For years, purple shampoo has been the anti-brassiness poster child when it comes to minimizing those inevitable, unwanted warm tones that occur slowly but surely in lightened strands. (In case you're curious, frequent washes, sun exposure, heat-styling, and the minerals and chemicals found in our water can be held responsible.) Alas, to keep lightened hair looking as fresh, cool, and un-yellow as possible, purple can save the day. Since purple shades are best at canceling out yellow tones, those violet-hued shampoos are typically more effective for people with blonde or gray strands, and—plot twist—blue-toned shampoos are actually the far more strategic choice if you have brown hair, be it a dye job or your au naturel hue.
I'll be going into more detail below, but since blue naturally cancels out orange, which is typically the underlying pigment in brunette hair, it's a better option than purple if you're looking to really combat that orangey brassiness that starts sneaking in a few weeks post–color job. Good to know, right? In addition to explaining what exactly blue shampoo is and how exactly it differs from purple shampoo, I've also rounded up the 12 best blue shampoos on the market right now. (Trust me—as someone who has been highlighting and coloring my hair since elementary school, I know my way around the color-correcting space.) Keep scrolling! Everything you've ever wanted to know about blue shampoo is just below.
How does blue shampoo work?
As I touched on above, blue shampoos work by canceling out and neutralizing orange and/or copper hues that occur over time in brown hair. Essentially, these shampoos act like handy-dandy color correctors by depositing cool, blue pigments on top of your strands to help rebalance your color if it's been a while since your last color job. Another hot tip? Since brassiness can be exacerbated by all of the minerals and chemicals found in our water, it's a worthwhile idea to invest in a shower filter along with a blue shampoo for an extra-potent one-two punch of protection. (I swear by this one from T3!)
Blue Shampoo vs. Purple Shampoo
Honestly, both purple and blue shampoos will counteract encroaching warm tones in our hair. Blondes can use either, and brunettes can use either. However, blue shampoos are specifically fabulous at neutralizing orange pigments (which are typically found in brown hair), while purple shampoos are specifically fabulous for fending off the yellow/golden tones synonymous with blonde. I've been bleaching my hair for a good part of the 27 years I've been on planet earth, and I've had great results from both. Really, it comes down to personal preference.
A word to the wise? Less is more. Both purple and blue shampoos only deliver temporary results, but it can be easy to overdo it. Experts recommend only using your pigmented shampoo every three washes or so to avoid imparting an actual purple or blue tinge to your hair. Additionally, pay heed to how long you're letting it sit—after you've massaged and worked it into your strands, let the shampoo marinate for one to two minutes if you have less brass but have porous hair. Leave it on and a little longer (anywhere between three and five minutes) if you have more brass and less-porous hair. More than likely, it will take a little bit of tinkering and a few applications until you find the groove with your new blue shampoo.
The 12 Best Blue Shampoos for Brown Hair
Free of sulfates (which can strip your hair and fade your color faster!), Redken's new line of blue-toning formulas is a great option for brunettes looking to simultaneously prevent and neutralize pesky orange and red hues in their manes.
Joico makes some of the best color-protecting and tone-enhancing hair products around, and this blue-toning shampoo for brunettes is no exception. The vibrant blue, brass-banishing pigments latch onto strands to refresh and rebalance color and will maintain the magic through multiple washes. (Fun fact: According to the brand, this shampoo preserves 89% of hair color for up to 18 washes, meaning it just might buy you six to eight weeks of salon-fresh color.)
Affordable and effective, this fast-acting blue shampoo is our top drugstore pick if you're looking to neutralize those orange and red hues. If you're just looking to cool down your natural shade of brown and try an ever-so-slight shade variation, try swapping this into your routine two to three times a week for an ashier take on your current color. The results are temporary, so why not?
I adore DPHue because the brand has every kind of product for every kind of color need. (Plus, I'll forever be addicted to its OG Vinegar Rinse as the absolute best once-in-a-while scalp and strand clarifier.) But I'll try to stay on topic! If you're willing to spend a little more money on your brunette maintenance plan, this is a versatile option. It's effective for all hair types and textures, and breakage-preventing silk proteins complement its natural anti-brass benefits to boot.
This blue-violet shampoo may say it's for blondes, but it's just as effective on brown hair thanks to the strategic mix of rich violet and deep blue shades. It's a standout because the uniquely gentle formula is curly- and coily-hair approved, and it's free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, and drying alcohols that can fade color prematurely. As if that wasn't enough, it has an impressive roster of hair-loving ingredients such as chamomile and argan oil to help rehabilitate stressed-out strands.
This brass-canceling blue shampoo from DevaCurl is another great option if you're someone with curly, coily, or seriously parched hair. It's a sulfate-free formula (so don't expect suds!) that delicately cleanses and rejuvenates hair. Key ingredients include blue lotus flower and the brand's Smart Porosity Toning Technology, which helps balance out porosity so you can get a supremely even tone. (Pigment latches on faster and looks darker on hair with higher porosity.)
Not only will this special shampoo make your hair soft and shiny, but it will also combat unwanted brassiness regardless of your particular shade of brown hair. It's one of our faves for keeping hair cool and fresh in-between salon visits (which, ahem, have been few and far between this last year!)
The pickings are admittedly pretty slim when it comes to finding a more natural, plant-based blue shampoo that also plays well with every single hair type. This lush option from Aveda checks all of the above boxes and then some. Technically, it's marketed for people with gray hair, but the potent ingredients can effortlessly ease brassiness in hair of all colors.
The ratings don't lie, folks! This blue-toning shampoo from Matrix has racked in nearly 14,500 reviews on Amazon while still retaining a near-perfect five-star rating. It's recommended for brunettes who lighten their hair (so it's not the best option to use on natural brown tones), and since this stuff is pretty potent, the brand recommends wearing gloves during application. Lather, let it sit for three and a half minutes, and rinse thoroughly.
Just when you thought we couldn't get a wilder shampoo color scheme, here we are throwing green into the mix. Yep, it turns out that the top-notch melding of blue and green pigments is actually the most effective way to completely nix unwanted brass from brunette strands. It's vegan and sulfate-free, and thanks to nutrition-packed ingredients like cocoa butter and coconut oil, it earns extra credit in the strength and shine departments.
The name of this top-rated blue shampoo doesn't lie—it's one of the absolute best formulas out there for squashing unwanted orange tones. This one is definitely more potent, so we recommend using it sparingly and only when you really need it. Don't worry about the integrity of your hair though—coconut oil and hypoallergenic tiaré flower have your back on the shine and nourishment front.
Sooo… I'm cheating here. This is not, by definition, a shampoo. However, these Toning Drops are perhaps the coolest thing since sliced bread, and they can be added to your fave shampoo (or conditioner if that's the way you want to roll) to give your go-to bottle some extra anti-brass street cred. So smart, right? I use the purple version to keep my blonde on point, and it's quite literally my prized shower possession. Not to mention, the ingredient roster is rife with tons of great additions to enrich hair with vitamins and TLC. All of IGK's shampoos are great, but you will not regret purchasing the Hot Girls Hydrating Shampoo, below—trust me.