If you’ve ever colored your hair, you know that all it takes to ruin the look is for the brassiness to set in. Whether you’re rocking a platinum-blonde or even a more subtle blonde, brassy red, yellow, and orange undertones are an inevitable eventuality.
While that brass may be the perfect shade for that antique vase, it definitely isn’t for your brunette or blonde tresses. How do you get rid of this buzzkill, then?
Cue entry—blue shampoos and conditioner. If you’ve never heard of these, or have heard of these but never figured out how exactly they work, here’s everything you need to know about the topic.
What Are Blue Shampoo and Conditioner?
Blue shampoo is a toning, cleansing shampoo that helps you retain the cool shades of your brunette hair by drawing out any warm, unwanted red, copper, and orange undertones from the hair.
The blue pigments in blue shampoo neutralize these warm undertones and get rid of them, just as the green pigments in green shampoo get rid of red undertones and the purple ones in purple shampoo neutralize any brassiness in the hair.
Blue shampoos and conditioners are especially great for color-treated hair.
Color-treated hair starts to lose its luster, color, and shine after about a month, thanks to shampoo, sun exposure, and heat-styling. With the fading and dulling of the color emerges undertones ranging from coppery red to orange for brunettes and yellow to orange for blondes.
The pigments in blue shampoos and conditioner help combat these unwanted hues and cancel them out.
This doesn’t mean that blue shampoos and conditioners are meant for color-treated hair only. Even natural hair is subject to lightening, bleaching, and fading caused by sun exposure, pollution, and shampoo, all of which can be counteracted by blue shampoos and conditioners.
How and Why Does Blue Shampoo and Conditioner Work?
As mentioned earlier, blue shampoos and conditioners have blue pigments in them that neutralize unwanted hues that occur in hair due to the lightening/bleaching of the color. In blonde hair, these unwanted hues lean toward yellow, while in darker hair, they lean toward orange.
That answers how blue shampoos and conditioners work.
But why do they work? What makes blue pigments capable of neutralizing these warm hues?
This is because of a little something known as the color wheel.
The color wheel or circle is an illustration that displays the relationships between different colors. Colors are arranged by wavelength around the circle, which makes it easy to figure out which color complements, contrasts, and neutralizes another color.
On the color wheel, colors lying opposite each other can be neutralized. Red sits opposite green, which is why the latter is capable of neutralizing it. Blue sits opposite orange, and hence, neutralizes brassy undertones and restores the hair to the original neutral tone.
The color wheel is no secret—it’s widely used by artists, decorators, designers, and just about anyone who wants to figure out which colors look good together. It’s even used in the world of makeup—green concealer is commonly applied over red blemishes to hide them.
Ergo, blue shampoo for brassy undertones!
Who Can Use Blue Shampoos and Conditioners?
Pigmented blue shampoos and conditioners are designed for brunettes. If you’re a brunette with the following, those orange undertones are going to show up at some point. Blue shampoos and conditioners can bring your hair back to its brilliant brown, especially if you’re sporting the following styles:
- You have a lighter balayage
- You have conventional highlights
- You have ombre highlights
- You’ve lightened your dark brown hair
- You have a combination of lighter hair and highlights
Blue vs Purple Shampoo
Both blue and purple shampoos are color-correcting shampoos for lightened or colored hair. However, there are slight differences.
Remember the color wheel we talked about?
Blue, as we’ve already mentioned, will take care of the orange tones in dark hair, while purple, on the other hand, gets rid of brassiness in blonde hair. This is because purple sits rights opposite yellow and will neutralize the yellow that sets into lighter hair and restore your cool blondeness.
So, reach for that bottle of blue if your brunette tresses are suddenly going coppery red or even orange, and for the purple shampoo if you’ve got blonde hair with brassiness. This means that you switch color-correcting shampoos if you switch hair colors (go from blonde to brunette and vice versa).
How to Use Blue Shampoo and Conditioner
Now that you’ve got the gist of blue shampoos and conditioners and what they do, it’s essential to know how to use them right for the best results and keep your hair looking its luminous, glossy, and brown best!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Less is always more with blue shampoos and conditioners. Using more doesn’t ensure better results—use the same amount of blue shampoo as you would your regular shampoo.
- Pigmented shampoos aren’t meant for everyday usage, as regular shampoos are. The former isn’t supposed to replace your regular haircare products—it’s supposed to merely supplement them, so stick to using these products only once or twice a week, and only when you see the orange undertones emerge.
- Always follow up your blue shampoo with a conditioner that moisturizes your hair sufficiently. Blue conditioners are meant to hydrate your hair and restore any lost moisture; stick with these every time you wash your hair with blue shampoo.If not, opt for hydrating hair masks and leave-conditioners—these will also counter any drying out or damage of your locks caused by the shampoo, as well as the damage caused by bleaching and dyeing.
- Let the shampoo sit for a while to enhance your results and restore your cool tones. We’re not talking too long—even two or three minutes, after you lather, should work wonders. However, if the brassiness is extreme, leaving the shampoo on for longer (say about five minutes) is recommended.
- Try not to get the shampoo on your scalp, as the pigments could stain your scalp. For the same reason, it’s wise to use gloves when shampooing your hair with blue products.
- If you’ve got a combination of blonde and brunette hair, it’s okay to use both blue and purple shampoo together! This doesn’t mean using them simultaneously; you can alternate between the two.
Judge what you need by listening to (or looking at!) your hair. If it’s yellow that’s more prominent, use your blue shampoo and purple shampoo in a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio—use your purple shampoo once for every two or three usages of your blue shampoo. And, of course, vice versa.
- Blue shampoo is designed for brunette hair, so if you’ve got blonde hair, avoid using blue-tinged products (shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks). Blue shampoo could impart a slight blue tinge to light hair.
- Blue shampoos can even be used on virgin (un-dyed) hair. Once in a while, you can replace your regular shampoo with blue shampoo to counter the unwanted shades that chemicals and sun exposure can bring out in your hair, restoring the color of your hair to the way it’s meant to look—bright but cool!
To seal in the color and your cuticles, boost shine, lock in moisture, and retain those perfect, cool browns that your blue shampoo and conditioner have left you with, finish off your washday routine with a nourishing hair serum.
How Often Should You Use Blue Shampoos and Conditioners?
How often you use these products depends on your hair’s needs. Ideally, you shouldn’t be using them every day, but if your hair is extremely brassy, use blue shampoos and conditioners every day until the color you want is restored.
Once you’ve achieved that, you can go back to using these products once a week and your regular shampoo the rest of the time.
So, our dear brunette readers, don’t let those unwanted undertones worry you—a little bit of blue is all you need.
Just make sure that you’re picking out a quality product and you use it right, and you’re golden—or beautifully brunette, as the case may be!