There's never been a better and more on-trend time to embrace your grey hair and once you've made the shift you may be wondering if you need to change how you look after your hair. Wonder no more as we have the expert advice you’re after
You’ve washed and styled your hair your whole life knowing exactly what you were doing, but if you’ve now entered a new era of embracing your grey hair then you may have found yourself googling ‘how to care for grey hair’, along with the other 821 million people (actual figure!). Because let us tell you now, going grey has never been more sexy and gorgeous.
Case in point, actress Andie MacDowell who, at 65, walked the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week in the L’Oréal Paris Défilé show showing off her salt and pepper grey hair. Not far behind was 78-year-old actress and national treasure, Dame Helen Mirren with her silvery white locks.
So, if you’ve joined the grey side and are wondering whether you need to change the way you care for grey hair, there are a few tweaks that will help it look healthy and glossy and avoid dullness or yellowing.
“Some people say the grey hair is less manageable, but I think it is a matter of learning how to care for and style it," says Silvina Neder, who embraced her grey hair and changed careers from a market researcher to a grey hair model after embracing her natural colour. When she couldn't find products that suited her new hue, she developed her own range, Silvina London, for grey, silver and white hair. "My grey hair is stronger, healthier than before, as it grows naturally, free from the chemicals in hair dye.”
Why does hair go grey?
Fundamentally, “there’s nothing different about grey hair compared with non-grey hair," says stylist Michael Douglas, "apart from the fact that it no longer has melanin in it, the natural pigment that makes up people’s natural hair colour.”
As we age the melanocytes (the cells in our follicles that produce pigment) stop producing as much pigment so while we say ‘turning grey’ it’s not that your hair is changing to another colour, it’s actually that the hair is colourless. “Grey hair is actually hair growing out as a clear, translucent tube,” explains Douglas.
This means that grey hair can appear a little more dull. “When light hits a dark surface it bounces off. When light hits a lighter surface it gets absorbed and can pass through it,” explains Douglas. “So, generally grey hair isn’t as shiny as dark brown hair.” Thankfully this is where clever glosses and shine-inducing products come in.
How do you moisturise grey hair?
This is where we need to put some grey hair myths to bed, such as the assumption that grey hair is drier and coarser. “Lots of people’s grey hair grows with the same texture and feeling as it did when it had colour in it,” says Douglas. “Some people may feel that their hair feels drier, but this is separate from it being grey. It’s because the surface of the hair has become rougher and this is really more of an age thing, but of course, the two can happen at the same time.”
Just as with our skin quality decreases with age, the same is true of our hair. "Our hair cells aren’t the big, plump, fresh and shiny ones of our youth so as we get older all of our hair, whether it’s grey or not, will start to feel less soft and look less shiny.”
So to answer the question, how do you moisturise grey hair, if it is dry, use a deep conditioning treatment a few times a week alongside a good conditioner. Douglas recommends using one for bleached or coloured hair (even though your hair doesn’t have any colour) because they are the most hydrating.
Should you wash grey hair everyday?
“I wash my hair every day,” says Neder, “however, the thing I struggled with when I went grey was finding a shampoo and conditioner that worked with my new colour. I needed a blue shampoo to avoid brassiness, but all those that I tried (from mainstream to most expensive ones) were full of nasty chemicals, made my hair badly dry, and worst of all, if I used any of them twice in a row, they left an artificial blue shade on my hair.” One of the drivers for Neder to create her own products, and we can confirm that her shampoo does not stain hair.
If you are new to grey, 'hair staining', and not just from blue shampoo, will now be something you’re more aware of. “Because hair essentially looks white, you can see pollutants more easily as they can show up more on the hair," says Douglas. That means you may see dirt and product build-up o the hair and scalp more obviously than before you were grey. So if you’re living in an environment where there’s lots of pollution you may need to use more of a clarifying shampoo that lifts dirt off the scalp. If you go swimming in water with copper sulphate in it (lots of pools in holiday resorts contain copper sulphate) then you may notice your hair colour can end up look a bit yellowy. Again, a decent purple shampoo will help as well as a product like Philip Kinglsey Swimcap, £20, which is a water-resistant, protective hair cream.
In short, with just a few tweaks to the type of shampoo and conditioner, the way you care for grey hair is easy.
The ultimate how to care for grey hair kit
The detoxing shampoo: OGX Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, £7.99
A brilliant clarifying shampoo that will remove any evidence of dirt and debris from white and grey hair. It's also super gentle on the scalp and an excellent price and the shampoo that Douglas recommends.
The daily shampoo: Silvina London Everyday Grey Hair Shampoo, £24
A blue shampoo but not one that will sap all the moisture out of your hair and created by Neder to be gentle enough to be used every day. It contains 93 per cent natural ingredients including the blue dye which is made from a natural starch derivative, which doesn't stain the hair even when used daily. It has a corresponding conditioner but if your budget doesn't stretch to both then we recommend prioritising the shampoo.
The toning shampoo: L’Oréal Paris Elvive Colour Protect Purple Shampoo, £6
If you’re looking for a once-a-week purple shampoo to keep brassiness at bay then this is a great option, plus by using it just once a week means you will swerve any potential staining. It is very purple so be prepared to rinse your shower down after!
The deep conditioning treatment: Bleach London Reincarnation Mask, £7.50
This thick and creamy mask is for bleached and over-processed hair but is a fabulous option if your grey hair is starting to feel dry and a bit more coarse. Leave it on for as long as you can and then rinse out.
The brightening serum: Provoke Touch Of Silver Brighten & Defrizz 3-in-1 Purple Serum, £4.50
A very clever first-of-its-kind serum that not only defrizzes and smooths hair down but thanks to the purple pigment will instantly brighten grey and white hair. It can be used before blow-drying or on dry hair to smooth away flyaways and seal split ends.
The customisable toning drops: Bouclème Colour Toning Drops, £20.25
These clever drops can be added to your regular shampoo, conditioner or even styling products to transform it into a toning treatment for whenever you feel your grey is looking brassy. The brand recommend using 2-3 drops when adding to a washout product and 1 drop when adding to a leave-in product.
The shine enhancer: Dphue Gloss+ in Sheer, £35
If you’re looking to get your grey hair looking super shiny then you can’t go wrong with this clear gloss treatment which is identical to one you could have done in salon. You apply it to clean damp hair, leave it on for anywhere between 3 and 20 minutes, the longer the better, and then rinse out.