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The Only (& We Mean Only) Guide To Using Purple Shampoo You’ll Ever Need

Purple shampoos are one type of color toning product. You’ve likely heard of the color wheel (go ahead and Google should you need to), and according to color theory, shades on the opposite side of the circle cancel each other out. That’s the science behind toning shampoos.

“We use toners to enhance dull tones or cancel unwanted tones,” says hairstylist Natasha Speth. “When we are canceling unwanted tones, we refer to our faithful color wheel to select the proper tones. We would use complementary colors to cancel out unwanted tones.” The basics of at-home toning are using violet for yellow, green for red, or blue for orange. “For instance, if a light blonde with soft golden undertones would prefer to be an icy white blonde, we may use a violet base toner or send them home with a violet-based shampoo and conditioner.”

As far as the shampoo part goes, shampoos actually are able to open up the hair’s cuticle during the wash process. (This is how they deep clean the strands: They can lift and pull out buildup trapped in the hair shaft.) With toning products, they deposit pigment while the cuticle is lifted–therefore canceling out the unwanted tone.

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