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Over the years I've had blonde highlights put into my hair. In my experience, the trouble with highlights is that although I am usually pleased with the immediate results, after a few weeks they can start to look a bit dull and the hair takes on an unwelcome 'brassy' appearance. I asked my hairdresser if there was anything I could do to prevent this and she explained to me that what I needed was a 'purple shampoo'. I had never heard this term before but my hairdresser briefly explained the science behind it.
As long ago as 1666 Sir Isaac Newton devised a colour wheel, which showed all the different colours of the spectrum. (I doubt that he had hair colourants in mind when he did this, but it does help to explain how purple shampoos work.) If you look at yellow, orange and gold on Newton's colour wheel, you will quickly realise that violet, purple and blue are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Therefore, if you want to tone down yellowness, you use shampoo containing a purple/violet pigment. It is all about neutralising. It seems to work on the same principle as the 'blue rinse', which has been used for years by mature ladies to reduce yellowish tones to their grey hair.
Anyway, being suitably impressed by the scientific theory, I was curious to see how a purple shampoo would work in practice so I bought this Paul Mitchell shampoo from the salon. I did wonder if I was being ripped off as it cost me an alarming £9.95 for a 300 ml bottle at the time. (I think its current price is around £10.15) which is a lot more than I would usually pay for shampoo, but I hoped this was a case of getting what you pay for. If this could keep my blonde hair looking vibrant for longer, I was prepared to give it a go.
Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo is not only suitable for colour-treated blonde hair but also claims to enhance natural blonde and grey hair. Even if you haven't had your hair colour-treated in a salon, chances are that if you've sat out in the sun it has had a bleaching effect, so even natural blonde hair can be plagued by the Brass Demons and need some attention. Environmental pollutants and even nicotine can also have a dulling and yellowing effect on blonde hair. The shampoo aims to reduce brassy tones in favour of a more silvery or platinum blonde shade. This shampoo also claims to soften, moisturise and add shine. This is essential as colour-treated hair tends to be drier and more prone to damage, in my experience, and therefore needs effective conditioning agents to keep it looking good.
I noted that, in addition to some complicated sounding ingredients with very long names, this shampoo also contains natural ingredients such as chamomile (listed as anthemis noblis extract ), which strengthens the hair, repairs split ends and is a natural lightening agent. Jojoba is also included, a favourite in many hair preparations because of its ability to replenish lost moisture and strengthen the hair shaft. Along with white ginger extract, it adds shine and body to the hair. Algae extract is derived from sea plants and valued for its moisturising, detoxing and anti-irritant qualities. Aloe barbadensis leaf extract is derived from the aloe vera plant, which gently cleanses, removes impurities and penetrates the outer layer of the hair, moisturising dryness and repairing damage. The shampoo contains rosemary, which not only moisturises but also stimulates hair follicles, thus encouraging healthy new hair growth.
Overall, this shampoo looked promising. Not all the ingredients are wholesome and natural, however. I note that it contains sodium myreth sulfate, which is a the foaming agent in many shampoos. There has been some controversy about this ingredient, along with sodium lauryl suflate with critics pointing out that it is found in industrial detergents, such as car washes and suggesting that it may have toxic effects. Nothing has being proved, but it is a little worrying. If you really want to avoid this ingredient, you need to stick with organic shampoos.
So much for the theory - how did it work in practice?
I squeezed a small blob of shampoo out of the bottle and it was indeed a very bright purple colour. This was a little alarming. There is a warning on the bottle that it may stain fingernails, fabrics or porous surfaces, but luckily I didn't have this problem. I relaxed and told myself that it wasn't going to dye my hair this colour. However, my hairdresser had told me that it's important not to over-use this kind of shampoo as you can sometimes end up with a purple or blue tinge to your hair. I tend to only use mine when it looks as if it needs a bit of a lift, maybe once or twice a month.
The shampoo had a very pleasant, refreshing scent. It was not too highly fragranced. A little went a long way as it lathered up very well. It says on the bottle to leave the shampoo on for 1-5 minutes. I left it for 5 and then rinsed. It rinsed away easily, leaving my hair tangle-free.
The shampoo made my hair feel so soft that it felt like it didn't really need a separate conditioner, but I used one anyway. There is a matching conditioner to go with this shampoo, but I felt I'd spent enough already on the shampoo, so I just used my regular conditioner.
I am pleased to report good results. Not only does my hair feel soft and fresh, but I am convinced it does look brighter. My husband commented that I looked 'blonder' and, believe me, he is not usually that observant when it comes to my hair, so that is a very positive indication. Because I am 'no spring chicken' anymore, I do have a bit of grey, so obviously this is going to be more noticeable if my hair is too golden. This shampoo successfully tones down the gold and achieves a more ashy shade of blonde, so my grey bits blend in with the overall whiter shade of blonde and aren't so obvious. My hair looks bright and healthy again.
Although this is expensive and there are cheaper purple shampoos on the market (for instance, John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew, which is £5.89 from Boots), I am very happy with this product in all respects. I am relieved to know there is a reliable product I can turn to if my hair is looking a bit lackustre and I want to revitalise my highlights. I have also found out that Paul Mitchell shampoos do not conduct or condone animal testing and they use ingredients from sustainable sources, so this is another reason why I feel happy to spend a bit more.
I would recommend this to anyone who has had highlights and wants to keep them looking their best, or to any blonde who is getting a bit concerned about brassy tones or grey that is starting to stick out like a sore thumb. It is not a cheap option, but I am impressed. I may not have quite unleashed my inner Mariilyn Monroe and become a platinum blonde overnight (and probably never will) but at least my highlights don't look as if they've been washed in sludgy water! The price is the only issue I have about this shampoo but as I don't use it every time I wash my hair, it lasts quite well.