Do You Really Need a Separate Shampoo for Gray Hair?

Want to finally pick up a grey hair shampoo? Find out what to look for in this toning essential.

Aging, for the most part—and from this side of science fiction—is still pretty much inevitable. As for the signs of aging, well, modern cosmetic science has done as much as it could for that part: We’ve nipped and tucked and paid a pretty penny to reverse and slow Mother Nature’s roll. Seeing people wear their naturally gray hair out unbridled is becoming a rarity in the world these days; a lot of us have basically done everything else to convince the world of the contrary. The deliberately gray look however has been alive and bustling for the past couple of seasons. This trend, fondly referred to as “Granny Hair,” has urged a lot of its fans to embrace a separate hair care regimen entirely catered to the needs of super-ashy strands. Proponents of this look absolutely swear by the benefits of a specific shampoo for gray hair, a product we’ve found can also help the naturally graying retain some vibrancy.

So what exactly is in a shampoo for gray hair, and how can it help your locks? Is it a ride-or-die essential, or a superfluous product that we can honestly live without? Read on:

First off, some definitions: If a product is marketed as a shampoo for gray hair, it’s most likely a toning shampoo. What this means is that its primary job is to neutralize any brassiness and to restore brightness in ashy hair colors, oftentimes blondes, silvers and grays. Usually caused by sun exposure as well as different kinds of water that hair is exposed to, brassiness manifests as a yellow-orange tint that can make ash-based colors like gray, silver or cooler blondes look dull, cheap and slightly muddy.

shampoo for gray hair with curls
Both naturally gray and dyed gray locks can benefit from a toning shampoo.

1. Tones and conditions

Whether your gray hair is natural or dyed, the best shampoo for gray hair is one that both tones and conditions. A shampoo that brightens dulling strands, clarifies hair from any brassy buildup and conditions strands to feel soft and look healthy are things to look for in a good grey hair shampoo. We like the neutralizing and brightening effects of a purple toning shampoo, like Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo, which also has conditioners and cleansers to detangle and control frizz. Followed up with a conditioning treatment, such as Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Reconstructor, which gives dry, damaged, over-processed hair a much-needed boost, and your strands are back on track.

2. Shampoo for silver hair?

Those looking for a shampoo for white hair or naturally salt-and-pepper locks can also benefit from a toning shampoo. This helps brighten your ashy pigments and removes any unwanted yellows. The trick is finding a formula that also moisturizes as it tones, and to get in the habit of using a protective spray whenever heat or pool exposure is inevitable. We love how Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Toning Protection Spray comes in a tote-friendly bottle, ready to detangle and protect your hair from heat and brassing while on the go (it smells delish, too!).

The bottom line? Whether natural or manufactured, gray hair can benefit from a toning shampoo that moisturizes as it brightens. Use it twice or thrice a week—in lieu of your regular shampoo—to help maintain your ashy tones and to prevent yellowness from creeping in.