Going grey is a natural and normal part of the ageing process. It affects 74% of people between the ages of 45 and 65 – though some people will go grey much earlier.
Over the years, hair dye has become a popular option for covering up greys. However, more and more people are now ditching the dye and embracing their silver locks.
The benefits of going grey are vast, with saving money, looking younger, and mental freedom from the worry of grown-out roots being some of the top reasons that people are making the transition. Letting your greys grow can also add warmth to your complexion and provide natural highlights, giving your hair a new level of dimension and volume.
Hair often goes grey at an age when our oil glands (which are attached to hair follicles in the scalp) are producing less oil than they used to – which is why some people say that their grey hair is drier and coarser. But with some TLC, it’s possible to have soft, shiny, voluminous grey hair that you’ll feel proud to show off.
Whether you’re already grey, are making the transition, or feel ready to hang up your hair dye, we’ve come up with nine tips to help you get the most out of your grey hair.
Why do we go grey?
Hair follicles (the holes in our scalp that anchor hair to the skin) contain pigment cells. These pigment cells make melanin, which gives our hair strands colour. As we age, these pigment cells die out and stop producing melanin, leading to white hair.
How early we go grey is usually determined by our genetics, and while it’s more common to go grey during mid-life, some people start going grey in their 20s, 30s, or even earlier. The age our parents or grandparents started to go grey is often a good indicator of when we’re likely to ourselves.
The journey to going grey is usually very gradual, and after noticing their first grey hairs, it can take a person more than 10 years to go grey completely. The process is usually more noticeable on people with dark hair, as it creates a ‘salt and pepper’ look, where the lighter strands stand out more.
9 tips for gorgeous grey hair
1. Improve hair health from the inside out
While there are plenty of external things you can do to care for your hair, the saying ‘beauty comes from within’ certainly rings true when it comes to the health of your tresses.
If you’d like to improve the strength and thickness of your hair, staying hydrated and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you achieve this.
Research also shows that certain vitamins and nutrients can be particularly effective for helping your hair to grow strong and healthy – mainly…
Vitamin A – which is needed to make sebum (the oil produced by our scalp). Sebum keeps our scalp and hair moisturised and healthy, and we make less of it as we get older. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and cheese are all rich in vitamin A.
Iron – helps to make sure the hair follicles are served by a nutrient-rich blood supply. If iron levels are too low, then hair loss can occur. Foods rich in iron include shellfish, spinach, and organ meats like liver.
Vitamin C – is particularly good for hair when eaten alongside iron-rich foods, as it helps the body absorb it. Vitamin C also stimulates the production of collagen, which is used to build strong, healthy hair structures. Blueberries, strawberries, and broccoli are excellent sources.
Vitamin E – is a powerful antioxidant that protects and preserves a healthy scalp, giving your hair a strong base to grow from. It’s found in nuts (especially almonds and peanuts), vegetable oils, and veggies like spinach, avocados, and squash.
Zinc and selenium – also good for scalp protection. A lack of these minerals can lead to a dry, flaky scalp and hair loss. They also play a key role in growing and repairing hair. Foods rich in zinc and selenium include eggs, beef, turkey, and shellfish.
Biotin – this water-soluble b-vitamin (also known as B7 or vitamin H) is helpful for hair growth because it causes hair follicles to grow faster and stimulates the production of keratin (the protein that hair is made of). Foods with high biotin content include eggs, nuts, seeds (such as almonds, peanuts, and walnuts), and salmon.
If you’ve got an air fryer, why not tune in to our Rest Less Event on the 20th November to learn how to make these tasty salmon bites?
Omega-3 – these fatty acids play an important role in oil production in the scalp. Oily fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel, and plant sources, such as pumpkin seeds, avocado, and walnuts, all contain omega-3s.
As hair is made of protein (keratin), eating a diet high in protein can also help to give your hair a boost. Check out our article, 12 high protein meal ideas, to learn more and get inspired.
2. Protect your hair from UV damage
Like our skin, hair can also become burnt or damaged by the sun – and hair that lacks pigment is even more prone to this.
Luckily, there are lots of hair products that contain UV filters. This means they can reflect harmful rays and prevent them from penetrating the hair shaft and causing damage.
Examples of popular hair products that have UV filters include…
- Sebastian Professional Potion 9 Hair Styling Treatment
- Philip Kingsley Swimcap Water Resistant Mask (which also protects against chlorine and sea salt)
- Charles Worthington Hair Sunshine Protection Leave-In Spray
3. Smooth the transition
When transitioning to grey, it can be tricky to work with hair with two different colours and/or textures. But there are some things you can do to make the journey to a full head of grey hair smoother.
If you have dyed hair and you’re waiting for it to grow out, you could consider adding highlights to make grey roots less obvious. You can also add highlights to natural hair during the grey transition to make the process seem more seamless (as it can take many years).
If you’re considering highlights, it’s best to speak to a professional hairdresser about this, as they’ll know how best to help you blend your greys.
If you don’t want to resort to hair dye or bleach, you could consider using root cover-up products, such as Color Wow – a coloured powder that you can add to hair roots to help them blend in with the rest of your hair. Color Wow stays in while swimming or exercising but washes out with shampoo.
Another option for smoothing the transition from dyed hair to grey hair could be to cut your hair very short and let it regrow fully grey. Though this can be a big change, and it won’t appeal to everyone.
However, even if you decide to keep your hair long, it’s worth getting regular trims to gradually remove old dyed ends as new grey hair grows in and keep your hair healthy.
4. Be gentle with your hair
Because grey hair is often drier, it can be more likely to suffer from damage caused by heat styling or rough handling. Therefore, it can help to avoid heat styling and explore other ways to style your hair instead – such as these heatless curls.
It can also help to keep hair brushing and combing to a minimum and use a wide-toothed comb, as it’s easier to detangle hair with one of these without causing breakage. Some people prefer to comb their hair very gently when it’s wet and covered in conditioner, as this can help the comb glide through more easily.
You could also consider investing in a silk or satin pillowcase as, unlike cotton pillowcases, these don’t dry hair out. A silk pillowcase will also keep your hair much neater and prevent it from tangling too much – so that less combing or styling should be needed come the morning.
Other tips include not overwashing your hair (as this can dry it out more), avoiding shampoos that contain harsh chemicals (such as sulphates and silicones), and using a microfibre towel to dry your hair rather than a regular one.
5. Restore moisture with deep conditioning treatments
Grey hair is often drier and coarser because it tends to appear at an age when the sebaceous glands in the scalp have started to produce less oil.
Dry hair is more brittle and prone to breakage because it’s less elastic. But this can easily be remedied by using hydrating hair products.
Hair professionals often advise using a cream to nourish hair strands, followed by oil to seal them (which can protect them from splitting) and add shine.
Some good leave-in conditioners that you might like to try are…
- Moroccan Oil Treatment For All Hair Types
- Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Leave-In Conditioner
- KeraCare Leave-In Conditioner
It’s also worth using a conditioning mask at least once a week, as these can offer a deeper level of nourishment. For example…
- The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask
- Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask (which enhances and enriches your natural grey colour too)
- Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque
If you’re looking to save money or keep things completely natural, you could also apply a coconut, almond, or olive oil mask to your hair weekly. Simply leave it on for at least an hour before following your usual shampoo and conditioning routine. Or, for an even deeper condition, cover hair with a shower cap, leave the oil on overnight, and wash it off in the morning.
You could also try making your own hair masks at home, which can help with everything from dry hair and dullness to a flaky scalp. All of the masks in this list from Good Housekeeping use natural ingredients, such as honey, eggs, and apple cider vinegar.
6. Consider using a bond builder
If your hair is particularly damaged from bleach or heat damage, then, as well as keeping it hydrated, you might also want to try using a bond builder to repair strands from the inside.
Bond builders strengthen existing bonds in hair strands, mend broken ones, and seal split ends – all of which help to prevent breakage.
Olaplex is one of the most well-respected, popular bond builders around – it’s pricey, but it can be very effective (just check out the reviews)! There are a range of different Olaplex products on offer, including shampoos, conditioners, and bonding oil – which can be used together for best results.
Or, to save time and money, you could skip a few steps and just use Olaplex Treatment No.3 a couple of times a week (in the same way you would a hair mask). Simply apply it to towel-dried hair, leave for 10 minutes (or longer if desired), and then shampoo and condition as usual.
7. Prevent yellowing
It’s easy for hair that has little or no pigment to pick up colour from the environment. Sometimes smoking (including second-hand smoke), certain medications, oil from your scalp, or too much sun or chlorine can cause grey hair to turn yellow – among many other things.
To enhance your natural grey colour and reduce the appearance of yellowing, you might want to consider using shampoo and conditioners with violet or blue tones, as these will neutralise yellow tones and help to keep hair white. In the same breath, it’s also worth avoiding shampoos and conditioners with yellow tones.
Some popular shampoos and conditioners with violet or blue tones include…
- Fudge Professional Purple Toning Shampoo
- Fudge Professional Purple Toning Conditioner
- Touch of Silver Shampoo and Intensive Conditioner
- L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Silver Shampoo
- L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Silver Neutralising Cream
A more natural method that you can use to remove yellow buildup from hair is an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week (you can buy apple cider vinegar from most supermarkets).
This method cleans hair, improves scalp health, and makes hair stronger and healthier. If you’d like to give it a try, you can find out how to make your own apple cider vinegar rinse on the Bragg website.
8. Consider changing up your hairstyle
Hairstyles can determine a lot about how confident a person feels about their hair and change your look entirely.
If you want to make the most of your grey hair, styles that are youthful, classy, and low maintenance are generally a good bet. It can also help to choose something that frames and compliments your face shape.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, Helen Mirren, Jamie Leigh Curtis, George Clooney, and Patrick Dempsey are examples of celebrities who have embraced grey hair over the years (and looked fabulous while doing it!).
Alternatively, check out our article, Get the look: Top 12 hairstyles for women over 50, which includes everything from loose curls to a sculpted bob. Or, to see some of the best grey hairstyles for men – including short waves and dreadlocks – check out this article from TheTrendSpotter.
9. Wear colours that compliment your grey hair
Grey hair can look particularly striking and elegant when worn with certain colours. Beauty experts recommend black, white, charcoal, and deep jewel tones (such as emerald green, sapphire blue, citrine yellow, and ruby red).
Check out our article, 10 tips for dressing with colour and confidence, for more ideas.
From saving money and celebrating your natural beauty to no longer having to faff about with hair dye or worry about grown-out roots – there are plenty of benefits to making the most of your grey locks.
Even better, grey hair has never been more fashionable, so much so that some men and women are choosing to use hair dye to achieve a silver look.
Not all of the tips in this article will work for every hair type, as everyone’s hair is different. But we hope they will, at the very least, start you on a journey to feeling more confident about embracing your natural roots.
For more tips and advice, why not check out the fashion and beauty section of our website?
Have you embraced your natural grey hair? Do you have any hair care or style tips that you’d like to share with others? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.