Many people are shocked to learn when they ditch the dye they don’t get to ditch the maintenance. While you don’t have to be on the endless cycle of dyeing anymore, you do still need a little help to keep your grays happy and healthy.
My essentials list including a printable calendar for maintenance tips from top to bottom for your best looking healthy and shiny gray hair.
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Real silk is warm in winter and cool in summer. It helps your hair and skin retain moisture by not absorbing it as cotton does. Silk is also great for your skin and protects from wrinkles.
Sleeping on a Silk pillowcase will help you wake up without frizz and tangled hair.
Silk has become far more affordable and attainable. I have used the pillowcases below since 2017, I wash and dry them with my regular sheets, no issues; however, I do use gentle detergents.
Tip: if you think silk is hot or you tried it and it felt too slippery, you may have inadvertently gotten satin. Satin is often marketed as “silk-like” or “silky” and you end up with polyester instead of the real deal. The real deal is smooth, soft, comfy, and stays cool. The price point is usually the tell-all; satin is normally less than $10.00.
Silk Hair Ties, Scarves, & Bonnets:
If you have long hair and/or curly hair sleeping in a pineapple with a silk hair tie will also help you protect your curls and hair from frizz, allowing you to extend your washday.
Personally: I sleep on a silk pillowcase and braid my hair. Since a pineapple tends to pull with the weight of my long hair and causes breakage.
Protective care includes, water, sun, heat, de-tangling and preventing damage from these things. Once you implement them they become part of your routine, and many overlap so it isn’t as overwhelming as you might think.
If you have hard water, city water, well water, and/or no whole house filter, you’ll want a shower filter to help stop yellowing at the first source…your water.
Even if you have a water softener, if you have heavy iron content you may still want a filter. The best way to tell how your water is affecting you is look in your toilet tank, I know this sounds weird, but if that tank has a rusty-red film, green rim, or scale on the sides, you have sediment in your water that could affect your gray hair.
You can also purchase a simple test kit and test the hardness yourself.
It is estimated that more than 85% of homes in the United States and Canada have hard water.
In the UK it is around 60%.
The benefits go beyond your hair; you’ll find your skin will also appreciate filtered water.
Shower filters are relatively easy to install. I install and replace the filters myself. It does take a bit of strength to tighten against leaks.
Heat and Sun Damage Protective Care
I have three posts on heat and sun protection if you want to learn all the details:
The UV and Heat Protection Products I Use:
My best advice is to incorporate products into your daily routine that already have UV and Heat protection.
That way it is already in your hair and you don’t need to worry about it. All of the posts listed above have product recommendations.
Tip: Always apply to clean hair so your hair gets the most benefit of the UV filters and heat protection.
The products I use:
Seen Blow Out Creme: I don’t actually use much heat but I love this styling cream for doing my ponytails and buns. I use it to coat the top of my hair and smooth down the halo frizz.
Loma Deep Conditioner: This product can be used for cowashing, deep conditioning, and leave in. It contains Baobab fruit, which provides some heat and UV protection.
COOLA Organic Scalp Spray & Hair Sunscreen Mist: Scalps need SPF and hair needs UV protection…They are not one in the same. This is great to have for spraying your scalp while out in the sun at the beach, exercising, social events, etc.
BUFF Coolnet Uv+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Headwear: This is my go-to UV protection for my hair and scalp protection when I am walking or need to be outside for an extended period. I wear it covering my scalp like a headband with the remainder of my hair tied up in a bun or a jaw clip. They also come in wool for winter.
Be Gentle with Your Gray Hair:
If you have straight to wavy hair, brush gently with a paddle brush, no yanking, and try only brushing pre-shampoo. This will prevent breakage and reduce frizz.
If you have wavy to curly hair, use a wide tooth comb or your fingers to detangle while your hair is wet and conditioning.
If you have long hair, use metal-free ponytail holders when you put your hair up to prevent breakage.
Keys to a perfect washday:
- Unless you have oily hair, you probably don’t need to wash your hair every day.
- Pick products carefully and mindfully.
- Use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo and moisturizing conditioner.
- Keep silicones to a minimum; if you use them, I recommend water or shampoo-soluble silicones to prevent yellowing buildup.
- Find a good leave-in to help you keep your hair hydrated (hydrated hair is less prone to yellowing damage).
- Look for clear, white, or not too far off of white products to avoid staining and avoid products that contain yellow or orange D&C Dyes.
- Avoid certain staining ingredients, especially used alone or in high concentrations: Olive oil, black castor oil, tar products, hemp oil, and chamomile are at the top of my list.
My Washday Products:
For my wavy hair, I alternate between these two line-ups, depending on the weather, humidity, and what my hair needs…moisture vs hold. I normally wash my hair every other day.
For hot humid days, I aim for more hold:
First part of my drying routine is using a microfiber towel,
- Reduces dry time
- Reduces heat exposure time
- Minimizes frizz because there are no loops in the fabric to cause friction on your hair
The majority of the time I air-dry my hair. Not really because I am avoiding all heat, but because even with a blow dryer, my hair takes forever to dry. Honestly, I am not patient about standing in front of a mirror drying my hair for an hour.
In the winter time, I often will grab a book, or my laptop and park it about three feet in front of the fireplace and just let the radiant heat dry my hair to about 75% (being careful, of course, not to get too hot).
Try air-drying your hair as often as you can to avoid heat damage.
Some drying tips:
- Use a microfiber towel.
- Wrap your hair instead of scrubbing it dry. Friction can damage the cuticle, causing frizz and breakage.
- Use a diffuser, on curls especially.
- Go as low in temp as you can.
- Always use heat protection.
- Use a little squalane oil to seal your ends and glaze over your halo to prevent frizz.
Clarifying & Deep Conditioning
A key step in any Healthy Shiny Gray Hair routine is clarifying and deep conditioning.
Once a month, I do a deeper clarifying with a QuickSilverHair mask, if I feel it is needed.
Basic toning tips:
- You don’t need toning shampoo and conditioner unless you have permanent yellowing.
- You don’t need to use them every washday, once a week or even once a month is fine for most.
- Quality products will net quality results.
- If you find your toning product just falls off, try chelating shampoo first and then violet conditioner.
I have a post on when you should start using purple shampoo; it will help you understand why it is not a necessity, but when to use it for permanent yellowing.
My Favorites are Loma Beauty Violet Shampoo & Conditioner
These are the first violet shampoo and conditioner I have tried on my low porosity, fine, and dye resistant hair in six years that actually made a toning difference I could see, and I didn’t have a reaction of some kind to them. I use them about once every ten days together and sometimes use just the conditioner after I clarify, which actually gives a really nice toning.
- No itchy scalp.
- No synthetic fragrance, scented with light natural essential oil blends.
- They both contain a shampoo-soluble silicone.
- The shampoo is sulfate-free.
- The conditioner is magnificent, good slip, and soft results.
- I stamp these both as curly friendly, even with the silicones especially since you do not use them every washday.
Healthy Haircare Tips:
I attribute the health of my hair to more than just the external care:
Water: I drink plenty of water (at least a gallon a day).
Nutrition: I take my multi-vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fish oil, which all contribute to healthy hair and hair growth. I have an in-depth nutrition post for hair if you want more tips.
I attribute most of my hair growth to Great Lakes Collagen. Before I started taking collagen, my hair felt like it grew at a snail’s pace. I also struggled with my nails, and a painful condition where they broke and tore right at the bed, this was a major problem for decades. I documented my journey using collagen so you can see it in action.
Topical Care: Care for any skin or scalp conditions you have. Don’t skip this if you are worried about discoloring your hair with certain scalp treatments, spot treat if possible and try to do it with conditioner on your hair (but not on your scalp). When my scalp is irritated, dry, or itchy I use SEEN Shampoo and Conditioner, and nothing else to give my skin a break.
Rest: Extend your washdays if you can. I wash every other day. This reduces chances for breakage, heat damage, and frizz. Skip the styling products occasionally…going style free isn’t that bad with healthy hair.
Wrapping it up:
Maintaining Healthy Shiny Gray Hair does not have to be overwhelming. There may be a ton of information out there and products being added to the market daily for the upward trend in women embracing their gray hair; however, you only need to make a few changes and get a handful of things to help your silvers look their best.
Just to make life little easier, I have created a calendar, there is a copy of my schedule and a blank for you to create your own:
I hope you found this post educational and helpful.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share.
As always it is about so much more than the hair.
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