The blue rinse is a type of hair dye that may be applied to gray hair. Its intent is to vitalize gray hair color and counteract any yellowness or transparency of the hair shaft. Both men and women may have blue rinses, though these have become much less common. One reason for its less frequent use is if the color is allowed to sit too long on the hair, it can turn the hair from a vibrant grey to several shades of blue.
Gray hair may take on a yellowed appearance if you smoke. In times past, it was all too common for elderly ladies and gentleman to smoke, and this could lead to discoloration of hair and skin. Sometimes the blue rinse is tied specifically with older women who do smoke, but since this habit is fortunately receding and many people either never start or have quit, there’s less need to for blue rinses. Yellowing of the hair can occur for other reasons such as having high contents of metals in your water source.
Another factor that has made blue rinses less common is the ease and availability of hair dyes to use at home. Blue rinses were typically used in salon settings whereas women who dye their hair at home typically use a color. There are gray haired dyes that are fairly natural, in addition to those that may be age defying. Quick temporary colors are often easy to apply.
Blue rinses were temporary colors too, and some women prefer a more permanent solution. These were often applied during wash and set trips to salons, and the hair wouldn’t remain blue (or a more vibrant gray) forever. Each time the hair was washed, a little color would depart, leaving the hair once again yellowed or translucent. Perhaps this application of temporary color was meant to make sure that ladies returned to salons on a fairly regular basis, so that they could have their hair touched up.
If you’d like to try a blue rinse to get rid of yellowed grey hair, look for temporary colors in mousses, gels or sprays that have platinum or violet overtones. These will be subtle and won't turn the hair blue. These can also work well for sheer white blonde hair, eliminating any fading of color. In all though, most people prefer to use more permanent hair color solutions, and the blue rinse has faded significantly in popularity.