How to Tame Gray and Wiry Hair

Senior Woman Sitting on a Sofa With a Book
A woman with gray hair reading a book on the sofa. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When faced with gray hair, the biggest change can be learning to style it. While the tone is often brightening and complementary, the texture tends to be coarse and wiry. Gray hair requires a healthy dose of nourishment to stay soft and manageable. This means overhauling the products in your stash to favor deep conditioners and lightweight yet moisture-rich stylers. Top this off by making friends with your flat iron, and you'll see smoothness and shine that rivals your previous coloring.

Step 1

Massage a moisturizing shampoo into your scalp, using your fingertips to work the product in. This will stimulate blood vessels and encourage healthy hair regrowth. Switch this out for a gray hair–specific shampoo a few times a month to counteract environmental-induced color changes.

Step 2

Rinse the shampoo from your hair completely.

Step 3

Coat your hair from root to tip in a deep conditioner once a week, and allow it to set in for 5 minutes before rinsing. The intense moisture will soften hair and make it easier to style.

Step 4

Gently squeeze the ends of your hair dry with a microfiber towel. Microfiber towels are less harsh at drying than regular towels and will not disturb the hair cuticle.

Step 5

Work a dime-sized amount of clear leave-in conditioner through the ends of your hair. Apply leave-in conditioner every time you wash your hair, to lock in moisture provided by your deep conditioner or regular conditioner.

Step 6

Allow your hair to air dry to minimize heat-induced dryness and damage.

Step 7

Smooth over particularly coarse sections of hair with a flat iron on low heat. This will add softness and shine.

Step 8

Spritz the ends of your hair with an alcohol-free shine spray. Alcohols and heavy products will dry out and dull the hair, so it's best to keep things light. Apply shine spray every time you wash your hair, but skip out on it on days between washing to avoid weighing your hair down.

Things You'll Need

  • Moisturizing shampoo

  • Gray hair shampoo

  • Deep conditioner

  • Microfiber towel

  • Clear leave-in conditioner

  • Flat iron

  • Alcohol-free shine spray


Wash your hair every second or third day, as opposed to every day, to avoid drying out your hair. In lieu of a wash, apply dry shampoo directly to your scalp and brush it out to add volume.

Opt for a layered haircut with even edges that is shoulder length or shorter. This will make your hair easy to style and prevent it from appearing unruly. It will also do much of the work for you, framing your face without the need for excess styling and upkeep.

Have hair professionally trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks to keep ends healthy and manageable.

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