How to care for and style grey hair

Grey hair is a natural part of ageing and embracing it can be a liberating and empowering experience. However, caring for grey hair requires a slightly different approach to maintaining coloured or natural hair. Here’s how to keep your silver locks looking healthy, vibrant, and stylish.

Choose the right daily shampoo

Grey hair tends to be drier and more delicate than pigmented hair, so it is essential to choose a shampoo free from sulphates and parabens.

A good sulphate-free shampoo is gentler and will not strip your hair of its natural oils. The same is true with conditioner; it is crucial to use a mild formula created especially for grey hair. Choosing shampoos and conditioners formulated for grey hair will reduce the yellowing often seen in grey hair.

Use a clarifying shampoo every week

Using a gentle clarifying shampoo once every week or two will keep your hair and scalp healthy without stripping away essential moisture. 

Don’t be afraid of purple shampoo

“The absence of pigment in grey hair can cause hair to turn yellow due to product build-up, metals and minerals in our water, heat styling, sun exposure, and other external factors,” notes Nina Rubel, creative director and head of colour at Rob Peetoom Salon in Williamsburg.

Purple shampoos and products designed to counteract brassiness can help maintain the cool, crisp tones of your hair. 

Use soft water over hard water

Hard water is water that contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions, which leads to product build-up on hair. It can also change the natural pH of hair making it more prone to breakage.

Soft water is generally better for washing hair, as it is less likely to cause dryness. 

Soft water also provides a better lather, helping you cleanse your hair thoroughly without using excess product. If you have hard water at home, consider investing in a water softener for your shower head. 

Moisturise and treat

Grey hair’s thirst for moisture is unquenchable, making conditioning a crucial step in your routine. A hydrating mask or deep conditioner, perhaps infused with natural oils such as shea butter and coconut oil, will replenish your hair’s moisture levels. Choose a treatment that promises to revive dry, damaged hair without weighing it down. It will leave your hair soft and manageable.

Rinsing with cold water after using a conditioner helps seal the cuticle and retain moisture.

Repair and protect

A leave-in treatment can work wonders for protecting and repairing grey hair, which is more vulnerable to damage. Look for products that strengthen the hair and shield it from the stress of styling and environmental factors. Hair repair masks are a great way to reverse damage while protecting the hair from future stress and wear and tear.

Keep your scalp healthy

A healthy scalp is the foundation of healthy hair. Serums and treatments designed to balance the scalp can address issues such as dryness, oiliness, and inflammation, ensuring that your hair has the perfect environment to thrive.

Focus on growth and strength

Products dedicated to strengthening grey hair and promoting growth are invaluable investments. Look for treatments that combine natural oils and ingredients known for their restorative properties, such as biotin and hyaluronic acid.

Use heat with care

If you use heat styling tools, it’s essential to protect your hair from potential damage. “When grey hair is overworked with hot tools, it can become dull and turn a yellowish tone due to the heat so proper protection is a must,” says Ms Rubel.

Heat protectant sprays shield your hair up to high temperatures, preventing dullness and discolouration.

Update your styling arsenal

As your hair changes, so should your styling products. Lightweight gels, volumising liquids, and mousses can provide hold and moisture without weighing down your hair. For added volume and texture, explore products that cater specifically to the needs of grey hair.

Opt for a microfibre towel when air drying your hair

A microfibre towel absorbs more water than a regular towel, making it suitable for drawing out excess moisture before air drying your hair. It also helps prevent frizz and friction while maintaining the effects of the conditioner. 

When drying your hair with a towel, avoid rubbing it all over your head, instead, use a tapping or blotting motion.

Avoid tying hair while it dries

Tightly tying wet hair can cause breakage, tangles, and scalp irritation, especially if it is done frequently or for long periods. 

Let your hair air dry naturally or use wider hair bands or scrunchies to minimise split ends.

Seal in the goodness

As a final step, a drop of hair oil can remedy dry, brittle strands by locking in moisture. Delicately comb through a light hair oil to add shine and softness to wet or dry hair without weighing it down, especially if hair is feeling extra coarse.

Have you found a product that works wonders for your silver locks? Do you have a styling secret that keeps your hair looking fabulous? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Also read: The ‘risk’ of letting your grey hair grow out

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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