How To Look After Grey Hair
Wondering how to look after your grey hair? Whether you’ve spotted your first grey, you want to ditch the dye, or enhance grey hair to rock silver strands, embracing grey hair is now a thing.
Once you’ve decided to embrace your grey, it’s simply a question of how to look after grey hair.
I advocate taking an individual approach.
Having said that, as I’ve talked to clients over 35 years in the salon, there are some common questions: from choosing the best grey hair products to the best hairstyles for grey hair, how to enhance grey hair, how to soften coarse grey hair to how to transition from coloured hair to grey.
If you’ve been dyeing your hair up to this point, you may have questions about how to make grey hair shine and how you can enhance your grey hair naturally.
Salt and pepper hair can look incredible. It’s nature’s gift, and with some know-how, you can make it shine, giving you a fabulous grombre.
I’ve put together a list of the most common questions for everything you need to know about how to look after grey hair and enhance what you’ve got.
Attitudes to Ageing
We can’t talk about grey hair without talking about the shift in attitudes to ageing.
I think this is important. That’s because it does have an impact on how you feel about the process of ageing.
In particular, what going grey means for you; how you see yourself and how you perceive others see you.
I’ve been in the hairdressing business for a long time, and I’ve seen many changes.
One of the most positive changes is that women of all ages and younger women, in particular, are choosing to embrace their grey hair.
It’s very much a personal choice, but I love that women are celebrating their natural grey.
If you are undecided about growing in your grey, I recommend taking some inspiration from the fabulous Karen Williams seen here on Instagram.
Table of Contents
The Texture of Grey Hair
I’ve been working with hair for over 35 years, and, in my experience, restoring moisture to hair makes the most difference.
Whenever I get a question about how to care for grey hair, I think it’s helpful to talk about the hair’s texture.
That’s a good starting point in understanding what your hair needs to look and feel its best.
So, as I run through some of the common questions below, I’ll be talking a lot about hair texture. I’ll be talking about how your hair looks but also how it feels. Plus, I’ll talk about how you can enhance your grey hair naturally.
Caring for Grey Hair
As hair becomes grey, it does change texture so, if your usual hair products are not working, it’s time for a rethink.
I’ll start by busting a myth; grey hair is thicker. That’s not always the case. Although some of us can go grey in our teens, most of us will start to get more grey hair in our thirties.
As we age, hair tends to become finer, not thicker, and our scalp produces less sebum (natural oil produced by our sebaceous glands to moisturise hair).
The reduction in sebum results in drier hair and can give grey hair a rough, wiry texture. That’s why grey hair is described as coarse.
So when thinking about how to care for grey hair, there are two things to consider.
- The texture of grey hair can be wiry and coarse.
- Grey hair tends to be finer and drier.
I’ll talk about how you can soften coarse grey hair whilst adding moisture and volume.
How to Soften Coarse Grey Hair
As mentioned above, we produce less sebum as we age. Consequently, our hair gets less moisture. That causes the texture of our hair to change, becoming more coarse and wiry.
Simply put, our hair needs to get moisture from other sources. In my experience, the best way to soften coarse grey hair is to treat it with a deep conditioner. But that’s not the whole story.
Choose a deep conditioner for grey hair that adds moisture to the hair. It should smooth the hair cuticle. It’s best to avoid anything too heavy. Remember, grey hair might look thicker and coarser, but often the hair is finer.
Keep reading to discover my favourite ingredients for deep conditioning to soften and smooth coarse grey hair.
I put my trust in the following three ingredients to soften and smooth coarse, grey hair.
- Pro-Vitamin B5 penetrates the outer layer of the cuticle to get moisture right to the core of the hair. An effective deep conditioning treatment, it puts moisture back into your hair helps improve the texture of the hair. Plus, it will feel fuller, giving your hair more body.
- Glycerin protects against moisture loss, making it the perfect partner for Pro-Vitamin B5. Pro-Vitamin B5 adds moisture, and Glycerin helps your hair hold on to moisture.
- Vitamin E smooths the outer cuticle to lock in moisture and leave hair with a shinier, silkier, softer finish.
I use these ingredients across my haircare range because of their effectiveness in adding moisture to the hair without being too heavy. It’s a delicate balance. Grey hair needs additional moisture, and it is possible to do this using a lightweight product formulation.
I developed my deep conditioner, Restore and Shine Hair Masque, to deliver moisture and smooth the cuticle. At the same time, it plumps out the cuticle to leave hair feeling fuller.
It’s highly concentrated to deliver moisture and doesn’t leave any residue.
It’s the perfect hair product to enhance grey hair, leaving it shiny and manageable.
Which shampoo is best for grey hair?
Choose a shampoo to give grey hair volume.
You can increase the body in finer hair by choosing a volume-boosting shampoo. One of the best ingredients for getting volume in hair is pro-vitamin b5.
A natural ingredient pro-vitamin b5 penetrates the cuticle, getting moisture right to the core of the hair.
When hair is moisturised from within it plumps out the cuticle, making it thicker and giving the hair more volume and body.
If you want more volume-boosting tips for your hair, check out our blog Salon Know How: How to Care for Fine Hair.
How to look after grey hair: How do you keep grey hair moisturised?
We’ve discussed that grey hair tends to be a combination of fine and dry.
Once you’ve chosen a good quality shampoo to give hair body, choose a hydrating conditioner to give grey hair the extra moisture it needs.
As well as thinking about which products are best for grey hair, its also important to think about how to take care of grey hair.
Building a routine of regular conditioning is the route to getting grey hair to look its best.
So here’s the second myth I’d like to bust. The more often hair is washed, the drier it becomes.
I don’t agree and I’ll explain why below.
Build a routine of cleansing and conditioning for healthy grey hair
With over 35 years in the hair business, I’ve washed many heads of hair, and in my experience, hair that’s cleansed and conditioned the least frequently is the driest.
All hair, including grey hair, looks its best with a routine of cleansing, conditioning and a deep conditioning hair mask treatment.
The vital point here is that you are not just washing your hair.
You are cleansing your scalp, and you are moisturising your hair with conditioner. When the scalp is clean, it provides the best environment for healthy hair growth.
When hair is too dry, some common problems occur. Hair becomes prone to breakage, tangling and fly-aways.
The only way to combat this is by keeping hair hydrated.
For best results, keep grey hair moisturised
The best way to add moisture to hair is with regular conditioning.
So when thinking about how to look after grey hair, I recommend a routine of regular cleansing with a good quality gentle shampoo and hydrating conditioner.
Washing the hair 2-3 times a week works as a general rule. For afro hair once a week or every 2 weeks depending on how hair is treated and styled.
If you feel you need to wash your hair more frequently, that’s fine too. The main thing is to keep your scalp clean and free of build-up and keep your hair well moisturised.
Looking after your hair is not that different from how you look after your skin. It’s simply a question of understanding what your hair needs based on how it responds. Take some time to notice how your hair responds and adapt.
Choose a moisturising conditioner for grey hair
When my clients ask me how to look after grey hair, I encourage them to think about their hair in the same way as their skin.
Skin and hair are essentially the same.
Both are made up of keratin, and both need moisture.
As we age, we need more moisture.
Choosing a quality moisturising conditioner is one of the best things you can do when caring for grey hair.
A lot of mass-market conditioners contain silicones.
Silicone is a type of plastic that coats the hair and gives it a slippery feel.
It gives hair the feeling of being hydrated without actually giving any moisture to the hair.
This coating can be heavy on the hair, leaving it flat.
Pro vitamin b5 adds moisture and body to grey hair
I formulate our natural conditioners with pro-vitamin b5.
That’s because it’s one of the few ingredients that can penetrate the hair’s outer layer, adding moisture right to your hair’s core. It’s a stand out hair care ingredient and the best deep conditioner I have found.
When your hair has moisture at its core, it plumps out the cuticle making hair feel and look fuller with more body.
Here's how to get the most from your conditioner
Apply conditioner to the ends and mid-lengths of the hair. Avoid the roots.
Work the product up in the palm of your hands before you apply.
This approach gives an even spread of conditioner on the hair.
It’s a great way of avoiding a build-up of product in one area of the hair.
Hydrate and Shine Conditioner is concentrated. That means you don’t need a lot of product.
I recommend using around half the amount that you would use with other products.
If you want extra moisture, don’t apply more product, leave it on for a little longer.
Also from our blog – How to care for curly hair…
How to look after grey hair: Why is my grey hair so wiry?
Whilst our hair becomes finer as we age, it’s not uncommon for grey hair to feel and appear more wiry and coarse.
That’s because, as we age, our sebaceous glands in the scalp produce less sebum.
Sebum is natural oil produced by the body to add moisture to our hair.
Because we naturally produce less sebum as we age, grey hair becomes drier and tends to have a rougher texture.
The answer is to add additional moisture.
So how do you add moisture to grey hair?
If your grey hair is wiry, and you’re wondering how to look after grey hair, the best place to start is with a weekly hair mask treatment.
If you have yet to experience the moisture-boosting benefits of a weekly hair mask, you’ll be amazed at how a regular, weekly treatment can soften, smooth and shine grey hair.
Using a weekly deep conditioning hair mask will help to soften, smooth and shine grey hair
The best way to achieve hydrated hair is to use a good quality deep conditioning hair mask once a week, every week.
How to use Restore and Shine Hair Masque
Restore and Shine Hair Masque is my go-to-product for a deep condition.
It adds moisture to the driest of hair types and its our best deep conditioner for grey hair.
As with all my products, I developed Restore and Shine Hair Masque’s exclusive formula with pro vitamin b5. Pro vitamin b5 gets moisture right to the core of the hair.
The reason Restore and Shine Hair Masque is effective is that it then locks in the moisture with the best quality cuticle-smoothing ingredients.
Why is my grey hair so dry?
We’ve talked about the scalp producing less sebum as we age and treatments for dry grey hair. With less of this natural oil, grey hair tends to have a rougher, drier texture.
There are ways to combat dry hair.
Try these simple changes reduce dryness and maintain moisture in grey hair.
- Regular conditioning and a weekly hair mask treatment will help build and retain moisture in dry, grey hair.
- Leave your conditioner on for a couple of minutes longer to let it soak up the moisturising ingredients.
- Sleeping on cotton pillows can cause hair to become dry and rough. Choose a silk or satin pillowcase to reduce hair breakage as you sleep.
- Turn down the heat on the hairdryer. Choosing a cooler setting is less drying for grey hair.
- Turn down the heat in the shower. Washing hair in warm water rather than hot water is much less drying for the hair.
- Use a styling protector before styling to reduce heat damage and breakage.
My multitasking Styling Range detangles, offers styling protection and contains Keratin and Argan oil to treat split ends.
Model, Yasmina Rossi wears her long, grey, flowing locks with STYLE.
How do you keep grey hair healthy?
Get into a good routine, and your grey hair can look and feel healthy.
Over the years of working with all hair types, including grey hair, I’ve learnt a lot about how to keep hair healthy.
Here’s my definitive list for keeping grey hair in the best condition.
- Look after your scalp. If your scalp is clean and healthy, it’s the best environment for healthy hair growth. We use Nettle in our Revive and Shine Shampoo as it balances scalp condition and improves circulation. If the scalp has good circulation and a healthy flow of blood, healthy hair grown is supported.
- Keep ends in check. Drier hair tends to be subject to more breakage. If you let split ends linger, they tend to ride up the hair shaft, damaging more of the hair. See your stylist for regular trims.
- Give your hair a day off. If you use heated styling tools, they can be drying for grey hair. Let your hair air-dry at least once a week. Why not combine this with a weekly hair mask treatment? Never used a hair mask? Take a look at our recent blog on hair masks and discover why you should build this essential treatment into your weekly hair care routine.
- I like to take a holistic approach to healthy hair. Eating a balanced diet, including fruit and vegetables, is the best way of ensuring you grow healthy hair. Vitamin C found in many fruits and vegetables helps the body absorb iron. Iron helps the body to grow healthy hair.
- Drinking water is not only good for your skin. Hair loves it too. Keep hydrated for healthy hair.
Model, Roxanne Hancock looks FABULOUS with her salt and pepper short grey hair.
Are short haircuts better for grey hair?
Not necessarily. As we’ve discussed, grey hair does tend to be finer. Generally, short and mid-length styles give more options for fine, grey hair.
But that doesn’t mean you have to cut your grey hair short.
For grey hair to look its best, two things are vital.
Firstly it must be hydrated and in good condition.
Secondly, it needs to be well-cut with a balanced shape. Take some time to talk to your stylist about what style would work best for you.
How can I make my grey hair shine naturally?
The secret to shiny, grey hair? Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate your hair!
That’s the same for all hair but more so for grey hair.
As grey is naturally dry, you need to do a little bit more to restore hair shine.
When hair has moisture, it shines. So if you’ve got a good routine of regular hair conditioning and a weekly hair mask treatment, that will give you a good foundation.
Once your hair is conditioned and deep conditioned, what you do next is vital.
Your choice of styling product can make the difference between dull, flat hair and full-bodied shine.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate your Hair with Restore and Shine Hair Masque
Here are my Dos and Don'ts for choosing the right styling products for grey hair.
- Do choose styling products that condition as well as style. There was a time when the only styling products available contained harsh ingredients such as alcohol denat. They dried the hair leaving it dull. Not anymore. There are plenty of innovative styling products on the market. Choose a styling product that conditions as you style. That will help to maintain moisture and shine.
- Do use a product that has styling protection. Heat is drying for the hair. Reduce the impact of heated styling by choosing styling products that give styling protection.
- Do use styling products that boost the moisture of the hair. My latest ingredient in my mission to banish dry hair is Sugar Beet. Sugar Beet increases the water retention of hair fibres and helps hair hold moisture for longer. Styling Mist for Natural Hold and a Glossy Finish contains Sugar Beet to maintain moisture and shine in between washes.
- Don’t use waxes. They are tricky to wash out. They tend to build up on the hair and scalp, clogging up the scalp and making the hair look dull.
- Don’t use heavy oils on your hair. Oils sit on the hair, attracting dirt from the atmosphere and making hair look dull.
Add Moisture and Shine as you Style with Styling Mist for Glossy Finish
Condition hair as you Style. Sugar Beet increases the water retention of hair fibres and helps hair hold moisture for longer.
Here’s what the Beauty Bible had to say about my Styling Mist for Natural Hold and Volume,
“We are never, ever short of recommendations for luscious 100% pure hair masks. There are more and more excellent natural shampoos around, too. But natural styling options? Rarer than hen’s teeth. Hats off, then, to Ogario London* for this lightweight styling mist, which makes for increased hold and volume while making your hair smell fresh, citrusy and downright gorgeous. (It’s infused with lemon zest.)
Other ingredients include antioxidant vitamin E, strengthening pro-vitamin B5, oats (for hydration and strength) and honey (not sticky, by the way, but just a touch to prevent static).
The result? Shiny, swingy hair that holds its shape. And while this formula may never rival the industrial strength styling aids from mainstream haircare brands, it’s going to make for very happy hair days for natural beauties.”
* Ogario’s hair masks are hugely popular with Beauty Bible testers. And with us.
Shiny, swingy hair that holds its shape with Styling Mist for Volume
How do I transition from coloured hair to grey hair?
If you are ready to kick the hair dye and grow in your natural grey, make a plan to transition.If you’ve been covering grey hair for some time, it may feel like a big step to stop colouring your hair.
So, if you’ve decided to go back to your natural colour, it’s good to have a plan.
It takes time to grow in your natural colour and, having a plan will help you on those days when you want to reach out for the hair dye and cover the regrowth.
In my experience, women come to this decision at different points of their life and for differing reasons.
Begin the process without a plan, and it’s easy to be consumed by doubt.
There are different options for transitioning from coloured hair to grey hair.
Below you find my thoughts on the options for transition.
Grow in your grey hair naturally
I call this the ‘just do it’ approach. Stop colouring your hair and let the regrowth show through.
This approach is all about attitude with a capital A.
The regrowth of your natural colour will leave a harsh line in the hair, but it’s the least costly and with the right attitude you can make this work.
- First off, get some inspiration from the #silversisters of Instagram. These women are out and proud, showing off their regrowth of grey hair and doing it in style. If you are having a bad day and that harsh line is getting you down, the #silversisters will give you the inspiration to keep going.
- Keep your hair in good condition. A weekly deep conditioning hair mask is essential. If your hair looks hydrated and shiny, your hair will look better and you’ll feel better about it during this transition phase.
- Get a great haircut. A well-balanced shape with plenty of movement can give you a fresh new look. Different styles can take away the emphasis on those pesky roots or you could even make a feature of them. Talk to your stylist about what would work for you.
- Get your lipstick on. This is where the attitude comes in. It’s not just about lipstick. It’s about washing and styling your hair, putting on your make-up, holding your head up high and feeling confident about your choice to show off your beautiful, natural colour.
Growing in Grey Hair
Speed things up with a shorter style
Short styles are not the only option for grey hair.
However, during the transition period, if you want to speed up the process, this is one option. A shorter style and regular trims will speed things up.
I recommend booking a consultation with your stylist. Try different textures and shapes to see what works best for you.
Erin O’Connor is a good example of someone who understands what shapes work for her. As far as I can remember she’s always opted for shorter styles.
What I think is interesting about her style is that she’s kept length at the front of the hair to give her the option to put her hair into different styles.
In the first image, she’s created a deep side parting and I love how she’s using the different colours of her grey hair to enhance the style. She’s not hiding the grey or trying to cover up. It’s enhancing her style.
In the second image she’s slicked the hair straight back. It’s a completely different look. It’s a good example of how versatile short cuts can be.
Why not experiment as you transition to grey hair and have some fun?
Erin O’Connor keeps length at the front of her short grey hairstyle giving her different styling options.
Can I highlight grey hair?
Yes, you can. Highlights or lowlights are a great option if you want to soften your natural colour. My advice is, don’t try this at home. Speak to a professional colourist in a hair salon. They’ll be able to advise you about the best blend of colours for your hair.
Remember, colouring hair is drying, so keep hair hydrated with a deep conditioning hair mask.
Transition to grey hair with highlights and lowlights
Highlights and lowlights are a great way of softening the line you get from regrowth in the first few months of transition to grey.
Talk to a professional colourist about the best colour options for your hair.
Treated professionally, your grey hair can be worked into the colour as natural highlights and give you a more natural look.
It’s a great way of gently growing in the grey. It’s vital to keep hair well hydrated during this process, and I recommend using a hair mask for dry or colour-treated hair to keep your hair in good health throughout.
Actress, Emma Thompson has lowlights blended with her natural colour to soften her grey hair.
Semi-permanent colour to transition to grey hair
I’ve always preferred the option of using semi-permanent colour when helping clients make the transition from coloured hair to grey.
That’s because semi-permanent colours are much more gentle on the hair than permanent colour.
They don’t fully cover the grey, and the grey becomes a natural highlight, giving different tones to the hair.
As the semi-permanent colour washes out of the hair, you can avoid the hard line that comes with permanent colour-treatments.
Talk to your stylist about this option for growing in your natural grey hair.
Those are just a few questions I've had during my years in the salon about how to look after grey hair.
I’ve summarised the key points below:
- Grey is generally finer and drier. Choose a shampoo for volume and a conditioner for moisture.
- Grey hair needs regular cleansing and conditioning to keep it hydrated. Just like your skin. Wash and condition 2 to 3 times as a general guide.
- A weekly deep conditioning hair mask. The best hair mask for grey hair will hydrate whilst giving it body and shine. It will help smooth and soften wiry grey hair.
- Reduce dryness and breakage of grey hair by sleeping on a silk or satin pillow, turn down the heat on your hairdryer and wash hair in warm, not hot water.
- Grey hair can shine naturally if you keep it hydrated. Avoid drying styling products and opt for styling products that condition the hair.
- Short cuts are not the only style for grey hair. Keep hair in good condition, with a great haircut, and any length of hair can work.
- Are you transitioning from coloured to grey hair? Talk to your hairdresser and make a plan that works for you.
Norris Ogario is founder and Creative Director of Ogario London. Developed in his London salon, the Ogario London haircare products reflect his belief that hydration is the key to fixing most hair problems. You can style hydrated hair with ease. Plus, hydration leaves hair shiny and healthy. Norris has over 35 years of hair know-how. With expertise in all hair types; from dry hair to fine or grey hair, from frizzy to damaged or bleached hair, curly hair and afro hair, Norris offers his expert advice.
Over the years, I’ve talked to and helped a lot of customers with dry hair concerns.
I write about all aspects of healthy hair, from how to smooth frizzy hair to caring for bleached hair.
I share expert salon tips and techniques for looking after all hair types.
I’ve suggested some further reading below, but please look at our Healthy Hair Care Blog to find more articles.
The way we style and care for our hair is not the only factor determining hair health and shine. I know that good nutrition is vital.
Discover how you can choose the best foods for hair growth in my blog, Healthy Hair: Choose the Best Foods for Hair Growth.
Did you know that colour treatments have a significant impact on reducing moisture in the hair? Particularly, if you bleach your hair.
For further reading on dry hair, Salon Know How: How to Moisturise Dry Hair is a must-read.
Have you tried styling your hair with leave in conditioner? It’s a great option for adding moisture to hair, prior to heated styling. Because, it gives hair the best foundation for styling, without compromising the health of your hair.
Curly Hair Care
Curls come in many shapes, sizes and textures but there is one thing they all have in common; curls give hair natural body, volume and movement. Getting volume and movement in hair is the holy grail of hair styling and if you have curls, you’ve got it naturally. Find my advice on caring for curly hair. Read More >
Get Shiny Hair
Working with clients in my salon over the years, I’ve achieved shiny hair with even the driest of hair types. Quick fixes are tempting and often give a temporary fix. However, sometimes they leave hair feeling drier and more lacklustre.
Stop Frizzy Hair
This blog is all about taking the frizz out of your hair and out of your life.
I’ll be covering ground such as what causes frizzy hair, the best products for frizzy hair and how to stop or get rid of frizzy hair.
I’ll also be tackling some common questions about dry, frizzy hair with questions such as, How can I tame frizzy hair naturally? or What’s the best anti frizz spray?
Find out how you can have frizz-free, glossy locks! Read More >
Leave in Conditioner
I am a fan of leave in conditioners for hair styling. That’s because, during my time in hairdressing, I’ve found that many styling products are too drying for hair.
Leave in conditioners offer a great alternative. That’s because, multitasking leave in conditioners can be the difference between dull hair and shiny hair. Additionally, I love how they leave hair with natural movement. Read More >
Bouncy Blow Dry
Creating a Bouncy Blow Dry for long hair does take a little time and can be tricky if you aren’t used to using brushes.
However, doing some upfront prep and breaking the process into small, easy steps will give you the best results. So, without further ado, here’s how you can achieve a bouncy blow dry without getting hot under the hairdryer. Read More >
Ogario London is a salon developed range of natural hair care products. We are passionate about our products, and, delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. Do you have questions about our products? Or, would you like advice on the best products for your hair type? Maybe have another question about how to look after your hair? If you do, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Beauty Bible Recommends
Restore and Shine Hair Masque was awarded best hair mask in the Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible Awards. As an independent hair care brand, we are incredibly proud to be recognised alongside some of the industry’s biggest haircare brands. Because I spend time ensuring that our products deliver the best results, I couldn’t be happier to get this review and win this prestigious award.
Here’s what Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey had to say,