To get an answer to this age-old beauty question, we asked a hair pro for her best advice. 

By Katie Holdefehr
January 23, 2018
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When perusing the shampoo options at the drugstore, there's always one bottle that seems to win my sniff-test: John Frieda's Brilliant Brunette. It's warm and nutty and sweet and smells sort of like what I'd expect Nutella shampoo to smell like. But then I stop myself. I've been highlighting my hair blonde for the past decade—could this single bottle of shampoo formulated for brunettes undermine all of the work I (okay, my amazing hair colorist) have done to make my hair blonde? To find out once and for all whether blondes and brunettes should be using different shampoos, or if it's just some marketing scheme cooked up by the beauty industry, we turned to Siobhán Quinlan, creative director at Art + Autonomy Salon in New York City. Below are her do's and don'ts for choosing the right shampoo for your hair color. 

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Skip the Color-Specific Shampoos

When it comes to generic shampoos formulated specifically for blonde or brunette hair, Quinlan gets straight to the point: "I'm not a fan," she says. Here's why: While customers with dyed blonde hair may think that blonde shampoo will enhance the color they got at the salon, the shampoo may contain toners that don't necessarily work with the dyes their colorist used. "There are so many shades of blonde, but the shampoo only contains toner for one specific shade of blonde," she explains. By using a shampoo that contains the wrong toner, you could inadvertently mess up the color you've likely paid a lot of money to achieve. The one exception to this, the pro points out, is if your colorist recommends the shampoo specifically. They might be familiar with the formula of the shampoo and can tell you if it will work with your color. 

Choose Purple Shampoo to Tone Down Brassiness

Color-specific shampoos may be a no-go, but Quinlan does recommend color-balancing purple shampoo. Plus, it's not just for blondes. "It's going to cut brassiness in any color," she says. If you notice your highlights starting to turn that warm, orange-tinted hue most people prefer to avoid, use purple-tinted shampoo to act as a color corrector. Because the intense purple pigments are located on the opposite side of the color wheel from yellow and yellow-orange, they will neutralize the brassy quality. 

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Get a Custom-Mixed Conditioner

If your salon carries Evo Fabuloso brand shampoo and conditioner, your stylist can actually custom-blend a conditioner designed to enhance your specific color. It works by adding a tiny portion of toner to the conditioner base. This way, your hair is being dyed very gradually every time you condition, preventing the fading that typically occurs over time. Leave the conditioner on for three minutes before rinsing, and your hair color is guaranteed to stay fresh for longer.