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Top Tips and Products to Use for Lustrous Gray Hair
Catherine M

by Catherine M, Senior Editor | Skin, Hair & Dental Care

Last Updated On June 13th, 2023, Published On May 31, 2023

Beauty & Fashion

Top Tips and Products to Use for Lustrous Gray Hair

Celebrities like Helen Mirren, Pierce Brosnan, Andie MacDowell, Richard Gere, Jamie Lee Curtis, Meryl Streep, and George Clooney have often flaunted their natural gray hair on and off screen. So, if you have decided to embrace your silvers, keep reading to find out how to achieve an elegant shiny effect, get tips on transitioning to gray, making gray hair a shiny silver, and of course, the top products.

Tips for transitioning to gray hair

Your hair turning into shades of salt and pepper is a natural part of aging. You might have noticed your first gray hair in your 40s, 30s, or even your 20s! Dyeing gray streaks was the obvious choice then. If you have chosen to embrace your natural hair, it’s important to understand that it may take time to recover from the damage caused by years of dyeing and coloring. Here are a few tips to help your hair go through the shifting spectrum of grays and whites.

Commit to the process

With ageist beauty standards being propagated all around, transitioning to your natural gray hair is easier said than done. If you have colored your hair for years, you might feel a little anxious about letting it go. However, this change can be exciting as well. It’s important to think through the decision thoroughly and commit to it to make the process effortless.

Start by letting the roots grow a little

The process of going gray takes time. To begin with, you have to stop touching your roots. The best thing to do is let your hair grow out by at least two inches from the roots for achieving the best results.

Lighten your hair with highlights or lowlights

As you age, it becomes easier to notice where your gray hair begins and where the color ends. If you have dyed your hair over the years, you can lighten it with highlights or lowlights. These will blend the grays with the colored sections of your hair, making the transition appear more natural.

Strip off old hair color from the natural gray strands

If you want to have completely gray strands, one option is to strip off the dye from your hair. You can do this at home or at the salon. To do this, you will need hair-stripping products. These are easily available at the supermarket or the local pharmacy. However, this method will not work if you have bleached your hair to lighten the natural pigments before coloring.

Let your hair go gray naturally

When you don’t want to go to the salon, you can decide to grow out your gray hair naturally. It can take some time, depending on the length and volume of your hair.

Get a new haircut

If you think it’s too much of a hassle to let your gray hair grow out on its own, go for a new haircut. Ask your hairdresser to trim out the colored sections. After years of coloring your hair, sporting a new look with your chic gray hair can feel great.

Practice patience

Under normal circumstances, hair grows at the rate of half an inch every month. So depending on what you choose to do (whether haircut, highlights, or removing the old color), the graying process can vary from a few weeks or months to a year. The key here is not to cave in and go back to dyeing your hair again. Instead, you will need to practice some patience. Once you finally get to the end, you will see the results are well worth the effort.

Once you have started the process of letting your gray hair grow out, you will notice that some sections turn brassy or yellow over time. There is nothing to worry about because it is quite normal. So to understand why your gray hair looks yellow or brassy, it’s important to know the science behind it.

Why does gray hair turn brassy or yellow?

Gray hair is nothing but a combination of your normal pigmented hair mixed with white hair. The white hair has very little melanin. Melanin is a natural pigment that gives color to your hair and skin. Since your white hair has little to no melanin, the strands pick up pigments from the surroundings. This is what gives them a brassy or yellow appearance. There are several things that can accelerate this process.

Your hair is exposed to the sun for too long

The sun’s UV rays are not just bad for your skin, they are also harmful to your hair. The UV rays react with the pigments in your gray hair and strip off the blue-colored pigments. This leaves behind only the yellow pigments in your hair, making the strand look dull and dry.

Washing your hair with hard or harsh water

It is important to check your water supply as it could be hard or harsh water containing minerals and chemical residues. If you are using this water in your shower, it is quite possible that this could be the reason why your hair is turning yellow. Also, if you regularly go swimming, the chlorine gets deposited on the hair shaft turning your strands yellow.

Using heat styling products regularly

Although they help you look chic, the heat styling products are probably also the reason why your grays look dull. There is a higher chance of this happening if you are unwittingly washing your hair with harsh water. The extreme heat reacts with the minerals and chemical deposits on your hair from the hard water. This makes your hair frizzy, dry, and yellow.

Side-effects of medications

Some prescriptions and treatments can change the color of your gray hair to brassy. Check with your primary care doctor to confirm whether you are experiencing this side effect.

Your hair is exposed to too much pollution

Living in an area with high pollution levels can negatively affect your hair, skin, lungs, and overall health. Toxic chemicals, particulate matter, and smoke can accumulate on your scalp and hair follicles. These react with the hair products, heat styling tools, and water you use, making your salt and pepper hair look yellow and dull faster than you expected.

Product build up in your hair

It is quite common for hair care products to build up on your scalp and hair strands. This doesn’t happen overnight but over a long period of time. But this product buildup causes discolorations to your white hair. Also, it changes the reflective colors in your hair, making it look brassy and dull.

Tips on how to make gray hair shiny silver

Gray hair is susceptible to frizziness, coarseness, thinning, and yellowing. So over time, your hair will need a helping hand to look the best. There are lots of ways you can accentuate your grays, prevent discoloration, add volume, and make them soft and shiny to achieve the elegant silver or platinum look. Here are a few tips on how to make gray hair smooth and shiny.

Double cleanse whenever you shampoo your hair

Always shampoo your hair twice. The first cleanse is for your scalp. You can use a soft hair massager to get rid of product buildup from your scalp. The second cleanse removes any buildup from the rest of your hair. While double cleansing, focus on the roots of your hair where the grays begin. The one notable benefit of double cleansing is that it will rinse off all the minerals found in your tap water. These minerals often cause the discoloration of your salt and pepper tresses, making them look yellow.

Pick the right shampoo

Gray hair is likely to become dry due to low oil gland production. To keep it healthy, use moisture-balance shampoos made for dryer hair types. Also, pick clear or white shampoos to avoid the risk of discoloration and a brassy appearance.

Choose a conditioner based on your hair type

Buy a conditioner that is made for your hair texture and type. For instance, if your gray hair is growing thin, use a light rather than a heavy conditioner. But if your gray hair is still thick but looks dry, go for conditioners with heavier consistency. The product with the right consistency will replenish your hair’s moisture levels more effectively.

Double conditioning

Just like double cleansing, you can try double conditioning for shiny gray hair. Start by applying the conditioner from the mid to the ends of your hair. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle any knots. Rinse your hair and follow up with the second application. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before washing it all off. Double conditioning should only be done if conditioning once is not effective for you.

Use a hydrating deep conditioning mask once a week

The texture of your hair will change once it starts losing melanin. Also, it will gradually lose its elasticity and feel wiry due to the low production of oil glands. Gray hair can often appear dry and frizzy, which does not reflect light, and lacks the silvery shine. Sometimes, even double conditioning may not be enough to combat these effects. The solution is to use a hydrating deep conditioning hair mask at least once a week to lock in all the moisture and shine for lustrous gray hair.

Apply leave-in conditioner to the ends

Although leave-in conditioners lead to product buildup, the benefits outdo the disadvantages. Applying a leave-in conditioner to the ends will boost the moisture levels of your hair. It will smoothen out the wiry, brittle ends that gray hair is prone to, making it look shiny and soft. Besides, you can always get rid of the product buildup with your double cleansing routine.

Use a purple shampoo and conditioner once a week

This is an easy trick to combat the brassy yellow tones in your gray hair. The purple shampoo and conditioner neutralize the yellowing by depositing purple pigments to even out the yellow tones. Use either the shampoo or conditioner or both at the same time at least once a week. You can also do this routine twice a month to make your gray hair shiny silver.

Be cautious while using colored products

While purple hair products are your friend, you need to use them with caution to manage the yellow tones. These products will leave behind tinges of purple in your hair. Although the purple tones do not last more than a couple of washes, you need to practice moderation while using them. So whenever you use a purple shampoo or conditioner, leave it in for a very minimum time, to begin with. Work it up over time, if necessary. Also, remember to keep away from blue-toned products as these turn your gray and white hair greenish.

Apply a hair serum for shine

Adding a hair serum to your hair care routine can be a game-changer when you want to brighten your gray hair. The formula in a serum will trap in all the natural oils in your hair. It seals the cuticle of your hair so that light reflects off of the grays. This will give your hair a shiny silver look. For the best results, pick a serum made specially for gray hair. The formula will mostly contain any or all of these ingredients: keratin, collagen, and biotin.

Always use heat protectors

Excessive heat from heat styling products makes your hair dry. Since gray hair has relatively low porosity, it is more prone to damage that will make it look dull and coarse. So if you heat style your hair frequently, use heat protector products to minimize the damage. Pick a spray-based formulation, as it will spread evenly all over your hair.

Use heat styling with caution

To make salt and pepper hair shine, it is important to keep heat to a minimum to retain maximum moisture in your hair. So whenever you heat style your hair, keep the setting medium or low to prevent burning. If possible, do not use heat styling more than once a week. Alternatively, you can go for blowouts at the salon every week. Or you can let your hair dry out naturally a couple of times in a week.

When you want to make gray hair shiny silver, you need to follow a slightly more high-maintenance routine with the right products. The hair care routine and products that worked for your darker hair won’t work for your grays. You’ll have to overhaul your bathroom shelf with shampoos, conditioners, and serums specially formulated for gray or white hair. Here are a few best products to help you get started.

Top products to brighten gray hair

L’Oréal Paris Everpure Brass Toning Purple Shampoo

At just around $8, this affordable sulfate-free and color-protecting purple shampoo is a must-have to care for your grays. It has the two-in-one advantage of gentle cleanser and combating brassiness.

Kérastase Masque Ultra Violet Purple Hair Mask

This nourishing hair mask neutralizes brassy hair and adds deep hydration for even brightness. It contains essential ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ultraviolet neutralizers, edelweiss flower extracts, and salicylic acid.

Matrix Total Results So Silver Color Depositing Purple Shampoo

This super-hydrating shampoo keeps gray hair shining shimmery silver by taking care of all the yellow tones while deep cleansing. However, since its consistency is quite heavy, it is not suitable if you have a greasy scalp.

Philip Kinglsey’s Moisture Balancing Combination Conditioner

This conditioner is perfect for finer hair. It will keep your hair soft and shiny as it replenishes and locks in moisture. The light formulation of this product makes it perfect for double conditioning.

KERASTASE Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Heat Protecting Hair Serum

A multi-tasking product, this leave-in serum works as a heat protectant, protecting the hair from oxidation and environmental elements that can cause damage. Its oil-based formulation seals the natural hydration in your hair, restoring its silvery shine.

Oribe Silverati Shampoo

If you have light grays or salt and pepper tones, this gentle yet effective shampoo is perfect for you. With just a small amount, you can remove the yellow tones and brighten your gray hair.

Hair Biology Silver Shine Serum

This paraben-free serum works to naturally enhance your hair. Since gray hair tends to be wiry and dry, this biotin-enriched serum infuses shine and softness with regular use.

Clairol Shimmer Lights Violet Toning Mask

With its deep conditioning formula, this violet-pigmented mask nourishes, detangles, and tones your grays to get that beautiful silvery shine.

Wella Professionals EIMI Perfect Me Heat Protectant

This beauty balm protects your hair from the extreme heat of styling tools as you achieve the most natural styles. Available as a spray, it spreads evenly to give you impeccably shiny gray hair.

Achieving a salt and pepper hair shine involves a lot of trial and error, as what works for you may not work for someone else. The trick is to follow a hair care routine with a specific set of products for a few months. It is important to be consistent, as most beauty and self-care routines take at least three to six months to show noticeable improvements. You can determine what works best for your hair by following your routine diligently.