It's true that gray hair tends to be dry, and in some cases it can be coarse, brittle, weak and wiry if your scalp is producing less moisture than when you were younger. Gray hair doesn't have to be dull and drab, but caring for silvery locks is different and a little more involved than caring for non-gray hair. The key to sleek, shiny, glorious gray is to give your hair the special attention it deserves.
To keep your gray hair clean and shiny, wash it every other day, using a shampoo formulated for dry hair. Use a good quality, sulfate-free shampoo; sulfates are harsh and strip the natural oils from the hair. Use a blue-tinted shampoo once every week to prevent yellowing caused by hard water, weather and buildup of pollution and smoke. If your hair begins to take on a blue tint, cut back on the blue-tinted shampoo. Instead of using the shampoo full-strength, mix a drop or two with your regular shampoo.You can also use a clarifying shampoo once a week instead of a blue-tinted shampoo. Shampoo and rinse with lukewarm water, because hot or cold water strip the natural oils from the hair.
Condition to Replace Lost Moisture
Follow every shampoo with a moisturizing conditioner to prevent your gray hair from becoming dry and frizzy. Concentrate the conditioner on the middle and ends of the strands, which are more prone to split and break. Treat your hair to a commercial deep conditioning every week. You can also make an inexpensive, effective deep conditioning treatment by massaging olive oil into your hair. Cover your head with plastic wrap or a shower cap, and then wrap it with a warm towel. Relax for 20 minutes while the conditioner works, then shampoo and condition.
Buildup of hair products can cause dull and drab gray hair. Avoid sprays and gels as much as possible, because the sticky substances coat the hair. If your hair is frizzy or unruly, mist it lightly with hairspray, using just enough to maintain control, or use a dab of lightweight styling mousse. Avoid colored sprays and mousses.
Tips for Healthy Gray Hair
Treat your gray hair gently. Opt for natural styles as often as possible, because flat irons and blow dryers dry out the hair. Be sure to use coated bands if you wear your hair in ponytails, and don't pull your hair too tight. Massage your scalp occasionally with the pads of your fingertips; scalp massage increases blood circulation and stimulates the hair follicles to produce natural oil. Wear a sunhat to protect your hair from harmful UV rays, or use a conditioner with built-in UV protection.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.