Going Silver - A Guide to Caring for Naturally Greying Hair

If we are blessed with a long life, it will happen eventually. You will may allow it to show, you may not. It may come early, or it may come late. But it’s coming. So, let’s get into how to grow out beautifully and care for it.

Why do we go grey?

Grey hair happens when for whatever reason, your hair follicles stop producing melanin – the coloring of your hair. Without the deposit of color your hair color fades and eventually the strands become colorless and we see that as grey or silver.

For most of us, going grey signals the entry into the middle of your life, for women it can coincide with menopause or peri-menopause. And interestingly if you are having a difficult menopause, the stress can accelerate the process (so, see your doctor, get some treatment and relax through it).

There are some common causes of gray hair which I list below, but this article is about the process and how to keep your greying hair healthy and looking its best as you make the transition. Methods of reversing or slowing down the process will be talked about in my next article.

VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY  which can be caused by any number of conditions, such as Graves Disease (thyroid issues) and Celiac Disease. Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. You can take vitamin B12 in a multivitamin or other supplement and foods fortified with vitamin B12. But check with your doctor before taking any B12 supplement.


If you are vegan, don't eat animal products or you have a medical condition such as malabsorption, greying hair can accelerate due to a lack of B12.
On the other hand, if you eat too much meat, this has also been reported be a cause of premature gravy hair (go figure).


Malabsorption conditions such as leaky gut syndrome or Celiac Disease, which limit how well your body absorbs nutrients and vitamins, can also be a cause of a deficiency which has made you gravy.


Rarely but still, grey hair is artificially stimulated due to a sudden shock or illness.


Sometimes your genetics means you start going grey at puberty. I have cousins who started graying out in high school.

Some other conditions that can accelerate grey hair are:


(OK, yes, I added the last thing but it’s TRUE)


Without the softening effects melanin brings, your grey hair is coarser, wirier and more difficult to control than your colored hair and this can present some challenges. You have multiple textures on your head.

grey hair is special needs hair. It not only looks different, it acts different, feels different and absorbs products differently. So, let’s look at some ways to protect and enhance it.

Use shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for grey or greying hair.

The shampoo and conditioner you have been using up until now may not be the best choice for your changing hair.

You need products that care for the silver hairs and minimize yellowing while still nourishing your dark strands.

Use a toner.

A toner specifically designed for grey hair will strip out the yellowing color and return your hair to brilliant silver. It is a must unless you like that yellowish look. My personal choice is no on that.

Pre-treat with oil.

Styling can be challenging. Since we are NAPPTURAL and do not relax our grey hair, we are at an advantage. Relaxing grey hair damages it so much that it can be almost impossible to tame. Along with losing the melanin, grey hair has lost a lot of its natural elasticity and flexibility. You will notice that it refuses to “behave” with the rest of your hair that has not yet lost its melanin.

Use an enriching oil such as Argan or Jojoba on the grey areas, before you apply any styling butter. This will help to make the grey areas more pliable and receptive to styling along with your melanin-rich hair. Check out my series on OILS for more ideas. 

Then apply a nourishing hair butter (containing coconut oil) to the grey areas first, especially if you have distinctive patches coming through, then distribute the butter evenly to the rest of your hair.

Pay special attention to your hairline and apply your butter liberally, giving yourself a little massage in the process, to encourage growth and protect.

If you use oil or oil-rich hair butters, you must also use a toner to remove any color from the oil or butter that deposits on your hair.

Use a hair steamer.

Grey hair can be coarse and rough – resistant to moisture. So, hair steamers are a great tool to force moisture and products into those resistant hairs. If you don’t have a steamer, try using plastic wrap and a hot towel over freshly washed and conditioned hair. Just leave it on long enough to make a difference, at least 30 minutes, but not so long that your scalp is suffocated. Never leave a plastic cap on your head overnight!

Wear a satin cap.

I cannot stress to you enough that a satin cap is a HOLY GRAIL for natural hair. The night air is so drying for our skin and hair. When you wear a satin cap, you prevent friction and keep your body heat in, so your hair doesn’t get hard and dry. No matter the style, loose hair, locked, colored or not. Always wear a satin cap.

Put a little hair butter on your hairline at night.

As you get older, you may start experiencing hair loss. So, before bedtime, put a little hair growth product on your hairline before you put on that satin cap.

Enjoy your natural grey journey. You have earned every single strand so celebrate this change and be proud of yourself in doing so.

For those looking for natural ways to try and reverse or slow down the process, I will be publishing that soon so stay tuned!

Last modified on Saturday, 29 June 2019 05:04
Patricia Gaines

Patricia Gaines aka Deecoily is the founder and creator of Nappturality in 2002, the beginning of the natural hair movement. Since 2000 she has been blogging on all things natural hair, Black culture and politics.

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