So, it’s official. You have decided, once and for all, to do it, to go gray.
Well, congratulations! This marks a milestone in maturing, in acceptance of yourself, and in loving yourself. You’ve tackled the Why, now comes the How in the transition process. It may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured we’re here to help you every step of the way.
When transitioning to gray, you may notice that your hair can sometimes appear to have a yellow-ish or brassy tone to it. You’ve gone through the process of growing it out, and now you have to deal with off tones? Not necessarily. But first, let’s look at why this happens to begin with.
Hair turns gray or white due to a loss of pigment, a.k.a. the natural coloring in your hair. Because there is a lack of pigment in the hair now, it can actually pick up color from various environmental factors all around us. These can be picked up from things such as the sun’s UV rays, shampoos with yellowing ingredients, chlorine or other chemicals in shower water, or even oils and free radicals from your scalp being deposited onto the hair strands. Environmental hazards are all around, but there are ways to fight them off and to have the gray/ white strands that dreams are made of. Let’s dive in.
First, let’s look at the sun, but as a quick PSA: please do not actually look at the sun. Now that that’s out of the way, although we all love basking in the glory of her rays, the sun can actually do a good amount of harm to our hair and scalp. UV rays lend to bleach the strands of our hair, which in turn, strips the cool blue tones we love and leaves behind the yellow tint we want to avoid. To prevent this type of discoloration, try wearing a head covering or adding an SPF spray to your routine when you know you’ll be in the sun for an extended period.
One of the most unsuspecting culprits out there is actually the shampoo you use on your hair nearly every day. Tons of shampoos out there have a yellow base to them. Naturally, your hair will easily pick up pigment from this if it is exposed on a daily basis. A super simple way to combat this is to use a clear shampoo instead. If you want to go a step further, you can even make the swap to a purple shampoo or hair mask, like the Silver Lining masque, from Better Not Younger. These not only will prevent yellowing from poor shampoos, but will actually work to neutralize any yellow pigments in the hair to leave you with the cooler tones you crave.
Along with causing your hair to become dry, brittle, and frizzy, chlorine and other chemicals found in your shower water can cause your hair to yellow. Known as “hard water,” these chemicals oxidize your hair, causing it to become lighter and making it more susceptible to color change. It also can cause your hair to become dull, as the oxidation roughens the cuticle. A simple way to prevent this form of yellowing from happening is to install a filter in your shower head. Easier than it may sound, these attachments can be found everywhere from Amazon to Home Depot to Walmart, and are incredibly easy to attach.
Scalp oils and free radicals
Similarly to the way hard water changes your hair’s identity, the buildup of oils and free radicals can cause your gray/white hair to turn yellow. Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal from “normal” molecules, leaving your hair and scalp vulnerable to damage such as yellowing. These come from our environment in the form of pollution, smoke, the sun, oils and more, and build up on the scalp, clogging the hair follicles.
Unfortunately, avoiding free radicals is pretty much impossible; however, there are steps you can take to help your hair fight these off. First, check your diet. Antioxidants play a key role in protecting your skin and hair from damage, so make sure you’re getting ample amounts of both vitamin A and vitamin C. On top of that, you can add a scalp cleanser to your washing routine. This will help to get rid of all that buildup and reduce the stress on your hair follicles. Start with once per week and work up from there.
It’s time to take back your beautiful grays
Don’t let yellowing bring you down any longer. Determine what is triggering your hair, try out these remedies, and watch your hair bounce back like never before. Let us know what tips and tricks have worked for you in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!