Regular trips to the salon to polish up your gray hair can get expensive fast, and at-home color-lifting products require time and upkeep. Plus, neither option is that healthy for your hair. The good news: If you’re looking for a more natural way to brighten gray hair, lift dark or yellow tones and maintain healthy locks, our three options below may be the answer. Plus, these color-boosting tricks ensure silver strands look youthful and healthy — without frying your strands.
To nix discoloration, try a baking soda mask
Mildly abrasive baking soda lifts unwanted pigment from pollutants and products that can make the gray hair look dull and dingy. However, it’s important not to use too much: Baking soda has a pH of 9, which is much higher than that of the scalp and of hair (both of which range between 3.6 and 5.5). As a result, a high concentration will be too abrasive and can cause damage. To do: Mix ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of water. Rub on damp hair for 1 minute. Let sit 10 minutes, then rinse.
To soften wiry grays, whip up a coconut milk and honey mask.
Healthy hair is more resilient when it comes to lightening treatments, so in order to brighten gray hair successfully, it’s important to replenish the typically coarse strands with much-needed moisture. To the rescue, a coconut milk and honey hair mask. Why it works: Coconut milk’s fatty acids deeply moisturize strands, while humectant honey further conditions them. To do, mix ½ cup of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of honey. Apply all over damp hair. Let sit 15 minutes, then rinse.
To boost shine, choose a chamomile tea rinse.
Chamomile tea’s bisabolol, an active ingredient with anti-inflammatory qualities, helps to lighten and brighten gray tones for luminous color and shine. To do: Steep 3 chamomile tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water; let cool, then pour onto damp hair. Let sit 10 minutes, then rinse. (Notice that this isn’t strong enough? Add a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice.) (Click through for a misting hack that helps make gray hair shiny.)
How To Preserve Your Hair Strength and Color
As hair gets older, it becomes prone to thinning and breakage. Fortunately, pampering your locks every time you wash them is an excellent way of restoring that thickness and strength. Mimi Lu, hair expert and VP of product development at Amyris, recommends moisturizing as much as possible.
“When hair begins to turn gray, it often becomes thicker and more coarse,” Lu explains. “This is a natural part of the process, as the body reduces melanin production, and the hair follicles produce less sebum. Sebum is a natural oil that hydrates our hair, so with a reduced amount available, gray hair can seem coarser, drier and duller and is more susceptible to breakage than pigmented hair.” As such, Lu recommends products that contain Hemi15.
“Hemisqualane, or Hemi15, is a biotech ingredient derived from sugarcane and used as a lighter version of squalane. At half the molecular weight, Hemi15 is more easily absorbed into the hair shaft and more versatile when combined with other ingredients. Its lightweight texture provides a ‘dry oil feel’ that is easy to apply and spread throughout the hair. In fact, scientific studies have shown that Hemi15 can help reduce damage to the hair surface and cortex while providing weightless moisture. In addition, unlike silicones, Hemi15 does not coat the hair shaft or impede the penetration of other moisturizing ingredients. Therefore, it is an effective and versatile ingredient for addressing the unique needs of gray hair.” As such, Lu recommends 4U By Tia — a gentle hair care system that contains Hemi15 in every product.
For more on keeping gray hair looking its best:
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.