Summer Beauty

In Search of Products to Make Me Better, Brighter, Faster, Blonder

Everything you’ve wanted to know about purple shampoos.

By: Hannah Baxter
Photography: Alec Kugler

After years of inching toward my bombshell dreams with subtle balayage or several (unfortunate) DIY ombres, I’ve officially thrown caution—and my low-maintenance hair—to the wind and joined team blonde. Cue a casual FIVE hours at the John Barrett Salon, and my long, wavy hair sparkled with enough highlights that my boyfriend pulled a genuine double take when I walked through the door. I mean, who doesn’t want that type of power? Now not only do I get to prance around pretending I’m Brigitte Bardot (ultimate hair and eyeliner goals for life), but I’m discovering a whole new world of products to maintain my newly fragile hair.

Since my dad is strawberry blond, my genetics are already predetermined to turn my hair brassy in the span of just one wash. Clearly, I can’t use just any shampoo or conditioner—I need special products, and in the fun-filled world of blonde, that means purple. Purple shampoo, purple conditioner, purple masks—anything to counteract the yellow tones threatening my perfect baby blond. I mined my friends, colleagues, and fellow blondies for recommendations, and over the course of two weeks, I tested the top six. Fun fact—there’s no better way to irritate the person with whom you share a bathroom than to coat your shower in streaks of violet goo. So if you’re like me, with hair that would gladly resemble a dirty penny without assistance, or you’re a natural-born blonde (bless you), welcome to my journey for hair that’s better, brighter, faster, blonder.

R + Co Sunset Blvd Blonde Shampoo, $29

Fashion editor Laurel Pantin dropped this travel-sized set on my desk to kick off my purple product journey. I’m already crazy about R + Co, from the scent to the packaging, so I was psyched to try their shampoo and conditioner. Neither is heavily pigmented, so for my shower’s sake, these were winners, but in terms of keeping the brassiness at bay, I can’t really get behind them for everyday use. In a pinch, they’ll work, especially for travel in their miniature form, but my blond was already inching towards an unpleasant tone. On to the next!

Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Shampoo, $28

Anything with “platinum” in the title intrigues me, although I’m too chicken to go full-on Khaleesi, so I jumped at the chance to test Pureology’s shampoo and conditioner. I loved how squeaky-clean my hair felt after using the blue-ish shampoo, which is rare when the formula is focused on maintaining color, but the conditioner was lacking any tint at all. I ultimately broke down and added a few drops of my trusty Clairol Shimmer Lights until it turned deep purple. Blondes do not mess around.

Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo, $27

Having never set foot in a Drybar in my life, I was already surprised by this product’s rave reviews. Points off for not having a corresponding conditioner (although I hear there’s one in the works), but after using this EXTREMELY dark violet shampoo, my reservations vanished. My hair emerged fluffy and golden, like a prize-winning retriever, without any of the orange undertones that had crept their way into my highlights over the past few days.

Redken Color Extend Blondage Shampoo, $20

I was already working with an almost ideal blond shade at this point (see above), so I wasn’t looking forward to switching my routine. To my chagrin, the shampoo came out almost white, with just a hint of purple sheen. I lathered away, impressed with how nice it smelled, but nervous for how my hair would look afterward. Then came the conditioner, which offers a customizable degree of purple—which was awesome—but it took about 30-40 pumps to get enough product to coat my whole head. My blonde looked fantastic, but the shower felt more labor-intensive than relaxing.

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care Nutritive Mask with Temporary Coloring - Baby Blond, $53

This is the OG, holy grail of blond maintenance, and for good reason—the deep purple formula delivers. I’ve swaddled my entire head in this mask twice now, and each time the results resembled a professional tinted gloss. The downside? Personally, I have to leave this on for the entirety of the recommended 20 minutes (more like 30, because this stuff is $$$) so it’s not great for weeknight showers. I’ll save this for my self-indulgent Sunday nights.

Kérastase Réflection Touche Chromatique Cool Blonde Kit, $92

Call me crazy, but I love when beauty products make me feel like a bit of a mad scientist. We’re all just trying (and sometimes failing) to find what makes us look and feel flawless. This mask kit from Kerastase is pricey, sure, but when my hair is looking flat and brassy, this is my secret weapon. Three minutes on my hair, plus the five or so spent mixing my own shade of purple, and my hair felt supple and perfectly beachy blond.

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