The best blue shampoos for brown hair to banish brassy tones

Shop the best blue shampoos for brown hair, tried and tested by our experts, to cool your tone and get rid of orange and red hues

Selection of the best blue shampoos for brown hair from Redken, Virtue and John Frieda
(Image credit: Future/brands pictured )

The name may suggest they’re for regular washing, but the best blue shampoos for brown hair are closer to a weekly-or-less color treatment – meaning they require a bit of know-how before you reach for a bottle. 

Before lathering up with one of these formulas it’s important to ask: is a blue formula the best shampoo for your specific shade of brunette hair? If your goal is a very cool-toned brunette with an ashiness to it, then yes. Not unlike the best purple shampoos for correcting yellowness in blonde or gray hair, blue formulas are all about kicking out warm tones – so, if you want to keep any red or orange tone to your mane, using one is the opposite effect of what you're after.

"Blue shampoos are used to neutralize any unwanted warmth in the hair, so are suited to clients with a brunette base," explains Jimmy Green (opens in new tab), education manager for Redken and Pureology. "Warm or orange tones can come through brunette hair naturally, from exposure to the environment or if hair has been lightened. A blue shampoo works to neutralize these unwanted tones, creating a more natural look." Sound appealing? Then let's get into our edit of the best blue shampoos for brown hair, as recommended by our experts and the woman&home team. 

How to use the best blue shampoos for brown hair

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A selection of the best blue shampoos that were tested and included this piece

A selection of the blue shampoos that were tested and included this piece

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

Unlike traditional shampoo formulas, which we tend to apply more of at the roots, blue shampoo has to be distributed evenly. “When people use it at home, they can get an overload of color at the front where they've placed their hands because they haven’t taken it through the hair,” says Zoë Irwin (opens in new tab), colorist and creative director at John Frieda Salons (opens in new tab). “When looking at my client I can tell if they've had their hair forwards or backwards when washing based on how much blue is in there.” She recommends combing the shampoo through to ensure it’s evenly distributed. 

It’s also important to note that the pigment in blue shampoo will grab on to more porous areas, like highlights or bleached areas. Irwin recommends applying an oil to any highlights or lightened ends before washing with blue shampoo for more even results and to keep things hydrated.

As is the case with many things in life, it’s much easier to add than to take away; don’t leave these formulas on for too long, as you could risk having hair that’s too toned. Take a conservative approach on the first use, this will give you an indication of how yours responds to the formula. Blue shampoo can also be a bit messy, particularly if the formula is richly pigmented, so wear gloves and take care not to stain your bathroom! 

The best blue shampoos for brown hair, chosen by our experts

Redken Color Extend Brownlights Shampoo

(Image credit: Redken )

1. Redken Color Extend Brownlights Shampoo

Best blue shampoo for brown hair with rich results

Specifications

RRP : $24/£20
Key ingredients : Citric acid, vegetable protein

Reasons to buy

+
Very rich, dark blue formula
+
Salon quality brand you can trust
+
Sulfate-free
+
Lathers nicely 

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be too rich for some

Scoring highly among the woman&home team, this is one of our front runners in the contest for the best blue shampoo for brown hair, particularly if instant toning is your number one priority. Redken is known for excellent color-care products, and Brownlights is great for adding depth and coolness and quickly kicks out any brassiness or orange hues. 

The formula is super thick, has a very deep, dark blue hue and is richly pigmented – and we noticed a difference after just one wash. “Loved!” says woman&home's senior beauty editor Rhiannon. “It’s super rich and my color looked cooler instantly after using.”

Virtue ColorKick De-Brassing Shampoo

(Image credit: Virtue )

2. Virtue ColorKick De-Brassing Shampoo

Best luxury blue shampoo for brown hair

Specifications

RRP : $42/£40
Key ingredients : Alpha Keratin 60ku® protein, violet and lavender extracts

Reasons to buy

+
Contains brand's own protein complex to help strengthen hair
+
Subtler toning than other formulas
+
Smells great

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 

This is a gradual anti-brass antidote, but very effective. It’s translucent and the blue hue is far more subtle than other buys on the market, so if you want a very dramatic toning effect after one wash, this isn’t the formula for that. But if your goal is to keep brassiness at bay and take the edge off warm tones, this is excellent.

It’s billed as suitable for all hair colors, not just brunette hair and as with all of the brand's products it contains the signature Alpha Keratin 60ku® protein to help strengthen hair. Irwin notes that it’s a formula she uses quite often as it has a nice brightening effect on the hair, while we loved its luxurious feel and salon-like scent when testing. 

John Frieda Blue Crush Shampoo

(Image credit: John Frieda )

3. John Frieda Blue Crush Shampoo

Best affordable blue shampoo for brown hair

Specifications

RRP : $12.99/£6.99
Key ingredients: Crushed blue pigments

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Vegan
+
Contains crushed blue pigments for toning
+
Good for very orange hair 

Reasons to avoid

-
There are more luxurious-feeling buys out there

Another very rich blue formula but this time from purse-friendly brand John Frieda. Adding this to your haircare regime won’t set you back much more than 10 dollars (or less than a tenner, if you’re in the UK). Another rich blue shade, the brand shouts about the crushed blue pigments in the formula which we found are very effective in getting rid of orange tones bleached areas of dark brunette hair. 

Woman&home’s Beauty Editor Stephanie Maylor says that, when used with the accompanying conditioner, “It quickly toned down some rather orange DIY highlights” in her brown hair. Sure, there are more luxurious formulas out there in terms of feel, but this is very worthy of a mention in our guide. 

dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo

(Image credit: dpHUE)

4. dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo

Best blue shampoo for brown hair for a shine boost

Specifications

RRP : $28/£25
Key ingredients : Silk proteins, hibiscus flower

Reasons to buy

+
Pearlescent formula
+
Nice, sweet scent
+
Silk proteins to strengthen hair

Reasons to avoid

-
None, unless you're on a tight budget

Not only does this formula from cool color care brand dpHUE smell delicious, with a scent that almost reminds us of marzipan, but it’s a great and effective blue shampoo with silk proteins to help strengthen your hair. 

It’s noticeably pearlescent which we found is great for a shine boost and added vibrancy, as well as toning down brassiness. Shade-wise it has an aqua blue hue which, in terms of the color wheel, makes it perfect for neutralizing both orange and reddish hues in brunette hair. 

Bouclème Toning Drops

(Image credit: Bouclème)

5. Bouclème Color Toning Drops

Best blue shampoo for curly brown hair

Specifications

RRP : $36/£25
Key ingredients : Blue spirulina, kangaroo paw flower, banksia, and red spider flower

Reasons to buy

+
Curly hair brand
+
Can be mixed with any shampoo or conditioner
+
Allows for custom intensity
+
Vegan

Reasons to avoid

-
Technically not a shampoo

If you've got waves, curls or coils and want to cool down orange tones in your hair but don't want to change up your current curly hair routine, these drops from Bouclème are the answer to that very conundrum. They can be added to any shampoo or conditioner – meaning you don't need to part with your best shampoo for curly hair – and you're therefore able to fully customise the intensity of your own bespoke blue formula, which we're fully on board with. 

As woman&home’s Senior Beauty Editor and curly girl Rhiannon Derbyshire says: “I like that you can personalize how much you use at a time to dictate the tone”. 

L'Oréal Professionnel Chroma Crème Blue Shampoo

(Image credit: L'Oréal Professionnel)

6. L'Oréal Professionnel Chroma Crème Shampoo

Best quality blue shampoo for brown hair

Specifications

RRP : $21.54/£16.50
Key ingredients : Caring agents and professional tailored dyes

Reasons to buy

+
Trusted salon quality brand
+
Great cooling effect
+
Adds a nice amount of shine 

Reasons to avoid

-
Harder to get hold of in the US 

L'Oréal Professionnel is a name that you can trust when it comes to quality haircare, and this color-correcting formula from its Serie Expert line is another that has Irwin's approval.

The brand says it features exclusive technology and professional tailored dyes to really get those cooling results. Not only that, but it doesn't feel too drying on the hair and tests found it to improve hair's shine levels threefold, something we can attest to – plus, it's got a lovely, high-end scent. Our verdict? This is a research-backed crowd pleaser that won't disappoint. 

Aussie SOS Brunette Hair Blue Shampoo

(Image credit: Aussie )

7. Aussie SOS Brunette Hair Blue Shampoo

Best bargain blue shampoo for brown hair

Specifications

RRP : £5.99 (UK only)
Key ingredients: Aloe vera, Australian pepperberry

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable option
+
Very rich blue formula
+
Vegan
+
Bottle made from 40% recycled plastic

Reasons to avoid

-
Very sweet scent that may not be to everyone's taste

Another high street hero, this time from cult affordable brand Aussie. It is a very rich blue, and while we may have preferred other formulas in this round up, this does the job well considering its price tag and is excellent value. It did make a visible difference after the first wash, cooling things down enough to notice, though these results would no doubt be more so. 

It does smell very sweet with a distinctly fruity perfume, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a worthy contender if you want to keep costs down when investing in one of the best shampoos for brown hair. 


Does blue shampoo work on brown hair? 

Yes! We can attest to the fact that they get visible results in brunette hair. "A blue shampoo is formulated with deep blue pigments to neutralize unwanted orange, red and brassy tones," explains Justin Anderson (opens in new tab), celebrity colorist and founder of dpHUE (opens in new tab). "It’s perfect for anyone looking to tone down any unwanted brassiness which can occur over time due to hard water, pollution, and the use of styling products. It's a super easy addition to your haircare routine that will keep your hair color looking vibrant and fresh between your salon visits."

Can blue shampoo make brown hair darker?

Though definitely a toning product, blue shampoo won't make your hair darker in the way that a proper color session at the salon would. But, as our experts have explained, it does cool down those warm tones and will give your hair a cooler, almost smoky vibe, which may make it appear darker.

This is why it's important not to wash with a blue shampoo too frequently, as you'll end up with over-toned hair. “It’s a bit like facial exfoliators," says Irwin, "You use it once and your skin will look great, but if you use it again too soon, it becomes sensitive. It’s the equivalent of that.”

So, how often should you use blue shampoo? The answer is probably only when it looks like it needs it. "It really depends on how brassy your hair gets, but I would say using a blue shampoo once a week, or once every other week will help maintain that natural, even brunette tone you want," Anderson confirms.

Which is better for brown hair, blue or purple shampoo?

If you look at a color wheel and find the shade you want to correct, that'll give you some idea of the corresponding shampoo color you need to do so. "When thinking about using a neutralizing shampoo, you should assess your hair needs and consider the tone that you can see in the hair – is it looking orange or yellow?" Green explains. "If you see orange tones, then a blue shampoo is perfect. However, if the hair is looking more golden yellow then the hair will need more of a violet/purple shampoo. 

"If you see multiple tones, you should consider which tone is more prominent and select your shampoo from there," he continues. "We’d always suggest asking your hair stylist if you are unsure which haircare regime is right for you."

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week. During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists.