Stylists reveal their top tips on how to let your silvery strands shine.
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After years of dyeing your hair different shades and spending plenty of money at the salon, it feels liberating to finally embrace your natural hue. When you begin going gray, you'll probably notice your strands are drier and coarser, which often happens to hair when we get older. If you're used to finer, oilier tresses, this will be a major change for you. And even if your grays aren't much different from your dyed hair, you'll still need some tips on how to treat your new hairstyle. Here's the best advice on how to care for your gorgeous gray hair.

woman with gray hair and black glasses
Credit: Flashpop/Getty Images

Going Gray Gracefully

The segue from dyeing away your natural gray to embracing it can be a slow evolution or an overnight coup. It's up to you.

1. Grow Out Your Roots

If you want to go slow, try by simply growing out your gray. To offset your roots, make sure your ends are in tip-top shape. "I'll have my clients come in for trims a little bit more regularly," says James Corbett, celebrity colorist, and owner of James Corbett Studio in New York City. Hair grows about 6 inches per year, so this process is for the super patient.

Trae Bodge, a smart-shopping expert behind the blog, True Trae, loves her natural gray and says to trust the growing out process." I know it's hard, but if you are starting to go gray, don't cover it immediately," she explains. "We jump to fix it so quickly that we don't even allow ourselves to see how it might look. Years later, we find we've spent so much money to color it then get stuck with an awful growing-out period. Give your gray a chance; it might look awesome."

2. Get Silvery Highlights

Ask your colorist to weave in an increasing number of silver-gray highlights each time you get highlights. This can take you to gray in six months to a year and is less damaging than lightening all the color-treated hair at once, Corbett says.

3. Chop It Off

"A pixie is the quickest way to get rid of any old, color-treated hair while giving yourself a statement style," says stylist-colorist Kali Ferrara of The Salon Project in New York City.

Soften and Style

Gray, silver, and white hair appear when follicles quit producing melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color. As grays come in, the scalp's oil production often takes a dive, too, making these fine strands seem coarse or wiry.  To improve dryness, load up on a moisturizing shampoo, such as Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo ($24, Sephora) with conditioning cleansers and treatments and oil-rich styling products. The Better Not Younger Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque ($35, Sephora) will deep condition your tresses. Ferrara likes to apply a heat-activated styling cream to damp hair before blow-drying. "This softens the grays and smooths the cuticles, which helps resolve those texture differences," she says. Try the Bumble & bumble Styling Creme ($27, Bumble & bumble).

Brighten and Whiten

White hair, as striking as it is, has the unfortunate tendency to yellow. "Sun, heat-styling tools, pollution, cigarette smoke: a lot of external factors can give your gray or white hair a yellow cast," Ferrara says. But you can keep it bright and shiny with a color-correcting treatment. "Purple is the shade directly across from yellow on the color wheel," Corbett says. "So, a shampoo or gloss with purple tones will neutralize the yellow in your hair." To keep your color looking its best, try Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo ($36, Ulta).

These products deposit a temporary sheer layer of purple pigment that camouflages the yellow. Purple hair treatments are beneficial even if there's still some pepper with your salt because it tones down brassy yellow and orange across your whole head. But reach for these products only once a week or on an as-needed basis. "You don't need to use it every time you shampoo and leave it on for only a few seconds," Corbett says.

Another way to keep your white looking bright? Add a filter to your showerhead, like the Brita In-Line Shower Filtration System ($20, The Home Depot), especially if you live in a hard-water area.  "Mineral deposits can make white hair look rusty or even green," Ferrara says. "We have old pipes, and there's always a reddish tinge around our bathtub. Just imagine that on your hair."

Up Your Style Game

Going gray can feel like unchartered territory: exciting and a little scary. If you're concerned that gray hair will make you look older than you feel, know that your haircut, makeup, and accessories can keep your overall look vibrant and youthful. "When you choose gray hair, make sure that you still have a look," says Corbett, who recommends getting a stylish haircut, like a polished bob, face-framing curls, or something with structure. "You want to avoid styles that look scraggly or unkempt," he says.

And when you're feeling washed out, applying concealer, blush, and lipstick will make you feel pulled together. "Contrast your gray hair with a pop of vibrant color like bright lips," Corbett adds. A universally flattering hue is the MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo ($19, MAC). Bodge says her daily routine is the key for her to look and feel great. "l love a gua sha facial massager to wake up my skin followed by a great concealer and a lip stain for color that will stay." Try the Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool ($28, Sephora).

By Cheryl Kramer Kaye and Jennifer Aldrich

    Comments (1)

    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    February 19, 2021
    So happy to see this article. I have a friend who wants to let her hair go gray, so I'm going to share this article with her. Also, most articles about hair are for long hair. A lot of women have short hair, like me, and would like to see more short styles shown. Flattering styles for older women would be great.