There’s no official countdown or way to predict when it will happen, but hair will turn gray at some point. And when hair turns gray, the color isn’t the only thing that changes. It’s common for hair to adopt a new texture and flexibility, too.
“Hair texture can, indeed, change once you have gone gray,” says Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. “Of course, other things will influence it as well. For example, chemical treatments, overuse of heating tools like blow-dryers and flat irons, dyes, and bleaches — and a very oily scalp which can be seen in dandruff. White or gray hair can sometimes, but not always, be coarse, wire-y, dry hair, and be difficult to manage.”
To keep hair strong and smooth, the focus of your haircare routine once you’ve gone gray should be hydration and brightness. Look for shampoos and conditioners that are formulated with hydrating ingredients, such as nourishing oils like macadamia, argan, and almond, and vitamins C and E.
Gray hair can also develop a yellowish tint — not unlike the plight that blondes are familiar with. So, the other concern is neutralizing these unwanted brassy tones so that gray hair looks shiny and vibrant. To achieve this, Linda de Zeeuw, master colorist at Rob Peetom Salon in New York City, says to use a color-depositing shampoo or conditioner or a gloss, and to avoid styling products that have gold tints to them all together.
“Use these [color-depositing] products once every three weeks, because they add pigment to the hair,” she explains. “If you use them during every wash, it will cause too much build-up of pigment which can make the hair look darker or even purple!”
The only other thing you should differently when you have gray hair? Limit how often you use hot tools. Both Dr. Fusco and de Zeeuw say that heat can make already dry hair even more dehydrated. If you do need to use a blow-dryer or flat iron, be use to prep hair with a heat protective spray.
Here, every product you need in a gray haircare starter pack.
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