A New York City stylist reveals his tips for a modern silver style.

By Mark Garrison
Updated November 26, 2019
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The latest attention-grabbing hair color seen on the streets of New York City and around the country is gray—or more aptly named white, silver, pewter, and every shade in between. With the availability of new hair treatments and conditioners made to enhance gray hair's color and texture, this once-maligned hair hue has become a new style option, and not just the last resort for women of a certain age. The women we see at my salon, Mark Garrison Salon, who opt to go gray say they've made the choice because they like the look or are tired of the endless fight with roots. Whatever the reason, when well-maintained and styled, gray hair can be dramatic and elegant.

Credit: Ekin Ozbicer/Getty Images

How to Naturally Transition to Gray Hair

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 might be spending less time with your colorist, your care treatment and product budget could rise. Gray hair needs constant maintenance and care from an arsenal of specific products to keep it from looking dull and drab.

How to Care for Gray Hair

Your hair's condition is vital to keeping silver hair looking good. Many of our clients report their gray hairs are wiry, dry, and brittle. Although gray hair does tend to be drier and coarser than hair that has retained its natural pigment, gray hair can retain softness and manageability with the correct care.

We tell our salon clients to keep their gray hair shiny and soft and their color pure is to use moisturizing, clarifying shampoos and conditioners. (Some of them are now made specifically for gray hair.) Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo ($10.50, Amazon), Phytargent Whitening Shampoo ($17.39, Walmart), or Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo ($15, Amazon) 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 or moisturizing formula shampoo, and alternate formulas for best results.

After you've officially gone gray, 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, such as Living Proof's Restore Mask Treatment, $43, Sephora, which made for color-treated hair. Scalp massage can also help stimulate hair follicles and increase blood flow and circulation to the scalp, which are 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 up with regular haircuts to help your mane look its best. As gray hair reflects light, it will become a focal point in your overall appearance and will get noticed first.

Comments (4)

February 11, 2019
I have grey hair that has some gun metal tones. Is there a highlighter that can bring out/lighten to the silver or white tones
July 21, 2018
I went gray early also. Colored mine for years. My friends kept telling me I should let it go gray because the new growth was such a beautiful color. It wasn't until total strangers started saying the same that I took the advice. I should have listened to my friends. Now I get tons of compliments on my silvery gray from friends and strangers. I am often asked if it's my natural color. Now if I can just get the courage to cut it short. And I mean super short, pixie style.
June 22, 2018
I, too, went gray early. (it's in the genes). I see my stylist regularly, and deep condition every week.I used to color my hair years ago, but stopped because it just wasn't me. I had to learn to love my gray, and I do!
June 21, 2018
I went gray early, have been gray for a number of years, get tons of compliments, and do not agree that gray hair isn't low maintenance. It is! I have saved so much time and money by going with my natural hair color. If you have a hairstyle that looks great, a decent shampoo and conditioner, don't worry about the rest. No big deal.