Get to the Root of Why Gray Hair Yellows + Ways to Keep Its Natural Hue

Restore your gorgeous gray by getting to the root of why gray hair turns yellow and all the things you can do about it.

Published March 6, 2024
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Woman touching gray hair looking at herself at mirror

There's nothing that can dampen your confidence more than deciding to embrace your gray hair and finding yellow hues creeping in. Learning what causes white hair to turn yellow is step one in preventing it from happening to you. If this tint is ruining your silver fox vibes, don't panic! We've gotten to the bottom of why this happens so you can make the necessary adjustments to keep yellow out of your fabulous silver locks.

Why Your Gray & White Hair Turns Yellow

You've embraced your gorgeous grays only to discover sour yellow tones infiltrating your tresses. In some cases, this can be caused by your hair losing pigment, lending itself to a yellow tone. But for most people, there are a slew of other sources that could be the culprit.


Not all shampoos are created equal! Some shampoos cause a lot of build-up on the scalp and others are too harsh, stripping your strands of necessary natural oils. It may be your shampoo causing that brassiness you're trying to avoid. Consider using shampoos that are clarifying and sulfate-free. Also, look for main ingredients like nourishing argan or coconut oils. 

Need to Know

Dandruff shampoos may be great for flakes, but they're bad for gray hair. Many contain selenium sulfide, which could be the culprit in making silvery locks yellow. Check your dandruff shampoo ingredients and find one without it, like Biolage's Scalp Sync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, to keep your silver nice and bright. 

Chlorinated Pools 

Chlorine is good for pool water, but terrible for hair. It strips and dries out strands, and can cause yellowing. If you're living your best gray-haired life, you don't have to avoid the pool, though! While you could bring back swimming caps, you can also try coating your locks in a leave-in conditioner or coconut oil before going for a dunk. And make sure you rinse your hair very well right after your swim. 

Mineral Deposits

Even the water in your home could be causing your unwanted flaxen tones. It all comes down to the mineral deposits coming out of your pipes leading to hard water that's super harsh on your hair. Consider changing your shower head to a more filtered one to give your silver locks the best chance of survival.


Pollution is bad for our lungs, our skin, and our hair. If you're a smoker, the toxic plumes of smoke aren't doing your locks any favors either. Since some pollutants are impossible to avoid, you'll want to protect your hair by keeping it nourished with moisturizing and protecting products. Quitting smoking (though we know how hard it can be) is always a good idea, too. 

High Heat

Curling irons, blow dryers, straighteners, and even laying about in the sun is bad for your hair. These high-heat situations you subject your locks to will suck out the moisture and can cause that yellowy discoloration. Heat protectant sprays may help, along with lowering the heat settings on your hair tools. Some hair styling devices are made to go easy on your locks — ceramic products are often the gentlest. 

Need to Know

Chemical treatments — for straightening or perming — could be causing your color to change from silver to yellow. Speak to your stylist about how to achieve the same look while avoiding harsher chemicals. 


Ever read the full list of potential side effects on the back of your medicine bottles? It can be terrifying. One such potential issue with some medications — administered topically on the scalp or otherwise — is changes to your hair. Check with your physician to find out if your medication could be the yellowing cause and if there are alternative medications you can take. 

Need to Know

Any changes to your body, even yellowing hair, can be a cause for concern. Always check with your doctor if you're worried about your hair color change, especially if it's drastic and unexpected. 

Related: How to Make Gray Hair Soft & Shiny

How to Get the Yellow Tone Out of Your Hair 

Happy woman in bathrobe and with towel

You don't necessarily need to add gray color to your already silver locks to remove the yellow tones. Overprocessing isn't anyone's friend. Try these less drastic ideas instead. 

Try a DIY Removal Method

While we know you might be having horror flashbacks to the time you tried to give yourself bangs, not every DIY hair method results in regret. Some things, like that yellowy-gray hair, can be cured with a few ingredients from your pantry. Whip up a mix of lemon juice and water and soak your locks, then follow up with a deep condition. You might see the brassiness tone down. A bit of chamomile tea (on your hair) might also help brighten your silver hair after you shampoo and pre-conditioner. 

Talk to Your Stylist 

If you want to go the professional route, talk to your stylist about a deep conditioning and toning treatment to help work out the yellow tones. They may even have great insider tips on the best products specific to your hair type that'll help clear out the yellow. 

Switch Up Your Hair Products 

The experts have some excellent — and often great-smelling — products specifically designed to keep silvery locks looking their best. Here are some faves:

  • Fanola No Yellow Shampoo: Made in Italy, this purple shampoo gets the brassy tones out. It's rich in antioxidants that help neutralize yellow to keep grays looking on point.
  • L'Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free Purple Shampoo: With no parabens and no sulfates, this shampoo means business in keeping yellowing away. The pros recommend that you use it 2-3 times a week for the best gray tresses.
  • Klorane Anti-Yellowing Shampoo with Centaury: Working to nourish hair and protect while rinsing out the brass, this shampoo also adds a bit of bounce and dares to make silver hair shine. 

Even more ideas for getting rid of yellow and keeping your gray hair shining bright are just one click away. 

Win the Silver Medal for Beautiful Gray Hair 

Any unwanted colors — especially yellows — should be afraid of your newfound knowledge. Learning what causes the yellow hue helps you be proactive in preventing it. Giving your hair a good foundation — moisturized, sun and heat-protected, etc — will help you beat yellow back at the source. And don't forget to try hair care products specifically designed for gray tresses. Say bye-bye to yellow hair and hello to gorgeous gray locks! 

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Get to the Root of Why Gray Hair Yellows + Ways to Keep Its Natural Hue