The newest, attention-grabbing hair color seen on the streets of NYC and at the salon, is gray -- or more aptly named white, silver, pewter, and every shade in between. With the availability of new treatments and conditioners made to enhance gray hair's color and condition, this once-maligned hair hue has become a new style option, not just the last resort for women of a certain age. The women we see at the salon who opt to go gray say they've made the choice because they like the look or are weary of the endless fight with roots. Whatever the reason, when well- maintained and styled, gray hair can be dramatic and elegant.
The first step to a color-free future: Ask for a consultation with your colorist to discuss your hair's particular needs, and then outline a plan for graying gracefully. Your options might include gradually decreasing the processing time for your regular single process formula, allowing the gray hair to become prominent gradually, adding lowlights for definition, and adding glosses for shine. Be sure to schedule regular appointments to ensure hair looks its best every step of the way to gray.
What many women need to understand is that going gray is not your ticket to low-maintenance hair. In fact, though you may be spending less time with your colorist, your care treatment and product budget may rise. Gray hair needs constant maintenance and care from an arsenal of specific products to keep it from looking dull and drab.
Hair's condition is vital to keeping silver hair looking good. Many report their gray hairs are wiry, dry, and brittle. Though gray hair does tend to be drier and coarser than hair that has retained its natural pigment, the good news is that gray hair can retain softness and manageability with the right care.
We tell our salon clients to keep their gray hair shiny and soft and their color pure with moisturizing, clarifying shampoos and conditioners, some of which are now made specifically for gray hair. Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo ($10.50), Phytargent Whitening Shampoo ($20), or Artec White Violet Color Shampoo ($15.50) are shampoo treatments that contain bluing tints to prevent that avoid-at-all-costs yellowing effect. To ensure the shampoos achieve the level of brightness you like, mix equal parts of the shampoo with a regular moisturizing shampoo at first use, and experiment until you get familiar with the product and its effect. If hair starts to get a purplish cast, switch to a clarifying and/or moisturizing formula shampoo, alternating formulas for best results.
Be sure to make appointments for deep conditioning treatments at your salon regularly, and follow up at home with a weekly deep conditioning treatment. Look for rich, moisturizing formulas made for color-treated hair. Scalp massage can also help stimulate hair follicles and increase blood flow and circulation to the scalp -- ideal conditions for healthier-looking hair in any color. Avoid overt heat styling, perming, hair accessories, or any other rough treatment on gray hair, as it is drier than most hair.
Lastly, keep your gray hair cut and styled to perfection. As gray hair reflects light, it will become a focal point in your overall appearance and will get noticed first!