What You Need To Know About Caring For Gray Hair

For most people, gray hair is an inevitable part of life. Generally occurring after a person turns 30, hair strands experience a reduction in pigment due to a decline in melanin-producing cells (via theĀ Cleveland Clinic). The low levels of melanin give gray hair its appearance, while white hair has no melanin at all. Though this is a natural part of the aging process, stress and smoking have been linked to accelerated graying hair.

Society has long been obsessed with hiding the signs of aging, particularly in women, leading many people to dye their hair after it turns gray or white. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with coloring your hair, there are some surprising benefits to embracing your grays. According to Mane Addicts, gray hair helps to define your signature look. Gray is also chicer than it's ever been, with younger people commonly experimenting with silver and ice tones. If you do decide to embrace your gray hair, all the power to you! There are just a few things you should know about caring for it.

Gray hair care basics

It may come as a surprise that caring for gray hair involves using a specialized shampoo and conditioner (via John Frieda). You can get a range of shampoos and conditioners designed for gray hair, with some containing extra hydrating properties to battle the dry texture that gray hair normally carries. Alternatively, you can get shampoos that neutralize brassy tones in gray hair and give it a cooler, more silver hue. If you find that dryness isn't really an issue for your gray hair, opt for a purple or silver shampoo to get rid of unwanted yellow tones.

Speaking of shampoo, gray hair often needs to be cleaned more frequently than other hair. This is because dirt shows up more obviously when the strands have reduced melanin (via Philip Kingsley). Experiment to see what feels the best for your hair, but you might find that washing and conditioning every day works for you. In addition to staying on top of your washes, Philip Kingsley also recommends incorporating a weekly hair and scalp mask into your routine to keep your hair hydrated. Using shampoo and conditioner that support your gray hair is a great way to care for your locks, but there are also a few more things you can do to protect gray hair and keep it healthy.

Protecting your gray hair

Gray hair is more vulnerable to external stimulants like pollution, styling products, and UV light (via Chatelaine). This is because it lacks pigment, which protects hair from these factors. You can protect your hair from sun damage by spraying a UV protectant, which is especially important during summer. You might benefit from using a UV protectant all year if you live in a location with lots of sun exposure.

As gray hair is more fragile than hair with more pigment, you should generally take care of your hair by being wary of things that can dry out or harm any type of hair, such as heat styling. Karma Beauty explains that not only is gray hair more porous and prone to damage from heat styling, but any damage will also be much more visible. You can even end up with patches of discoloration from heat styling. The website recommends using a heat protectant spray when using tools like heat stylers and flat irons, using only high-quality tools with temperature control, and reducing the number of times you heat style per week. Alterna Haircare writes that you can further protect your gray hair by sleeping on a satin pillowcase, which decreases friction and pulling that can distress your hair.

When cared for properly and kept healthy, gray hair is shiny, radiant, and beautiful. If you want to save money on hair color, don't be afraid to rock your naturally gray hair!