At some point in our lives, many of us will experience that natural transition to gray hair. While some women may choose to color their hair, others 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. If you're looking to make the switch to your natural gray color, "start doing highlights only and stop doing single process bases," recommends celebrity colorist Nikki Lee.
Meet the Expert
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 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.
Ahead, 50 gray hairstyles, both natural and dyed.
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 because you have to bleach out the hair first," 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.
Kelly Hu's wispy grays add a certain playfulness to her long, dark locks. They also work to beautifully highlight and frame her face.
Leave it to hair chameleon Sibley Scoles to bring us not one, but two hair trends with her gorgeous white-gray pixie and wet look. By styling her hair wet, she livens up and modernizes her cropped mane with edginess and youthfulness, while her dark roots add the perfect dose of grunge.
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, an unexpected pop of color that really works here.
Gray hair on a close crop is another beautiful look, especially when it's accompanied by natural texture. While this look on Cynthia Erivo is enhanced with platinum dye, a naturally full-gray short cut would look just as stunning.
When it comes to maintaining platinum hues, the golden rule is to shampoo less often than you normally would.
Give your gray strands added body and volume with 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. Many women who are almost all-gray choose to color their hair blonde or get blonde highlights. Blonde blends in better with the all-gray growth as the crown and roots grow in, as noted here on actress Blythe Danner.
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 or really, just a non-permanent way to color your hair. Easy peasy.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis wears her gray pixie like a glove. It's low-maintenance meets sophisticated—with a side of edge. 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, she also suggests slowly cutting off as much of the previously colored hair as possible so the new growth blends in more quickly.
Cicely Tyson's blunt bob replete with glistening grays is stunning—not to mention, it even matches her dazzling outfit. Interestingly, when you go gray, your eyebrows can, too, which can make them look a little thin. However, here, Tyson's brows are on point. To get her look, you can either dye your brows to match your former base color or go a bit darker than your hair. The alternative is to use an eyebrow gel, like Hourglass's Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel ($28), to fill in sparse areas and darken a light brow.
Actor Javicia Leslie absolutely rocks this shade of stunning silver-gray with dark roots.
"Rihanna added gray highlights that blend in with her natural color, letting her have a taste of the gray without going full-on," says De Souza. "To achieve the silver ribbons all over her hair, I would use a natural level 4. Her colorist likely highlighted her with bleach and toned her with a fashion teal tone. It gives you a taste without going for it completely."
The long bob is a flattering look for gray hair, which lends it dimension. In fact, shoulder-length cuts are probably the most flattering hairstyle in general. Here, "Diane Keaton isn’t afraid to wear her gray locks long. Her hair is shiny and looks perfect with her fun style," says De Souza.
For this look, ask your colorist to add a few different shades to your natural hair. Traditional foil highlights will add gorgeous streaks, and you can also have them paint in highlights and lowlights to give the illusion of more volume. It's a great trick for straight, thin hair.
Helen Hunt's dirty ash blonde hair is the perfect base color for transitioning to gray as there isn't a stark contrast if you're trying to subtly introduce the silver.
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.
Another Met Gala look, Ciara's silver-gray wig is retro-chic. The metal hairpins make for a nice camouflaged accessory.
"This fashion/beauty icon looks amazing with her hair styled up and back away from her beautiful face," notes De Souza of Linda Rodin. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Quite a classy look, it's hard to beat a sleek bob 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 bob like Mirren's is definitely a look to consider.
This metallic-gray bob on Nafessa Williams is fierce. The silver color certainly works beautifully with her warm skin tone and we're loving how it brings out the texture of her wavy hair.
"P!nk looks beautiful with this cut and gray hair that shows off her beautiful face," says De Souza. And we have to admit that this pompadour-pixie hits all the right notes—pun intended.
The silver pearl color of Cardi B's shoulder-length cut is gorgeous and works best on pre-lightened hair. Brunettes will have to work harder to achieve the color by first pre-lightening hair and then toning.
Unlike warm colors (think reds, browns, and 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.
For those with thin hair, a pixie cut can be your best friend. While longer hair can make thin strands seem even thinner, shorter hairdos can play up volume and texture. Ruby Dee's natural gray pixie is practical and posh.
Amandla Stenberg wears gray well on their textured strands. To replicate their style, try using Amika High Tide Deep Wave Hair Crimper ($120), which works on hair of all types and textures. Their deep side-part serves to elongate and balance their facial features.
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.
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 both contrasts in texture and color. Slicked-back sides complement curly length up top while gray strands speckled among dark tresses emphasize natural highlights.
"Cara Delevingne gives us a modern twist to this traditional bob done by my talented partner at Mare Salon, Mara Roszak," says De Souza. He adds, "For Cara, I would start at a level 6/7 to achieve this look. Cara was bleached all the way from roots to ends and toned with a silver toner to cut through any brassy tones. Love her and her rad style."
Jane Fonda's cool-toned silver hair transformation is fresh and modern at any age. Her bangs add extra impact to her otherwise sophisticated pixie.
If you're coloring your own hair, consider using a paintbrush or professional brush to apply color rather than a nozzle which isn't going to have the same force or breadth.
Back in her Girls days, actor Zosia Mamet was known for rocking a blue-ish 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.
Hair chameleon Dascha Polanco has gone gray quite a few times. One of our favorite iterations is this many-hued ponytail with long fringy bangs. Dark roots filter down to gray with a twinge of pink at the ends.
Whoopi Goldberg's natural grays weave their way organically into her locs. The varying lengths of her dreads keep her look more playful and youthful.
"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.
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.
Winnie Harlow's long, gray mane is simple yet stunning. The contrast of her dark roots makes the gray color even more impactful.
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."
Sharon Stone is always stunning, and perhaps even more so here as she shows off her grown-in grays. They are subtle, blending in with her blonde hair, and work to naturally highlight her complexion.
Sevyn Streeter achieved this lovely gray look with the help of a wig. The long, wavy length proves that when it comes to gray, more is more.
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.
One way to embrace the transition to gray is with an ombré look. Natural grays at the root blend into colored strands for a beautiful color melt of sorts.
While it's not for the faint of heart, Amber Rose's white-gray buzzcut sure makes a statement. To add texture and shine to this 'do, just apply a dime-size amount of pomade and work through hair from back to front.
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 also, 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 Mrs. Bieber, if you're not looking for anything permanent, use a temporary colored mousse to get this shade. Does anything say cool-girl more than cool gray?
If anyone can rock a silver-white pixie, leave it to Snow White, er, Ginnifer Goodwin. Simply style with a little pomade and pair with pink liner for a post-punk finish.
Keke Palmer shows off the beautiful contrast of her skin color and her gray hair in this modern bowl cut. "It lends a natural sophistication and harmony to [her] look," says De Souza.
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.
All hail model and producer Karen Williams. She plays with texture in this whimsical gray braided updo that somewhat resembles a crown. Or perhaps more than that, it's a sculptured work of hair art.
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