Why Blue Shampoo is Fantastic for Brassy Brunettes
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Inside: Find out why blue shampoo helps reduce brassiness in brunette hair
If you have dyed brunette hair, you may find that your hair takes on brassy orange tones as the dye fades.
There are measures you can take to prevent brassiness but if it’s too late for prevention, your best recourse is blue shampoo.
What is Blue Shampoo?
Blue shampoo is a color-depositing shampoo with a deep blue-violet tint that is intended to reduce unwanted brassiness in dyed brunette hair.
Blue is the opposite color from orange on the color wheel, so it neutralizes the orange tones and helps get your brunette hair back to looking fabulous.
What is the Difference Between Blue and Purple Shampoo?
Blue shampoo is best for brassy brunette hair since brunettes are the ones who end up with unwanted copper and orange tones in their dyed hair.
If you have unwanted yellow tones (generally found in dyed blonde hair, or naturally grey hair), purple shampoo is recommended since yellow is the opposite of purple on the color wheel.
Some blondes DO use blue shampoo to make their hair look more “ashy”, but most turn to purple shampoo for best results.
Related article: The Ultimate Guide to Purple Shampoo
How to Use Blue Shampoo
- Rub the shampoo between your hands and apply it all over your DRY hair.
- Wait for 5 minutes
- Step into the shower, wet your hair a little, and keep working the shampoo through your hair.
- Rinse, and then deep condition.* Let the deep conditioner sit on your hair for 5-30 minutes before rinsing out.
* Deep conditioning is important after using blue shampoo because it can be VERY drying. I recommend Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator Treatment.
Note: Don’t freak out if your hands turn bright blue while applying blue shampoo. Trust me, it will wash off in the shower.
Video: Blue Shampoo Application
Before and After Using Blue Shampoo on Dry Hair
I took these photos while I was transitioning to my natural gray hair, so I’ve totally got a skunk stripe going on, as well as brassy orange tones in my fading dyed ends.
As you can see, after using blue shampoo on dry hair, the unwanted orange tones are GREATLY reduced and I’m back to the cool brunette tones I love.
Of course, whether using it on dry or wet hair will yield best results depends on your hair type
If your hair is resistant to color, using blue shampoo on dry hair may be more effective.
If your hair takes color well, do a strand test on dry hair. If you rinse it out and end up with unwanted blue tones, you may be better off applying the shampoo to wet hair in the future.
What NOT To Do with Blue Shampoo
Don’t use it too often: It is very drying, so it should only be used once a week.
Don’t leave it on too long: I accidentally left it on my dry hair for 30 minutes. My hair felt quite frizzy afterward, and even the Joico K-Pak wasn’t enough to get it back to normal.
Pros & Cons of Blue Shampoo
- Removes brassy orange tones from your fading brunette hair
- Brightens your silver hair (if you’re going gray)
- Blue shampoo is a temporary solution – you have to use it about once a week to get good results
- If your hair is SUPER orange, it doesn’t work as well as it does on mildly orange hair.
- Blue shampoo is very drying – you must deep condition afterward
Using Blue Shampoo While Going Gray
Do you HAVE to use blue shampoo while going gray cold turkey? Definitely not! Only use it if the brassy tones in your fading dye bother you.
I used blue shampoo once a week while I was going gray, and I used it exactly as described above with great results.
It will NOT turn your gray hair blue unless you use it too often. Once a week should be fine.
I found that the blue shampoo really helped me for the first 9-10 months of my gray hair transition. But towards the end of my transition, my fading brunette dye was SO orange that even blue shampoo barely helped.
Alternatives to Blue Shampoo for Brassy Faded Dye
If your faded brunette dye turns so orange that blue shampoo no longer works for you (while you are going gray), you have a few options:
- Only dye the brassy ends, while leaving the gray roots untouched.
- Hide the brassy ends with hairpieces or extensions.
- Just learn to live with the orange tones until all of your dye fades away.
Personally, I was so DONE putting chemicals on my head, that I chose the latter option.
Now that my hair is fully gray, I no longer have to worry about orange tones. What a relief!
If you have dyed brown hair that is taking on unwanted brassy tones, you may want to give blue shampoo a try and see if it works for you. For many of us, it does a GREAT job!
Purple Shampoo 101
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What shampoo products did you use in between using the blue shampoo once a week?
Hi, Kim! I use(d) my favorite gentle shampoo: BTWCo. Daily Moisturizing Shampoo. It’s fantastic!
LOVE this advise of how to apply! Going by the “apply to wet hair” instructions hasn’t seem to work, but haven’t tried this yet. Will in a couple of days.
Curious if you think it’ll work for me: over the course of the past year, every 3-4 months have dyed my natural lt-med brown hair all ashe blondes – dark, med, light, ultra light – every result has been just a lighter shade of strawberry blonde! Arg! Which has never happened, and brassy orange hi-lites too. Double arg!
Just wondering what you think my results might be with the 5 minutes on dry hair approach, or if I should try another action for my cringe-worthy locks.
Thanks!! (age 55, thin hair, tends to frizz easy if not tamed)
Well, I just tried it, left on for 5 minutes, in shower added a little water to lather it up, produces a LOT of lather, rinse, deep conditioned for over :05, styled and still have the pesky strawberry blonde. However, will use 1-2 more times this week to see if more applications will work with time.
Again, thank you for this article, I won’t give up 🙂
You’re welcome! But let me remind you – blue shampoo works on dyed brunette hair that is turning orange. If your hair is strawberry blonde, are you dealing with brassy red tones or brassy yellow tones? If red tones – use green shampoo (redken makes one). If yellow tones, try a purple shampoo. You need to make sure you get the opposite color on the color wheel for whatever problem you’re having, so they cancel each other out.
Hi, I found your site when researching Mixed Feeling Blue drops. It’s not what you reviewed but I appreciate the information and actually learned a lot. I hadn’t thought about the color wheel and why the drops were blue to tone my brassy brunette! I’m not brave enough to go gray yet but you look great and I’ll be back for your tips when I do.
I stopped dyeing my hair last year, I’m a brunette with auburn highlights naturally but have noticed some silver strands appearing now. I quite like them and I am hoping to leave them to grow naturally, they are very shiny in the sunlight. I am hoping that my hair will turn white as did my mothers and grandmothers both; they had pretty white hair. I am starting to grow my hair again as I had it cut to remove all the brassy length and now my hair is in a short bob, but I want it a little longer with a side parting. Not sure if I will get the grey roots or whether I will just notice the silver strands as I do now. Looking for shampoo recommendation. I am currently using John Frieda volume building shampoo, conditioner and styling spray as I feel my hair is a little thinner nowadays.
I forgot to mention, I turned 67 last week.
Dear Katie, I have wanted to go gray for years but always chickened out and resorted to dying instead. My regrowth now is a good inch and I’m told my only option is to get a pixie or continue hair color. I too like my hair a long shoulder length as I like to pull it back off my face. I feel I am getting too old for the rich auburn dye but hate myself in short hair. Perhaps you have more tips on lightening the stark difference in this white stripe down my part?
Hi, Elane: Who told you that your only option was to get a pixie or keep dyeing? Your hairdresser? That’s totally not true. Check out my How To Go Gray article – there is not one right way to go gray – you have choices! Also, I’m 52 and love long gray hair. Nobody is too old for long hair – that’s a myth! Check out How to Go Gray with Long Hair for ideas. If the demarcation line really bothers you, you can see a stylist (make sure they are experienced!) for help transitioning your hair – that has pitfalls, because if your hair is very dark, they might have to bleach it to lighten it and that can cause damage. But if you find a really experienced stylist, they should be able to help you without much damage. If you need a new stylist in your area, check out my Gray-Friendly Salon Directory. Good luck!
Thank you so much for this recommendation! I have a gingery section where (I think) the last and palest dye is fading out that I want to tone down. Tried purple because that’s all I knew of and it hasn’t really made much difference so I’m looking forward to the blue helping more. My hair was dyed plum so the blue should actually help that as it grows out.
Great! Good luck!
Hi! I have medium brown hair with a sunkissed/blonde balayage, is it better to use blue or purple shampoo?
Since your hair is mainly brunette, I’d recommend you try blue shampoo.
Hi, I am in transition from dyed auburn/red to grey, is there anything I can do to get rid of the red that’s left faster? I probably need 2 more cuts before red is all out. Does head & shoulders shampoo get rid of red hair quicker.
We are on lockdown and I have gone from dark brown with with white grey roots to an orange blonde .
My darling husband has become my hair dresser.
We have tried and tested so many box blonde dyes and now just need to get rid of the orange/yellow tones.
Thank you for this lovely page, at 64 you have given me so much confidence to keep going.
I’m 62 and I decided a month ago that I’m done with dyeing my hair. I’m not getting much encouragement from friends and family so it means a lot to see these stories of women being optimistic and giving helpful advice during their journey to going gray.
Hi, Marianne! The support is SO important! I know I couldn’t have done it without the support of other women. It helps 🙂
I’ve just found you and want to follow to learn how to do this. Thank you.
My hair is natural brown. I have been coloring it for ages to a dark ash blonde. Have orange/ red brassy highlights. Will blue shampoo give me an ashy tone which I love. Thanks
Hi, Marilyn – I don’t think blue shampoo will give you that ashy tone. Some people say to use purple shampoo for that (which goes against my advice to always use blue shampoo on brunette or red hair) But the ashy issue is a different matter)! Just remember, both blue and purple shampoos work best if you apply them to dry hair and let them sit for 5 minutes before you go back in the shower. I found putting them on wet hair didn’t work as well.
Good luck – and let me know what works for you!
I am a natural dark brunette, I have been coloring a medium brown for 6 years. Due to recently thinning hair( doc says normal for 40 % of women my age ? this is why I went cold turkey to help my thinning hair. Interesting how you are so dark underneath, my underneath is very gray top just some gray. I really like your video helps me, i am at the 6 month stage and it is very hard I have to admit ( still have past the shoulders waiting a bit longer on my fist cut . Thanks for the positive up lift. –
Thanks, Amy! I hope you have the same result I had – I thought my hair was thinning due to my age, but since I dropped the dye, I’ve lost so much less hair. Now my hair is back to feeling thick again! And I hear that from other women, too. Good luck!
Thanks so much for the info! I’m just a couple of months into the process but can see the orange color coming through in my bangs especially. Is two months without coloring too soon to try the blue shampoo?
I don’t think so! The point of the blue shampoo is to make your silvers shine and to lessen the brassy orange, so as long as you have some orange and/or silver in your hair, you can try it. Good luck!
What do you think of the blue conditioner? Does it condition well?
I’ve never actually tried it – I just stick with the blue shampoo and use a deep conditioner afterwards. But some people seem to really like the blue conditioner as well.
What are the results for course African American hair?
That’s a good question – I’ve never seen any research on how it would affect coarse African American hair. I checked online and couldn’t find any answers. I’ll keep looking and will write back if I find out!
I am also transitioning, my question is, will it give a more suttle transition if ur getting your hair bleached to reach my goal?
You should consult a hairdresser to see how that would work with your particular hair type, but yes, a lot of women go that route. Check out my post about “How to Go Gray” for all your options, and also my list of Gray-Friendly Hairdressers if you need one in your area.
I’ve been scouring the net on and off since 2017, looking for advice and materials to going grey. Your site is a God-send. I last dyed my hair in Dec-2018. This tip on the blue shampoo will come in very handy.
I’m so glad you found me! Good luck with the blue shampoo 🙂
Katie, I am 8 months into my silver transition. My “real” color is brown. Thank you for your info – I’ve been using purple shampoo and will now try the blue. I have long hair and can’t wait until this transition is over!
Hi, Barbara! I’m so happy that this article helped! The orangey tones didn’t bother me much at first and now they are really starting to get to me. But like you, I like long hair so don’t want to cut it all off. Good luck with the rest of your transition!
I appreciate you sharing your experience and your advice. Very informative. I’m 43 and decided to stop coloring my hair a month ago. My hair is colored dark brown. It’s naturally black. I’m looking forward to going grey. I’ll definitely try the blue shampoo as you advised. Much thanks!
Katie, I found you on instagram a few weeks ago. I’m 36 and my last dye was on 11/9/18. I haven’t spoken about my transition publicly and haven’t posted an photos on IG because I’m not confident in doing so yet. Your blog has been a HUGE help to me. I love reading all the stories and honestly, can’t wait for the awkward phase of my grow-out to get better so that I can feel a little more sure of my decision. So far, I’m loving the color that’s coming in. Thank you for being a positive plethora of information in a space that’s a little less public than social media! xo, Jackie
Thank you, Jackie – your feedback means a lot! I’m happy to host a more private space for us ladies in transition. It’s such a fraught thing still to go gray in our culture – we need all the support we can get!
I think my transition will be similar to yours. I am also a brunette and my hair does turn orange as the grey starts to grow out. I always chickened out when that happened and went back to dying. However this time I am committed ever since I saw yours. Thanks for the help on the best products to use on my hair as I transition. I am 68 and should have done this years ago. I am starting my 5th week into this so I have a long way to go. Keep posting as it helps all of us newbies!
Thanks, Grace – I’m so happy you are finding help here! That’s why I started this blog – because I was confused about the process and what products to use, etc. I’ll definitely keep posting – I’m in this for the long haul!
I personally use Schwartzkopf BonaCure Excellium range. It is creamy purple and enriched with Q10+ pearls… I love it !!!!
That sounds amazing – I’ll look into it!
I just ordered the Joco Blue Shampoo…I have the same problem with the brassiness…thank you for the reccomdation!!
I’m so glad! I hope it works as well for you as it did for me. I wish I had known about this product years ago, as my dyed ends have always turned somewhat orange the last week or so before dyeing.