4 Expert-Approved Tips for Embracing Gray Hair

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This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

Call it the quarantine effect: Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, Tracee Ellis Ross and countless other A-listers got real about their grays on social media. But, no matter how many celebrities normalize it, gray hair is still widely considered taboo. “In the U.S., about 75 percent of women color their gray hair,” says celebrity colorist George Papanikolas. “Generally, those who don’t color their grays look about 10 years older than their counterparts, and we’re living in a youth-oriented and -obsessed culture. People have strong emotional opinions about it, especially my clients under 60. During quarantine, many of them had never actually seen what their natural hair looked like and realized there was more or less gray than they thought. Some were more OK with it than others.”

However, celebrity colorist Aura Friedman thinks the tables may be turning, as women have found other ways to look more youthful with skin care and aesthetic treatments. We’ve also seen Kelly Osbourne and Ariana Grande sporting “faux gray and silver” color, giving it a fun, youthful appeal. “I find that many people are now empowered to celebrate their silver fox hair,” she says. “They feel excited about having less maintenance, and with some minor enhancement, gray hair can have epic radiance.”

How to Embrace Grays

Helpful tips to keep in mind, according to the pros:

01. “Using a root concealer can help your color look more cohesive until you have enough gray that it doesn’t look half and half, which can take six to 12 months,” says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, who pioneered the root cover-up spray concept. One to try: Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray ($25)

02. For curly hair, Papanikolas says definition in the curls is important. “Gray hair tends to be coarser and frizzier, so keeping curls tamed will create a polished look rather than an unkempt illusion.”

03. To combat brittleness that can accompany grays, Friedman recommends using K18 Biomimetic Hairscience Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask ($75), “an incredible leave-in mask you can use every two weeks.”

04. “Low-maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance,” says celebrity colorist Chad Kenyon. “A good purple shampoo used occasionally can keep gray hair vibrant and shiny. Without it, the hair can become yellow and dingy.” Papanikolas likes Matrix Total Results So Silver ($14), which boosts gray hair to its brightest silver tone.

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