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Ombre, balayage, and classic highlights are great for adding dimension and lightening up brown hair. But unfortunately, bleach and other brightening treatments often go hand-in-hand with brassiness. Sound familiar? Before rushing back to the salon for an untimely touch-up, we urge you to consider an easier solution: blue shampoo.
The technology isn't new, though it used to be reserved only for blondes (in the form of purple washes). "Generally speaking, purple is the opposite of yellow, so it will freshen up and help to counteract unwanted yellow tones in blonde or gray hair," explains renowned session stylist and haircare developer Kevin Murphy.
While fair-haired folks often deal with a yellowing effect, brunettes are faced with an orangey hue. As such, blue shampoos are all about neutralizing the coppery hue with a cool-toned finish. Just bear in mind that "blue" is somewhat subjective. So while you'll find plenty of undeniably cobalt options, many lean toward indigo and even violet.
With this in mind, these are the best blue shampoos available today.
Best Overall: MATRIX Total Results Brass Off Color Depositing Blue Shampoo
While there are many standout blue 'poos on the market, Matrix Brass Off shines above the rest. Formulated specifically for lightened brunette hair, this sulfate-free hair wash deposits blue-violet pigments to minimize brassiness.
In other words, it creates a stunning cool-toned finish that brings out the intended effect of your color-treated hair. The vanilla-rose scent doesn't hurt either.
Best Budget: Hask Chamomile & Argan Oil Blonde Care Shampoo
Looking for a more affordable option? Check out Hask's Blue Chamomile & Argan Oil Shampoo. The deep blue-violet formula works to neutralize dreaded orange and yellow tones while adding brilliant shine.
Best Drugstore: Not Your Mother’s Triple Threat Brunette Blue Treatment Conditioner
From the drugstore aisle, we're big fans of Not Your Mother's Triple Threat Brunette. Use this blue treatment shampoo two or three times a week to cleanse your scalp and boost shine while giving brassiness the boot.
Best Splurge: Aveda Blue Malva Color Shampoo
Aveda's Blue Malva Shampoo comes at a steep price, but you'll definitely get what you pay for. Containing organic ylang-ylang, eucalyptus, and lemon, this luxury botanical-formula hair wash gently cleanses your scalp and adds silvery, cool-toned brightness to color-treated hair.
Best Sulfate-Free: Oligo Professionnel Blacklight Blue Shampoo
If you prefer sulfate-free shampoo, your best bet is Oligo Blacklight. Made with light brown to medium-blonde hair in mind, the vegan blend aims to eliminate brassiness while repairing damage and helping to strengthen each hair shaft.
Best for Curly Hair: DevaCurl No-Poo Blue Anti-Brass Zero Lather Curl Cleanser
DevaCurl No-Poo Blue is, by far, the best option for curly-headed folks. The no-nonsense, lather-free formula offers long-lasting color toning, but it doesn't stop there. You can expect bouncier, shinier, livelier hair after every wash.
Best for Highlights: Fanola No Orange Shampoo
Highlighted hair? Reach for a bottle of this fancy Italian shampoo. Whether you're looking to eliminate copper tones or cancel out unwanted orange, the rich blue pigments are up for the task.
Best for Balayage Hair: Redken Color Extend Brownlights Blue Toning Sulfate-Free Shampoo
We recommend Redken's Brownlights Shampoo for balayage beauties and anyone with traditional highlights. The sulfate-free formula draws on blue pigments to correct brassiness while preventing orange and red undertones from cropping up.
Best for Ombre: dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo
For the ombre camp, we suggest dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo. This ultra-gentle cleanser won't strip or dull color-treated hair. Instead, it neutralizes coppery, orangey tones to keep your hair looking fresh AF between salon visits.
Best for Brunettes: John Frieda Blue Crush for Brunettes Blue Shampoo
Formulated explicitly for brown-haired babes, John Freida's Blue Crush neutralizes the most stubborn orange tones and obliterates brassiness. The result? Cooler, brighter color, and a squeaky-clean scalp.
Best for Blondes: Shu Uemura Yūbi Blonde Anti-Brass Purple Mask for Blonde Hair
Brunette-gone-blonde or natural-blonde-gone-blonder? "The Yūbi Blonde Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo from Shu Uemura is great to keep blonde hair bright while minimizing brassiness," says celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger.
Best for Silver/Gray Hair: Klorane Anti-Yellowing Shampoo with Centaury for White And Silver Hair
Silvery, gray hair is having a much-deserved moment, and we're here for it. Having said that, those with color-treated hair are smart to keep a bottle of Klorane Anti-Yellowing Shampoo on hand, which calls on natural blue pigments sourced from the centaury flower.
Best Brightening: Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel Wash
Looking to achieve lighter, brighter hair? Angel Wash is your new best friend. "It contains optical brighteners to help revive brown [and] blonde tones that need a little bit of help," offers Murphy.
Best Reparative: Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo
Frequent color treatments can wreak havoc on your hair, but Joico Color Balance Blue offers a remedy. Featuring the brand's Multi-Spectrum Defense and Bio-Advanced Peptide complexes, this shampoo pulls out all the stops, helping to repair, fortify, and de-brass brunette hair.
Best Nourishing: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo
Bust Your Brass deposits ultra-violet pigments onto chemically lightened hair to deliver a brightening, cool-toned effect—but its work doesn't stop there. The nourishing formula contains an all-star lineup of hair-loving ingredients like avocado oil, amino acids, keratin, vitamins, and minerals.
Matrix Total Results Brass Off Color Depositing Blue Shampoo (view at Amazon) is, hands down, the best blue shampoo available today. We love that it's formulated specifically for lightened brunette hair and that the sulfate-free blend uses blue-violet pigments to provide a brilliant cool-toned finish with no brassiness in sight. Having said that, Not Your Mother's Triple Threat Brunette Blue Treatment Shampoo (view at Ulta) is an excellent budget-friendly pick, and the Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo (view at Amazon) is well worth a splurge for those who can swing the price tag.
What to Look for in a Blue Shampoo
Blue vs. Purple
There are lots of blue and purple shampoos on the market. And while they achieve roughly the same outcome, blue is generally intended for brunettes, and purple is for blondes. However, some blue washes lean more toward indigo (and sometimes violet) than classic blue. In any case, you can pretty much count on a reduction in brassiness and an overall cooler-toned finish.
Frequency of Use
Most blue shampoos are intended to be used two or three times a week, though weekly use is often plenty. Be sure to read the directions carefully to avoid overusing it, as the blue pigments could leave your hair with a purple tint. "Sometimes purple or blue toning shampoos can over-tone and cause the hair to look dingy," adds celebrity hair colorist Guy Tang.
Since bleach and other hair-lightening treatments are harsh on your hair, you'll also want to look for nourishing ingredients that help moisturize, strengthen, and repair brittle hair. We recommend options containing keratin, argan oil, avocado oil, amino acids, vitamin E, soybean oil, and green tea extract.
What does blue shampoo do?
Blue shampoo deposits blue-violet pigments onto the hair to cancel out unwanted brassiness, copper tints, orange tones, or redness. Similar to a salon gloss treatment, it coats chemically lightened hair to neutralize these warmer tones with a cool-toned hue.
How often should you use blue shampoo?
According to Murphy, you can use blue shampoo as often as desired, but it ultimately depends on the state of your hair. "If your hair is porous and white, then you may need to use [it] only a few times a month, as you don't want a purple hue. If you have blonde [or] gray hair in good condition, you can use [it] as often as you like," he explains. "If in doubt, ask your stylist."
How do you apply blue shampoo?
Apply blue shampoo to wet hair in the shower. Lather it around, focusing on the color-treated sections, and allow it to sit for three to five minutes. Then rinse it out and use a conditioner like you normally would. Some blue shampoos call for using gloves to avoid getting the color on your skin, but most will wash clean from your hands when you rinse your hair.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Theresa Holland has been contributing to Byrdie since 2020, where she covers wellness, makeup, skincare, and haircare. Having tried a handful of blue/purple shampoos in the past, she's particularly fond of Fanola and Amika. You can read more stories by Theresa on MyDomaine and The Spruce.