The 9 Most Important Products to Invest in If You Have Gray Hair, Stylists Say
For shiny and smooth gray hair, this is what experts say you should splurge on.
No matter your hair color or length, it's always smart to invest in products that strengthen and revitalize your strands. But it's even more important to do so as you age, as gray hair is more susceptible to damage and thinning and therefore requires special care. Keep reading to hear from stylists about the nine products you'll want to purchase if you have gray hair. From special serums to styling tools, these items are well worth the investment for luscious and strong locks.
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Coconut oil is widely known in the beauty world as a product that can do everything from removing makeup to soothing dry skin. Turns out, it's also good for your hair.
"This magical oil moisturizes gray hair, smooths the cuticle, nourishes the follicles, and hydrates the scalp," says Madison Dufour, a licensed barber and cosmetologist.
If you're trying to conceal your grays, it may help with that, too. "With just a few drops of lemon juice mixed with coconut oil, your gray hair will blend into the rest of the darker hair," adds Dufour.
"Don't be afraid of purple shampoo! While it's not recommended for all hair colors, it can be used once a week as a toner for gray hair to keep a fresh and beautiful tone," Valcin explains.
If you're looking for a shampoo that won't break the bank and will also gently hydrate your hair, Valvin recommends using Barcelona by Pulp Riot.
Unlike purple shampoo which counteracts unwanted tones, toners keep your natural hair color from fading or becoming dull.
Though some toners can be harsh enough to strip your hair of nutrients, professional barber Khamis Maiouf loves Wella's True Gray Graphite Shimmer Dark Toner. "It contains gray oxidative pigments that fade naturally, making it gentle on your hair. While other toners often include ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, barium, PPD, and other dangerous compounds, this toner has no scent or alkalizing ingredients."
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Color-Extending Shampoo and Conditioner
Not to be mistaken for hair dye, color extenders gently brighten your hair color, neutralizing any unwanted brassy tones. As a bonus, they also noticeably soften and de-frizz gray hair.
"Typically, the texture of gray hair is different from other hair types," explains Gina Rivera, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites. "For this reason, the use of good professional products recommended by a stylist is key to keeping gray hair soft, beautiful, and shiny. Further, a good product line can also prevent gray hair from casting a warm yellow hue."
If you're looking for a good extender at a great price point, Rivera loves the Color Extend Graydient Shampoo or Conditioner by Redken. "It's a perfectly balanced shampoo and conditioner that strengthens the hair while simultaneously combatting brassiness."
Leave-in treatments are great for all hair types, but gray hair definitely benefits the most from their conditioning properties.
"Keeping hair hydrated with leave-in conditioner is important because when using heat, the water and moisture in the hair is steamed out, leaving the hair dry and encouraging the cuticle to lift, seeking out other moisture in the air," explains Dufour. "If you use a leave-in conditioner, that is the moisture that will be lifted out."
Ben Clarkson, the founder of New Hairline, recommends looking for leave-in treatments that have nourishing ingredients such as jojoba, shea butter, and avocado oil. "These will penetrate and nourish the hair deeply. It's also a good idea to avoid anything that will dehydrate and dry out your hair."
In terms of the leave-in treatment he most recommends, Clarkson is partial to Garnier Whole Blends' Smoothing Leave-In Conditioner. "It controls frizz for 24 hours, is paraben-free, safe for everyday use, and enriched with a natural blend."
If you don't have any leave-in treatments at hand, you can always use a heat protectant, which aids in nourishing and protecting the hair before you style it.
"Gray hair is much more susceptible to damage and discoloration from high heat than any other hair color," notes Jessica Jones, a hairstylist at Twisted Sister Salon. "I love the OGX Heat Protectant Spray because it protects hair up to 400 degrees, and the Argan oil enhances the sheen of gray hair."
In addition to shielding from heat damage, protectants have "conditioning agents that work to keep your hair looking shiny and healthy," says Valcin. He likes to use Argan Oil Plus Moringa Oil by CHI on his clients.
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Quality Styling Tools
When using heat on your hair, no matter if it's a blow dryer or a straightening iron, you risk causing some damage to your beloved locks. That's why it's essential to use the best quality tools to minimize any excess heat destruction.
Katie Emery, the founder of Katie Goes Platinum, advises those with gray or graying hair to limit time using heat tools and only use tools with multiple heat settings. "My number-one pick for a blow dryer is the Dyson Supersonic—it is excellent. Yes, it's very pricey, but I feel that it's worth every penny! It offers four different heat settings, but I recommend using it on either the no-heat setting or the lowest heat setting."
Emery also cautions against purchasing any inexpensive dupes on the market. "Most cheaper curling irons, blow dryers, and flat irons out there just get TOO hot. Dyson products are worth the investment as they do NOT damage your hair if used properly and are so well made that you'll have them for years."
Valcin's favorite blow dryer for gray hair is the IQ Blow Dryer by Gama Professional. "It is easy on the hair which is important for gray hair as it can sometimes be brittle. It also leaves the hair with a stunning smooth finish."
All hair brushes are not created equal. "Gray hair can sometimes need a little TLC, so I advise my clients to use a soft boar bristle brush for combing their hair," notes Jamie Mazzei, creative director for NuBest Salon & Spa in Manhasset, New York. "A synthetic version of a soft boar bristle brush works well too; both are gentle on the hair while also effective in detangling and distributing oil from the scalp down to the hair shaft." His personal favorite is the Pocket Boar Bristle Hair Brush by Mason Pearson.
Gwenda Harmon, hair and beauty expert at Power Your Curls, knows how much frizz can ruin an otherwise good hair day. "Frizzy hair can be a common issue for people with gray hair. So, to combat frizz, look for a serum that contains silicone or other smoothing agents."
To achieve the best-looking results, Harmon says to "apply a small amount of serum to damp or dry hair, focusing on the ends and working your way up. Make sure to avoid the roots to prevent greasiness."