At some point in our lives, many of us will experience that natural transition to gray hair. While some may choose to color their hair, others might go the route of embracing their natural hue. The latter can be a truly liberating decision and allows you to explore a brand-new color. In our opinion, gray is just as beautiful and complex as any other shade. To find out all there is to know about this trending color, we tapped hair and color professionals Nikki Lee and Denis De Souza for their expert advice. Whether you want to liven up your natural gray, emphasize some subtle streaks, or experiment with the shade artificially, we've rounded up our favorite celebrities who rock gray hairstyles—complete with pro tips on styling the looks—to inspire you.
Meet the Expert
CHOOSING A SHADE: Consider your skin tone, natural hair color, and lifestyle, but ultimately, what shade you go with comes down to personal preference.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL: Typically, the lighter and more silver you go, the more upkeep will be required. Also, keep in mind that gray and silver colors will be higher maintenance for those with naturally darker hair than blondes since they will require pre-lightening. And when your natural color grows in, the contrast will be starker and require more touch-ups (unless you like to show your roots). In terms of technique, balayage is lower maintenance than single-process color.
GOES GREAT WITH: All skin tones
SIMILAR SHADES: Platinum and silver-blonde
PRICE: Pre-lightening can start around $150 and full-color at $200, but pricing will vary.
Ahead, see 50 stunning gray hairstyles, both natural and dyed.
Steel Gray Bob
The contrast of steel gray and black hair on supermodel Jourdan Dunn creates a rich and versatile look. It's such a youthful way to go gray but be warned: A look like this can be very high-maintenance. You'll have to bleach the hair first before dying it, notes Lee.
Stacy London has proudly sported her classic gray streak since she was a child. The fact that gray often comes in streaky is something that you can totally work into your style—almost like highlights. Whether it's natural or added with dyes, the subtle touch of color (or lack thereof) can work to frame your face and enhance your everyday look.
Face-Framing Gray Highlights
If you dye your hair and are looking to make the transition to gray, Lee suggests ditching the single process bases and opting for highlights only. Kelly Hu's natural grays work to beautifully highlight and frame her face while adding a certain playfulness to her long, dark locks.
Leave it to hair chameleon Sibley Scoles to bring us not one, but two hair trends with her gorgeous platinum-gray pixie and wet look. This color can require a lot of upkeep but it doesn't have to. Scoles lets her dark roots show and the result is effortlessly cool.
Silver hair advocate and influencer Sausan Machari (aka @silverhair.sau) makes a strong case for going gray. With long locks and a hair flip to pump up the volume, we are convinced that the more gray hair, the better.
Hints of gray can be very flattering, something that Kate Moss effortlessly illustrates. While the rest of her hair may be a buttery blonde, she chooses to leave some natural gray streaks. It's totally unexpected, yet completely works.
Gray color on a close crop is another beautiful look, especially when it's accompanied by natural texture. Although Cynthia Erivo's hair is enhanced with platinum dye, natural gray would look just as stunning.
When it comes to maintaining platinum hues, the golden rule is to shampoo less often than you normally would—and with the right products, of course.
Kim Kardashian's lengthy gray strands get a boost of body and volume thanks to a little help from a curling wand. To bring out and enhance hair's shine, work an oil from the mid-lengths to ends.
For blondes, going gray can be a more subtle endeavor. If you're almost all gray, you might want to consider coloring your hair blonde or getting blonde highlights. Blonde blends in better with gray as the crown and roots grow in, as demonstrated here on actress Blythe Danner.
Straight and Silver
Long, silvery gray hair, when worn right, can be some of the most striking hair you will encounter. It imparts a certain elegance but can be fun and youthful at the same time. Case in point: JoAni Johnson's long, stick-straight tresses.
Lucy Boynton revealed a dusty blue bob at the Met Gala and gave us serious ice-queen vibes—in a good way. She achieved the color through a color rinse, which is a fancy way of saying a hair tint, which is really just a non-permanent way to color your hair. Easy peasy.
Jamie Lee Curtis has sported short hair for some time and we have loved watching its color evolution over the years. Her white-gray pixie is not only low-maintenance but sophisticated. Consider it one of our favorite styles for women over 60—or any age, for that matter.
Actor Javicia Leslie absolutely rocks this shade of silver-gray with dark roots. As for her brows, rather than dye them—which might look too matchy-matchy—she opts to paint them brown. Use an eyebrow pomade, like Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Waterproof, Smudge Proof Brow Pomade ($21), to fill in sparse areas and define your brows.
Natural Gray Highlights
These long, brushed-out waves get added dimension thanks to natural gray highlights. The monochrome palette looks especially flatting on a lengthy mane that's medium to thick in density. Those with thinner tresses might want to wear this color and style at shoulder-length or shorter.
Rihanna's highlights blend seamlessly with her natural color, allowing her to experiment with gray rather than going full-on. According to De Souza. "To achieve the silver ribbons all over her hair, I would use a natural level four. Her colorist likely highlighted her with bleach and toned her with a fashion teal tone."
Diane Keaton's long bob is flattering on blonde-gray hair, which lends it dimension. "Her hair is shiny and looks perfect with her fun style," comments De Souza. For this look, ask your colorist to add a few different shades to your natural hair.
Replete with glistening grays and camouflaged hairpins, Ciara's Met Gala look is stunning—not to mention, it even matches her dazzling outfit. Achieving this hue is high-maintenance, which is probably why Ciara opted for wearing a wig. Truth be told, it's one of our favorite (read: non-committal) ways to experiment with new cuts and colors.
One way to funk up gray hair is to add a tinge of purple. A lilac overlay both softens Kelly Osbourne's structured chin-length bob and complements her fair complexion. In case hair color upkeep is not your strong suit, no biggie. This lighter hue will fade more naturally than a deeper shade.
From its natural gray color to its topknot styling, everything about Linda Rodin's mane oozes effortless beauty. "This fashion/beauty icon looks amazing with her hair styled up and back away from her beautiful face," notes De Souza about Rodin. To keep with this look's casual appeal, leave your topknot loose and pull out some wispy baby hairs for good measure.
Quite a classy look, it's hard to beat a sleek style with gray hair. "Helen Mirren looks soft and youthful with this beautiful shade of beigey gray and swoop bangs with her short bob," says De Souza. If your hair is naturally straight, a wavy bob like Mirren's can change up your look and is easily achieved with hot rollers.
From cut to color, P!nk's cool-toned pompadour-pixie hits all the right notes. "P!nk looks beautiful with this cut and gray hair that shows off her beautiful face," says De Souza. To get her silver-tone right, head to your colorist rather than attempt a DIY solution from home.
We're deeming this look the "Modern Rachel"—and it's not up for debate. Lovely layers and volume combine with gorgeous gray color to brighten your complexion and highlight your hair's dimension.
Perhaps the youngest celeb to sport gray hair (albeit intentionally) Amandla Stenberg proves that this versatile color wears well at any age. To replicate her style, try using Amika's High Tide Deep Wave Hair Crimper ($120), which works on hair of all types and textures.
Tamera Mowry lets her gray hairs grow in for a chic salt-and-pepper look. By leaving your roots gray, you won't have to worry about frequent touch-ups. On the flip side, dying your hair salt-and-pepper can also work to reduce your grays. Ask your colorist how.
No, you're not experiencing déjà vu, this is Tia Mowry, not her twin, Tamera. Both sisters are embracing their natural grays, and we are inspired. This pixie highlights contrasts in both texture and color. Slicked-back sides complement curly length up top, while gray strands speckled among dark curls emphasize natural highlights.
Cara Delevingne's traditional bob gets a modern twist thanks to a side braid and white-silver color. "Cara was bleached all the way from roots to ends and toned with a silver toner to cut through any brassy tones," De Souza tells us. "I would start at a level six or seven to achieve this look," he adds.
Natural Gray Bob
There's more than one way to wear a bob and this voluminous gray edition is one of our faves. Interestingly, when you go gray, your eyebrows can, too, which can make them look a little thin. However, you can dye your brows to match your former base color or simply use an eyebrow gel, like Hourglass's Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel ($29), to fill in sparse areas and darken a light brow.
Cardi B's mid-length mane is glistening thanks to its silver pearl hue. Brunettes will have to work harder to achieve the color by first pre-lightening hair and then toning. Still, so worth it.
Back in her Girls days, actor Zosia Mamet was known for rocking a bluish shade of granny gray. It just goes to show that there's no one way to go gray, whether you're dying your locks or letting your natural color grow.
Jane Fonda's cool-toned silver hair transformation is fresh and modern at any age. Meanwhile, her bangs add extra impact to her bixie. If you're looking to replicate her look on your own, consider using a paintbrush or professional brush to apply color rather than a nozzle. The latter isn't going to have the same force or breadth.
Hair chameleon Dascha Polanco has gone gray quite a few times. But one of our favorite iterations is this multi-hued ponytail with long fringy bangs. Dark roots filter down to gray with a twinge of pink at the ends.
Simple, yet stunning, a traditional braid highlights the texture and dimension of natural gray hair. And in case you're looking for some more ways to style your long hair, we've got you covered.
Low-maintenance and lovely, Judi Dench's signature pixie fits her like a glove. "Judi Dench is just so awesome; she truly rocks this short and piecey hair and super-short bang that frame her face beautifully," says De Souza. To get her texture, work in a small amount of pomade, like SexyHair Style Control Maniac Styling Wax ($19), into strands.
Gray hairs can sometimes grow in with a wiry texture and fewer natural oils. Try using a color shampoo or rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar once a week to strengthen weakened strands.
Lily Tomlin's scattered grays naturally highlight her dark strands. Coupled with her soft curls, the gray color works well in texturizing her hair. A shorter cut keeps this look fresh.
Winnie Harlow's long gray mane is simply stunning. The contrast of her dark roots makes the gray color even more impactful. To get her glossy finish, you'll need to keep strands hydrated and healthy. A hair mask, such as Biolage Deep Treatment ($16), will help with that.
Carmen Dell'Orefice is the epitome of chic with her short groomed 'do. And that pose? "She is a fashion model icon that never stopped working," says De Souza. Plus, "Hair off her face shows her stunning bone structure." If you're looking to replicate her blonde-gray color with a dye, opt for a natural-looking platinum blonde.
Sevyn Streeter achieved this lovely gray 'do with the help of a wig. Its cool blue-gray color really works to complement her warm undertones. Opt for silver eye makeup like Streeter to complete your look.
Sharon Stone's grown-in grays are subtle yet effective in naturally highlighting her complexion. Dirty blonde hair is the perfect base color for transitioning to gray, as it doesn't create a stark contrast in color.
Asymmetrical Silver Crop
Former Spice Girl Mel B nails the glam rock look here. Playing with color and texture gives way to a contemporary interpretation of the more traditional pixie. Maintaining this color can be high maintenance, especially if your natural hair is a darker hue. However, less upkeep can also come off as effortlessly cool, as seen by dark roots.
Just because you're sprouting grays doesn't necessarily mean that you need to chop off your hair. One way to embrace the transition to gray is with an ombré look, which looks amazing on long tresses. Caroline Labouchere's natural grays at the root blend into colored strands for a beautiful color melt of sorts.
Salma Hayek ditches the dye and instead embraces her natural grays. She posted this insta selfie with the caption, "#proud of my white hair. Orgullosa de mis canas. #hair." Not only has she proven to us that going gray is beautiful, but she also demonstrates that doing so should no longer be considered taboo.
Hailey Bieber debuted her long, wavy mane of gray before heading to Coachella (where else?). Like she did, if you're not looking for anything permanent, use a temporary dye to get this shade. Does anything say cool-girl more than cool gray?
Light Gray Pixie
Ginnifer Goodwin is one of our favorite short-haired muses. While we typically love the contrast of her natural dark hair and fair complexion (so Snow White), the cool-toned pairing of this light gray pixie with her skin's cool undertones is screenshot-worthy. Style with a little pomade and pair with pink liner for a post-punk finish.
Lady Gaga's white-gray hair with retro waves evokes old Hollywood glamour. If your skin's undertones fall under the olive, yellow, or orange category, consider opting for more neutral gray hair colors rather than white or silver tones.
"Linda Fargo is another fashion Icon. Her beautiful white hair cut and styled perfectly in an asymmetrical bob doesn’t show a single flyaway," says De Souza. Although it would look great curled, too, by styling her bob straight, she brings attention to the asymmetry of her cut.
Leave it to Ariana Grande to make gray hair look youthful. Her long, thick tresses provide the ideal canvas to show off her light gray color. Meanwhile, pigtails add a fun and flirty flair.
How can I keep gray hair from turning yellow?
To keep gray hair (dyed or natural) from turning yellow—an effect of exposure to the sun, hard water, and other environmental factors—wash hair twice a week for 10 minutes using a color-correcting violet shampoo. This will neutralize the yellow. Be careful not to overuse this method, though, as it can make hair appear more ashy or purple than you want. The best tip? Use it only when your hair has actually yellowed, not to prevent it.
When dying hair gray, is it better to get highlights or single-process color?
Unlike warm colors (think reds, browns, and certain blondes), gray is a cool color, meaning it can wash out your skin tone. To compensate, consider getting highlights or lowlights along the sides of your face to help make your features pop and to give your hair dimension. Balayage is often preferred over foil highlights for gray, especially if you want a subtle, natural look.
Are there any tricks to making the transition to gray more seamless?
If you've been covering your gray, the trick is deciding when to go natural. Keep in mind that you will likely have to endure a period of six to 12 months that might look a little funky as your new natural hair grows in. As Garnier colorist Millie Morales suggests, you can cut your hair short or if you're looking to keep some length, slowly cut off as much of the previously colored hair as possible so the new growth blends in more quickly.
Richena M, Silveira M, Rezende CA, Joekes I. Yellowing and bleaching of grey hair caused by photo and thermal degradation. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2014;138:172-181. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2014.05.017