Thomas Tolstrup
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A Health staffer tried and tested more than 10 shampoos for toning color-treated blonde hair. Here are the winners.

You know the saying: Blondes have more fun. But it isn’t so fun when a few weeks after a hair appointment, my beige or honey-hued locks start to turn a yucky shade of yellow, or even orange. Next thing you know, I'm coughing up more dollars at the salon to get my highlights fixed and toned.

Blonde hair turns brassy after it oxidizes, explains Paul Cucinello, celebrity stylist and creative director at Chris Chase Salon NYC. “When hair oxidizes, the pH level rises, which opens up the cuticle, releasing the controlling pigment—usually violet—that was making your color look so pretty,” he says. 

Spending too much time in the sun, using harsh shampoos, or overusing heat-styling tools can all cause hair to oxidize. Easing up on any of these hair no-nos will help keep your color intact, says Cucinello. But purple toning shampoos are also an option. “Since violet and yellow are opposite colors, the violet cancels out the yellow and the resulting color is a softer beige-blonde,” Cucinello says.

How to use a purple shampoo

“How often you should use a violet shampoo depends on how brassy your hair is beginning to appear, how often you regularly shampoo your hair, and how well your hair holds tone,” Cucinello says.

Here’s a rough guide: If your hair is just starting to look brassy, start by using a violet shampoo and conditioner once a week in place of your regular shampoo. Lather the shampoo up for about 2 to 3 minutes, then leave the violet conditioner on for about 5 minutes. Increase the amount of time you leave both products on your hair if your hair is resistant to the purple tone.

“If you shampoo your hair more than four times per week, your toner basically has no chance of survival, so I'd suggest using violet shampoo and conditioner twice a week,” Cucinello suggests.

Warning: If you go overboard with the purple shampoo, your hair may actually take a bit of the lavender color. If it happens, don’t fret. “Just give you hair a quick wash with your regular shampoo and it should take a little bit of the violet out,” he says.

Not sure which blonde ale is best for your strands? I tested out more than 10 different brands to see which could make my highlights look as good as new again. The five picks below worked wonders.

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