I’ve tried dozens of purple-toning shampoos in my time, but only after they were put through their paces by blond and grey-haired friends. Now I get to see first-hand how they perform. In something akin to a reverse midlife crisis, I’ve hit the fast-forward button and bleached my hair grey. I was bored with my 30% greys spreading at glacial pace, and would rather be one thing or another, so, after much deliberation, I went for it, despite knowing maintenance would be a chore.
As any cool-toned blond or silver fox will tell you, keeping the nicotine-ish yellow out of pale hair requires vigilance and effort, and that all starts with the right shampoo. Good, purple-toned washes cancel out the dreaded brassiness and impart a shiny brightness to hair lightened by chemicals or age. But not all are made equal. I’ve discovered that the most potent anti-brassiness properties also come at the most affordable price.
Bleach London Silver Shampoo (£6.50 for 250ml, boots.com) is outstanding (and vegan); it chills any unwanted warm tones almost completely in just a few minutes (I washed with my regular shampoo, then applied this all over as a second wash and left it on while I shaved my legs, before rinsing). The price paid for its potency, however, is stained hands that remain that way for a good day or so, unless you wash repeatedly or rub body scrub between your palms. I couldn’t wholly relax about my bathroom tiles, either.
What gives almost as much cool brightness is L’Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Magnesium Silver Neutralising Shampoo (£13.40 for 300ml, but seemingly on price offer all over the internet – I paid a tenner), only without the skin staining and, to my touch, leaves my newly processed hair a little softer and with superior shine. There’s a matching conditioner, though you can easily keep using your favourite without losing the shampoo’s effect.
Aveda’s new (and vegan) Blonde Revival (£22.50 for 200ml, aveda.co.uk) is ideal if your white/silver/grey/blond locks are dry or curly, as the no-silicone, no-sulphate formula neither strips nor causes waves to frizz and droop. It’s an upgrade from their now iconic Blue Malva shampoo, packing in eight times more brass-neutralising pigments than the original. I’m too childish for low-foam formula myself (give me all of the lather), but cannot deny its visibly cooling effect on creeping warm tones and, besides, the matching conditioner (£26.50) is bliss over the L’Oréal shampoo.