The Best Toning Shampoo for Color-Treated Blonde Hair

Most of my friends and colleagues have always known me as a redhead. But a quick swipe through Instagram reveals that I was, in fact, blonde for most of college into my first couple of years in New York. When I first started bleaching my hair at age 18, my first experience with toning shampoo—which helps keep color bright and prevent brassiness in between appointments—was the $13 drugstore classic Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights. It’s still a solid budget-friendly option, but I noticed it would leave my already over-processed locks a little dry—a common issue with brightening shampoos and conditioners. Years later, a stylist recommended Oribe’s Bright Blonde collection, and I’ve stuck with it ever since.

First off, the bottle is a bright, Barbie pink, which adds a little playfulness to Oribe’s structured packaging design, and looks endlessly chic in your shower caddy. Aesthetics aside, the formula contains violet and reflective pearlized pigments to correct brassiness and tone hair, plus a “brightening complex of lemon, ginger and chamomile”—all known as home remedies for their hair lightening properties (and yes, I tested them all as a teen before seeking professional highlight help). Best of all, Oribe’s signature nourishing combination of watermelon, lychee and edelweiss flower extracts prevents the overdrying I’ve experienced with other products.

As for the price, it’s definitely a little on the higher side, but a little goes a long way. You shouldn’t be necessarily using a color-depositing shampoo every day, or else you might be paying for a little color correction the next time you hit the salon instead of your usual service—something I’ve learned by trial and error. Besides, if you’re going to spend all that money to get the perfect balayage, you might as well maintain it well. It may not be as strong as some of its contemporaries on the market, but when it comes to toning, I prefer to go slow and steady if it’s not being done by a professional. Courtney Lee, owner and colorist at Kinloch Salon (where you can also pick up Oribe if you’re in the NYC area) had this to say: “Purple shampoo is definitely not a fix-all for bleaching. It can temporarily correct brassiness and yellow tones but isn’t a permanent solution.” If you’re looking for something with more serious impact, ask your colorist. “What you would be looking for is a toner which is semi-permanent color that would deposit onto the hair and be longer lasting than a shampoo—this is not something you can buy over the counter, but instead would be customized by your colorist at the salon,” she added.

Still, if you’re seeing some brassiness in your blonde, a purple shampoo is a welcome addition to any routine. And if I do go back to blonde in the future, I know what bottle I’ll be reaching for.