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Why Men With Blonde or Gray Hair Should Switch To Purple Shampoo

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling Photo by George Pimentel/FilmMagic

Somewhere along the line American men decided that blondes really do have more fun, and that they were going to be having that fun for themselves. Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling (above), and the Carter brothers expressed their handsome superpowers, and suddenly everybody from Joe Jonas to Jonah Hill followed suit. (Although we do have to give props to Dennis Rodman, who included blonde in his mix back in the mid-‘90s.) Some say the inability to get to a barber during lockdown—and maybe having just a bit too much time on our hands—inspired many of us regular guys to go the home coloring route, experimenting with everything from True Sons to Colorsmith to Just For Men to achieve the glowing mane of a legendary lifeguard. 

What Makes Blonde Brassy?

One of the common problems that arises — especially from DIY hair coloring; but really even if your hair is naturally blonde, gray or white — is that hair can start to look “brassy.” You lose that soft, gentle, Malfoy-like glow, and start to look a bit more Bart Simpson. It can be blamed on a number of things. The first is that the home coloring kit you use is — well — they’re getting better, but there’s a reason they allow us to play with these chemistry sets at home. For best results, see a professional. There’s a part of the process called toner that functions kind of like a coat of varnish over a paint job to help maintain the color. It can also help further correct the hair color, so once it wears off, your hair’s shade can start to look more yellow or even orange. 

Sometimes, even with a pro stylist’s work or naturally blonde hair, damage can come from something as simple as being exposed to sun and oxygen. Lighter hair is also more porous, so it can suck up things in the environment, like pollution. If there are any weird minerals or chemicals in your water, they can also affect the color (it might be time to install a water softener, which would also be good for your clothes, your washing machine, your dishwasher, etc.) Beyond brassy, if swimming in a chlorinated pool is part of your workout routine, you might even find your hair turning green as chlorine interacts with copper in the water and leaves you with a Joker-like do.  

Consult the Color Wheel

How to fix it? It’s time for a little color science. We checked in with Larisa Love, founder of the Larisa Love Salon in Los Angeles, and Joico Brand Ambassador. Remember the color wheel from elementary school? 

“It all goes back to the color wheel. Blue cancels out orange and yellow, purple cancels out yellow,” says Love. “If you have brassy-orange hair you should use a blue-based shampoo. If you have more golden-yellow hair then you should use purple shampoo to counterbalance the color. Purple is great for maintaining colors like gray or white.” 

We are men, though, and some of us may also have these clown-like tones showing up in our beards, as well. Can we use these same products on our faces and not worrying about coming out looking like Papa Smurf? 

“You def can use Joico products on your face to neutralize the tone of your beard,” says Love. 

In fact, unless we’re missing something, we couldn’t even find a beard care company that offers a color corrective beard shampoo. 

Here are a few of our picks for maintaining that blonde ambition. 

Joico Blonde Life Violet Shampoo

Joico Blonde Life Violet Shampoo

Blonde Life neutralizes the brassy, yellow hues, adding tamanu (from a tropical evergreen) and monoi (from Tahitian gardenia petals soaked in coconut oil) oils. Back it up with Blonde Life Violet Conditioner. 

Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo

Aveda Purple Shampoo

Adds silveriness to gray hair; and counters those brassy-orange hues; all with Aveda’s focus on cruelty-free R&D, naturally derived ingredients, and recycled packaging. 

Jhirmack Silver Brightening Ageless Shampoo

Jhirmack Silver Brightening Ageless Shampoo

The value-priced, budget conscious choice in our lineup, Jhirmack is formulated with green tea extract and folic acid to strengthen and condition, and CoQ10 to protect from styling damage and environmental stressors.

Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo 

Joico Shampoo

Back to that color wheel! Those green tones from chlorine and copper are best canceled out with their opposites on the red spectrum. Color Infuse Red is also great for complementing any ginger’s natural tones. 

UltraSwim Dynamic Duo Shampoo and Conditioner

ultra swim shampoo

Ask your friends from the swim team. UltraSwim is every freestyler’s secret weapon for fighting green, chlorinated hair. 

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