Is purple shampoo a type of toner? A foolproof guide to hair toning like pro

  • Yes, purple shampoo is a type of toner. But they are for different hair types and situations.
  • If your hair is colored or bleached, you should use toner. Its effects are immediate and longer-lasting than those of purple shampoo.
  • If your hair is virgin and has unwanted tones due to the sun’s effects or chlorinated water, you should choose purple shampoo. Unlike toner, it isn’t necessary to apply it with a developer, which is an aggressive chemical for the hair.
  • You can also use the purple shampoo when you’ve already applied toner to extend the coloring effects.


redken color extend

Similar, but not the same.

Purple shampoo and toner are like that. Both are designed for the same purpose: to get rid of unwanted tones in the hair.

So, why are they on the market if they perform the same function?


Simply because they are designed to meet the needs of different hair types.

After all, color-treated hair is not the same as virgin hair.

I’ll explain it with two examples.


Case 1 – Hair with highlights. Use purple toner and shampoo.

redken blondage

Vivi has been coming to the salon for many years to maintain her highlights.

Her hair is light brown, and her highlights are golden blonde. To apply the highlighting technique, we had to bleach some sections of her hair.


 Every time I do her highlights, I use a toner after rinsing out the bleaching mixture to remove the yellow tones that come out after bleaching. .

After applying the toner, her highlights turn an enviable golden color.

What does Vivi do to lengthen the effects of the toner?


She uses a purple shampoo once a week.

Even when toner and purple shampoo work as toners, they’re used in different moments and situations, as you can see from this example.


Case 2 – Light brown hair – Use purple shampoo.

Ana’s case is very different. She has natural light brown hair.

Ana is a fan of tanned skin. Regardless of whether it’s winter or summer, she always has an enviable Caribbean tan.

She doesn’t use a sunbed or anything like it. She simply sunbathes during summer and winter.


Even though she takes great care of her skin with sunscreen, I can’t say the same about her hair.

 That’s why so much sun exposure bleached her hair, and unwanted orange tones appeared. .

Since Ana is vegan, she doesn’t use any hair products with chemicals or sulfates. However, she wanted to get rid of those yellow tones, so what was my recommendation?


I told her that she should use the purple shampoo once a week. Since then, Ana still has an amazing tan, but her hair is free of unwanted tones.

Do you see?

 Although both wanted to remove unwanted yellowish tones, we found a different solution for each. .


What are the main differences between purple shampoo and toner?

neutralize green hair

  • While purple shampoo is easier to use, its effects are gradual.

In other words, you’ll have to wash your hair several times to finally get rid of the unwanted tones. However, it doesn’t contain aggressive chemicals. It’s an enormous advantage for virgin hair.


  • Toner, on the other hand, has an immediate effect.

However, you must have some colorimetry knowledge because it’s applied with a developer. If you don’t control the exposure time properly, you can end up with purple hair.

  You should choose the toner or the purple shampoo according to your hair type and what you want to achieve. .


Generally, toning shampoos are recommended for color maintenance, and toner is applied as soon as the coloring process is finished.

If you still have doubts about which of the two products is best for toning your hair, read on. I’ll tell you:

  • When and how to use toner to neutralize unwanted tones.
  • When and how to use purple shampoo to tone your hair


When and how to use toner to neutralize unwanted tones

before applying to hair

If you want to neutralize a hair dye, or if you want to remove an unwanted shade after bleaching, you should use toner.

Toner is a color corrector that is applied with a 20-volume developer. It modifies the hair permanently.  Its effect is instantaneous. So, I don’t recommend it if you don’t have any previous coloring knowledge.  Why?


To neutralize the unwanted tones, you should apply a toner of the opposite color to the one you want to remove:

  • Violet to neutralize yellow
  • Blue to neutralize orange
  • Green to neutralize red

You probably know the color you should apply. Now, what about the exposure times?


That’s key. If toner works for longer than recommended, it may turn your hair violet, purple, or green due to its intense pigmentation.

Do you remember one of its advantages?


That’s right! The immediate effects. It’s a double-edged sword.

For example, if your hair is extra light blonde and you want to achieve a platinum color, you should apply violet toner. However, if you leave it on for more than 10 minutes, your hair will end up completely purple.


That’s why  you have to pay close attention to the process, the exposure times, and the developer volumes. .

The toner is applied with a 20-volume developer. It can lift the cuticles of your hair fiber for the pigments to penetrate to neutralize the color.


It shouldn’t be left on the hair for more than 20 minutes. Also, the color you want to neutralize has to be considered:

  • If you want to neutralize yellow, you should leave the toner for 5 to 20 minutes.
  • If you want to neutralize orange, you should leave the toner for 20 minutes.
  • If you want to neutralize red, you should leave the toner for up to 15 minutes


Be careful! Those times are estimates.

 You’ll have to control how the toner acts on your hair almost minute by minute. 


So, if you already bleached or colored your hair, you can use toner. Its effects are immediate and longer-lasting.

Also, you probably have an intensive hair care routine to prevent your hair fiber deterioration. Here’s the step-by-step.

  • Separate your damp hair into four sections and mix the toner and 20-volume developer in a plastic container.
  • Apply the toner from the back sections of your hair. Start from roots to ends, and  leave it on according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Check the color of your hair constantly. .
  • Once the time has elapsed, rinse your hair to remove the product and wash it with your usual shampoo and conditioner.


Remember that you can use a purple shampoo to extend the toner’s effects. They may last between 3 to 5 weeks.


When and how to use purple shampoo to tone hair

blue and purple

If your hair is virgin and you have unwanted tones, I’d recommend purple shampoo. It doesn’t contain peroxide or any chemical corrosive to your hair.

Therefore, it won’t damage your hair. Instead, it’ll deposit purple pigmentation, generating a color film that neutralizes the unwanted tone.

It’s easier to apply than toner. A recommendation?


Choose a brand that offers strong pigmentation. If we’re talking about  pigment strength, the brands that win all the awards are L’Oreal, Redken, and Keracolor. 

Beware, you must be more careful with exposure times due to the toner’s strong pigments.

leave it on for five minutes

 Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to know exactly how long you should leave it on your hair. .

As you can see, purple shampoo healthily tones your hair and is easy to apply. Its disadvantage?


The pigments neutralize unwanted tones gradually. Also, it disappears with washing.



Although purple toner and purple shampoo’s goal is to tone your hair, you should adjust your choice to your hair.

If your hair is virgin and has some unwanted tones, your best choice will be purple shampoo because it doesn’t contain chemicals.

If your hair is colored or bleached, your best option is to use the toner to remove the yellowish tones. Also, include the purple shampoo to extend the effects of the toner.

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