Hair Care

10 Best Shampoos for Gray Hair That Actually Work!

best shampoo for gray hair

Our hair consists of a root, which is under our scalp, and a shaft, which is the exposed colored part. The follicle, which encircles the root, contains pigment cells that produce melanin. Melanin gives the hair shaft its color.  As we mature, our pigment cells slowly lessen and eventually die. Hair then becomes more transparent and turns white, silver, or gray.

Despite conventional thinking, you can get gray hair while you’re still young.  People in their twenties and even teens have experienced gray strands or even gone totally gray.  Genetics actually determine at what point the pigment cells lessen (notice that “mature,” not “get old” was used in the prior paragraph).  So, if you haven’t yet seen any grays yet, look to your relatives to figure out about when you might (please note that this a basic rule and not proven science).

Scientists don’t believe stress or fear causes gray hair.  Some thought stress caused President Obama’s hair to turn gray, but it really was due to his age.  (if any teenagers are reading this, please don’t try to challenge the scientists by deliberately causing your parents anxiety or frightening a teacher.  Yes, we know such an experiment would be fun for you, but it won’t work and we’d just be held responsible).

List of Top Products

Here is a quick list of Featured Shampoos, linked to Amazon:

  1. Loreal Serie Expert Magnesium Silver
  2. Klorane Shampoo with Centaury
  3. Rene Furterer Okara Mild Silver Shampoo
  4. Marc Daniels Powerful Purple Toning Shampoo
  5. Jhirmack Silver Plus Ageless Shampoo
  6. More

Women and Gray Hair Historically

Throughout history, women didn’t commonly want their hair to turn gray.  As far back as 1500 BC, ancient Egyptian women used henna and plant cuttings to cover gray hair.  Other early hair dyes included nut ash, earthworms and walnut shells mixtures, and spice mixtures.  Some woman even used urine (it contains ammonia, which bleaches hair).

In the mid-nineteenth century, a teenager accidentally invented the first hair dye.  It turned hair purple. It also helped others develop commercial hair dyes. Around the 1920s, salons offered women professional hair colorings and women experimented to see what colors suited them.  And, in the 1950s, manufacturers began selling boxed hair coloring in stores.

Best Shampoo for Gray Hair

There are many purple and blue shampoos from which to choose.  Here are the best:

1. Loreal Serie Expert Magnesium Silver Neutralising Shampoo

This clarifying purple shampoo neutralizes brass and yellow tones and shows off gray, blonde, and white colors. Purchasers were pleased with this shampoo and independent reviewers gave it high marks, too.  It also won a best buy award. Some buyers complained that their bottles didn’t have English instructions and defective pumps.

2. Klorane Shampoo with Centaury – White & Gray Hair

This blue shampoo offsets yellow tones and enhances both gray and white, so it also works well with “salt and pepper” hair.  It contains conditioners that hydrate, plant extracts, and is sulfate, silicone, and paraben free. The majority of users really liked the way the shampoo eliminated the yellow and enhanced the white in their hair (i.e. enhanced their “salt and pepper” hair).  Many also liked how it emphasized the gray. Minor complaints included dryness

3. Rene Furterer Okara Mild Silver Shampoo

This purple shampoo works well with gray, platinum, blonde, and white hair.  It also contains blue pigments to further help with color enhancement. It corrects brass colored tones, enhances brightness, adds softness, and gently cleanses. It contains hamamelis extract, which Native Americans believed was magical, to enhance color, as well as vitamin B5 and soybean.

4. Marc Daniels Powerful Purple Toning Shampoo

This sulfate and paraben free shampoo counteracts yellow and keeps it from returning in both natural and color treated silver, gray, bleached, and blonde hair.  It’s also moisturizing, offers UV protection, and is never tested on animals. Ads claim that it is the only purple shampoo that eliminates frizz. It’s sulfate and paraben free and has no added silicones.   It’s also cruelty free and vegan friendly.

5. Jhirmack Silver Plus Ageless Shampoo

This purple shampoo removes and offsets yellow and brass without leaving any residue and enhances hair’s strength.  It also protects it from environmental and styling damage; softens even coarse hair; moisturizes hair; and, leaves it clean and silky.  It contains natural ingredients such as folic acid, green tea extract, and Macadamia Nut oil. It works on gray, as well as blonde, highlighted, and bleached hair.

6 Pro Voke Touch Of Silver Daily Shampoo

This purple shampoo utilizes a special pigment to cancel out brass, yellow, and dullness.  Brighteners make use of reflected light to enhance shine and anti-oxidants keep hair feeling clean and revitalized. Most users gave this shampoo high marks. Independent reviewers felt it was an excellent value and worked as well as more expensive products.

7. Softly Silver Shampoo Plus Conditioner

This shampoo guards against brass and yellow and works to bring back silver.  It contains panthenol, Aloe Vera, and other conditioners to add shine, body, and silkiness, so it works well on damaged hair.  It’s also safe for sensitive skin and damaged hair. (it’s not clear whether this is a purple or blue shampoo or if it even is a color). Most users were pleased with this shampoo. Some claimed that it still dried out their hair despite the added conditioners.

8. American Crew Gray Shampoo

This purple shampoo diminishes the discolorations that impurities in the air and water cause. It’s formulated with hydrolyzed milk protein to reduce dryness, soften and smooth, and maintain hydration.

9. Phytargent Brightening Shampoo for Gray Hair

This blue shampoo neutralizes gold and brassy tones in color treated and natural hair.  Formulated with cornflower extract and a mixture of rhatay root, walnut leaf, and broom extracts, it especially enhances “salt and pepper” hair and leaves it shiny and soft. The majority of users liked how the product enhanced their hair color and kept it from discoloring.

10. Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed So Silver Shampoo

This purple shampoo offsets brass and yellow tones and brightens grays, blondes, and white tones.  It also adds glittering brilliance to grey and white hair. This shampoo received a very high percentage of positive reviews.  The few complaints centered on packaging issues and some said the product dried their hair.

Many toner shampoo users complained of dryness. As noted earlier, such can happen with the purple and blue shampoos. As gray hair is naturally dry, many experts recommend regular conditioning and some even recommend routine deep conditioning.

There are gray hair conditioners you can easily find online and most of the above toning shampoos have corresponding conditioners.  If your hair is fine, over conditioning can weigh it down. Adjust accordingly if such occurs. Most manufacturers do not recommend daily use of these toning shampoos.  Some of the toning shampoos also have corresponding shampoos. If not, you can use a sulfate free, highly moisturizing shampoo between uses.

The Gray Hair Double Standard

The men of the Golden Age of Hollywood, which took place during the earlier half of the twentieth century, saw some of the most handsome men.  Almost a century later, they’ve yet to be duplicated. The popular men at the time, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Rock Hudson, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, and Steve McQueen, all had graying hair at the heights of their popularity.  Women found Cary Grant and Clark Gable even more desirable with graying hair at their temples.

So, was it the same for women?  Nope. For them, gray hair simply represented getting older and growing less attractive.  While women colored their hair to cover the gray, it wasn’t a topic they freely discussed. One ad called gray hair a “heartless dictator” that would keep a women dressed in drab colors, rule her speech, and limit her to having only “old” friends.  Yet another ad claimed that gray hair would cause a woman to lose friends.

The Gray Hair Trend

Men with gray hair are still considered virile and handsome. Consider George Clooney, Richard Gere, Patrick Dempsey, Ben Affleck, and Josh Duhamel and how they all became popular with gray hair and still maintain their sensual images.

What about women?  Does the double standard still exist?

As the saying sort of goes, change is the only thing that’s constant and change happened to gray hair.  It’s now one of the biggest trends. “Gray is the new black” is a common expression and several surveys indicate that men find women with gray hair sexy, too.

More: Shampoo for Curly Hair

There are, however, two sides to the trend:  

1. Women Who Dye Their Hair Gray

Some women dye their hair gray simply because it is the latest trend, because they’ve tried every other color, and/or because they liked how it looked on Kim Kardashian West, Lady Gaga, and Pink.

Gray can also be part of a hair coloring technique, such as an ombre, balayage, or melt, which combine several hair colors at once, especially “unnatural” hair colors, such as blue, pink, and purple.  An ombre begins with one color at the root and gradually fades as it proceeds toward the ends; a balayage sweeps colors throughout the hair; and, a color melt blends two or more colors into each other.

Should you decide to dye your hair gray or apply a hair coloring technique, you should know that it might require you to first bleach your hair.  Most hair colors can’t directly go gray with one coloring process. While it is pricier than a home box dye, having it dyed at a salon might be better in the long run.  A professional hair stylist will know exactly how to bleach your hair, which mixtures of dyes will properly gray it, and whether more than one process will be necessary to achieve the color you want.  They’ll also how to fix any potential problems should they arise.

2. Women Who Let Their Hair Go Completely Gray

This, of course, takes place when a woman decides to let her hair turn gray naturally.   Should you decide to let this happen, you should know that it can take up to two years for your hair to go completely gray.  You could always professionally dye it to assist the process or get a short haircut. Jamie Lee Curtis, Emmy Lou Harris, Helen Mirren, and Glenn Close are just some of the celebrities who have let their hair go completely gray.

Women who let their hair go completely gray say that it is extremely liberating.  It frees them from:

  • having to find the ideal hair color.
  • dishing out thousands of dollars for hair color, be it for home box dyes or professional salon colorings.
  • proving it won’t make them look old.
  • worrying that it will hurt their career.
  • worrying about looking like they themselves go.

Women who decided to go gray consistently and overwhelmingly report that they feel attractive and some even say they feel more attractive than they ever did before.  Many say that they feel unique and as though they stand out in a crowd. They also say that they receive many compliments, including that they look “sexy.”

Anne Kreamer, author of Going Gray, How to Embrace Your Authentic Self with Grace and Style, wrote that when she dyed her hair brown, she didn’t feel authentic. She also believes women only make themselves believe they look younger when they color their hair.

Caring for Dyed Gray Hair

If you dyed your hair gray, you should follow a color treated hair regime or ask your hair stylist how to best maintain the color. Because bleaching dries out your hair, it is essential to regularly conditioning and hydrate your hair. Gray fades rather fast, so try to use color depositing shampoos and conditioners (you can find them online by simply searching for “color depositing” products).  It’s also best to use sulfate-free, color safe products.

Some of the below suggestions also work for dyed gray hair, too.

Gray Hair Toner Shampoos

As mentioned, women who have let their hair go gray are extremely happy that they did.  They add that women who have tried, but didn’t like the way it looked, may not have known how to properly care for their hair.  Naturally gray hair is usually drier than pigmented hair. It doesn’t reflect light and because it essentially lacks color, it’ll absorb pigments from whatever it contacts (water, sun, shampoo, air), which usually turn it yellowish or brassy.

So, just having the color gray can easily give with frizzy, dull, lifeless hair.  Add in product buildup, heat styling, and a busy lifestyle and your hair can wind up looking really nasty. Gray hair toner shampoos eliminate the yellow and brassy tones from gray hair. There are essentially two varieties:

Purple Shampoo

The shampoo itself is actually purple, but it’s not a dye.  It works scientifically. On the color wheel, yellow is purple’s opposite color, so it neutralizes yellow and brassy tones. Purple shampoos can be drying and some have sulfates. You should use a purple shampoo only as often as you need it and if you have curly hair, look for one without sulfates. Once or twice a week might be enough, or even monthly might be enough.

You could also it only where it’s needed (i.e. only on the yellow and brassy spots), rather than on your whole head, should you feel it is too drying. Purple shampoo works rather quickly, usually instantly, so if it’s effectively working on your hair, you should see results after your first use. For a few, especially those with porous hair and those who keep the shampoo on too long, it could leave purple highlights, which might require color treatment to remove. Too prevent the problem in the future, you can use water to dilute the shampoo. Purple shampoo can also stain clothes and furniture, so be careful when using it.

Blue Shampoo

This shampoo is technically for brunettes and for brunettes who lighten their hair.  The science and process is the same as purple shampoo. Blue is the opposite of orange on the color wheel, so blue shampoo absorbs orange and reddish tones. For some people, purple shampoo doesn’t give the the effects they want and blue shampoo does. Everything else about purple shampoo (use, staining, etc.) also applies to blue shampoo.

Styling Gray Hair

Experts also say that a stylish cut is just as important as maintaining color. Whether you want to look sophisticated, playful, or even rebellious, you should still also look classy and trendy.  Despite advancements, gray is still associated with aging for women and staying up-to-date will help prevent the stereotype. As Jamie Lee Curtis, a gray hair innovator for women, once said, “My stylist keeps my cut edgy and contemporary.  Otherwise I can go Bea Arthur very quickly.”

Some experts say one length cuts bring too much attention to wrinkles and other aging signs, and, while layers frame and soften the face, too many will make gray hair look rough, dull, and unkempt. They instead suggest precision cuts, which have light layers.  They further said that stylists should not use razors when cutting hair as they could easily damage gray hair.

Experts also recommended using lightweight styling products and to avoid those that contain alcohol, as they can dry your hair even further.  There are various gels, serums, and mousses that manufacturers make especially for gray hair. Such products enhance the color and appearance of gray hair and are easily accessible on the Internet.

Enhancing Your Style

Fashion professionals note that gray hair softens natural coloring and that you should consider such when selecting clothing and jewelry. Try to avoid bright colors and pastels.  Jewel tones (ruby, sapphire, magenta, violet, amethyst) go especially well with gray.

Pros also recommend that your wardrobe consist of black, navy, pure white, and jewel toned pieces.  They advised against greens, as such could make your hair also look green, and to also stay away from greys, as too much color matching is aging.

More: Concealer vs. Foundation | Look Younger With Makeup Tutorial

Makeup will only add to your beauty.  Suggestions are as follows:

  • foundation and concealer should be light and natural.
  • bring attention to your eyes and use gray, navy, or brown eyeliner to make them look as large as possible.
  • use an eyelash curler and mascara to help make your eyes look larger and brighter.
  • eye shadow colors should go with your skin tone.
  • use colorful lip colors, such as pinks, peaches, and berry, to brighten and further highlight your face and features.
  • brows are in these days, too, so define them too, but gently.
  • blush is vitally important, so try not overlook it.  Doing so could make you look washed out. Use cream blush as such is more moisturizing.

Though suggestions focused on bright colors and enhancing, you certainly don’t want to go overboard or look heavily made-up either. You want to look bright and fresh, so use your judgment to adjust accordingly.

Loving Your Look

Going gray is more than just about no longer coloring your hair.  It’s about embracing your true self and inner beauty. The women who chose to go gray said that it felt liberating. That’s because it is liberating. It feels amazing to break free from society’s rules and demands and redefine beauty for yourself. Young people are paying lots of money to get what most older people (including their parents) get for free. There must be something to this trend.

Taking care of your hair isn’t just to keep it looking gorgeous. Doing so will keep it healthy and ready for any challenge. That’s why you identified so deeply with your grays. You both might a little older, but you’re still healthy and ready for any challenge. And, still looking gorgeous.