No matter the words you use to describe your graying hair—salt-and-pepper, silver, gray, white, or platinum—it's a shared experience that many of us have at some point.
How you choose to deal with it in terms of coloring it, embracing it or something in between is entirely up to you.
For those of us who have curls, waves and coils, caring for our hair as it grays can be a challenge. But don’t worry—there are ways to care for your unique texture that will keep both the color and curl pattern looking great!
The basics of taking care of your graying curly, wavy, and coily hair are the same as caring for any other hair type.
Curly, wavy, and coily hair requires a little extra attention when it comes to hydration and moisture—two things that are essential in helping to keep your hair looking great as it grays.
Gray hair is mainly due to the depigmentation of natural hair fibers as a result of complex biochemical changes inside the hair cortex.
The loss of natural coloring pigment, melanin, in hair is why it loses its color over time. To understand the mechanism of hair graying better, numerous researchers have looked into scientific reasoning.1-4
It could be either due to the inactivity of melanocytes or the decreased enzymatic activity responsible for the melanin synthesis inside specialized cells.
Hair graying permanently changes the color of your hair, and coloring it is the only way to change it back to its original color.
The big question is how can we take care of it properly?
In the sections below, we use some science to explain why hair graying occurs and provide tips to help you maintain healthy, curls, and coils as your hair begins to gray.
First, let’s go through how gray hair is different from natural pigmented hair.
Gray Hair vs Pigmented Hair
Multiple scientific studies have shown that gray hairs are different from other pigmented natural hair colors.5 They demonstrate various qualities that make them different from other types of hair.
- Gray hair is lacking in the melanin pigment, making it silver or gray to the naked eye.
- Gray hair is coarser than pigmented hair.
- Gray hair is more porous compared to pigmented hair.
- Gray hair is more hydrophilic. This is due to higher cystic acid levels found in gray hair amino acid analysis.
- Gray hair responds differently to oxidative and reductive hair treatments (e.g. bleaching, oxidative coloring, and perms).
- Gray hair generally demonstrates higher pigment uptake during hair coloring treatments and active ingredient absorptions, most likely due to the larger pore size along their shaft.
Gray hair is different from non-gray hair and thus, requires a separate haircare regimen focused on creating manageability day-to-day.
How to Take Care of Gray Curly Hair
Melanin is a natural polymeric pigment responsible to impart to color human hairs. The grains of melanin also reflect incoming solar radiations to protect the inner hair core against harmful solar radiation. This is a key aspect of melanin's natural photo-protection mechanism.
Gray hair, on the other hand, typically does not have melanin, and is vulnerable to solar-induced damage. The absence of melanin means hair proteins are exposed to UV radiation which can oxidize hair proteins resulting in significant hair damage.
This argument is supported by higher cystic acid levels found in gray hair (cystic acid is the oxidation product of cystine amino acids).
That's why gray hair needs protection against UV radiation. To preserve your hair's integrity and tensile strength, a leave-in conditioner can help.
Bounce Curl Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner is an ideal product for gray hair. The formulation employs a blend of natural emollients that may help protect the hair shaft against sun damage.
More importantly, it does not contain any man-made UB absorber; the formulation is rich in long-chain fatty acids sourced from natural butter and oil.
Moisture & Hydration
Gray hair is dry due to its large pore size which lead to a higher tendency to lose water molecules, leaving hair dry and brittle. This gets worsened during harsh weather conditions of cold chilly winter.
Because gray hair is prone to dryness, roughness, and frizziness, it require extra hydration to maintain its natural appearance and style. The best way to achieve this is by using moisturizing shampoo and conditioning treatments.
Bounce Curl Pure Silk Moisturizing Shampoo is an excellent choice for gray hair. This is a moisture-rich formulation, which is also sulfate-free, and will help to preserve you gray hair's natural slip and essential lipid content.
Those with gray hair should use moisturizing, conditioning products. We suggest the Super Smooth Cream Conditioner for this purpose.
The combination of both products offers a moisture-rich blend for gray hair boosting their moisture level and fiber quality.
Gray Hair & Curl Definition
Gray hair may not only lose its curl definition and retention, but is also porous and susceptible to absorbing moisture from the environment. This makes it frizzy and difficult to style under high humidity conditions.
Likewise, they strongly respond to cold chilly winter times under dry and low-temperature conditions. Therefore, gray hair should be well-preserved during harsh weather conditions to maintain its naturally curly, wavy, and coily shapes.
To help define and preserve your locks, we recommend the Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner. This powerful leave-in formula can help provide deep nourishment, which will help minimize the effect of surrounding weather conditions.
You can also use a gel to help define the curls. Bounce Curl offers a unique weightless Light Hold Crème Gel. The product is the perfect styling solution for fine curly gray hair. It provides a light hold to hold the curls in place, while still leaving hair soft and manageable.
For thick curly and coily hair, BounceCurl has Defining Butta, enriched with natural butter that can help create shiny and soft hair. This product will provide a light-medium hold, providing definition to gray hair while still keeping the curls controlled and conditioned.
Day-to-Day Manageability of Gray Curly Hair
- Wash your gray hair using Bounce Curl Pure Silk Moisturizing Shampoo (2-3 times a week).
- Depending on your lifestyle and preference, wash curls using the Gentle Clarifying Shampoo (once a week) to remove any product build-up and avoid weighed down hair.
- Condition gray hair using Super Smooth Cream Conditioner (once a week), and apply the Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner to help protect gray hairs from photo damage.
- Style your gray hairs with Light Hold Crème Gel and thick or coily hair using Defining Butta hair product.
- Seiberg, M., Age‐induced hair greying–the multiple effects of oxidative stress. Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 2013, 35 (6), 532-538.
- O'Sullivan, J. D.; Nicu, C.; Picard, M.; Chéret, J.; Bedogni, B.; Tobin, D. J.; Paus, R., The biology of human hair greying. Biological Reviews 2021, 96 (1), 107-128.
- Keogh, E.; Walsh, R., Rate of greying of human hair. Nature 1965, 207 (4999), 877-878.
- Zviak, C., The Science of Hair Care. Taylor & Francis: 1986.
- Hollfelder, B.; Blankenburg, G.; Wolfram, L.; Höcker, H., Chemical and physical properties of pigmented and non‐pigmented hair (‘grey hair’). Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 1995, 17 (2), 87-89.