After I committed to embracing my natural gray curly hair in 2017, I was not aware that it would require some changes to my (non) routine. My focus was on the grow-out and not on hair health. Needless to say, I was initially disappointed in my results. My silver locks were wiry, frizzy and dull.
However, after some research, I made several changes to my hair care, and those efforts have paid off with healthy, shiny and defined silver curls. If you are frustrated with your natural locks, focus on your hair health and follow these tips to achieve silver-curl success.
Begin by finding your inspiration. Create a vision board, Instagram bookmarks and Pinterest saves so you can see your long-term goal. Seek gray hair bloggers who share their journeys and communities where women support each other while, and after, transitioning to their natural hair color.
The women who motivated me to go gray are unaware of the effect they had on my decision to ditch the dye. I did not actively participate on Instagram at the time so I went to Pinterest and began searching for inspiration there. Here’s the screenshot of my Pinterest page:
The first step toward healthy silver curls is evaluating your hair products. Products promoted for “curly hair” are not necessarily healthy for your hair or especially your silvers. Avoid products with silicones, parabens and sulfates. How do you know? Head to one of the curly product apps such as Curlscan, isitcg or Think Dirty to see if your products pass the test. If not, stop using them immediately and restock with cleaner products.
Everyone is different, and figuring out what works for your hair is paramount. But, here are some products and tools I use on my gray curly hair: Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Wash, Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly, Wet Detangling Hairbrush, DevaCurl Hair Diffuser, DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Conditioning Mask, Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush, Righteous Roots Rx Thickener, Original Moxie Hair Bling, LUS All-in-One Styler.
Silver hair tends to be very dry and brittle, so I adopted a few measures to combat the dryness and breakage. Avoid frequent shampoo use. Typically, I use shampoo every seven to 10 days. Between shampoos, I “co-wash,” meaning I wash my scalp with conditioner, massaging the dead skin on the scalp with a head massager.
In addition, I deep condition with every wash or co-wash, alternating between a protein mask and a moisturizing mask. Whenever time allows, I leave the deep conditioner on for 30-60 minutes. The final step to combating dryness is to use an oil to “finish” styling and to refresh on those non-wash days.
One of the most discouraging findings early in my grow-out period was the appearance of crazy wiry hairs sticking straight out of my head and not playing nicely with the others. A little research suggested this was due to shrinkage of follicles from the decreased sebum (oil) production around the hair shaft. This began a regular daily routine of scalp massage.
Begin with an oil such as jojoba, argan, or my favorite Righteous Roots Oil. Using your finger pads, massage your scalp for approximately 10-15 minutes daily to stimulate blood flow and sebum production. I had a noticeable decrease in those “crazy” hairs along with amazing hair growth after a few months of consistent massage. I continue to massage my scalp 4-5 times per week (usually on my drive home from work because it is also very relaxing).
I am often asked if I use purple products to combat yellowing. After consistent use of “clean” products, I have found I no longer need the purple products. My hair does not yellow with this regimen. To combat product buildup, I perform an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse monthly, and the result is shiny, healthy looking gray curly hair.
Since my dyed hair was so dark, I sought a hairdresser to add lowlights to blend gray hair and break up the harsh line of demarcation. Adding lowlights definitely helped me feel less awkward and uncomfortable, but I felt that the stylist did not understand my ultimate goal. The salon, in general, was focused on hiding those silvers, not celebrating them.
Thankfully, I found a truly supportive hairstylist. I knew she was an established and well-regarded curly hair stylist. What I didn’t know was her commitment to supporting women who wanted to embrace their grays. She immediately made me feel comfortable with my decision; I did not have to explain my rationale. I knew I was home when she pulled out Lorraine Massey’s new book, “Silver Hair.”
Fun headwraps are my favorite way to protect my hair, both day and night. I wear head wraps often when working around the house to protect the curls and keep hair out of my face. I also cover my hair while working in the garden or hanging at the pool to protect my silvers from the UV light. Finally, I wear headwraps at night to keep curls intact and reduce frizz. This is why my kids gifted me with three dozen different kinds of headwraps, made by Kalily and Toes Home.
I urge patience in this process as I did not see results overnight. Natural silver curls do require some maintenance but it will be worth the effort. You really need to commit to see results. Take your time to see what your natural hair color and pattern will be. In my opinion, this means you’ve got to get past the “roots ” and ideally to your temples to make this determination.
I hear so many women say, “I would grow my hair out if I knew it would look like yours”. But, you cannot make this judgment based on what your roots look like between colorings. Also, “commit” does not mean you can’t change your mind if you don’t like how you feel or what you see after some grow-out. Instead, you’ve got to commit to giving it time, probably at least six months, to fully make that determination.
I wish you luck on this amazing journey to embracing gray curly hair. Follow me on Instagram (@silverlocdoc) for additional tips, and feel free to DM me for further help and encouragement!