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- Keeping blonde hair looking blonde can be a hassle. Plenty of things we encounter everyday — like chlorine in the pool or mineral impurities in our shower water —can contribute to buildup that makes blonde hair appear yellow.
- Luckily, there are plenty of products made to banish brassiness and keep blonde hair looking light and bright.
- Shimmer Lights ($10) is a purple shampoo that uses violet dye to neutralize yellow, brassy color. I’ve been using it for three years now and it’s one of my favorite drugstore products — it’s affordable, gets results, and saves me time and money on trips to the hair salon.
Whether you’re born with it or buy it, blonde hair is notorious for needing a lot of attention.
If you’ve ever colored your hair, you’ve probably experienced this conundrum. You walk out of the salon with fresh highlights, shining blonde and bright. Then, a few weeks later you look in the mirror and all you can see is yellow. It’s not you — it’s your hair. Light color leaves little to the imagination when it comes to showing buildup. A whole host of factors including chlorine, mineral water, and UV rays from the sun, can make blonde hair appear brassy— those dark yellow, orange, and red tones that show up on your strands just after you get highlights.
Luckily, there are a few easy, affordable ways to keep your blonde looking brighter for longer. Most notably, purple shampoo. If you’re looking for a great purple shampoo that’s also affordable, you’ll probably come across Clairol Shimmer Lights.
What is purple shampoo
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but purple shampoo is just that — regular shampoo in a deep purple shade. The active ingredient is a violet dye that neutralizes any yellow, brassy look. If you’re wondering "why purple?" just look at the color wheel. Purple and yellow are opposite colors, so purple cancels out the yellow tones. Some call it a toning or color-enhancing treatment. While it’s most commonly used for blondes, anyone with colored or gray hair can benefit from the shampoo as well.
There are many brands making purple shampoo, but Clairol’s Shimmer Lights is a popular choice among hair stylists and blondes alike. It’s affordable — $10 for a 16-ounce bottle — has been around for years, and is deeply pigmented so you’ll see results in just a few uses.
How to use Shimmer Lights
You can use Shimmer Lights as you would any shampoo, except you should make a few small tweaks. Don’t use this shampoo every single day, instead use it like it’s a treatment rather than a daily lather. Clairol recommends using it once or twice a week, though you can use more or less frequently based on how your hair reacts. For maximum results, let the shampoo sit for about five minutes before rinsing. You can also add the Clairol Shimmer Lights conditioner to your routine, to amp up the effects.
There are two main reasons why this should not be part of your everyday routine. One is that the active violet dye in Shimmer Lights is very potent. That’s what make it work so well, but if you use it too often it could cause an over-deposit of that deep purple color in your hair. Secondly, Shimmer Lights contains sulfates. I’ll go more into those in a bit, but sulfates can dry out your scalp, so you’re better off using them sparingly.
When I first got my hair highlighted, my stylist recommended Shimmer Lights as a weekly treatment, saying it would help make my color last even longer. I was shocked at how well it worked. My stylist said I would be due for a touch-up appointment in three to four months, but I ended up waiting six months to get my hair done again — I just used Shimmer Lights every now and then to keep my hair looking blonder for longer.
Some things to look out for
When I heard that I should be nixing sulfates from my beauty routine, I start reading the labels on all of my beauty products. I was pretty bummed when I saw that the Shimmer Lights shampoo, one of my most relied-on beauty products, was seemingly ridden with sulfates. Would I have to stop using it?
For me, the answer was no — I still use this product, and I’ll tell you why.
Sulfates have gotten a pretty bad rap, but simply put, they’re really just what gives your shampoo a soapy, sudsy appearance. Sulfates help remove dirt and debris, which gives you a squeaky clean feel, but can also strip your scalp of oil and moisture. If you’re prone to dryness and irritation of the skin, a sulfate shampoo may worsen these symptoms. I have pretty sensitive skin, but I haven’t found this shampoo to be too drying for me. I only use it about once or twice a week and I’ll throw in a deep conditioner every now and then to keep my hair from getting brittle.
Additionally, if you get hair treatments — like a keratin treatment to tame frizz — sulfates can strip the treatment from your hair prematurely, so you may want to avoid them. Ultimately, sulfates aren’t inherently bad for you, but if you have sensitive skin, dry hair, or have a special hair treatment, a sulfate-free shampoo is probably a better choice.
Clairol Shimmer Lights is an easy, affordable way to keep blonde hair looking vibrant and freshly colored — even months after it’s been treated. If you’re worried about using products with sulfates, there are plenty of sulfate-free purple shampoos out there that are gentler on your skin and strands. If you’re on the fence, reach out to a dermatologist or hair stylist you trust to help you make your decision.
Getting your hair highlighted can be an expensive endeavor, so a treatment like this that extends the life of each coloring really is a lifesaver. If you’re looking for a quick brightening boost to banish brassiness from blonde (or brown or gray) hair, you can’t go wrong with Shimmer Lights.
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