In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestley sports a stunning silver hairstyle. Allegedly the producers were hesitant about it at first, but Meryl Streep was able to convince them. Good thing she did, because Priestley’s gray hair was an integral part of her look. It also looked immensely healthy and nourished. She must have had a really good gray hair conditioner in her arsenal!
Best gray hair conditioners, at a glance:
- Best overall: Moroccanoil Blonde Perfecting Purple Conditioner, $26
- Best for frizzy gray hair: Pureology Hydrate Soft Softening Treatment, $41
- Best for natural gray hair: Pattern Lightweight Conditioner, $25
- Best for short gray hair: Kérastase Blond Absolu Strengthening Conditioner, $44
- Best for dull gray hair: #mydentity #MyRefresh Silver Pearl Conditioner, $24
- Best for long gray hair: Joico Color Balance Purple Conditioner, $24
- Best for curly gray hair: All About Curls Divine Treatment, $13
- Best for damaged gray hair: Balmain Revitalizing Conditioner, $44
- Best for oily gray hair: L'Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Rebalancing Conditioner, $6
- Best for dry gray hair: Blonde Angel Color Enhancing Treatment, $32
- Best for fine gray hair: Big SexyHair Big Boost Up Conditioner, $20
We’ll get into the best gray hair conditioners, but first, it’s good to know why we go gray in the first place. There are different reasons why, and the first one, is, of course, getting older. Studies have shown that most people begin going gray before the age of 50. “Hair turns gray from loss of melanin normally as you age, but can also be from other health factors,” explains Guy Tang, celebrity colorist and founder of hair care brand #Mydentity. In fact, smoking, nutritional deficiency, certain diseases, and just good ol’ genetics can play a role in hair turning gray. (While stress has always been associated with gray hair, that's still up for debate.)
Why your hair changes texture when it goes gray
If you’ve already started getting grays, you may have noticed other changes in your hair. “For most people, when their hair turns gray, the texture also changes, usually to be more coarse,” says Tang. “This can be a concern because it will change the way you have to style your hair.” Gray hair feels this way because of the loss in pigment or melanin—plus, the follicle doesn't produce as much sebum. That’s where a hair oil or serum can help, but so can a moisturizing conditioner.
What to do about brassy gray hair
Another issue that gray-haired folks can run into is brassiness. “Your stylist can help correct this with color, and at home you can use a purple shampoo and conditioner to help,” says Tang. Purple shampoos are often associated with blonde hair, but they’re great for gray hair, too.
What to look for in a conditioner for gray hair
When it comes to specific ingredients to look for in gray hair conditioners, Jamie Wiley, the Global Artistic Director at Pureology, says to look for moisturizing and nourishing ingredients. “Like jojoba, shea butter, and avocado oil. These will penetrate and deeply nourish the hair,” she says. It’s also good to avoid anything that will remove moisture and dry out the hair. “These can be found in volume shampoos and volumizing products,” she says. Tang also says to avoid drying ingredients such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) or alcohol.
Ready to spruce up those silver strands? Keep scrolling to learn about 11 of the best conditioners for gray hair.
A good choice for a gray hair conditioner that can be used on any hair type or texture is this one from Moroccanoil’s Blonde Perfecting line. While violet pigments and amino acids help tone and brighten your grays, it also gets a big help from microencapsulation technology. Over 99 percent of argan oil’s high-powered antioxidants are delivered deep into the hair’s cortex, so hair gets repaired, and color is sealed in and unbothered.
Best for frizzy gray hair
To combat frizz, Wiley says a good deep conditioning treatment is necessary. This one from Pureology contains shea butter, which seals in moisture while deeply nourishing the hair. It also has almond oil, which is an emollient, so it will fill the gaps in your hair cuticle, and makes it feel smooth and soft.
Best for natural gray hair
If you have tightly textured natural hair, you can’t go wrong with this Lightweight Conditioner from Tracee Ellis’s brand. While it’s color safe for grays, it contains incredibly moisturizing ingredients for your coils and curls. Coconut oil moisturizes and seals hair in, while Irish moss keeps the scalp healthy.
Best for short gray hair
You don’t need to use a lot of conditioner when you have short hair, but you also don’t want to use something too heavy, either. Otherwise it could cause buildup on your scalp. This Kérastase Blond conditioner uses hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower to keep hair strong and protected from damage while keeping your gray from getting brassy.
Best for dull gray hair
Is your gray looking dead and dull? Breathe some life into it by adding a color-boosting conditioner, like this one from Tang’s #MyRefresh line. Intense color gets deposited into your hair along with a powerful combination of plant oils like sunflower seed, argan, and meadowfoam seed to keep strands soft, shiny, and hydrated.
Best for long gray hair
Long hair calls for tons of hydration, so a color-correcting conditioner that has hair-loving ingredients is key. Joico’s Color Balance will protect your silver strands from brassiness with its violet pigments and green tea extract (a protective antioxidant) while its proprietary liposome delivery system continuously releases rosehip oil, arginine, and keratin to keep it all healthy.
Best for curly gray hair
Curly hair needs a conditioner that won’t mess around. Divine Treatment delivers intense hydration to all curl patterns, thanks to a powerhouse of natural oils and plant extracts like coconut oil, shea butter, marula oil, and almond. Plus, it’s free of disrupting chemicals like drying alcohols, parabens, and SLS.
Best for damaged gray hair
If your gray hair is paying the price for overusing hot tool or using aggressive products, you will need a conditioner that can truly resurrect dead and damaged hair. Balmain Hair Couture’s Revitalizing Conditioner is infused with cashmere to make it soft and smooth, while organic argan oil and vitamins E and F nourish, strengthen, and repair. The conditioner also protects against UV rays and fading so your gray will shine as bright as ever.
Best for oily gray hair
Oily hair needs to be confronted right at the scalp, and this L’Oreal conditioner will do just that. It contains three different refined clays to absorb oil and deep clean your roots while keeping your ends fresh and hydrated.
Best for dry hair
This Kevin Murphy conditioner will go to battle for your hair, eliminating dryness while retaining your silver hair, thanks to an impressive lineup of plant extracts and oils. Sunflower seed extract is one standout ingredient, as it protects color from fading, while brazil nut, jojoba oil, and olive oil provide hydration, shine, and protection against breakage.
Best for fine gray hair
Hair that is fine can often feel limp and lifeless, which is why finding a volumizing conditioner can be a huge help. This one contains collagen, strengthens and hydrates hair follicles, and adds up to 30 percent more volume to the hair all while without making it feel heavy. It’s also free from SLS to retain your gray.
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- Panhard, S et al. “Greying of the human hair: a worldwide survey, revisiting the ’50’ rule of thumb.” The British journal of dermatology vol. 167,4 (2012): 865-73. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2012.11095.x
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