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Highlights, balayage, and ombre look incredible on brown hair—but lightening your brunette locks can lead to brassy tones over time. Hitting up the salon for a refresh every couple of weeks isn’t exactly feasible for all—so that’s where blue shampoo comes into play.
“Blue shampoo is a shampoo with blue pigments that cancels out unwanted orange, red, and copper tones in the hair,” says Alex Brown, a Chicago-based celebrity hairstylist. Calla Dawn, a senior colorist at Baja Studio in New York City, adds that blue shampoo works by coating the outside of the hair strand to minimize brassiness, much like a salon gloss.
Dawn explains that lightening your hair—whether via highlights or single-process color—exposes your hair’s underlying pigment. In most brunettes, that pigment is orange. That’s why your colorist will apply a gloss as a finishing touch. “A gloss not only adds shine, but it normally has pigment in it that tones down the warmth exposed after lightening the hair,” she says. After about a month of shampooing, heat styling, and being out in the sun, the gloss will fade, leaving behind the orange pigment underneath. Enter blue shampoo. “Using a blue shampoo is a great way to keep your hair looking cooler-toned between appointments,” says Dawn. (Dawn adds that purple shampoos and conditioners are a great option for blondes who feel like their hair is starting to look yellow.)
Here, we’ve rounded up the best blue shampoos for maintaining a beautiful brunette mane.
Best Overall: Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo
Say see ya later to orange, brassy tones in lightened or highlighted hair with this neutralizing blue shampoo that receives high marks from users. Not only does it nix brassiness, but it also prevents color from fading, tames frizz, and boosts shine, making it a clear winner for brunettes who color their hair.
Best Budget: Hask Chamomile & Argan Oil Blonde Care Shampoo
Keep dyed blonde hair super-shiny and brass-free with this effective budget pick that’s basically the cost of a latte. The deep blue-violet formula features lightening blue chamomile and nourishing argan oil. It neutralizes brassiness and brightens hair, all without sulfates or alcohol, which can be drying.
Best Drugstore: Not Your Mother’s Triple Threat Brunette Blue Treatment Shampoo
You don’t have to spend major dough to keep your color looking fresh and cool. This drugstore blue shampoo neutralizes orange and red tones in brown hair and also pumps up the shine. The star ingredient is blue tansy oil, which has a gorgeous deep blue hue and protective properties.
Best Splurge: Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo
Whether you’re a blonde or brunette dealing with brassiness or you have gray hair that’s looking a little dull these days, this splurge-worthy blue shampoo can help bring your color back to life. It’s formulated to brighten gray hair with silvery tones and neutralize brassy tones in all hair colors.
Best for Hair Repair: dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo
This deep blue shampoo gets rid of unwanted orange and red tones in brown hair, but the benefits don’t stop there. It also strengthens strands, prevents breakage, and adds a major dose of shine, thanks to the formula of health-boosting ingredients like silk proteins and hibiscus flower.
Best for Highlights: Matrix Total Results Brass Off Color Obsessed Shampoo
Sunkissed highlights look great when you first get them, but there’s always the chance they’ll turn brassy a few weeks post-dye job. Enter this blue shampoo, which is specially formulated for brunettes with highlighted or lightened hair. It deposits blue-violet pigments onto strands to minimize brassy tones.
Best for Customization: IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Brunette Toning Drops
You control how much blue pigment you use with these potent drops, which are meant to be added to your regular shampoo to get rid of unwanted orange and red tones and prevent color from fading. The drops are made with nourishing blueberry extract (high in vitamins A, B5, C, and E) and color-protecting artichoke extract.
Best Sulfate-Free: Oligo Professionnel Blacklight Blue Shampoo
Some people find that sulfates dry out their hair. If you’re one of those people, consider using this sulfate-free blue shampoo, designed for medium blonde to light brown hair. The gentle formula, made with 100% vegan ingredients and no sulfates, salts, or parabens, repairs breakage in addition to stamping out brassiness.
Best for Blonde Hair: Fanola No Orange Shampoo
Brunettes aren’t the only ones who can have fun with blue shampoo. Show brassiness in blonde hair who is boss with this product. The blue pigment in the formula works hard to neutralize yellow, orange, and red tones in grey, light blonde, dark blonde, highlighted, and brunette hair.
Best for Color Protection: Redken Color Extend Brownlights Blue Toning Shampoo
Getting your hair colored professionally can be expensive—but finding the right hair care system will allow you to go longer between sessions. This blue shampoo gets high marks for protecting brown color from fading that comes along with sun and heat exposure. It also counteracts and even prevents brassy orange and red tones.
Best for Curly Hair: DevaCurl No-Poo Blue Anti-Brass Zero Lather Cleanser
Many curly-haired individuals rave about the benefits of washing their hair with cleansing conditioners—and now there’s a blue variety on the market. This blue cleansing conditioner, formulated with blue lotus flower, gently cleanses curls and offsets brassiness. The result: Shiny, bouncy spirals that are free of orange and red tones.
Brown recommends using a blue shampoo once a week or once every three washes, as overdoing it can dry out your hair. “Apply to wet hair, massage, and leave on for one to five minutes depending on how brassy and porous your hair is,” she says.