As a blonde, I’m well aware of the benefits that come with using purple hair products. These violet-toned shampoos and conditioners promise to wash away any brassiness that appears between coloring sessions, but in my experience, not all of them are created equally. I’ve tried out quite a few to mixed results—some made no difference at all, others turned my strands ashy—but haven’t given up the search for the perfect purple partner for my hair.
When Olaplex recently added a purple shampoo and conditioner ($30 each) to its line, I was excited to give them a try. The formulas are designed to deliver brightness, softness, and hydration to blonde and gray hair while minimizing yellow tones, and knowing how beloved the brand’s products are for their strand-restoring properties, I had high hopes for the results.
How Olaplex’s purple products work
Purple shampoo’s effectiveness all comes down to simple color theory. Because purple is opposite to yellow on the color wheel (yes, that color wheel, which you were likely introduced to in first grade), the shade helps to temporarily neutralize yellow tones in the hair.
What sets Olaplex’s purple products apart from others on the market is that they contain tiny purple pigments capable of reaching porous areas deep down in the cuticle, which products that employ larger pigments can’t get to.
“What I love about the toning system from Olaplex is that the pigment is micro-fine, which delivers a deeper level of toning into the areas that are hard to reach with other purple shampoos,” says Christin Brown, colorist and Olaplex ambassador. “The Olaplex shampoo and conditioner are then able to give a brighter and longer-lasting result than other purple shampoos and conditioners that I’ve tried.”
The formulas also contain Olaplex’s famous trademarked bond-building technology, which strengthens hair bonds at the molecular level to improve strand strength and repair damage—perfect for blond and grey hair, because both types require extra TLC, says Brown.
“Blonde and grey hair can benefit from the bond-building technology because it’s relinking the broken disulfide bonds in the hair which otherwise can lead to weakness in the strands and breakage,” he explains, adding the bonds work on hair from the inside to strengthen hair on the outside.
The conditioner goes one step beyond by delivering moisture along with its toning and reparative benefits, which Brown says is like, “giving your hair a mini-treatment every time you use it.” In clinical trials conducted by the brand, 87 percent of conditioner users with color-treated or bleached hair agreed that their hair was less brassy and had a more even tone, while 81 percent saw improved softness and shine.
Putting the Olaplex purple shampoo and conditioner to the test
Unlike regular shampoos and conditioners, using purple products requires some trial and error, advises Brown. “What I’ve found is that when you need a ton of toning, using both the Olaplex No. 4P Blonde Enhancer Shampoo and Olaplex No. 5P Blonde Enhancer Conditioner is amazing because the shampoo packs a punch already and the conditioner is the cleanup crew,” she says. “Using them individually is helpful when you don’t need a powerful tone but need to either cleanse or condition.”
About six weeks before my next salon highlights were scheduled, I decided to try using the Olaplex purple shampoo and conditioner together. Brown advises that the products are super-concentrated and a little goes a long way, and she wasn’t kidding. I needed way less product than I typically do for my just-below-the-shoulders hair length. (I also panicked when my hands turned bright purple, but thankfully the color washed off with soap.) I didn’t leave either product in for long—slightly less than the three minutes Brown recommends if your hair is chemically treated and very porous.
Post-wash and condition, my yellowness was gone but my hair had more of a platinum tone than I desired. I used a clarifying shampoo (a great trick if purple products leave your hair platinum or ashy) the next day, and absolutely loved the brighter, revived blond color that resulted. Just as welcome was how soft and shiny my hair looked and felt—totally a double benefit of toning and hair repair, here.
About 10 days later, I continued my “science project,” and used the conditioner alone with my regular shampoo—recommended for subtler toning and brightness. This time the resulting color was perfect, and I reveled again in how soft and supple my hair was. Seriously, I felt like a mad scientist who finally came upon the formula they’d been searching for.
I’ll try using the shampoo and conditioner combo again closer to my upcoming salon visit, but in the meantime, with a little experimenting, I can say Olaplex has delivered on finally giving me purple products that restore my hair’s tone, with the added benefits of strength and softness—not to mention taking away my between-salon-visit blues.
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