Like Marilyn Monroe, Courtney Love, and Gwen Stefani before, I have a long and proud legacy as a fake blonde. Unlike any of those platinum heroines, for me, bleaching up has almost always come with tell-tale hot roots or a Tropicana glow that surfaces in two washes or less. Then finally, at the decade mark of dye jobs, I stumbled upon the best purple shampoo for brassiness out there: INOAR Professional Speed Blond Shampoo and Conditioner ($33).
If you’re familiar with brassy blonde dye jobs but unfamiliar with purple shampoo, let’s pause and have the pros explain the gist. “Think of the color wheel we learn in elementary school,” says celebrity hairstylist Clarissa Rubenstien. “Cooler colors are opposite from warmer colors, therefore they kind of cancel each other out. Blues and purples are opposite the yellow tones.”
That means purple shampoo can deposit enough cool tones onto warm blonde hair that it nixes the brassiness, according to Maria Elizabeth, founder and owner of Salon deZEN. “This shampoo is formulated with low levels of purple pigment that neutralizes unwanted yellow tones,” she says. And while I’ve tried just about every last purple shampoo out there, I can attest that there’s an art to the perfect purple shampoo. Like a bonafide Goldilocks, these products have to be juuuust right.
Technically, before I tried the INOAR Speed Blond Shampoo, I tried the INOAR Speed Blond Conditioner. I already had a purple shampoo on hand, and so I figured I’d pick up an extra toning companion. My current blonde iteration was kind of a butterscotch color, not devastating but weird against my olive-toned skin. After my first wash, I was floored: gone was any trace of warmth, and in its place was a pretty, tawny gold.
When using any purple shampoos in the past, it always seemed like the shampoo in question was meant to maintain a certain level of coolness, not correct issues of warmth. Lathering up with a purple shampoo over a regular shampoo kept my hair from getting orange over time. This was the first time in my life that there was a drastic tonal shift, and I was truly impressed.
Then, during lockdown, (hair) tragedy struck. Living with my parents and far from my INOAR, I decided to DIY babylights. This took my hair from zero to Karen real quick. Like I had a very overt case of tiger stripes, but I busted out the shampoo and was again so happy with the results.
Because INOAR products are so strong, a little goes a long way. In general, purple shampoos shouldn’t be utilized more than once or twice a week, as an addition to your usual bottle, not the substitute. So if I’m not careful, I can go overboard and have a residual lavender tint (which washes out, but nonetheless). Likewise, each product is great, but I don’t necessarily need them all (mask, shampoo, conditioner) at the same time to be effective.
As I prepare for the second wave and the salon shutdowns that might come with it, I’ll say this. 2020 feels like the wrong year to get the hair I’ve always wanted. But thanks to INOAR, I feel up in the ranks of the legendary blondes… and am super prepared in case I start grabbing at the bleach again.
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