Gray hair has come a long way in recent years. No longer a dreaded sign of aging, the silvery hue has become a fashion statement, with even women in their 20s and 30s welcoming the look with open arms — or even seeking it out.
Whether you’ve just started your transition into gray territory, or you’ve been embracing the color for years, you should be using the best shampoo for gray hair. Just as we switch up our shampoos and conditioners when we dye our hair blonde or red, we should be doing the same for our natural hue changes, too.
Why does gray hair turn yellow?
As we age, hair follicles produce less melanin, leading to gray hair. Yet not all gray hair is created equally. Something many women notice as they their hair begins to change color is brassiness, or a yellowish hue.
When it comes down to it, there are a bunch of factors that can be at play here. From medications and sun exposure to harsh water and hair-product build up, yellow-gray hair has many causes. Using a toning shampoo, also known as a purple shampoo, can make all the difference between mousy gray strands and shining, silver tresses.
Using Purple Shampoo for Gray Hair
Don’t let the name fool you: These shampoos, while pigmented with a very deep violet hue color, won’t actually deposit any purple into your hair (though we do know a great color-depositing conditioner that would!). Just as we learned in our childhood art classes, purple and yellow are complementary colors, meaning they sit across from each other on the color wheel. In essence, by using a purple toned shampoo, the purple pigments will neutralize any yellow that may appear in your hair.
The Best Shampoo for Gray Hair
Graying hair isn’t merely about a color change: It’s a texture change, too. Hair becomes coarse and dry for many women as they go gray. This is why, when you’re shopping for the perfect cleanser, you should also be looking for formulas that put an emphasis on nourishing and hydrating. By picking up a shampoo that cares for both your color and your texture, you’ll be one step closer to the luscious, silver locks of your dreams.
Ready to find the right shampoo for your gray hair? Whether your locks are box-dyed or natural, there’s a shampoo for you on our list. Keep scrolling for Woman’s World’s picks for the best shampoo for gray hair.
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Best Natural Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $36, Sephora
If natural beauty is a must for you, pick up a bottle of O&M's Conquer Blonde silver shampoo. Infused with aloe vera and desert lime, this concoction works to remove dull yellow tones from gray hair, no matter the type. What's really impressive, however, is what it isn't infused with. If you're looking for a sulfate-, paraben-, phthalate-, triclosan-, gluten-, and propylene glycol-free purple shampoo that actually works, you've definitely found it.
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $12.24, Amazon
Clairol's Shimmer Lights is one of the most popular shampoos around for those looking to maintain light, silvery locks. On top of being extremely affordable, it uses a protein-enriched conditioning formula to keep hair soft and nourished while simultaneously keeping brassiness at bay for both blonde and gray hair.
Best Purple Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $20, Sephora
Another fan-favorite is Bust Your Brass cool blonde shampoo from Amika. Not only is this ultra-violet hair wash a powerful weapon against brassiness, it's paraben-, pthaltate-, and a sulfate-free. It also gets a fortifying boost from sea buckthorn berry, vitamins A, D, E, and B, amino acids, and minerals, to name a few.
Best Anti Yellow Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $15, Amazon
Klorane is a non-purple, plant-based option that still does an excellent job of keeping any unwanted yellow tones out of hair. The secret here is centuary extract, which highlights the natural brilliance of gray hair while keeping warm, yellow tones away.
Best Silver Brightening Shampoo
Where to buy: $27, Sephora
Drybar's Blonde Ale is the bottle to reach for to brighten your blonde, gray, silver, or white hair. This shampoo uses a combination of violet pigments, lemon extract, chamomile, and keratin to keep hair vibrant, shiny, and strong and neutralize any unwanted warmth that may be present.
Best Color Depositing Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $27, Amazon
For ladies whose hair skews a little more on the white side, there's Davines Alchemic shampoo. The well-know Italian hair brand created this clarifying and toning wash with hydrolyzed milk proteins, so you can rest assured that your strands will not only be yellow-free, they'll be soft, smooth, and stronger with each use.
Best Blue Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $54, Nordstrom
Much like a purple shampoo, blue shampoo, like this Aveda's Blue Malva formula, is an excellent choice for anyone that's looking to keep their gray hair pristine. Gentle and plant-based, this blend of blue malva and coneflower will intensify your grays and balance out your scalp for all-around health.
Best Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: From $14, ULTA
When it comes to the best shampoo for gray hair, our favorite is Matrix's Total Results So Silver. This powerful cleanser is used in salons around the world for one reason and one reason alone — it works. Not only does it neutralize any would-be brassiness or yellowing that may be occurring, it also does a great job of bringing a shining, shimmering quality to sterling tresses.
One reviewer wrote, "I love this shampoo. It's great for gray hair — it makes it shiny and silvery. And it smells divine. It also leaves my hair soft and shiny and tangle-free."
Best Sulfate Free Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $31, Amazon
For many women, especially those with curly and natural hair, using a sulfate-free shampoo is not a want, it's need. L’ANZA's Healing Colorcare shampoo is a sulfate-free blend of natural viola and lavender toning agents that will remove unwanted warmth from gray, silver, and blonde hair with ease. Plus, its added gugo bark and L’ANZA's award-winning keratin complex work together to heal and protect.
Best Conditioning Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $15.13 (Originally $17.33), Amazon
Looking for a purple shampoo that will nourish hair while cleansing it? One 'n Only's Shiny Silver Ultra shampoo is the pick for you. Designed to eliminate brassiness from gray hair, it also does a great job keeping hair smooth and moisturized for a straight-from-the-salon look.
In fact, one reviewer said her stylist gave it the seal of approval, writing, "I've used this product for two years now on white/grey hair and the outcome is superb. Even my stylist thinks so, and has begun using it professionally. I highly recommend One 'n Only Silver shampoo."
Best Neutralizing Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $19.99 (Originally $28.93), Amazon
L'Oréal's Serie Expert Magnesium silver-neutralizing shampoo does just what you'd expect: neutralize yellowing. As one Amazon buyer raved, "This product really cools the yellow your natural grey might have, leaving it shiny and more platinum... and it smells good. It surprised me that a purple shampoo like this could work so well for its intended purpose!"
Best Silver Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $29, Sephora
What really sets this SACHAJUAN silver shampoo apart from the rest is its built-in sun protection. Sun damage is a major contributor to hair-yellowing, and the UV filters found in this cleanser not only make it a great shampoo for gray hair, but for summer, to boot. It's also plenty hydrating, thanks to the company's proprietary Ocean Silk technology.
Best Hydrating Shampoo for Gray Hair
Where to buy: $20, Nordstrom
When caring for gray hair, brassiness shouldn't be your only concern. As we age, hair not only loses pigment and turns gray, it loses moisture and becomes brittle. That's why it's super important to make sure you also have a good hydrating shampoo in your roster. We like to reach for Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating shampoo, which is made with Moringa Tree oil, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides that gently cleanse while repairing and fortifying.