The 9 Best Shampoos for Gray Hair of 2022 to Keep Silver Strands Brass-Free

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Best Shampoos for Gray

Sephora / Amazon

Let’s state the obvious: hair strands turn gray naturally as you age. Thanks to less melanin being produced, it can happen gradually or all at once, depending on your genes. While many women do dye it, for anyone choosing to stay gray, believe it or not, you still need to maintain it as you would with any other hair color; gray hair, much like blondes, are subject to brassy or orange tones, especially if you shower with hard water. But to fight this off, purple or blue pigmented shampoos can majorly help.

Similar to how mixing paints create new colors, these shampoos contain pigments that counteract the brassy tones. Some feature more blue or silver tones, too, but all in all, they work the same. One note: find a shampoo with moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which hold the moisture in the hair follicle. Our best overall pick Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Purple Shampoo features glycerin to help soften and hydrate dry strands, on top of maintaining your color.

But anyone who would like to shop around, below, we’ve rounded up the best shampoos that will help tone lots of different silver and gray hair colors.

Best Overall: Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo

Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo

Kohl's

What We Love: You can use this formula from root to tip instead of only on the brassy spots.

What We Don’t Love: For maximum results, the brand recommends using the entire system.

Many purple shampoos work as a spot treatment almost: instead of applying the shampoo to your entire head as you would a normal shampoo, you only treat the areas that look a bit yellow. However, this one from Olaplex can be used all over. It works on all sorts of hair textures, including curly hair, and it’s safe on natural or dyed gray hair. Thanks to ingredients like glycerin, which holds in water and moisture, as well as bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which works to repair damaged locks, this shampoo will benefit anyone whose hair looks dull and feels dry. 

Just like with all of the other Olaplex shampoos, the incredibly rich and creamy formula works into a thick lather, which ultimately helps it stay on the hair longer — the brand recommends letting it sit for five minutes. You don’t have to use this sulfate-free formula daily either, only as needed, so it’s worth it to spend the extra money.

The only downside to the product is that you receive maximum results by using the entire Olaplex system, which can be costly and timely. But you will still experience plenty of results with just the shampoo, so it’s still a safe bet to use it on its own.

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: As needed

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Value: L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Purple Shampoo

L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Purple Shampoo for Colored Hair

Courtesy of Target

What We Love: It’s sulfate- and paraben-free.

What We Don’t Love: It has a heavy scent.

This wallet-friendly option not only moisturizes hair as it cleanses, but it also uses hibiscus and purple pigments to tone everything from blonde highlights to dark gray colors. It eliminates the orange hues from your hair, giving you a fresher-looking color.

Because it's sulfate and paraben-free with no harsh salts included, it will be extra gentle on fragile hair that either thins with age or you frequently dye; basically, you won’t have to worry about exposing your hair to harsh chemicals in the name of saving money. 

This formula is intended for use two or three times a week, not every day. But if you crave more intense results, you can gradually leave it on for more time as your hair adjusts to the treatment.

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: No, three times a week

Price at time of publish: $8

Best Splurge: ORIBE Silverati Shampoo

Oribe Silverati Shampoo

Courtesy of Dermstore

What We Love: It’s made with gray hair specifically in mind.

What We Don’t Love: The scent is strong.

As much as graying hair shows brassiness, it also can show bits of purple with continued use of purple shampoo. To avoid that, Oribe created this shampoo specifically for gray, silver, and white hair. Blue and silver pigments brighten your hair and take out the orange tints, which means there’s no risk of your hair being stained. 

It further caters to gray hair, too, but targets concerns specifically to those with hair that shows signs of aging. With ingredients such as silver fur extract and Oribe’s signature complex, it adds in moisture and restores shine. It also restores elasticity, so it’s less prone to breakage and split ends.

Oribe infused the formula with its classic Côte d’Azur fragrance, which includes notes of bergamot, jasmine, and sandalwood, but even with how delightful it smells, anyone sensitive to fragrance might not enjoy it quite the same. It might be better to skip this one if the fragrance isn’t your thing.

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: Yes

Price at time of publish: $46

Best for Fine Hair: Philip Kingsley Pure Blonde/Silver Brightening Daily Shampoo

Philip Kingsley Pure Blonde-Silver Daily Brightening Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Love: It’s gentle enough to be used every single day.

What We Don’t Love: It does require more frequent application to see results.

Anyone with fine hair knows how important it is to find a gentle shampoo that won’t strip your hair, offer enough moisture without making it greasy, and if possible, help strengthen strands. Well, this shampoo from Philip Kingsley actually checks all those boxes. It can be used daily thanks to how light it is, and free of many harmful chemicals. It additionally includes wheat protein and dimethicone for stronger strands that hold in moisture. Because it’s silver, rather than purple, too, so it won’t stain your lightly colored hair.

Once you apply, lather, and massage into the scalp, leave the shampoo on for up to one minute, and you can even rinse and reapply if you want to see more drastic results. 

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: Yes

Price at time of publish: $32

Best for Dry Hair: Kérastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo

Kérastase Blond Absolu Anti-Brass Purple Shampoo

Amazon

What We Love: It has hyaluronic acid to hydrate dry hair. 

What We Don’t Love: It contains sulfates.

We don’t have to tell you again how good hyaluronic acid is for dry hair and skin. Because it holds the water in the strands, it adds moisture back into the hair, while also reducing frizz. The inclusion of edelweiss flower fills in damaged pieces of fibers, too, so each strand becomes stronger over time. Your hair will feel extra hydrated after using this Kérastase shampoo. But even with all these benefits, the main objective of this shampoo is still to neutralize any brassy or yellow tones in your gray hair. 

Something to keep in mind: It does contain sulfates, though, which can be harsh on fragile or damaged hair. But the brand recommends using it a maximum of three times a week, preventing you from overdoing it.

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: No | Daily use: No, three times a week

Price at time of publish: $38

Best for Oily Hair: SACHAJUAN Silver Shampoo

Sachajuan Silver Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Love: It targets silver and light hair tones, and provides UV protection.

What We Don’t Love: Pigments are prone to build-up over time.

To counteract and neutralize any brassy tones, this shampoo, like others, uses pigments, but instead of purple, it uses silver, like the Philip Kingsley shampoo, to better work with gray hair. It adds in moisture, too, with the help of glycerin, and creates more shine, too, thanks to Sachajuan’s special Ocean Silk Technology, a combination of two cold water algae. Plus, it protects your hair from UV rays, which will definitely improve the health of your hair over time. Because it includes sulfates, it will be a bit harsher and drying, but that might actually help reduce oil in those with hair that tends to look greasy.

Size: 8.4 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: No | Daily use: No, as needed

Price at time of publish: $31

Best for Curly Hair: Verb Purple Shampoo

Verb Purple Shampoo

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Love: This shampoo provides great results for all hair types. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s super moisturizing, so if your hair is prone to oiliness it might be too heavy.

In addition to professional-grade violet pigments, this formula is packed with açai extract, which contains vitamins A and E, proteins, and fatty acids. Açai strengthens the hair strands, leaving your hair stronger and less prone to breakage. Additionally, the coconut fatty acids, which absorb quickly into the hair, add even more moisture. 

Thanks to all of these powerhouse ingredients and incredible hydrating ability, this shampoo works well for those with curly hair that might be tricky to maintain. It gives you the moisture your curls need, but the pigment to maintain your silver strands. It can be used daily, but because most curly-haired folks don’t wash their hair every day (or even every week), you can easily use it less frequently, yet notice substantial differences in color tone. 

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: Yes

Price at time of publish: $20

Best for Color-Treated: Kristin Ess The One Purple Shampoo

Kristin Ess The One Purple Shampoo

What We Love: It’s super effective and available at lots of stores. 

What We Don’t Love:

This purple shampoo contains ultra-violet pigments to reduce brass, restore shine, and tone out yellow hues. Simply coat the brassiest parts of your hair with this formula and massage it until it is fully emulsified. From there, let it sit for about 10 minutes — less, if you have porous hair — and rinse it out. Go ahead and condition so that you can lock in all of the shampoo’s great ingredients. 

This purple shampoo tones lots of light-colored hair, so it’s especially great for those looking for a solution to their bright blonde or gray hair. It also only requires a dime to quarter-sized amount during the application, so the bottle really goes a long way. It also works to target and smooth weak or broken strands so that your hair looks and feels much more smooth and soft. 

Size: 10 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: No, as needed

Price at time of publish: $9

Best Toning Shampoo: dpHUE Cool Blonde Shampoo

dpHue Cool Blonde Shampoo

What We Love: It targets specific hues of blonde, making your experience a little more customized.

What We Don’t Love: It works best when paired with the corresponding conditioner.

Not only does the shampoo have purple pigments to neutralize brassy tones, but the shampoo is packed with silk proteins and hibiscus flower extract, too, to help strengthen and soften the hair. The creamy formula allows it to easily emulsify and coat your entire head, rather than act as a spot treatment. On top of that, the shampoo is sulfate- and paraben-free. The one downside, though, is that it truly does work best when used with the corresponding conditioner, which adds to the expense. (That’s not to say that it won’t be effective on its own, though.) But a little goes a long way thanks to how creamy it is, so you won’t blow through it.

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Daily use: No, as needed

Price at time of publish: $28

What to Keep in Mind

Color

While most pigmented shampoos are intended for a range of light hair colors, some are more specific, like the dpHUE blonde shampoos, offering options for cool or warm colors, too. And of course, some shampoos are created with gray and silver colors in mind, like the Oribe Silverati. Just make sure you check before swiping your card.

Hair Type

Not only is it important to consider the texture of your hair, when looking for shampoo that will perform the best for you, make sure you consider if your hair is thin, oily or prone to frizz. There are also shampoos tailored for people with dyed gray hair as well as natural gray hair, so this is a consideration when looking for the perfect bottle of the good stuff.

Formula

When it comes to formula, it’s best to look for options that are enhanced with some good ingredients so that you’re adding something back as you’re washing away some of your natural oils. Look for antioxidants to improve hair health, as well as ingredients like hyaluronic acid and coconut oils to add in moisture.

Your Questions, Answered

What shampoo should you look for when your hair starts to turn gray?

If you're just starting to see grays here and there you’re probably got some time before you start experiencing brassiness. That said, as your hair loses melanin it can cause dryness, which may be especially noticeable as it’s starting out. It’s a good time to start using super hydrating shampoos, like the Aveda nutriplenish, at least every other wash. You may also find that hair masks work – and as your hair continues to gray you can even look for purple hair masks, like this one from Kérastase

What color-depositing shampoos are best for gray hair?

Color-depositing shampoos leave a little pigment behind, and while it’s important to make sure you’re not using them so often that the hair starts to feel like it has build-up, they’re a great option for gray hues. We love the Sachajuan Silver Shampoo, which provides the hair with nourishing ingredients in addition to colored pigments. 

Can purple shampoos stain your hair? 

Don’t let this answer scare you too much, but yes. This is why brands have instructions that clearly recommend the amount of time that you should leave the purple shampoo on once it’s lathered up. While those time frames are intended to be the ideal for most people, if you have super thick hair that isn’t that porous, you may learn that the shampoos work best when you leave it on for a little longer. Definitely try the recommended time frame first, though. 

How do you use a purple shampoo?

Some purple shampoos recommend targeting the specific areas (usually the ends) that are starting to show off brassiness, however the majority of formulas will have you apply it to your entire head. After wetting your hair, you apply purple shampoo like a normal shampoo – only it’s important that you take the time to make sure that it’s evenly coating your strands. Massage the shampoo until it’s emulsified or lathered-up, and then let it sit for the amount of time recommended by the brand on the bottle. Rinse thoroughly and feel free to apply a conditioner afterward as this will help lock-in any pigments.

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