The Best All-Natural Purple Shampoos for Gray Hair

January 19, 2021 (updated November 1, 2022)

Is your gray hair yellow or brassy? You need purple shampoo. Here is everything you need to know about finding the best natural purple shampoo for gray and silver (and blonde!) hair, plus my top purple shampoo picks too! 

Lisa holding all-natural purple shampoo bottles

By: Lisa Fennessy

Confession. The first couple of years I grew out my hair gray, I was convinced my experience transcended purple shampoo. Actually, it was more like I was running an offense for the “just use regular shampoo” team. I was fine rotating through my roster of favorite clean beauty shampoos. They were cleaning my hair per usual and everything was fine. Until it wasn’t.

RELATED: Gray Hair, Do Care – Why to Ditch the Dye

About three years into my growth, my hair started taking on a brassy tinge. I couldn’t tell if my whites were actually white or if they were browns that hadn’t turned white yet. It was all getting a bit muddy and I found myself craving something to add brightness, definition, brilliance and clarity to my grays.

And then it dawned on me. I probably need a purple shampoo! Here’s why.

Skip ahead to what you need to know most!


Why does gray or silver hair get yellow or brassy?

Jenn Jones, master colorist and owner of Creature Studio in Atlanta explains, “Light colored hair like shades of blonde and gray are more susceptible to becoming discolored due to a number of factors like heat styling, medications, product buildup, sun, salt, chlorine and environmental pollutants.”

And she’s right. In fact, UV and heat are the biggest discoloring factors. Research has demonstrated UV turns proteins in hair yellow. Melanin in hair normally prevents hair from yellowing but gray and silver hair have little to no melanin content to prevent this.

A clean UV + heat protectant

Enter better beauty’s heat and UV protectant to help stop the yellowing/brassiness before it starts. Using a heat + UV protectant along with a great purple shampoo will be even more effective at bringing out those white, bright silver and grays.

I’ve tried several clean beauty heat protectants including Josh Rosebrook’s Hair Serum Spray and Innersence Organic Beauty’s Hair Love Prep Spray both of which are great but I have to say, EVOLVh’s SUPERFINISH Polishing Balm takes the cake.

product on a glass table

The Polishing Balm stands out to me because it’s water-based and really light and it doesn’t change the texture of my hair. It’s like adding nothing but it’s like adding everything. Check it out. The Polishing Balm: defrizzes, adds moisture, softness, shine, strength, prevents breakage, splitting AND provides UV and heat protection. I know. I KNOW!

I add a dollop of this to my hair before every blow dry and it leaves my hair super shiny and soft. #obsessed

Code: NEWKNEW15 will save you 15% on your first order here!

RELATED: Read my review on the best heat protectant for gray hair and beyond.

Preventative steps to stop yellowing or brassy hair

We can’t control the melanin in our hair, but we can control any external factors that cause yellowing or brassiness – like the products we choose to use.

Product buildup is a big factor when it comes to yellowing. To avoid it, choose EDTA-free shampoos, which can specifically cause yellowing.

Another preventative measure is to look for shampoos that are rich with plant antioxidants, which help reduce yellowing caused by UV. Antioxidants that are most effective for stopping hair yellowing (UV, heat, iron in water) are the ones that quench the hydroxyl radicals that are causing the yellowing. These are plant sugars like mannitol, quercetin and purple pigments in grapes and cranberry, to name a few.


how to prevent brassy tones in your gray hair

Why Use Purple Shampoo?

Okay, now on to the purple shampoo!

Purple shampoos are called “purple shampoo” because they are actually…PURPLE. Jenn Jones adds, “It’s basic color theory. Purple and yellow are complementary colors. That means when put together, they neutralize each other. These shampoos are going to get rid of unwanted yellow or ‘brassy’ tones in light shades of hair so the hair is left brighter.”

Sometimes you will hear about using a chelating or a clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar rinses – but those are different. A chelating or clarifying shampoo can be used to remove any product or mineral buildup which may be contributing to brassiness. ACV is typically used after you shampoo, condition or color because it seals the cuticle down and adds some shine.

The active ingredients in purple shampoo

So the bottom line is that you need something purple in the purple shampoo to get the job done. I’ve found some purple shampoos that use vegetable and botanical extracts to do this but most of the time this means adding either Ex D&C Violet 2 or Acid Violet 43.

Kate Noonan explains,”Purple shampoos use Ex D&C Violet and/or Violet 43, which both have cosmetic INCI name CI 60730. Two manufacturers make these purples for use in hair products at concentrations less than or equal to 1%. Often just 0.3% is needed to treat hair brassiness.”

Violet 2 and Acid Violet 43 used to be derived from coal tar but currently are made during petroleum jelly refining. They routinely bear a “caution” statement regarding potential skin irritation and instructions for determining whether the product causes skin irritation in any given individual so I wanted to do a little digging to see why.

What I found out about the active ingredients in purple shampoo was…

  • Both of these are not mutagenic in any of the tests like the Ames test or the micronucleus assay. 
  • Violet 2 in a 1% concentration shows no system toxicity and no significant local skin reactions. 
  • Acid Violet 43 was determined to be safe for use in hair dye formulations, when impurities are limited. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety is of the opinion that the use of Acid Violet 43 as a non-oxidative hair dye with a maximum on head concentration of 0.5% active dye does not pose a risk to the health of the consumer.
  • The CIR (the US Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel) found that no dermatitis was seen when many human volunteers at different Derm centers had 1% Acid Violet 43 in petrolatum applied to their skin over a 6-month period.

Kate continues: “The best purple shampoos have the correct pH for the Acid Violet/Violet 2 to remove that brassiness look and [the right] plant antioxidants to stop yellowing from UV. Treating hair with a 0.3% violet shampoo is a better option compared to the harmful chemicals in toners and permanent dyes, i.e. resorcinol, Direct Black 38, pyrogallol, and PPD, which is in salon, box and henna dyes, unless they are ‘PPD-free.'”

I am personally okay with using violet dye in this manner, especially when it’s housed in the right formula.

Purple shampoo however is not to be confused with blue shampoo, which is used for darker hair to cancel out orange tones. Jenn warns, “Never put blue, even pale blue, on blonde hair when trying to cancel out yellow tones. Blue + yellow = GREEN.”


3 bottles of purple shampoo with labels and logos showing

An All-Natural Purple Shampoo That’s Right for You

MOST of the purple shampoos on the market are formulated with other health-compromising ingredients like surfactants, parabens, fragrance and more, like DMDM Hydantoin. DMDM Hydantoin is a formaldehyde-containing ingredient and it’s sometimes listed (sometimes not if it’s hidden in a surfactant).

BUT! I was able to hunt down a few cleaner options that are formulated without all the junk.

Purple shampoo is currently an incredibly niche piece of the clean beauty market, and each brand I’ve found formulates a bit differently. Some are on the cleaner end of the spectrum while others linger on the more conventional end. Some use D&C dyes, some use botanicals and some use both. Others have a base that cleans really well, others are more nourishing and gentle.

Finding a “right fit” purple shampoo is really about taking into consideration your own type of hair and balancing that with how aggressive of a treatment you want. What it really comes down to in the end, as always, is making an educated decision about what you personally want.

Using clean beauty purple shampoos

The best way to use clean beauty purple shampoos is to apply them first to dry hair and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before washing. This gives the color a chance to work so you are not applying and rinsing it off straight away.

You will also have to play with frequency, depending on how often you wash your hair and the needs of your own gray hair. For the person who washes daily, you may only want to use a purple shampoo a couple times a week to avoid turning your hair an actual purple hue. Or for the person who only washes their hair once a week, you may be able to use a purple shampoo every time you wash.

It also depends on the shade of your hair. Jenn explains, “Anyone can use a purple shampoo; you just won’t get benefits from the color unless your hair is a level 8 [a medium blonde on the hair tone scale] and above. The pigment is just not strong enough to do anything to darker tones.”

The goal here is determining your own personal equation of frequency, taking into consideration shampoo formula, hair type, hair shade, hair texture and personal washing frequency.

If your hair happens to turn purple, Jenn suggests that “a clarifying shampoo will typically work well to pull out unwanted tones. You can apply the shampoo and let it sit for a while to help pull out the color. Typically, if your hair is over-processed or porous, the color can build up, usually on the ends, and be harder to get out.”

RELATED: 10 Things That Surprised Me About Going Gray


All-Natural Purple Shampoos

I’m going to use this space to document the purple shampoos I’ve tried that I would consider to be the cleanest options available. I’m starting with my top two recommendations by hair type and I will continue to add reviews here as I try more product. Comment below if you have an option I didn’t include here!

Top pick for thick, dense, oily hair

OWAY Silver Steel Hair Bath shampoo bottle sitting on glass table

OWAY Silver Steel Hair Bath

I’m going to come right out and say it. I love using OWAY’s Silver Steel Hair Bath. It smells great and leaves my hair feeling fresh, bouncy and clean. It’s packaged in glass which is RARE for any shampoo. Most brands won’t do this for safety reasons, but I love that this formula reduces the risk of plastics leaching into the product.

This formula pumps out a dark, iridescent, royal purple. It’s really great at removing oils and buildup. I’m kind of obsessed with how clean my hair feels after using it – did I mention that yet? It brightens and whitens over time. You won’t use this once and feel reborn. It’s also never turned my hair purple.

What really turned me on to Silver Steel Hair Bath is it’s stacked with nourishing hair ingredients like resurrection plant.

A large drop of OWAY Silver Steel Hair Bath purple shampoo in the palm of a hand
OWAY’s Silver Steel Hair Bath

Resurrection plant the same ingredient we see in African Botanics’ Resurrection Cell Recovery Serum. It has the ability to survive in extremely harsh, dry conditions and has a regenerating, anti-oxidative, moisturizing and protective effect on the hair, skin and scalp. The formula is also rich in phytonutriens, and vitamins A, B and C, as well as hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and minerals.

Scent: There is no one-note that stands out to me here but it has a light spa-like scent.

This is a legit salon formula and I was really surprised I didn’t see any egregious ingredients associated with cancer, endocrine disruption or birth defects. This formula uses Violet 2 as a pigment to neutralize brassiness.

Shop Silver Steel Hair Bath here and use code HHT3076 at checkout!

Top pick for mature, thin, drier hair

Bruns SCHAMPO N24 shampoo bottle sitting on a glass table

Bruns SCHAMPO N24

This formula was recommended to me by one reader on Instagram – THANK YOU! I was so so so excited to give this option a try. In terms of ingredients, this is BY FAR the simplest formula I’ve seen to date. To be honest, I was kind of borderline shocked at the brevity of the ingredient list. It left me looking at the label like, Where’s the rest of the ingredients?

SCHAMPO N24 is packaged in plastic and squeezes out a medium, translucent purple. I would equate the consistency, color and texture to be like that slime kids get out of a .25 machine. Demi-translucent, if you will.

This shampoo is on the mild end of the spectrum – mild in cleansing power and milder in pigment. But it’s gentle enough to use every day. It works to clean without stripping or drying out hair, which is great considering hair gets naturally drier as we age. Especially gray hair!

It also has ingredients like jojoba oil to add protection against dryness, breakage and split ends, and grapefruit essential oil, which helps relieve scalp irritation. As far as antioxidants go, the campeachy tree also works to make the same purple pigment grapes/berries make and it makes quercetin too.

Kate adds, “The BRUNS shampoo looks really good because the pH is ideal for hair and scalp – I can tell what the exact product pH must be by their Ecocert COSMOS preservative choice. They also use the COSMOS cationic guar which reduces friction between strands, is scalp-friendly and works to keep hair strong. Here’s a cool article that mentions the importance of a low pH shampoo for hair.”

A sample of Bruns SCHAMPO N24 purple shampoo in the palm of a hand
BRUNS N24

I have thicker hair, but I’ve actually come to love this option because I can use it all the time without fear of giving myself straw head. It also has a lovely grapefruit/citrus scent.

SCHAMPO N24 uses naturals (campeachy tree) as well as synthetics (Acid Violet 43) as pigment to neutralize brassiness.

The only downside here is that BRUNS was not available in the US – UNTIL NOW, SISTERS! I’ve brought them into ShopThisOrganicGirl and they are available for the first time ever, stateside. Shop here!

More clean purple shampoo options

Everessence Organics shampoo bottle sitting on glass table

Everessence Organics

To be honest, my favorite thing about this shampoo is that it washed my hair as good as any conventional shampoo ever has. The “clean hair” satisfaction score here is off the charts.

Everessence left my hair feeling fresh, bouncy and clean but it also left it really dry. My scalp got dry and my hair dried out a bit after just 2 months of usage.

This formula comes in plastic and squeezes out a metallic dark, rich..almost gray. Because it removes oils so well from my hair, I found I could only use it every other wash or every third wash. That may work for some but also, when the treatments are spaced out, it slows results.

What really drew me to this formula is that it’s made from 83.8% certified organic ingredients and 99.36% naturally derived ingredients. I also really like that they use vegetable and fruit extracts to pigment instead of D&C dyes. I will say this pigment was more of a gray metallic rather than a vibrant violet/purple, which you can see in the photo.

The scent here is like an old school box of Nerds – very sweet and grape-y.

A sample of Everessence Organics purple shampoo in the palm of a hand
Everescents Blonde Shampoo

In addition, it’s fortified with certified organic Argan oil, vitamin E and provitamin B5 ,which moisturize and add shine to hair.

This would be a good fit for anyone with more oily hair that needs more frequent washing.

The only other drawback is that it’s not available in the US. I ordered this from Australia and paid about $40 in shipping alone for this 8oz bottle.

Kavella Purple Shampoo

A reader asked me if I tried Kavella and I hadn’t, so I just ordered a sample. Kavella uses Acid Violet 43 and Acid Red 33 as colorants in a cleaner base. I love how pigmented this formula is, however I’m not recommending it for two reasons. This formula was super thin and runny. And it uses lower foaming surfactants as the primary and secondary surfactants so it NEVER foamed up for me – not even after three rounds of washing.

Call foaming/sudsing shampoo a personal preference, but I will go out on a limb and say most people feel the same. HOWEVER if you are someone who prefers a shampoo that does not foam at all – then this one could be a good match for you.

Rahua Colorful Shampoo

This is a purple shampoo that’s been on the market for a while now. I love Rahua. The entire brand is formulated around the foundational ingredient rahua oil which indiginous Amazon women have used for years to nourish their hair and skin.

I tried this shampoo and it did not brighten or whiten my grays. I reached out to Rahua and they clarified that, “It’s actually designed to extend the vibrancy of color-treated hair and highlighted hair.” They added that it can also be used on gray hair to prevent natural brassiness but the takeaway for me was this is not it’s the main objective nor does it work to neutralize it.

In addition, I don’t see any FD&C dyes or fruit/vegetable extracts for an active pigment or color.

This formula is really designed to preserve color rather than neutralize brassiness.

Some additional formulas I have my eye on…

Quick Silver Hair – A clay-based system that works to remove buildup as a way to neutralize brassiness.

Dr. Craft – A serum you can use to neutralize brassiness. I tried to get a sample, but they are not currently shipping internationally due to COVID 19. Stay tuned.

The No List

Some brands that market themselves as green or clean, but who don’t make my cut when it comes to ingredients:

  • Natur Vital
  • Klorane USA

Have you found a cleaner purple shampoo that works for you?

Common questions about purple shampoos for gray hair

What is purple shampoo?

Purple shampoo is a shampoo containing purple pigment to neutralize yellow and brassy tones in gray and/or blonde hair.

What’s the best clean purple hair shampoo?

There is no shortage of purple shampoos to choose from. These are some of better options (sans SLS, synthetic fragrance, parabens etc.) that I’ve tried.

How to find the right purple shampoo?

Finding a “right fit” purple shampoo is really about taking into consideration your own type of hair and balancing that with how aggressive of a treatment you want. Check out my recommendations for natural purple shampoos.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

143 Comments

  1. Reply

    Susie

    I love the Bruns 24 purple shampoo! So glad I found it on your site. Will the shampoo be restocked on March 31st also or just the conditioner?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Susie! So sorry for the delay here, I’m hoping it will be back in stock by next Monday 4/18. We shipped by boat this time because the air shipping was 3X what it was before the war and covid and I’m trying to keep this at the same price for y’all bc it’s already A LOT. So so sorry for the wait! Fingers crossed we will be back in business next week! xo, L

  2. Reply

    Helen

    Aloha from Hawaii 🌻
    I’ve recently gone from black to white hair because my gray is taking over. So I have natural grays as well as extremely processed hair. I’m looking for a more natural purple shampoo but most of your preferred options are unavailable.

    I wanted to see if these brands are ok to your standards.
    OGX – Blonde Enhanced + Purple Toning Shampoo
    artnaturals – Purple Shampoo for Blonde Hair

    Mahalo in advance.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Aloha Helen! Your hair sounds beautiful! Thanks for checking in. I looked at both of those shampoos and they are a no-go for me personally. The BRUNS shampoo will be back in stock this week. I know it’s getting to the warehouse on Wednesday and then hopefully they will have it unpacked and restocked by Friday! Fingers crossed! If you can’t wait, I would recommend OWAY’s listed here. xo, L

  3. Reply

    Ria

    Hi Lisa,

    This article is great, thank you. I do have a question and wonder if you may know the answer. I am in my late 30s and post-pandemic after not wearing my hair up every day for 2 years, I got a surprise. I have been going lightly grey since 30. Stopped dying prior to COVID. But now my hair has a couple of areas with more prominent grey batches, other areas it is every other hair and then the rest still my prior natural hair colour. My hair is brunette by eye but genetically it is very dark blond so my hair goes honey rather than red in the sun so has warm undertones. From reading a few articles, it seems to be that purple shampoo can make natural darker hair cooler. So I was wondering if there is a way to get my greys less brassy but not affect the natural warmness of my hair? And if one of the recommended products may be better than another for this situation. Thank you

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Ria! Love this question. So one thing I want to clarify is purple shampoo is not powerful enough to effect hair that is dark. It only effects hair that is light (so gray hair or blonde hair). Therefore if you use a purple shampoo it will not effect your dark hair, it will only make your gray hair more brilliant. This applies to purple shampoos. If you use something like Overtone (which is a dye) you will get different results. Does this help? xo, L

  4. Reply

    Karla woodard

    I really like Phyto Argent purple Shampoo. Have you evaluated this one?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Karla! I haven’t tried this one. It’s not as “clean” as the others I recommend so it’s a little outside of our scope but I’m glad you found something you love! xo, Lisa

  5. Reply

    Jerri

    Tried this shampoo for over a week, followed the directions. I don’t like it because it made my hair very limp with no body. My hair is short and typically have a lot of body with no problems. My hair is dark and graying (50% gray). I was hoping this would be good for me but it isn’t ….sorry.

  6. Reply

    Debbie

    Hi Lisa, I have just come across you by accident and I am very excited. I had white hair as a child and as I aged it changed to a dark blonde. I am now 55 and only have grey patches near my ears. I would like to have more grey/silver but I am getting very impatient. I follow a organic/natural chemical free lifestyle as much as possible so I was wondering if the Silver Steel Hair Bath would be a good option for me. My hair is fine and post menopause oily.

    Thanks

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Debbie! I think it’s a great option. It has a little more cleaning power than the BRUNS so I think it’s a better fit for people with oily hair IMO! Hope this helps! xo, Lisa

  7. Reply

    Debbie

    Thank you very much.

  8. Reply

    Maureen

    What conditioner would you pair with the purple shampoo?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Maureen! I would use either this conditioner or this hair mask. (The mask is so great and a little more conditioning and more purple ; ) xo, Lisa

  9. Reply

    Juani

    I am 66 yrs old I have a lot of gray in the front and have the rest of my hair highlighted heavily to blend it in with the gray but the color comes out brassy I use a purple shampoo but it dries my hair out so bad and my scalp. I have very thin fine hair that gets oily and have to wash everyday unless I use a dry shampoo but haven’t found one that doesn’t make my head itch. Do you have any recommendations for fine thin oily hair.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Juani! So many shampoos will dry out hair. The good news is there are FOR SURE moisturizing ones. I like the BRUNS shampoo and conditioner. They are very gentle and moisturizing and they do not dry out my scalp. Have you tried them? xo, Lisa

  10. Reply

    Carrie

    Maybe I missed it, but how about conditioners? What do you use? Will something I use negate the benefit of the purple shampoo? Very helpful article! Thank you!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      I didn’t go into that here but I recommend the BRUNS conditioner…also I love the BRUNS purple hair mask which is just a more rich conditioner that you can leave on for a bit. Richly nourishes and treats yellowing. SO GOOD. Both are here. xo, Lisa

  11. Reply

    Lex R.

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the great article. You mention that you use the purple shampoo/conditioning products about once weekly. Are you using more standard (non-gray focused) shampoo/conditioner in between? I’ve been fully gray for about a year and a half, but have yet to add in any gray-focused products to my regimen. Just ordered the Oway shampoo and Evolvh Superfinish Polishing Balm (thanks for the tips!). Other than that, I’ve been relying on an ancient minerals moisturizing shampoo and conditioner from ZionHealth, which I don’t think is doing the trick anymore (my ends are super dry these days). Appreciate your thoughts! – Lex

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Lex! I probably use purple shampoo more than not. I have that in the shower and I also have EVOLVh’s Moisturizing Shampoo and Mukti’s Botanique Shampoo..I rotate all three. ; ) Lisa

  12. Reply

    Celeste

    This might sound silly – but can I just add grape juice to a good conditioner? I hate the idea of adding the artificial colorants to my hair.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      You could but it wouldn’t do anything. I’m actually unconvinced that these purple shampoos listed above without the synthetic dyes even work at all to change the color of hair. The purple needs to be charged in a specific way to actually adhere to the hair. Vegetables and botanicals are not charged that way. We’ve tried it. Grape juice is also not charged that way. xo, Lisa

  13. Reply

    Helene

    Hi, I am trying to find the Bruns #24 but I cannot seem to find it in Canada (shipping from the US is very expensive). Any idea where I could find it here? Also any suggestions for purple conditioner? Thanks!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Helene! You could try reaching out to Bruns themselves. They are based in Sweden. They might be able to help you more efficiently. xo, Lisa

  14. Reply

    Helene

    I tried, they do not deliver internationaly 🙁 But thanks…

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