Best Gray Hair Products / February 2, 2020

Why Blue Shampoo is Fantastic for Brassy Brunettes

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 has a deep blue tint and 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.  

image of color wheel
The Color Wheel

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, orange or red 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.

** Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links. You can see my full policy here **

How to Use Blue Shampoo

1, Rub the shampoo between your hands, and apply it all over your DRY hair.  

2. Wait for 5 minutes

3. Step into the shower, wet your hair a little, and keep working the shampoo through your hair.

4. 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.  

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 you can see, after using blue shampoo on dry hair, the 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

Pros:

  • Removes brassy orange tones from your fading brunette hair
  • Brightens your silver hair (if you’re going gray)

Cons:

  • 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.

image of gray hair with brassy ends
By this point in my gray hair transition, blue shampoo was no longer effective in reducing orange tones.

If you find that blue shampoo no longer works to reduce brassy tones while you are going gray, you have a couple of options:

  • Only dye the brassy ends, while leaving the gray roots untouched.
  • Just learn to live with the orange 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!

Conclusion

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!

Need more info? Check out my YouTube video about Using Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo to Reduce Brassiness

Related Posts:

Best Products for Gray Hair

Can Overtone Soften the Skunk Stripe?

Interview with Joli Campbell of QuickSilverHair

Why Blogger Lauren Stein Launched Her Own Line of Haircare Products

39 Comments

  1. Shirley Pearson

    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.

    25 . Jul . 2020 Reply
    • Shirley Pearson

      I forgot to mention, I turned 67 last week.

      25 . Jul . 2020 Reply
  2. Elane

    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?

    18 . May . 2020 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      18 . May . 2020 Reply
  3. Sue

    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.

    12 . May . 2020 Reply
    • Katie

      Great! Good luck!

      12 . May . 2020 Reply
  4. sally

    Hi! I have medium brown hair with a sunkissed/blonde balayage, is it better to use blue or purple shampoo?

    27 . Apr . 2020 Reply
    • Katie

      Since your hair is mainly brunette, I’d recommend you try blue shampoo.

      27 . Apr . 2020 Reply
  5. Lynn Lacombe

    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.
    Thanks
    Lynn

    22 . Apr . 2020 Reply
  6. lynne James

    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.
    Lynne UK

    20 . Apr . 2020 Reply
  7. Marianne

    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.

    01 . Feb . 2020 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Marianne! The support is SO important! I know I couldn’t have done it without the support of other women. It helps 🙂

      02 . Feb . 2020 Reply
  8. Glenice

    I’ve just found you and want to follow to learn how to do this. Thank you.

    19 . Nov . 2019 Reply
  9. marilyn

    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

    13 . Oct . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      14 . Oct . 2019 Reply
  10. Amy

    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. –
    Amy

    08 . Sep . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      09 . Sep . 2019 Reply
  11. Dee

    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?

    29 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      30 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  12. Linda

    What do you think of the blue conditioner? Does it condition well?

    25 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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.

      27 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  13. Lyn

    What are the results for course African American hair?

    16 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      16 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  14. Dawn

    I am also transitioning, my question is, will it give a more suttle transition if ur getting your hair bleached to reach my goal?

    20 . Apr . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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.

      22 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  15. auee

    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.

    25 . Mar . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      I’m so glad you found me! Good luck with the blue shampoo 🙂

      25 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  16. Barbara

    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!

    22 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      22 . Jan . 2019 Reply
      • Rebecca

        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!

        03 . Sep . 2019 Reply
        • Katie

          You’re welcome!

          03 . Sep . 2019 Reply
  17. Jackie

    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

    10 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      10 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  18. Grace

    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!

    15 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      15 . Nov . 2018 Reply
  19. Sandrine PICARD

    I personally use Schwartzkopf BonaCure Excellium range. It is creamy purple and enriched with Q10+ pearls… I love it !!!!

    12 . Aug . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      That sounds amazing – I’ll look into it!

      15 . Nov . 2018 Reply
  20. JoAnna

    I just ordered the Joco Blue Shampoo…I have the same problem with the brassiness…thank you for the reccomdation!!

    05 . Aug . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      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.

      05 . Aug . 2018 Reply

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Katie

Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.