The saying goes that blondes have more fun, but when you consider how much extra effort it takes to keep golden locks looking bright, fresh and gleaming, we’re not entirely convinced they’re the lucky ones.
Thankfully, purple toning products go a long way to ensuring blonde hair doesn’t turn brassy. But how and why does a purple formula keep blonde hair looking so blonde? We spoke to Hair Director and Master Colourist and Stylist at MOB HAIR, Tarryn Cherniayeff, Colour Expert at Fudge Professional, Sophie Dale, and Creative Director at Eleven Australia, Joey Scandizzo, to find out.
Why blondes should use purple toning products
“Purple is opposite yellow on the colour wheel, so by distributing purple pigment tones throughout the hair it helps to neutralise those unwanted warm and brassy tones. It cancels out the red and yellow undertone while highlighting the blue undertones, making blondes brighter,” explains Cherniayeff.
Dale notes that in addition to extending the time required between salon visits, purple toning products can also be used on naturally blonde hair to zap any unwanted brassiness that develops over time.
How often a purple toner should be applied
As a general rule, Scandizzo recommends using “toning products every third wash to keep the colour looking fresh.” However, Cherniayeff stresses that because each product is different, “it’s important to read the back of the bottle or ask your hairdresser how often and for how long you should use it.”
If you’re after a quick and easy way to tell how effective your purple product will be, Cherniayeff says “the darker the colour, the higher the pigment: meaning that it’s stronger the darker it is.” With that in mind, Cherniayeff recommends keeping your toning product on for “between one to five minutes and to keep it on the ends for the least amount of time as they’re more porous and more likely to over-tone.”
How to choose the right formula
While all purple toning products work to neutralise yellow tones in your hair, they all do so differently. For instance, both shampoos and conditioners with purple pigments will tone hair for up to one week, however shampoos tend to be better suited for those with fine hair as conditioners and treatments are more likely to cause product build-up, leaving fine hair feeling weighed down and looking flat.
Alternatively, conditioners and treatments work well for thicker hair as not only do they deliver violet pigment to the hair, but they also nourish and hydrate, leaving thick hair feeling soft and rejuvenated.
A third toning product option comes in the form of spray bottles, which enable a more targeted distribution of purple pigment throughout the hair. According to Dale, this toning option is great “as often the issue with yellow or brassy blondes is that some areas are cleaner or paler than other areas.” Her top pick for treating the issue is Fudge Professional Tri-Blo Violet, which can be used to prime hair before blow-drying. “The results can be seen immediately and are washed away on the next shampoo, so it can be used every time you blow-dry your hair if required,” she explains.
Two of our other favourite spray toners include Oribe Bright Blonde Radiance and Repair Treatment and Schwarzkopf BLONDME® Tone Enhancing Spray Conditioner.
What to do if you’ve used too much
When it comes to purple toning products you most certainly can have too much of a good thing. If you’ve been a bit too heavy-handed with your product or have been using your toner more than is recommended, it may result in slightly purple toned or ashy locks.
This will most likely occur for those with porous hair (i.e. hair that has a tendency to absorb and lose moisture quickly), with the purple pigment most likely to discolour the ends of your hair.
If this does happen, don’t fret. Scandizzo says, “you should be able to shampoo it out with your normal shampoo. The colour pigments are usually quite large and sit on top of the hair and thus, don’t penetrate deep enough to cause permanent damage.”
Dale also notes that removing the purple or ashy tone “may take one to five washes depending on the porosity of the hair.” So if you don’t see results after the first wash, be patient.
Why purple toners can benefit brunettes as well
If you have brunette hair and have always overlooked toning products, it might be time to change tack. According to Cherniayeff, purple toning products can benefit coloured brown hair by removing the warmer and brassy tones that often come through, leaving hair with a cooler tone.
Additionally, Cherniayeff says, “anyone who has lightened their hair, whether it’s foils or balayage, may experience brassiness, so this will help prolong that colour and stop any further warmth coming through. Just concentrate on the mid-lengths and ends to get the best results.”
Thinking of making a huge blonde hair colour change? Make sure you read the three top things you need to know before going platinum blonde.
What’s your favourite purple toning product? Share with us in the comments below.
Main image credit: Sevak Babakhani
Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.