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Gray hair is commonly associated with stress, heredity, and aging. However, there’s much more to it than that.
Just like skin, your hair gets its natural color from melanin — without it, your hair would be white. When melanin production starts to slow down, you may start seeing gray hairs.
While some people may color their hair to hide grays, research indicates that frequent permanent coloring sessions can damage your hair. Overall, there’s a current trend that embraces the natural changes in hair color without the perceived “need” to cover up grays.
Graying hair doesn’t mean your hair will fall out, but you do need to start using specialized shampoos to help protect your strands. These include purple shampoos that prevent your gray strands from turning yellowish in tone and those that keep your hair from becoming brittle.
If you’re looking for a shampoo developed especially for gray hair, we provided 11 options we love below.
We chose these because they’re highly rated by online reviews and they contain special ingredients designed to keep gray hair looking great. Note that not all products will have the same results for everyone.
A note on price
Shampoos specially formulated for gray hair can range from around $15 to $50. When shopping, keep in mind the size of the bottle you’re getting. Some products might be sold in small, 6- to 8-ounce bottles, while others might come in economy-sized 30-ounce bottles. We gave each of these products a price rating based on the average price per ounce.
- $ = $2 or less per ounce
- $$ = $2–$3 per ounce
- $$$ = $3 or more per ounce
A brand known for products tailored to different color-treated hair tones, Joico also has a shampoo that benefits gray hair.
Joico’s Color Endure Violet Shampoo contains purple tones to remove brassiness from grays so that they look more vibrant. It also prevents any yellowing of hair.
This product is meant to be left on for at least 3 minutes for best results. It isn’t intended for daily use — the company recommends alternating the product with another from the Color Endure line. While reviews are mostly positive, some users complain that the synthetic pigments can cause dryness and brittleness.
A salon staple, Redken is known for its various shampoos that care for colored hair. So it’s no surprise that it has its own product tailored for gray hair.
Whether you’re naturally gray or you’ve recently dyed your hair silver, Redken’s Color Extend Graydiant Shampoo can help remove yellow or brassy tones so that your locks look their best. It also has amino acid
proteins to help strengthen your hair.
This product must be left in for 3 to 5 minutes, and some people find that the synthetically derived gray pigments can leave their hair feeling dry. It’s best for gray and silver strands rather than white locks.
Klorane’s Anti-Yellowing Shampoo with Centaury uses some of the same principles as more conventional gray hair shampoos to take away the brassy tones that can make those locks look dull.
However, unlike traditional shampoos in this category, Klorane’s product uses centaury, a plant-based ingredient that has natural blue-violet tones, rather than synthetic pigments.
This may help avoid the drying effects of synthetic pigments, though it does contain some other synthetic ingredients, like sodium laureth sulfate.
It’s suitable for all colors of graying hair, including darker grays, silver, and white. Some online reviewers comment that they don’t care for the smell.
Long considered a market staple for blonde and gray hair, Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo deposits purple tones in your hair to remove yellow and brown tones.
This product is intended for color-treated and natural hair types, and it’s said to help create a “cooler” color look overall. It can help enhance natural grays and refresh color in faded highlights.
Overuse of this shampoo can dry out your hair due to its purple pigments, so it may not be a good choice for dry or damaged hair. For best results, leave the product in your hair for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing.
Like Klorane, Aveda is known to use more natural and plant-based ingredients in its products. Their Blue Malva Shampoo uses natural blue-tinted pigments from malva flower extracts to reduce brassiness in your gray hair without possible damage from synthetic ingredients.
It has a light scent derived from eucalyptus and ylang ylang oils. As a bonus, Aveda practices environmentally friendly manufacturing and uses some recycled plastic in its packaging.
Similar to those by Joico and Clairol, this shampoo from Sachajuan deposits purple pigments into your hair to help neutralize potential brassiness. As a bonus, this particular shampoo also offers ultraviolet protection.
This ultra-hydrating shampoo works particularly well for dry hair while also adding volume to your locks. It may not be the best choice for oily or curly hair, though.
While online reviews are mostly positive, some users report buildup after use.
As with other brands mentioned on our list, Philip Kingsley’s Pure Silver Shampoo is a good selection for gray hair because of its purple pigments. This shampoo removes yellow tones to reduce discoloration of your gray and silver strands. It’s suitable for all hair types.
While it’s great for adding shine, another product may be better if you’re looking to add volume.
Touted as one of the first purple shampoos of its kind, Matrix’s Total Results So Silver Shampoo deposits pigments to neutralize warm and yellow tones. It can be used for blonde hair to enhance brightness and shimmer, but it’s perhaps even better for natural shades of gray, silver, and white. It can be used daily.
Some users report irritation and dryness from the sulfates and fragrances in this shampoo. If you’re sensitive to either, it may not be the best choice for you.
Like Matrix’s So Silver line of products, L’anza’s Healing ColorCare Silver Brightening Shampoo is intended for all shades of gray, silver, and white hair, as well as blonde tones. Instead of depositing chemical-based purple pigments though, this shampoo touts the use of natural purple tones found in lavender and viola flower extracts.
The use of plant-based ingredients makes it great for dry hair and sensitive scalps. It also contains no sulfates.
While originally designed for blonde hair, the Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo is also great for gray and white locks. A purple-pigmented product, this shampoo helps remove yellow tones and brassiness. Lemon and chamomile extracts help brighten highlights and increase shine, while keratin proteins increase moisture and help prevent damage.
Unlike other chemical-based products, Drybar’s Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo is gentle without over-stripping your hair. However, it’s not intended for daily use — use this product twice a week at most.
This product has a strong scent, which may bother some users.
Like Drybar’s Blonde Ale Brightening Shampoo, this product from Amika works for blonde and gray hair. Its violet pigments help remove yellow tones all without the use of harsh ingredients.
Amika products contain sea buckthorn berry, which is rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E. It’s thought that sea buckthorn berry in this shampoo helps protect against sun and environmental damage.
This product is safe for all hair types and doesn’t contain any sulfates, parabens, or formaldehyde. It’s also cruelty-free.
Reviews are generally positive, though some users felt that it left a residue on their hair.
Aside from treating gray hair from the inside out, you also need to look for gentle shampoo ingredients that are most appropriate for this hair type, including:
Since gray hair is also weaker than fully pigmented strands, it’s important to look for shampoo ingredients that won’t damage your hair. You should consider steering clear of the following:
- parabens, which are preservatives in many hair and skin care products
- synthetic dyes, when used for a long time. While products like Redken, Joico, Clairol, Sachajuan, Philip Kingsley, Matrix, Drybar, and Amika are great for reducing brassiness, you may want to only use them a few times a week.
- sodium sulfates, which can over-strip moisture from already dry gray hair
Maintaining your gray hair’s shine and luster requires specialized shampoos that are specific to your color — much in the same way that color-treated, damaged, and thin hair all have specific needs to maintain their shine and luster.
Try one of these shampoos and give it a few weeks to see the full results. If you’re not happy, move on to another until you’ve found the right fit. For best results, remember to always follow up with a conditioner tailored for gray hair.