The internet is a strange and mysterious place—so much so that one morning you may wake up and find that teens are dumping entire containers of purple shampoo all over their heads for the benefit of their followers. Sound confusing and a little thrilling? We’re with you! The purple shampoo challenge on TikTok has us totally rethinking our hair care routine.
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What is the purple shampoo challenge?
Born on TikTok, an app beloved by teens who create super short video clips or lip-sync to Hot 100 hits, the purple shampoo challenge has girls and boys alike applying purple shampoo to their hair to see what it does. After a jump cut or in a second clip, they’ll display the changes to their color (sometimes a jaw-dropping change, other times with no noticeable effects). Rez chalks up the trend to younger hair lovers trying to maintain Insta-worthy colors on an after-school-job budget.
“I think the purple shampoo challenge is popular amongst younger people because it’s something they can do at home to maintain their blonde between salon visits. It’s a less expensive alternative to a salon visit. ”
Good hair day by @stacicochran13.
What does the purple shampoo challenge do to hair?
“Purple shampoos are formulated to counteract and neutralize yellow tones on blondes,” Epstein says. “If applied to yellow tones, it will appear brighter, cooler, and whiter.”
In the purple shampoo challenge, girls and guys with pre-lightened or naturally light hair (think blonde highlights, balayage, or ombre) apply purple shampoo with mixed results. Some show off super white blond strands, while others peer hesitantly into the camera with violet hair.
“Purple shampoo can definitely help natural blondes, especially on more golden or yellow hues,” Epstein explains. “You’re going to see more of a white or bright effect on highlighted hair because it is generally more porous.”
If you’re a brunette, chances are good your before and after shots look identical.
Good hair day by @laura_dugaeva.
How do you use purple shampoo?
Unlike other shampoos, purple shampoo isn’t meant to be used every day. Most stylists recommend once-a-week usage in place of your go-to formula, followed by a deep conditioner or mask to leave your hair feeling soft and looking healthy.
When you’re ready to tone your hair, apply a quarter-size amount of purple shampoo, working it through wet hair in the shower (not dry hair, like a teen doing a viral challenge!). Follow the instructions on the bottle, letting it sit up to five minutes for maximum toning power. Although that dark purple formula might make it seem like staining is a big worry, Epstein says that’s not true.
“I don’t think there’s much possibility for mistakes, I think the more saturated the better—that’s the case with all hair color,” she says. “Because this is a shampoo-based ‘toner,’ it’s not going to make a dramatic change enough to worry about missing spots.” Some participants in the challenge are letting their purple shampoo formulas sit on dry hair up to 24 hours...not necessary!
Good hair day by @xcellenthairsquare.
Which purple shampoo should you use for the challenge?
As much as we’d love to tell you so, all purple shampoo isn’t created equal. Salon-quality formulas ensure brightening without staining, but drugstore formulas can fluctuate a bit more. While a million purple shampoos are on the market, we always recommend the salon-approved versions. With your stylist’s guidance, you should be able to keep your color looking less brassy between touch-ups.
“The issue with drugstore formulas is you have much less control. Most of the time they have way more deposit in tonal value, which may be a good thing, but you’re looking to tone your blond...not stain your blonde,” Epstein says.
Epstein loves Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo, Conditioner, and Triple Power Mask, supplementing those products with the brand’s Keep Me Vivid line for maximum color longevity between salon appointments.
For Rez, Redken Color Extend Blondage is a must-have.
In addition to purple shampoo, a purple conditioner like Redken Color Extend Blondage Conditioner or the new Redken Color Extend Blondage Mask can be used to strengthen and further neutralize yellow tones in the hair." For perfect blonde, purple shampoo is a must—but for the sake of the teens, use it in a way that would make your stylist proud!
Ready to take the plunge into purple shampoo territory the salon way? Use our salon locator to book a consultation with an artist near you for personalized advice.