While brown hair may be the most ubiquitous hair color, it's also arguably the most dynamic. Meaning, if you go brunette, you can't exactly set it and forget it. (As anyone who has ever walked out of the salon with shimmering mahogany tresses, only to wake up nary a month later to hair that's suddenly drab and lank, can readily attest.) Happily, a range of shampoos spiked with blue pigments can help preserve the truest, deepest, and most intentional brown hair color, says Los Angeles-based colorist Laura Gibson, who's also the Global Artistic Director at Rusk Hair.
What does blue shampoo do to brown hair, exactly?
Brown hair, by definition, is a mix of absolutely every color out there. But the shade of brown is determined by how much of the primary pigments you're working with. If you hair is deeper and more espresso-toned, you've got more red going. Mid-shades enjoy a redder orange, and the lightest browns, like toffee and ash, have almost all orange. That's where color theory comes in. "Green neutralizes red and blue neutralizes orange," explains Gibson. (That's why blue is directly across from orange on ye olde colour wheel.) And anything—from regular shampooing to sun exposure, swimming, and heated styling—can cause the deeper red pigments to seep from your strands, allowing the orangey ones to come through. And that's when you hair can start looking brassy or dull.
There's two ways to keep that from happening: First, be sure you're using a sulfate-free product, which are less damaging and won't strip the hair shaft. Second, try a shampoo with blue pigments, which will counteract any fading and orange-tones that are peeking through.
Okay, so what blue shampoo should I use?
Luckily for you, we've put together a list of some of our favorites.
Just three to five minutes on both color-treated or naturally brunette hair can keep strands earthy and vibrant. A proprietary progressive color-depositing system means it works best over long stretches, so you can eke out a few extra weeks between appointments.
John Freida was one of the first brands to bring tone-correcting shampoos to the masses, and the company still does it damn well. This blend contains both green and blue pigments, which can help restore cool tones in brunettes light to dark.
Work this affordable option into your weekly routine and let the blue tansy oil and pigments restore much-needed luster and color intensity.
The pigment in this foamy cream—which also contains strengthening silk proteins and heady hibiscus extract—are excellent on lighter-tone brunettes. (Dirty blonde strands might also benefit from this cleanser.)
Incorporate this creamy lather into your cleansing routine once or twice a week, and expect pitch-perfect color (and enhanced shine and gloss thanks to rosa canina fruit oil) for at least twelve weeks.
Splurge for the big bottle of this glowingly-reviewed favorite, which taps the perennial blue malva herb to counteract unwanted brassiness in blonde, brunette and even gray strands.
Depending how far brunette is from your natural color—and how well you treat your stands between appointments—brown hair can be quite damaged. That's where this blue-pigmented elixir, which contains nourishing argan oil and eleven fortifying amino acids, comes in.
So, you've got curly hair that doesn't love traditional shampoos, but also want to maintain the glassiest, most vivid brunette under the sun? Have we got an option for you, with this lather-free, blue-tinted wonder.
Let's say you're just getting on the blue-pigment train, and your hair is a brassy, orangey mess. This high-dose blue version does the very best to turn back time and cancel out russet tones nearly on impact.
While many of the pigments on this list are a deeper lapis tone, this particular version is a bright sky blue option, making it ideal for light brunettes or dirty blonde strands.
This deep indigo formulation is best for brunettes who lighten their hair, meaning if your hair is naturally about as dark as night, but you're rocking a mid-range caramel, you'll want to add to cart asap.
Pravana are the makers of some of the world's best rainbow-toned dyes for hair. If you're a natural brunette but you've got lime-green or teal or magenta streaks, this targeted toning shampoo will keep every color true, as long as you fancy.
Yes, Gibson is biased, but we aren't, and this color-depositing conditioner is an excellent addition if you've already got a sulfate-free color shampoo you like, but you're looking to preserve deep brunette. As the last step out the shower, it's a welcome option.