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8 best shampoos for grey hair that hydrate and tone brassy locks

From silver vixen to salt and pepper, maintain your colour with our top picks

Jo Hoare
Wednesday 28 July 2021 14:57 BST
<p>Grey hair tends to be strong and stubborn, so moisture-boosting shampoos are a must</p>

Grey hair tends to be strong and stubborn, so moisture-boosting shampoos are a must

With more of us opting to let our natural greys show through it would be easy to think that, minus the monthly salon visits or sessions over the bathroom sink, natural grey hair equals no maintenance. But you’d be wrong.

While it’s true you’ll be getting back those hours you spent in the salon chair, you do still need to give your hair some TLC to ensure your greys looks their very best. So, if you want grey hair that has strangers stopping you in the street to tell you how much they love your shade, the place to start is with your shampoo.

Grey hair shampoos will usually contain a purple toning element, as, just like with blonde hair, natural white or grey can be prone to yellowish tones or brassiness, and the lighter your natural grey the worse these can be.

The violet colour you see when you pour these shampoos out into your hand corrects the yellow. But while toning down these shades is key, grey hair also needs a little more than that, which is why not all blonde hair shampoos work (we found plenty that didn’t).

Session stylist and celebrity hairdresser (and the man who tends to our grey) Chad Maxwell explains: “Greys are naturally a stronger, stubborn texture and may have a wave even if the rest of your hair doesn’t. Because of this, a hydrating shampoo is essential. If the hair isn’t hydrated it will look dull and be harder to style”.

How we tested

When testing grey hair shampoos, we were looking for two main things – how the shampoo cleansed and cared for our greys and what each shampoo specifically did for the colour. We used them in rotation with other shampoos that suited our hair’s needs – which, as a general rule, was about every three to four washes.

The shampoos that impressed us the most delivered a nourishing and moisturising cleanse whilst also boosting the tone of our greys and removing and yellowing. We tested these on hair that’s around 95 per cent natural grey, that sits in the whiter toned spectrum, and here’s what we found...

The best shampoos for grey hair for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Kevin Murphy blonde angel wash: £24, Kevinmurphystore.com
  • Best for darker grey tones – Redken color extend graydiant shampoo: £18, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for whiter grey tones – Sachajuan silver shampoo: £14.89, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best bargain – L’Oreal elvive colour protect purple shampoo: £3, Boots.com
  • Best for bespoke toning – The Hair Boss colour correcting drops blonde: £8.99, Thehairboss.co.uk
  • Best for brassiness – Fudge clean blonde damage rewind shampoo: £15, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for salt and pepper hair – Osmo super silver shampoo: £9.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for frizz – Aveda blonde revival purple tonight shampoo: £23.50, Cultbeauty.co.uk

Kevin Murphy blonde angel wash, 250ml

Kevin Murphy blonde angel wash indybest.jpeg

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Yes, it’s more expensive than a lot of the grey shampoos out there, but if you want everyone to think you’ve just had your colour done and splashed out on a salon moisturising treatment then this is the one. Boosting lighter greys to a pure pearlescent finish and giving more silvery tones a mirror-like shine, this gives a toner-style effect and leaves even super-dry ends soft and nourished.

Packed with shea butter, it calms the straggliest and wiriest (yes, even if you’ve got regrowth from plucking your greys) of hair, leaving it much easier to shape and style. Still put off by the investment? Use this once a month like a toner for a brightening treatment – pop it on and leave for five minutes, and for the rest of the month switch in one of our more-affordable options below.

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Redken color extend graydiant shampoo, 300ml

Redken color extend graydiant shampoo indybest.jpeg

Best: For darker grey tones

Rating: 9/10

There’s plenty of shampoos aimed towards lighter greys, and most blonde-targeted shampoos will also work, but for more pewter and gunmetal tones of grey there’s less on offer. Our grey is a mix of lighter white on top and a darker hue underneath, and this shampoo was perfect for those darker areas – though it also toned the lighter pieces to a chic darker silvery finish. We recommend you team it with the matching conditioner (£16.50, Lookfantastic.com) for the best results though.

If you also have different shades of grey (no 50 jokes here) this is a lovely no-commitment way to experiment with a subtle all-over colour change. A word of warning if you like that super bright platinum-blonde grey effect – this shampoo and conditioner combo may be too dark for you, but we loved experimenting with it.

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Sachajuan silver shampoo, 250ml

Sachajuan silver shampoo  indybest.jpeg

Best: For whiter grey tones

Rating: 9/10

The deep purple hue of this shampoo makes for impressive toning and colour boosting. It transformed our lighter shades of grey into dazzling white highlights. Unusually for such a power-packed toning shampoo it also didn’t leave a purple hue, even when used over a few concurrent washes – nor does it leave the dreaded blue nail effect or stain white tiles. It’s also great if you’re in a hurry as most toning shampoos need to be left on for a few minutes for the best effect, but with this you can just wash and go.

If you’re a darker grey you’ll still enjoy the nourishing benefits and colour boost but the effect won’t be as dramatic, so considering it’s a more costly option you might want to choose another of our favourites.

  1. £14 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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L’Oreal elvive colour protect purple shampoo, 200ml

L’Oreal elvive colour protect purple shampoo indybest.jpeg

Best: Bargain

Rating: 7/10

If you’re new to toning shampoos and want to try one out with a low-cost commitment or are just on a budget in general, then this offering from L’Oreal elvive is the best all-rounder for grey hair we found under £10.

Borrowing a version of the tech from its pricier sisters (L’Oreal also owns Redken and Kerastase) this dark-violet toned shampoo quickly and effectively neutralises brassiness from all shades of grey hair. From the first wash the change in colour is impressive and used as a once a week treatment it more than keeps pesky yellows at bay. We found its colour correcting properties worked as well as those we tried that were three times the price.

There is, however, a slight pay off for this brightening effect though, with conditioning and nourishing – if your hair is very heat damaged or processed you might find repeated use of this quite drying, so make sure you team it with a powerful conditioner and weekly masks.

  1. £3 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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The Hair Boss colour correcting drops blonde, 50ml

The Hair Boss colour correcting drops blonde indybest.jpeg

Best: For bespoke toning

Rating: 9/10

If you’ve already found your shampoo holy grail that cleanses, nourishes and leaves your hair easy to style but want to tone your grey at the same time then these are for you. These clever little drops from celebrity hair stylist Lisa Shepherd can be added to any shampoo to add colour boosting and yellow neutralising oomph. We love that it mixes easily into even the creamiest and thickest of shampoos, meaning if your hair needs a heavily nourishing shampoo base you can still tone it without compromising on moisture.

Use more or less depending on your desired brightening and de-yellowing needs – a little does go a really long way, making this a very budget-friendly option. We found one drop on shoulder length hair was more than enough for weekly maintenance with a two or three drop blend once a month. Really need to kick out those yellow tones? Add it to both your shampoo and conditioner for a double hit.

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Fudge clean blonde damage rewind shampoo, 250ml

Fudge clean blonde damage rewind shampoo indybest.jpeg

Best: For brassiness

Rating: 8/10

Got serious yellow tones that you want wiped out in one wash? You need this. An unbeatable mix of serious violet pigments and nourishing technology, this is by far the quickest and best shampoo we found for restoring a clean, crisp tone to all shades of grey. It also contains technology to help remove product build-up which can also lead to dullness in greys, so if you’re a frequent user of styling products you’ll notice a huge difference.

With such power does come the purple pitfall though – be careful not to splash this around too much as it will leave a mark on walls or towels, and if you don’t want that 1950s movie star ashy platinum effect it might be too lightening for you.

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Osmo super silver shampoo, 300ml

Osmo super silver shampoo  indybest.jpeg

Best: For salt and pepper hair

Rating: 7/10

If you’re not totally grey and just starting to grow some natural colour through, then you’ll still predominantly have your pre-greys hair texture. If that’s oily or needs frequent washing then a powerful toner that lifts greys to that cool ashy effect but acts as an effective cleanser is necessary. Sound like you? Say hello to this version by Osmo.

Incredibly effective at colour transformation – just one wash knocked out the yellowy tones caused by a long weekend bleaching our grey in the sun – though it does feel quite stripping so people with a full head of grey might find it too harsh. It’s also another purple peril in the bathroom – you might even want to wear gloves for this one unless you like the violet nail bed effect.

  1. £9 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Aveda blonde revival purple tonight shampoo, 200ml

Aveda blonde revival purple tonight shampoo indybest.jpeg

Best: For frizz

Rating: 8/10

Grey hairs can have a mind of their own, growing in curly or wavy even if the rest of your hair or your pre-grey locks were sleek and straight. This means frizzing and frizziness can be a massive issue, and if you’re trying to blend your greys in then no one needs a rogue rough-texture straggler blowing their cover. If you want to ensure your greys stay soft, manageable and in place then you need something with serious moisture like this shampoo from Aveda.

We found even on dry hair (former full head of bleach here) it smoothed and de-frizzed so effectively that even when we forgot our conditioner one day it still looked and felt soft and hydrated. It also gets bonus points for being cruelty free and vegan, and having eco-friendly recyclable packaging.

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The verdict: Shampoos for grey hair

Kevin Murphy’s blonde angel wash was easily the best all rounder for both colour boosting and nourishing. However, we’d definitely recommend the versatile and affordable hair drops from The Hair Boss as a savvy purchase.

Give thirsty tresses a little TLC with the best hair masks for hydrating dry and damaged locks

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