“We have three cycles to our hair—growth, transition, and the resting stage,” says Diana Pratasiewicz, OUAI’s Director of Education. “As we age, that entire process slows down, and we spend more time in the resting stage.” During this stage, sebum production decreases, and our hair needs that natural oil to stay nourished and shiny—so in addition to the pigment changes, you’ll also experience a shift in hydration. “The sebaceous glands begin to produce less oil, and these glands are attached to each hair follicle, resulting in dry, frizzy, brittle hair,” she says.
Because of these changes, it’s crucial to give gray hair extra hydration and nourishment so that it looks and feels healthy for the long term—whether you decide to embrace your gray or opt to dye it a different color. Read on for five expert-approved tips for giving your hair the moisture it needs.
1. Shampoo less and condition more
According to Jay Small, a hairstylist and the co-founder of Arey, a brand that specializes in gray hair treatment products, shampoo can be too harsh on gray hair and strip it of its natural oils and lipids. “Shampoo is helpful to cleanse the scalp, but some shampoos can be too astringent for the ends and can make hair look and feel dry, coarse, or limp,” he says, “I recommend that my clients with gray hair shampoo their hair less frequently, and use conditioner daily to help preserve the natural moisture of the hair strand.”
2. Invest in a shower head filter
“Heavy metals, minerals, and chlorine found in hard water can cause color fading and damage,” Pratasiewicz explains. To protect your hair, she recommends investing in a shower head filter that filters out hard water.
3. Rinse with cold water
During the winter months, we typically turn the shower tap to the hot. But, overly hot water can strip our hair of the oils and fats that keep it hydrated. Instead, Pratasiewicz advises using cool water on your hair so that it can lock in all hydrating goodness
4. Add hydrating ingredients
Smalls recommends paying attention to the ingredients list on your shampoo bottles and purchasing products that have extra hydrating ingredients. “Hydrolyzed Barley Protein, jojoba seed oil, and shea butter are excellent conditioners for scalp and hair that can help protect from over-cleansing,” she says.
5. Find a treatment mask
Treatment masks are a super-effective way to give your hair extra nourishment. For gray hair, Pratasiewicz advises treating your hair weekly with a silicone-free mask to give your hair extra hydration and treat damage.
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