If You Have Gray Hair, These Are the Shampoos You Should Use

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Silver strands are having a major moment, with icy gray hues as the coolest (pun intended) hair color out there. We’re all for rocking these statement-making shades, just keep in mind that this type of color commitment is going to call for a bit more upkeep, specifically when it comes to your shampooing protocol.

“The difference between having hair that’s colored gray versus any other color is that your natural base shade has to be lifted first before the gray color can be deposited on top,” says Kristen Fleming, color director of Chicago’s 3rd Coast Salon. “This means the color will fade quicker than others, so ideally, the less you shampoo the better for silver hair.” (Water is any color’s number one worst enemy.)

When you do suds up, reach for a blue- or violet-based toning shampoo a few times per week; these pigments work by neutralizing unwanted warmth and brassiness so that your silver shade stays crisp and cool, explains Fleming.

Ahead, the best shampoos for gray hair. 

Best Sulfate-Free: Joico Color Endure Violet Shampoo

Joico Color Endure Violet Shampoo
What We Like
  • Tones multiple shades

  • Deeply cleanses

  • Hair looks brighter

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may not be for some

Opting for a shampoo that’s free of sulfates—detergent-like ingredients that can potentially strip your color—is a good move for anyone who dyes their hair. Here, you get that benefit, but in a violet-based toning formula that also refreshes your gray hue. It’s a fan fave, with reviewers noting both how well and how quickly it works. 

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Fruity | Size: 10.1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo

clairol shimmer lights shampoo
What We Like
  • Tones brassy hues

  • Can be used daily

  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like
  • A tad drying

Generally speaking, it can be tough to find toning shampoos at the drugstore, making this pick all the more noteworthy. A great option for either blonde and/or gray shades, it quickly works to knock out brassiness and leaves hair extra shiny. Plus, we can’t forget to mention the affordable price tag. 

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Floral | Size: 8 / 16 / 31.5 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Hydrating: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo

Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
What We Like
  • Leaves hair feeling soft

  • Moisturizing formula

  • Nice scent

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

Sulfate-free and with an antifade complex, this is an all-around great choice for color-treated hair. But it’s also deeply moisturizing, which, according to Fleming, is a major boon for those with gray hair.

“To achieve true gray and silver the hair has to be pre-lightened to the palest color it can be, which compromises its integrity,” she explains. In other words, going gray takes a toll on your tresses. Picking shampoos that are extra-hydrating (and always, always, using a conditioner) is super important. 

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 9 / 33.8 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Strengthening: Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo

Drybar Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo
What We Like
  • Brightens blonde and gray hair

  • Strengthening formula

  • Nice scent

What We Don't Like
  • Not for daily use

On a similar note, going gray zaps not only the moisture from your hair, but can also do a number on its strength and resilience, too. That’s why we appreciate that this formula is infused with keratin, a protein that makes up the majority of our hair, to help reinforce strands and keep your mane as strong as possible. Plus, this one also has deep purple pigments that brighten both gray and blonde tones beautifully. 

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 8 / 33.8 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Brightening: Philip Kingsley Pure Blonde/Silver Daily Brightening Shampoo

Philip Kingsley Pure Blonde-Silver Daily Brightening Shampoo
What We Like
  • Boosts shine

  • Leaves hair looking glossy for longer

  • Can be used daily

What We Don't Like
  • Product is on the thin side

The key to rocking the gray hair trend is not only making sure your silver shade is perfectly cool, but also that it’s extra shiny; dull, gray hair just isn’t cute. That’s where this sudser comes up huge. It does have a subtle violet tint to it, though it isn’t quite pigmented as some of the other options on this list. Instead, it’s infused with optical brightening ingredients that translate to an “I just left the salon” shine and long-lasting glossiness.

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Lavender | Size: 8.5 / 33.8 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Daily Use: Unite Hair Blonda Daily Shampoo

Unite Hair Blonda Daily Shampoo
What We Like
  • Gently cleanses

  • Brightens hair

  • Color looks more dimensional

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

As mentioned, cutting back on how often you’re shampooing is super important. If you’re only doing so a few times per week, go ahead and use a pigmented shampoo each time. But if you fall into the daily hair washing camp, it’s best to reach for all of the tinted formulas we’ve talked about only two to three times weekly—overdoing it can end up leaving a purplish cast to your gray, obviously not the intended effect.

In between, lather up with this non-colored pick. The gentle, shine-enhancing cleanser will keep your bright shade fresh and is the perfect daily option. Fleming is both a fan of this and its toning counterpart

Hair Type: Color-treated | Scent: Original | Size: 2 / 10 / 33.8 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Color-Protecting: Sachajuan Silver Shampoo

Sachajuan Silver Shampoo
What We Like
  • Enhances gray tones

  • Guards against fading

  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like
  • Contains sulfates

Yes, this too has violet pigments, but it goes above and beyond the gray-enhancing call of duty. Credit the addition of UV protectants that help guard against sun-induced fading (yes, the sun takes a toll on your hair just like it does on your skin), and also hydrates and increases shine. Also nice: It’s a great option for all hair types and textures.

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Original | Size: 10.1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Platinum Tones: Evo Fabuloso Platinum Blonde Toning Shampoo

Evo Fabuloso Platinum Blonde Toning Shampoo
What We Like
  • Tones multiple shades

  • Works quickly

  • Not overly drying

What We Don't Like
  • Not for daily use

Another sulfate-free pick, the purple pigments in this one work particularly well on those shades that straddle the silver-blonde border, think ultra-light platinum. Fleming also adds that they make a great toning conditioner, which your colorist can customize with pigment, so be sure to ask him or her about that. 

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 8.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Since this is pretty pigmented, you may want to wear gloves when applying it; let it sit on your hair for anywhere from one to three minutes for the best results.

Best Luxury: Oribe Silverati Shampoo

Oribe Silverati Shampoo
What We Like
  • Strengthening formula

  • A little goes a long way

  • Brightens hair

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Go ahead and treat yourself to this splurge-worthy sudser, one of Fleming’s favorites. (After all, if you’re only using it a few times per week, one bottle is going to last quite a long time.) Regardless, it’s worth the price, thanks to the carefully crafted formula that touts a litany of carefully chosen ingredients. Along with a combo of blue and silver pigments to keep silver shades vibrant, there are also gentle cleansers, strengthening keratin, and a complex of protective antioxidants to further help safeguard your color. Not to mention that in true Oribe fashion, it smells incredible, too.

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Original | Size: 8.5 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for All Shades: Aveda Blue Malva Color Shampoo

Blue Malva
What We Like
  • Neutralizes brassy tones

  • Recycled packaging

  • Brightens hair

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Here’s one shampoo you can use even if you ultimately decide gray hair isn’t the look for you. Another one of Fleming’s recommendations, this one has a bluish-purple tint made to keep gray hair bright and fresh, but that also works to neutralize brassiness in all shades, from blonde to brunette to red. Bonus points for the packaging; the bottle is made of 80% post-consumer used plastic.

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Original | Size: 33.8 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What to Look for in a Shampoo for Grey Hair

A Purple or Blue Tint

Elements like warm tones in your natural hair color, contact with chlorine, excess sun exposure, or even over-washing can cause your strands to oxidize and take on a brassy hue, so make sure to look for either a purple or blue shampoo to help counteract yellow or orange tones.

Hydrating Ingredients

Whether your grey is entirely natural or dyed, a mix of hydrating, nourishing ingredients will help your hue look its best, especially if you fall into the latter category and required some heavy lifting. Ingredients like argan or coconut oil, shea butter, honey, or glycerin to help restore moisture and impart a soft, shiny appearance, and always follow with a conditioner.

FAQ
  • What does purple or blue shampoo do for my grey hair?

    Purple or blue shampoos help to counteract any brassiness that may take shape after your hair is exposed to the elements. The cool hues work to cancel out and neutralize the orange or yellow tones that result from over-washing, sun exposure, chlorine, or iron in your shower water.

  • How often should I shampoo my grey hair?

    If your hair is dyed, Fleming notes that you should shampoo less frequently thank you normally would to prevent your silver hue from fading. Otherwise, lather up a two to three times at most during the week, and make dry shampoo your best friend on those off days.

  • Should I complement my purple shampoo with a purple conditioner?

    It certainly wouldn't hurt! Because we don't live in a bubble, it can be hard to keep environmental factors from altering your hue. While a purple shampoo can put in the work to counteract brassy tones, pairing it with a coordinating conditioner can be helpful in keeping your hue pristine until your next salon visit.

Meet the Expert

Kristen Fleming is a sought-after hair colorist in Chicago, the Color Director of 3rd Coast Salon, and a blonde specialist. With over 16 years of experience, she’s been educated by some of the best in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Her work can be found on models walking in New York Fashion Week, on magazine pages, and on her beautiful clients known as "Kristen's Color Squad."

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Tinoco A, Gonçalves J, Silva C, et al. Keratin-based particles for protection and restoration of hair properties. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2018;40(4):408-419. doi:10.1111/ics.12483

  3. Millington KR, Marsh JM. UV damage to hair and the effect of antioxidants and metal chelators. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2020;42(2):174-184.

  4. Seiberg M. Age-induced hair greying - the multiple effects of oxidative stress. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013;35(6):532-538.

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