Gray or white hair can be stunning, but it needs special care. Because gray and white hair lack pigment, strands reflect what clings to them day in and day out — think: chlorine, pollution, smoke, minerals from water, and even certain hair care product debris. These outside forces work to dull even the most vibrant hair colors, but on white and gray hair, their lackluster effects are much more noticeable and can appear as a yellow cast.
What’s more: Natural pigment acts as a shield, helping protect hair from environmental stressors like UV rays. Once these pigments decrease, your hair loses some of its natural defense against oxidation and, therefore, yellowing.
To counteract the dingy yellow that often plagues gray and white hair, try a color-depositing shampoo. The silver, blue, or violet pigments in these shampoos work to temporarily neutralize yellow and orange tones, returning hair to a vibrant gray, silver, or white.
Here we run down our favorite shampoos created specifically for gray hair.
Redken Color Extend Graydiant Shampoo
Formulated specifically for gray hair, this shampoo is part of a two-step pigment program: It neutralizes yellow with violet pigments; the accompanying conditioner (not shown) brightens hair further with custom silver dyes. Available at ulta.com.
Oribe Silverati Shampoo
Even the whitest of strands will be returned to their sterling beauty with this gentle cleanser, which not only rids hair of unwanted yellow using blue and silver pigments, but also defends against the oxidative stressors that cause dulling and discoloration in the first place. Available at oribe.com.
Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo
Long turned to when brassy tones needed busting in blondes, this color-enhancing shampoo also zaps yellow from gray hair using deep-violet pigments. Just be careful: Left on too long and it will turn your gray temporarily lilac. Available at target.com.
Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo
This shampoo deposits violet pigments uniformly to provide a seamless, even-toned neutralization of unwanted yellow as it gently clarifies hair of what’s dulling it. Available at ulta.com.
Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo
For the eco-minded, this shampoo derives its blue pigment from the blue malva flowering herb, which also soothes scalp conditions, moisturizes, and acts as a mild clarifier. Available at aveda.com.
Are you ready to go gray? Here’s some advice.