The Beauty Breakdown is our series that focuses on the most popular beauty topics of today. Each issue focuses on a different topic and highlights the most important facts, common mistakes and the best products.
Silver, gray, white, platinum, salt-and-pepper. Gray hair, no matter how it is described, is something that almost everyone experiences at one time or another. It is up to you to decide how to style your gray hair, whether you embrace it or color it.
The hair’s pigment can undergo some changes as a result. This could mean that your hair care routine may need to be adjusted. As someone who is just starting their graying journey, which I chose to cover up with blond highlights at the moment in my life, I can definitely see the differences in texture between these new strands.
So, I reached out to hair experts and did some research on how to best care for silvering hair. This is a comprehensive guide on caring for gray hair.
The 101 on gray hair
It doesn’t matter if you have gray hairs in your 20s, or later. It doesn’t matter if silver onset is caused by stress or just good old-fashioned genes. It doesn’t matter if your entire head turns silver or just the temples and hairline. The mechanisms that cause gray hair can be experienced in any way you like.
Your skin contains melanocytes, cells that produce pigment. These melanocytes can decrease in number due to age, genetics, health concerns, and other external influences. Similar to the way other elements of our skin, such as collagen and elastin, this decline is also common. This change causes hair to become less pigmented and appears grayer or whiter.
It may begin in certain areas of the scalp (temples, for instance), and then grow over time. It is difficult to predict when this will happen and how fast.
7 things that are wrong now
Gray hair is a subject that has many misconceptions. Let’s get to the bottom of them.
- Don’t pull your grays. This is a complete myth! Matt Rez, celebrity colorist and Redken ambassador. “More won’t grow in its place.” But, if you pull out gray hairs, one strand will grow back. It will be much shorter and therefore more visible than the rest.
- You’re not color-correcting.Those with gray hair, especially those who had previously had dark hair, may not be aware of how quickly light hair can turn brassy or yellow. Purple shampoos can be used to color-correct your hair and bring it back to bright silver.
- You aren’t paying enough attention to what can cause hair to stain. Excessive hot-tool use can cause hair to burn; amber-tinted dyes can stain hair, while pollution and smoke can also dull it.
- You can’t dye gray hair if you don’t use dimension. You’ll be able to blend in gray roots more easily between appointments. It will also make it easier for you to grow in gray hair if you do decide to change.
- You are still using the same products as before. The texture of your hair will change, and it may become more coarse or dry. You might consider using hydrating or smoothing products for your hair.
- It’s true that stress can cause graying. Graying hair is a sign of stress. According to a Harvard study, the body goes into fight-or flight mode when it’s stressed. When the body is in this state it diverts resources towards more vital areas. The scalp then loses its reserves of stem cells which would then be converted into pigment-producing cells.
- Don’t be alarmed: Gray hair does not necessarily mean you are getting older faster. A study of more than 20K people found no association between gray hair onset and mortality in an older study.
These are the 3 steps that you should know
Let’s start with the basics of graying hair.
1. Discuss your ideas with a professional
Your stylist or colorist can help you make the right decision about whether to color your entire head or just part of it. Abby Haliti, celebrity colorist, says that a long-term plan is necessary to protect hair’s health. It may take several salon visits but the results will be worth it. Your (many!) hair options will be evaluated by a professional. You will be able to choose from many options and learn about the nuance of your gray hair.
There are many options when you decide to go silver. If your white strands are irregular, you might consider mixing them with highlights. This is often known as “silver-blending”. They can also help you to avoid a straight line if your head has been dyed. Even if there are only a few spots that need to be dyed, they can help you match the perfect color and then “spot treat” your area with dye.
They can also offer advice on the color and help you choose a cut that will complement your platinum hair texture. Although it is not necessary to change your style, it can give your gray hairs a more modern look.
2. Make sure you are updating your hair care routine
The texture of hair changes when it turns gray. Silver hair can feel coarser, dryer, and wetter than normal. They can also be porous and more prone to frizz. This could mean that you might need to change your regular hair care products.
Here are some things you might want to think about, if not already. Switch to sulfate free shampoos as they strip the scalp of its natural oils. You should switch to hydrating conditioners, rather than volumizing ones which are lighter. You can also use hair masks if you really need moisture. Smoothing serums and oils for hair can be used to reduce frizz. A hair growth serum can be used to boost your hair’s volume if you are experiencing both graying and thinning.
Rosemary oil can be added to your hair, suggests Christin Brown, hairstylist: “Rosemary has a remarkable graying and silvering ally.” Some studies have shown that rosemary can slow down graying. This is quite fascinating.
3. Address Oxidative Stress
Research is showing a strong link between premature graying and oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It is thought that oxidative stress also depletes pigment-producing cells, much like it depletes collagen and elastin in our skin.
A brief summary: Oxidative Stress is when the body’s free-radical levels exceed the antioxidant levels for a long period. This imbalance can cause hair loss and other health problems. Inflammation-causing diets, psychological stress and external factors (like polluting) can all trigger oxidative stress.
Lifestyle changes, such as stress management, can help reduce or manage oxidative stress. You can also use antioxidants both topical and oral to help. Hair care products should be rich in antioxidant-rich botanicals and include hair-enhancing vitamins.
While they won’t reverse greying, regular use can make your hair and scalp healthier.
3 additional steps to take
These tools are not essential, but they can make a big difference if you use them regularly.
– Switch to satin or silk accessories.Since the hair fiber texture changes, you may find you’re dealing with frizz more frequently–especially so when you wake up. You can slide your hair while you sleep by using a silk or satin pillowcase or a headscarf. Silk and satin are anti-friction, which can lead to hair pulling, tugging and stretching.
Deep-condition your hair regularly. These are dense, hydrating hair masks that nourish your hair and scalp with proteins, hydration and antioxidants.
Clarifying shampoos can be used to power wash hair fibers. This is a good option for gray hair. Gray hair is porous and retains particulate matter. You might consider getting a hair dryer if your hair is prone to stains or buildup. Don’t dry your hair too much.
6 Products to Try
Gray hair requires extra care. These are the products that you can add to your collection depending on your needs.
The best hydrating shampoo and conditioner combination: Olaplex Blonde Enhancer duo
You can use them together, but you can also buy them separately if there is a shampoo or conditioner that you like.
The duo includes a silk scrunchie
Pros and users love Olaplex for their bond-building formulas that help to repair damaged hair. The shampoo is a purple-tinted, sulfate-free shampoo that color-corrects lighter hair. Brown once said to me that it’s also suitable for people with gray hair. Followed by the conditioner, it will moisturize and soften the hair.
Best silver enhancer:: dpHue Gloss + Semi-Permanent Hair Color & Deep Conditioner
Clear gloss is recommended for the enhancement of full-silver hues. However, if you have more subtle grays than we recommend, one of the 10 other shades may be used to blend the incoming strands.
This at-home gloss will give your silver hair a shine. This semi-permanent treatment enhances your natural color without introducing any color or using lightening agents. It’s easy to use, as there is no mixing or multi-step process. Simply coat damp hair with the formula and let it sit for between 5-20 minutes before washing it out. Then, style your hair as usual and be amazed at the amazing results.
Best Gray Delayer: Vegamourgro Ageless Anti-Gray Serum
This serum is great for those who are suffering from shedding and graying.
There has been a lot happening in the science behind delaying gray hair. This topical serum from Vegamour can help reduce the appearance of gray hairs on new hair growth. It works by containing peptides and caffeine as well as antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress at root. This can accelerate graying.
Best Serum: JVN Hair Complete Shine Drops
– This fresh, invigorating fragrance will add a wonderful flourish to your styling experience
Multi-purpose serum that locks in moisture can be used on damp hair to prevent heat damage, add shine to the ends, and as a heat protector before a blowout. The clear formula, which is made with plant-derived squalane, will not stain silver hair. It will also help manage frizz and smooth out coarse textures.
Best at home color: Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit
You’re certain to find the right color with 36 colors (and a quiz on color matching).
You can choose to cover up any gray that is coming in, and I’m all for it! It can be difficult to get to the salon to make an appointment, which can also prove to be costly. Over the years, at-home hair coloring has become more sophisticated. Madison Reed is a leading manufacturer of salon-quality hair color kits. They use better-for you ingredients and follow easy instructions. This is a total game-changer for at-home color.
Best Root Cover-up: Oribe Airbrush root touch up spray
Available in 5 colors and easy to apply
Root cover-up products can be used to conceal grays or make up for lost appointments. There are many options available, including sprays, powders you can brush on, and crayons you can draw on. You should make sure the color matches your natural hue to avoid it standing out.
The beauty breakdown.
Graying hair can be treated in a variety of ways. However, hair fiber changes require special care. You should consult a trusted professional to help you create a hair care plan that suits your needs and lifestyle. Here are some more tips to moisturize your hair. We have the answer.
Take Care of Your Skin.
Alexandra Engler, the beauty director at mindbodygreen, is also the host of Clean Beauty School. She was previously a beauty director at Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. Her work has also been featured in Sports Illustrated, Allure.com, and Esquire. She covers lifestyle topics such as travel and the latest trends in clean and natural beauty. Marquette University gave her a journalism degree and she was the first to graduate from that department. She resides in Brooklyn, New York.