Why Is Your Client's Grey Hair Turning Yellow?

Published 07th Dec 2023 by Sian Jones

For clients keen to embrace their silvery locks one issue they may be surprised to come across is their grey hair turning yellow. Far from the healthy hue many envision, understanding the root cause can help your clients make informed choices about their hair care routines and lifestyle to prevent yellowing.

We spoke to the experts to understand what can cause grey hair to turn yellow and the tips to help maintain a natural grey colour with confidence.

Why Does Grey Hair Turn Yellow?

“Grey hair can pick up a yellow tone from the surrounding environment, hard water, cigarette smoke, the sun and pigment in hair products,” says Claire Egerton of C.E Hair, East Wittering. Colette Roots, Balayage & Blonde Colour Specialist, also tells us that it’s not just the environment that can cause yellowing in grey hair: “Medication, diet and genetics can be a factor in the colour of clients’ grey hair, and this means the best approach to prevent this will depend on your client’s specific hair type, environment and lifestyle.”

Tim Scott-Wright, owner of The Hair Surgery, also warns that, as with all hair types, overuse of heated tools can impact hair quality and colour: “Over styling with high heat, such as hairdryers and straighteners can lead to the yellowing of grey hair, so I would recommend reducing the amount of hear clients are using.” Mark Blake, Nioxin Ambassador and globally renowned Trichologist, tells us that damage from straightening irons is known as bronzing” “This is the impact of thermal degradation changes of an amino acid called Tryptophan. High temperatures on the hair bring out a warm glow, so a heat protectant should always be used with straightening irons to protect the hair.” Mark goes on to tell us that sunlight produces a yellow glow in grey/white hair known as ‘photo yellowing’ where UVB rays penetrate the hair and cause photo oxidation of Kynurenine (a metabolite of the amino acid Tryptophan). “Grey/white hair has little or no pigment and picks up colour from external factors such as copper in water from old pipes, hard water, chlorine, oils from the scalp, and oils from where people don’t wash their hairbrushes often enough.”

What Can Clients Do to Prevent Yellowing?

There are a number of steps clients can take to prevent their grey hair turning yellow. “Make sure your client has a shower head that helps filter out impurities that can cause yellowing in the hair. I’d also recommend using a UV filter spray. My personal favourite is Schwarzkopf Professional BLONDME Blonde Wonders Glaze Mist,” says Coral Jade, of Coral Jade Hair and Beauty. Coral also recommends clients steer clear of coloured shampoos and conditioners, as these are designed for blondes. “This is where a lot of people with grey hair go wrong, they use a shampoo for blondes that may contain toning agents such as gold that can end up discolouring their beautiful grey hair. They can also contain bleaching agents in them which can cause your “pepper” hairs to go warm as it is lifting the darker hair and exposing warmth.”

Claire tells her clients to use a clarifying or detox shampoo to help remove product build up, hard water and chlorine adding that a silver shampoo or hair mask will help counteract the yellow tone, leaving a brighter, cleaner grey, “Avoid daily use to prevent a lilac tint,” she warns.

“I would advise clients use a heat protectant when using straightening irons, and products with a UV protectant when in the sun. Nioxin 2,4 and 6 contain UV protectants,” says Mark adding that toners such as Wella Professionals True Grey range will help to disguise the yellow in clients’ hair.

Want to know how to help your clients transition to grey? Find out here.

Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Published 07th Dec 2023

Sian is Deputy Editor on HJ and supports Editor, Charlotte, in the delivery of content for the HJ print magazine, website and social media, she is also Editor of Modern Barber magazine. Sian has over ten years’ experience writing for print publications covering Youth & Children, TV & Entertainment and Lifestyle. She graduated with a degree in journalism, and whilst studying was nominated for the Guardian Digital Journalist of the Year award in 2011. She has never been afraid to take risks with her hair when it comes to cut and colour but is fiercely protective of its healthy shine.

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