Transitioning to let the gray come out from hiding is no easy decision.
Desperately wanting to get rid of the yellow that has crept into your steely strands on the other hand? Well, that’s a no brainer.
Eventually almost all who go gray discover that undesirable yellow tones are par for the course.
For any number of reasons.
Most have to do with what you expose your hair to.
The other is a deficiency that can sneak up on you.
Which is why many put how to remove cringe-worthy yellow from gray hair high on the list of things to learn how to do. Like yesterday.
Causes of Yellowish Gray Hair Laid Bare
- VIDEO: No More Yellow
- Is Sun Exposure Is A Legit Cause Of Gray Hair Turning Yellow
- An Unexpected Cause of Yellow In Gray: Hot Styling Tools
- Does Trying to Hide the Gray Open the Door to Yellow?
- About Hard or Well Water and Yellowing Gray Hair
- Day At the Pool? Protect Against Yellowing Chlorine
- What Role Does Product Buildup Play in Gray Yellowing?
- Is Your Gray Hair Turing Yellow Due to Protein Treatments?
- Why Cigarette Smoke Causes Gray Hair To Turn Yellow
- Is a Vitamin Deficiency the Cause?
Sure is a long list, isn’t it?
When you’re dealing with a list like that you can’t be blamed for feeling desperate. Seems like pretty much everything you do is making your hair yellow.
But with many of these a few small changes can neutralize the more common causes of that pesky yellow tinge. That and a little TLC can unleash your gray to be gray.
We make doing that easy in most cases.
By answering your most pressing question “How can I get the yellow out of my grey hair?”. Offering you fixes and things to try to correct the yellow.
Why Does Your Gray Hair Turn Yellow – and How to Stop It Now
Stylist Justin Hickox shares the 411.
Some of the points covered in this 8 minute video clip include:
- Environmental causes
- Product usage
- Protein treatments
- Hot styling tools
- Cigarette smoke
- Fixes Explored – like blue shampoo, clarifying shampoo and toner
In addition to what’s shared in the video we cover all those in more depth below.
Of course you may have an additional problem. You may be battling resistant grays too. It’s quite common. If you you might could use ideas of on how to cover stubborn grey hair like the six found in our quick guide there.
But I digress.
Sun Exposure Is A Legit Cause Of Gray Hair Turning Yellow
Remember those long summer days at the pool spent drenched in the sun? Days that left your hair with a gorgeous, yet subtle, sun kissed glow?
But once your hair goes gray over doing the sun exposure is not such a good thing.
In fact some feel sun exposure is one the most common causes of gray hair turning yellow. That’s because the bleaching effect can bleach any remaining melanin in gray hair. That and contribute to it being more than mellow yellow.
Not to mention how the sun can do a number on your hair’s protein and keratin fibers. Which, you guessed it, can cause over exposed strands to turn yellow through oxidation.
Prevention is key. Here are four ideas:
- Avoid too much time in the sunshine.
- Your next best bet is to wear a cute hat or scarf when you do go outside.
- Then there’s sunscreen spray or mist. That can be your secret weapon.
- Or you can simply wear your hair up. This exposes the underside which no one sees.
An Unexpected Cause of Yellow In Gray: Hot Styling Tools
We all use ‘em. But ever consider the yellow hot styling tools can unleash on your gray hair?
It happens one of two ways:
- Either the heat is too high and you may in fact be burning your hair without realizing it.
- Or the heat reacts with the minerals lurking on your hair.
Either way your strands can turn yellow on you. Which can happen easier given grays lack the same amount of natural oils and moisture that protects better pigmented hair.
Another thing? The heat can strip away those oils leaving your strands more prone to hot tool damage. And dull and lifeless too.
The best plan is to limit how often you fire up these tools. In other words use them sparingly.
And when used only at low temperature.
And speaking of sparingly, don’t spare the heat protectant before applying any heat to your hair. The barrier it creates between your tresses and the heat will keep your hair healthier.
And as far as fixes go here are three.
- Use a clarifying shampoo to cleanse your hair of any residue.
- Use a blue shampoo to cancel the yellow.
- You can also use a color-renewing shampoo that has a purple tint to see if it counteract the yellow tones.
Does Trying to Hide the Gray Open the Door to Yellow?
Another cause of gray hair turning yellow is dyeing or bleaching.
Problem is this can change its natural color and texture. Making it more susceptible to yellowing.
Coloring can also damage your hair’s cuticle, which is the outer layer of your hair that protects it from external factors.
A damaged cuticle then can allow pollutants, minerals, and chemicals to penetrate your hair and alter its color.
Such processes can also affect your hair’s pigment. As you know gray hair is not actually gray, but a mixture of white and colored hairs.
White hair has no pigment, while colored hair has yellow, red, and blue pigments.
When you dye or bleach your grays, you may remove some of the blue and red pigments. While leaving behind more yellow pigments. This can make your gray hair appear more yellow or brassy.
To prevent your gray hair from turning yellow due to dyeing or bleaching, you should use products that are specially designed for gray hair.
Also best you can you should avoid products containing ammonia, peroxide, or alcohol. That’s because these can dry out and damage your hair.
Yellowing solutions? As mentioned in the video you should definitely consider using a toner or blue shampoo. They tend to neutralize the yellow tones in your hair.
About Hard nor Well Water and Yellowing Gray Hair
Neither hard or well water and your hair hit it off. That’s due to the high levels of dissolved minerals and metals hiding in both types.
And it’s those minerals (like iron, calcium or manganese) that react with your gray hair to make it look yellow.
As already mentioned, due to a lack of pigment gray hair tends to show deposited gunk like this more readily anyway.
The minerals and metals in such water interact with your strands. And can tarnish your hair leaving behind a yellowish residue. That only builds up over time.
Your best option to prevent that is to install a shower head filter. They remove the minerals before they hit your hair. Either that or lather up (and rinse) with bottled water.
Here’s two fixes to try remove the mineral buildup.
- Clarifying shampoo
- Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Remedy treatment
Want some tips for coloring color resistant gray hair? Our list of 29 is but a click away.
Day At the Pool? How to Protect Against Yellowing Chlorine
It should come as no surprise chlorine isn’t a friend of gray hair. Making it yet another cause of gray hair turning yellow on you.
As you know chlorine is a commonly used disinfectant for swimming pools.
Important as that is it also wreaks havoc on your tresses. Like other causes it attacks the cuticle while stripping away the natural oils and moisture from your hair. Both actions tend to make your locks dry and brittle.
Chlorine can sometimes also bleach out of remove your hair color, making your grays more visible and dull.
While chlorine can affect any hair type or color it is especially bad for gray hair. That’s because it is already more porous and coarse than non-gray hair.
A good precaution is to saturate your hair with tap water before diving in. This will keep your mane from soaking up chlorinated water.
You can also apply a hydrating treatment. Think coconut oil and such. Work into your hair before hitting the water.
Target the ends. This will help fill up the spaces in your hair cuticle and prevent chlorine from being absorbed.
It’s not a bad idea to don a swim cap to keep your hair from contact with the heavily chlorinated pool water. It may not look sexy. But it works.
Afterwards rinse with tap water ASAP.
Then shampoo, condition and run a leave in or mask through your mane.
An ACV rinse when you get home is also smart. Followed by deep conditioning to moisturize and combat the drying effects.
Build up Removal
For buildup the best fix is a Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Hair Remedy clarifying treatment. It’s designed to remove chlorine from hair.
Clarifying shampoo can zap build up too.
Just don’t forget clarifying shampoo can be harsh and drying. It can also affect your color if your hair is dyed.
What Role Does Product Buildup Play in Gray Yellowing?
This one is easy to overlook. Especially if it involves a fav product we love. One that works so well we don’t want to see what it might really doing to our tresses. And only notice too late a yellowish tinge has taken hold.
The usual culprits are all over the map. Like shampoos, styling gels, waxes, conditioners or hairsprays. All can leave just a trace of film behind. One that accumulates and makes your hair unresponsive to things that used to work wonders.
You’ll often find many of these products list sulfates, parabens, and silicones on the label. Which are chemicals that can harm your gray hair if used regularly.
In way of a quick refresher…
- Sulfates are detergents that create foam and lather, but they also strip away the natural oils and moisture from your hair. This can make your gray hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.
- Parabens are preservatives. They prevent bacteria and fungi from growing in your products.
- Silicone is a polymer. It coats your hair and makes it smooth and shiny. But it can also weigh it down and prevents it from absorbing moisture and nutrients.
Most disappointing is all of these chemicals can leave a yellowish tint on your gray hair over time1.
To clean things up a deep cleanse is needed: Like ones delivered by either
- Clarifying shampoo
- Apple cider vinegar
Is Your Gray Hair Turing Yellow Due to Protein Treatments?
As you know protein treatments are applied to your hair to restore strength and prevent breakage.
They restore hair structure lost to excessive sun exposure or a love affair with hot tools.
They also make up for the oil glands in the follicle becoming less active. Which should give the sheen a boost while making your mane feel softer.
Not to get too deep into the science behind this they work by attaching hydrolyzed proteins to the hair cuticle.
That’s what the keratin (and cysteine) listed on the label are. Proteins. They fill in gaps have developed improving the strength, elasticity and health of your hair.
However, protein treatments have a dark side. They can also cause gray hair to turn yellow if they are used too often or incorrectly. This is because the proteins can build up on your hair and create a yellow residue.
This residue can also make your hair feel stiff, brittle, or dry.
So while a little is good, a lot can be hard on your hair. And lead to unwanted yellowing of grays.
The word to remember here is “sparingly”. Initially you may be using them weekly. But then the typical routine calls for monthly application.
Always follow the directions on the package. Paying particular attention to optimal usage frequency.
If you suspect you’ve overdone it with these treatments take a break.
Here a violet toner or purple shampoo can rescue your locks if you’ve overdone it and have the yellow to show for it.
Why Cigarette Smoke Causes Gray Hair To Turn Yellow
Cigarette smoke is one of the worst enemies of gray hair.
It can damage your hair follicles.
In some cases it can cause them to produce less pigment.
Not only that but it can also coat your hair with nicotine and tar, which can make it look yellow. Ugh!
Fact is when you smoke, you expose your hair to thousands of chemicals that can alter its structure and color.
Others can react with the natural oils and proteins in your hair and create a yellow residue.
What’s worse, the yellowing effect of cigarette smoke is more noticeable on gray hair. As already mentioned gray hair tends to show colors of foreign materials more easily, such as water, pollution, or smoke.
To top it off, the National Library of Science reported on a study that found a link between cigarette smoking and going gray young.
Obviously the best way to prevent cigarette smoke from yellowing your gray hair is to quit smoking. Just saying.
A close second is to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Also don’t forget this. Sitting around the campfire directly in the path of that smoke ain’t doing your hair any favors either.
Some of these chemicals can trigger melanin depletion too.
If you already have yellowing in your gray hair due to cigarette smoke, there are some things you can try to remove it.
- You can use a clarifying shampoo that will cleanse your hair of any tobacco residue.
- You can also try a color-renewing shampoo that has a blue tint to counteract the yellow tones.
Could a Vitamin Deficiency Be the Cause?
I will start section out with a disclaimer. The only way to get a handle on any vitamin deficiency is to have blood work done.
Regardless even knowing where you stand will not change or stop hair from graying.
That said some feel a vitamin deficiency can affect the production and quality of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color.
If you poke around online you’ll discover that Vitamin B12 is especially important for maintaining healthy hair. It helps prevent pernicious anemia. That’s a condition that reduces the number of red blood cells and oxygen in the body.
Low levels of oxygen can damage the hair follicles and cause premature graying or yellowing of the hair1.
So a lack of vitamin B12 or an excess of beta-carotene can cause yellowing.
But again it’s unlikely this is something you’ll figure out on your own.
Other Health Related Issues?
These are less common so I’m only going to mention them in passing. Just to round out the list.
- Hormonal Changes
If the underlying cause of your graying, and maybe yellowing, is found on that list it may not be reversible.
Which is also why it’s super important to consult with your doctor. Working with them to get to the exact reason for your hair color changes.
Medical pros can help you determine the which, if any treatment options, are best for you.
Now if you want more easy to follow coloring hacks and quick fixes like these then please follow our Hair Color board on Pinterest. It’s where we share all the good stuff.