up soon. Sign up for my emails to get the notification.
> Loma Violet Shampoo
Can I still use QuickSilverHair Clay and purple shampoo?
Use your clay every 10 days, every 20 days, or once a month. You can actually wash your hair with purple shampoo after you rinse your clay out. Or…you can make the clay purple see recipe below.
Can I make my own purple shampoo or purple masks?
Toning Drops: The only one I can recommend with a review from a silver sister is from Shrine. She shared with me that it works and washes out. You can use their products for light toning all the way to temporary dye in fun colors. Shrine is a UK based company, you can buy directly from their website, or if in the US, you can also buy Shrine Drops from Amazon.
I have some Shrine Drops on the way to try out and give you my honest opinion. I’ll update this post when I know more.
Gentian Violet: Gentian Violet is thought to be a safe alternative. My grandmother was a nurse for 50 years, gentian violet was always in her medicine cabinet. Given that you would use only one drop for a bottle of shampoo, I would think it is safer than food coloring since Gentian Violet actually has anti-microbial properties.
There is argument about the safety because it is listed as a carcinogenic in California and Canada, the data on the cancer risk was found in mice given an excessively large oral dose. To counter this there are several sources including this article in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, which discusses the safety of gentian violet topically with no clear link to cancer ever having been established in humans. There is much more information on PubMed, specifically this article on Gentian Violet. You decide what works for you.
Fair Warning: Don’t use food coloring, it can contain mold. You don’t want to introduce this microbe into your shampoo or your scalp’s ecosystem.
QuickSilverHair Purple Clay Mask
- Start with the amount of Deep Conditioner you need to cover all your hair.
- Add a small amount of Manic Panic gradually until you like the color in the mix.
- What you see in the bowl (example below) will be similar to your results on white hair.
- Optional, QuickSilver Hair Clay and a few pumps of QSH Oil for a double dose of hair healthy cleansing & conditioning.
- The clay should be equal amount as the deep conditioner, 1:1
- Coat your freshly clarified wet hair with the mask.
- Cover with a shower cap and leave on for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
- RINSE thoroughly.
- It should wash out in about 6 washes.
Manic Panic doesn’t affect the cortex of the hair; the color only lays on the hair shaft so it washes out without permanent staining, unlike normal semi-permanent colors stain.
Below is my mom. I made this mask with clay for her, she wanted a little purple tone visible, so I went a little heavier on the purple. You can see the soft tint in her after photo. Her hair was shimmery and very soft.
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ALWAYS DO A TEST SECTION: Please note, there are no real and clear CONTROL STANDARDS in the hair color industry, so one company may label something one way when it is actually another.
If you are at all concerned about coloring your silvers and them being permanently stained do a test section underneath. If you love your silvers, err on the side of caution. Even stylists are just now learning what happens with grays and certain types of hair color; because having gray hair clients who want to remain gray and don’t want to damage their silvers is relatively new.
I hope you found this post educational and helpful.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share.
As always it is about so much more than the hair.
- “Gentian Violet (Crystal Violet).” P65warnings.Ca.gov, https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets/gentian-violet-crystal-violet.
- “Recalls and Safety Alerts.” Recalls and Safety Alerts / Rappels Et Avis De Securité, Government of Canada, Communications and Public Affairs Branch, 12 June 2019, https://recalls-rappels.canada.ca/en/alert-recall/health-canada-warns-canadians-potential-cancer-risk-associated-gentian-violet.
- Maley, Alexander M, and Jack L Arbiser. “Gentian violet: a 19th century drug re-emerges in the 21st century.” Experimental dermatology vol. 22,12 (2013): 775-80. doi:10.1111/exd.12257
- Arbiser, Jack L. “Gentian Violet Is Safe.” Journal of the American Acedemy of Dermatology, 1 Aug. 2009, https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(09)00388-0/fulltext.
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