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How to Make Gray Hair Soft and Shiny

Patricia Lantz C.Ht.
mature couple

At the first sign of gray hair, many individuals rush to a hair colorist and spend an incredible amount of time and money coloring their gray hair. Others believe nothing suits them better than their own "silver streaks of wisdom." While silver streaks can be dazzling, gray hair can also be tricky, time-consuming, and expensive to maintain. If you want to rock gray hair, below are some tips for keeping it soft and shiny.

Keep Your "Streaks of Wisdom" Looking Good

When gray hairs appear, they tend to be dryer and more brittle than other hair colors. So, to ensure your gray hairs stay stays soft, silvery, and shiny, it's essential to use the right shampoos and conditioners. Moisturizing shampoos and conditioners are the foundation for soft and shiny gray hair.

Purple Shampoos and Conditioners

Purple shampoos and conditioners can increase the dazzle factor by combating gray hair's tendency to take on a yellowish tinge by giving it a silvery glow. Purple conditioners typically have a more subtle effect. You can use either or both, but you should commit to using a shampoo with blue or purple pigment at least twice a month.

Still Struggling?

If you're using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and still struggling with dry, frizzy, or dull gray hair, you may also want to add a deep conditioner, hair mask, or daily leave-in conditioner.

Conditioning Masks

Deep Conditioners or masks are typically thick and heavy, bind to the scalp and hair, and need to stay on the hair for a while. Deep conditioners can be used as often as necessary but should be used at least once a month.

  • QuickSilverHair Kit contains QuickSilverHair Clay and oil. Combined, they condition and brighten dull, drab, and yellowing gray hair. They are cruelty-free and made with organic ingredients.
  • VERB Hydrating Mask is a restorative deep conditioning treatment that nourishes and adds shine and softness.

Leave-in Conditioner

A good leave-in conditioner makes hair softer and more manageable. It reduces fly-aways, tames frizz, and keeps curls soft and smooth. These can be used every time you style your hair.

The Less Stylers, the Better

Heavy styling products, such as waxes, muds, pomades, gels, sprays, and even some finishing oils, can build up on the hair, dry it out, and make your hair look drab, so less is better. Also, remember that colored styling products can stain your silver locks. So, stick to products that are white, clear, or have a faint purple or blue tint.

Deep Cleansing and Detox

If there's one simple way to inject a mirror-like shine and much-needed moisture back into your locks, it's detoxing your hair with deep cleanser. You may want to consider using a clarifying shampoo once a month to get rid of any buildup, followed by a deep conditioner. This is especially important if you have hard tap water or live in an area where pollution is more substantial.

Homemade Gray Hair Smoothies

If you're turned off by over-the-counter products, a great alternative is a homemade gray hair smoothie made from nutrient-rich foods. These can be made by whisking or blending one or more of the items below together until it's a paste with the consistency of soft butter.

  • Mayonnaise makes your hair softer and shinier
  • Avocado pulp is full of amino acids and proteins that penetrate deep into the hair.
  • Extra virgin coconut oil, rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, softens air and helps it shine.
  • Olive oil is filled with emollients, which keep your hair soft and manageable
  • Eggs contain vitamin B, D, E, and fatty acids, all of which will help with brittle hair, flaky scalp, and shine.
  • Shikakai mushroom added to your smoothie adds softness and shine.
  • Himalayan Pink Salt to kick-start a detox
  • Blueberry juice (small amount) can add a silvery glow

To Apply

To apply your smoothie:

  • Begin with clean towel-dried hair
  • Use a hair color brush to apply your smoothie at the scalp, then work it through to the ends.
  • Massage the product or use a wide-tooth comb to ensure even application.
  • Cover with a cap and wait 20 minutes
  • Rinse out thoroughly and shampoo as usual.

Color Gloss

Gray hair is not as light reflective as dark hair. So, you may need to cheat a bit to boost its shine. Different from a glaze, which also promotes shine but doesn't last as long, hair glossers fill in the raised hair cuticles, which makes hair more reflective. Results? Super shiny head of hair in fabulous condition!

Gloss Treatments

You can invest in a salon glossing treatment or do it at home. Results typically last a month, but that depends on how often you wash your hair.

  • Shades EQ Crystal Clear is available in Salons that use Redken color. Shades EQ Clear, along with its Processing Solution, are also available online. However, if you visit a salon, Shades EQ is also available in 10 silver or gray shades you can play around with.
  • If you want to skip the salon appointment, Kristin Ess Hair Gloss in Crystal Quartz is an at-home gloss that can enhance the silver tones of your hair.

Highlighting Gray Hair

When dark hair begins to turn gray, it can have a dramatic salt and pepper effect. However, when dark blonde or light and medium brown hair begin to go gray, it starts to dull down. This is when you may want to consider adding some highlights. There are a couple of ways this can be done that work well. It's best to consult a hair colorist about which is best for you and how to maintain each.

Subtle Highlights

You can use a color gloss in a lighter color than your natural hair on your entire head. Doing this will cover your white hair with a bit of color. When blended in with your darker color, your hair will look like it has subtle highlights, and your entire head of hair will be shiny.

Dramatic Highlights

You can play up and brighten your graying hair with silver highlights. Highlighting your hair and then using a silver gloss on your entire head as a toner will create a more dramatic silver-haired look.

Dial-Up the Shine

If you want to dial up your shine a bit more, you can try a clear finishing oil. Avoid any with a yellowish tint, these can stain the hair over time. Also, take care that the shine product you use is not too heavy or greasy for your hair.

  • O&M Fizzy Logic gives gray hair a shiny boost and also cuts down on frizz and flyaway.
  • Extra Mist-ical Shine Spray is a super light glossing mist that's lightly moisturizing and non-greasy. It's also thermal protective and has a unique formulation that results in radiant hair.

Pro Tips

All gray hair is different, so, the most important pro tip is to experiment to see what works for you. Other pro tips:

  • Soft and shiny gray hair is likely to include working in different shampoos and conditioners into your hair care routine.
  • Naturally curly and coarse grey hair needs more moisture and deep conditioning.
  • Fine grey hair needs less conditioning. Over conditioning, fine grey or white hair can make it heavy and lank.
  • Curly fine hair will require experimentation but may work best with leave-in conditioners.
  • Be careful of over-styling or using too much heat. If you use a blow-dryer or iron, prep your hair with a heat-protective spray.
  • If you're out in the sun, protect your hair from UV rays by wearing a hat or scarf.
  • Regular exercise and a diet filled with nutrients, proteins and lots of water help ensure your hair has what it needs to be healthy.

Silver Foxes

If you truly want to rock gray hair, you'll need the right makeup and fashions. However, what you'll need most of all is a shining silver crown that defines your ageless beauty. So, take care of your precious silver hair and watch it and yourself shine and blossom.

How to Make Gray Hair Soft and Shiny