Touch of Silver

The best shampoo for gray hair

Deciding to go gray can be liberating but for it to look its best, you do need to change your hair care routine. Products that are specially formulated for gray hair can make a huge difference. A silver/purple shampoo is essential if, like me, your gray hair easily develops a yellow tinge.

Why does gray hair develop a yellow tinge?

Hair goes gray as the follicles stop producing melanin. Without pigment, it is more porous and tends to show the colours of all the foreign stuff it picks up. This may be from water (from the shower or swimming pool) or pollutants in the air. The chlorine in water can make gray hair look dry, brittle, and yellowish. Residue from hair care products can also cause yellowing. I have personally found that when I use too much heat to straighten my hair, it immediately looks more yellow. Gray hair is more vulnerable to sun damage as well and your medication, food and  general health can also affect your hair.

Get rid of the yellow

All the experts suggest using a purple shampoo to get rid of the yellow tinge. If you know anything about colour mixing, you will know that a purple tone counteracts a yellow tone.  The purple pigment in the shampoo clings to the hair shaft and neutralizes the yellow.

… but don’t turn it blue

The more porous your hair, the more a product “takes”. Sometimes the ends are more porous than the roots and your tips may end up a little blue. When using a purple shampoo, you need to follow the directions carefully leave the product on your hair for the correct length of time.

I use my purple shampoo every other day and in between I use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.

A few home remedies

I can’t guarantee the results you will get using these home remedies.  I am all in favour of natural products but in this case I must say that using a  silver shampoo is easier and I have found the results more consistent than when trying natural remedies. Nevertheless, if you object to the sulfates in shampoos and would rather try some natural options, here are a few:

  • Gentian Violet: We’ve all seen grandmothers with their snow white hair who used Gentian Violet to achieve this result.  We’ve also seen those who left the Gentian Violet on a little too long and ended up with blue hair. Gentian Violet definitely works to neutralize the yellow but  you have to be extremely careful or it will stain everything from your hands to your clothes, the bathroom tiles, the sink and your scalp. I would be super careful when putting drops into my shampoo but I still managed to spill. On one of our camping trips,  I stupidly took along my whole bottle of gentian violet – the lid of the bottle came off and stained everything in my toiletry bag and the floor of the tent bright purple.
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda:  Pour 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle and dilute with a cup of water. Make a baking soda paste with 2tbsp. of baking soda and 2 tbsp. of water and rub the paste onto hair. Rinse it off carefully and then spray on the apple cider mixture, fully saturating your hair.  Comb through hair and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Mix equal amounts of 3% hydrogen peroxide, water and your conditioner in a spray bottle and spray your clean, damp hair with this mixture. Comb through and leave on for about 15 minutes before rinsing. Repeat once a week to prevent build-up. When I tried this I found that it worked but despite the conditioner, it tended to dry out my hair.
  • Purple flower infusions: Purple flowers like Betony or Hollyhocks can be infused in hot water until the water becomes purple. A concentrated infusion makes a strong purple colour. You will need to use an infusion like this regularly for it to be effective.

My favourite silver shampoo

PRO-VOKE Touch of Silver is a salon-inspired product that tones, brightens and adds vibrancy to my white hair. I use it every second day and despite the frequent use (the recommendation is to use it twice a week) my hair remains gloriously white without any blue hue. It is also relatively inexpensive and I find it a much easier option than when I added Gentian Violet to my normal shampoo. Although my shower is covered in purple streaks after using this shampoo, at least they are easily washed away.  It is more liquid than some other shampoos but it foams well and has a pleasant, grapelike smell.  A pre-toning primer (applied before shampooing) and intensive conditioner are also available in the Pro-Voke range.  

Provoke Touch of Silver


  • Inexpensive
  • effective
  • foams well
  • pleasant smell
  • a little goes a long way


  • may stain porous surfaces
  • contains sulfates
  • cannot be used for two weeks after perming, bleaching or dying

A yellowish tinge to white hair is very unappealing whereas a dazzling, well styled head of white hair is a crown of glory. What is your favourite shampoo to keep your gray hair looking great?



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