How to Care for Gray Hair

Rear view of bare shouldered mature woman with long grey hair
Gary John Norman / Getty Images

More and more men and women are deciding to let their gray hair go. There are plenty of reasons to do so: Gorgeous gray coloring, no hassle and expense of covering up gray, or choosing to embrace life as it develops—wrinkles, gray hair, and all. In this article, we'll show you how to care for your gray hair. 

Reasons to Embrace Your Grays

There are many reasons to let your hair go natural, and we're here to fill you in on some of our favorites.

  • It's easier. Eliminating the touch-ups that need to happen every four to six weeks lest you look unkempt will save you time, hassle, and money.
  • It's cheaper. It's no secret: Hair coloring, even if you do it yourself, can be expensive. Instead of covering your grays, you can spend the money on another form of self-care.
  • It's trendy. Lately, gray isn't just a hair color that graces most of our manes as we age. Rather, gray hair happens to be one of the most sought-after hair trends, whether you're in your 20's or 60's.
  • It's gorgeous. Just like you, your grays are beautiful and deserve to be embraced. And who doesn't love such expressions of and self-love and confidence?

How to Brighten and Soften Gray Hair

Ever wonder why your gray hair is wiry and sticks up stubbornly while the rest of your hair lies flat? It's because the cuticles of gray hair are rougher than hair that has pigment. Gray hair also tends to be drier than its pigmented counterparts. To keep your gray hair looking is best, follow this expert advice.

Brush Your Hair Nightly

NYC stylist Eva Scrivo recommends brushing gray hair every day to distribute natural oils from the scalp to the ends. "After about six weeks of nightly brushing, your hair will become smoother, softer, and glossier," Scrivo writes in her book, Eva Scrivo On Beauty

We recommend brushing your hair daily with a boar's hair bristle brush like the Wigo Cushion 100% Boar Bristle Brush ($25).

Use the Right Shampoo

Sometimes, gray hair can appear dull. To brighten your gray hair, stylists recommend using a purple-tinted shampoo like Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo ($10), which will keep your gray hair looking radiant. 

Scrivo also recommends removing hair product build-up by shampooing once a week with a clarifying shampoo (or mixing apple cider vinegar into your shampoo for a DIY version).

Stock Up on Styling Products

To get gray hair to behave, you can smooth it out using serums and products containing silicone and conditioners. Great products include the affordable Pantene Pro-V Smooth Serum ($8) and the more expensive, luxe option, Kerastase Oleo-Relax Serum ($37). Look on labels for silicone ingredients, which are great for tamping down those stubborn wiry hairs.

Try a Hair Gloss Treatment

You can get a great at-home glossing kit from your drugstore. We recommend John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze ($12), which comes in several shades and intensifies smoothness and shine.

For those who prefer to head to the salon, a professional glossing treatment every six to eight weeks will give you dramatic results well worth the money. These treatments smooth out wiry hair and enhance your natural color.

Protect Your Hair From Discoloration

Gray hair can turn yellow if exposed to too much sun, chlorine, or the mineral deposits in your water. To keep this from happening, protect your hair with a hat or scarf when out in the sun for long periods of time. If you swim, rinse hair thoroughly with clean water before and after the pool so that it doesn't soak up the chlorinated water. You can also wear a swim cap. If your tap water contains a lot of deposits, consider getting a filter that attaches to your shower head.

How to Grow Out Your Natural Gray Hair

If you're growing out hair that's been colored, keep in mind you will likely have to endure a 6- to 12-month awkward period as your new, natural hair grows in. You can cut your hair short or slowly cut off as much of the previously colored hair as possible so the new growth blends more quickly.

Another option is to add highlights and lowlights throughout your hair to blend your natural grays. We love balayage highlights as opposed to foil highlights for their seamless appearance and easy upkeep.

Highlighting is not a DIY job. We recommend seeking a professional's help.

Makeup Tips for Women With Gray Hair

Since gray hair is cool in tone, it can make certain skin tones appear a little washed out. Using the right makeup can help warm up your complexion and flatter all your features.

Create an Even Complexion

A prepped and even base should be the start of any makeup look. Cover up any discolorations and imperfections with concealer and foundation. Pay special attention to dark circles around the eyes.

Color Your Cheeks

Bronzer and blush can make the world of a difference. Sweep bronzer onto the hallows of your cheeks, temples, and jawline and pop blush onto the apples of your cheeks. This will help liven your complexion.

Play Up Your Eyes

Look for cool shades of eyeshadow like slate and gray. If you're wearing eyeliner, try a navy color instead of the traditional black.

Don't Skip Lip Color

For the lips, you can't go wrong with pinks, whether they're light or bright. A bit of gloss can plump up thinner lips and create a fuller, more youthful-looking pout.

Don't Ignore Your Brows

One important part of your face that you should never ignore is your brows. If they've gone gray, you can professionally dye them lighter or darker. Be sure to choose a cool tone for the eyebrow dye in order to match the tone of your hair.

If you don't want to dye your eyebrows, you can use an eyebrow pencil to fill in sparse areas and darken their appearance. Use a light hand to create short, feather-like strokes for a natural look.

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