How To Combat Yellow Tinges In Gray Hair

Prevent yellow in Grey or white hair

Whether we like it or not as we age and our hair begins to turn white or gray. But more often than not it doesn’t all turn into a shiny solid gray or while. Instead, many of us start to get yellow tinges. The desire to have ice-white hair can be as difficult as covering gray because our hair tends to turn yellow over time. However, we can make many small changes that keep our white and silver hair from discoloring.  There are even preventative measures we can take to stop the discoloration caused by external factors. Let’s go over some of the reasons that your gray or white hair turns yellow, as well as ways to avoid them.

Understanding Melanin and hair color

Let’s start by forming a basic understanding of the reasons that your gray or white hair turns yellow. Hair, eye, and skin color are caused by a pigment called melanin. The lighter the melanin, the lighter your hair. The darker the melanin, the darker your hair. When you start to have white hair, it’s because you’re down to the last bit of melanin available to add any color at all, not the complete absence of melanin. Because there is still some melanin available, you might still have a bit of color included in the white, which can cause it to have a yellow tinge.

But what causes the yellow tinge? Let’s take a look at the external factors that could be at play. 


Research has shown that some medications (like thyroid and hormone medications) can create yellow tinges to white hair. The same goes for some medicated shampoos. Unfortunately, the only way to stop the discoloration is to stop using the shampoo. This leads to a difficult decision because you have to choose what is more important to you: the medication’s effects or not having yellow tinges in your hair. The choice may be a simple one for you, depending on the reason you’re taking the medication or using the shampoo. Regardless, if you’re struggling to decide, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor and get their medical perspective to aid your decision.  

The Local Water

When it comes to the yellowing of your hair, one sneaky culprit you would never suspect is your town’s water supply! I grew up in West Texas where water was sometimes piped in hundreds of miles. By the time the water reached us, it had a super high amount of minerals in it. Everyone knew you were not supposed to drink it back then, but many did anyway. In other areas with hard water, especially well and bore water, they add in a lot of chemicals. Over time minerals will build on the hair shaft. You can remove the build-up with specialty shampoos.

The build-up of calcium is another culprit. Consider installing a showerhead or water purifier that removes excess minerals or an overabundance of calcium to help prevent yellowing in your hair.


Unfortunately, lifestyle choices, such as smoking, can be major contributors to the yellowing of your hair. If you find yourself in a situation where smoking has stained your hair, there are correcting shampoos that can help try to help remove some of the negative effects. Keep in mind that these will just be temporary fixes until you stop smoking, which is the suggested solution.

Swimming pools and chlorine can also wreak havoc on white hair, so consider adding a swim cap to your swimming ensemble. Also, always make sure you rinse your hair to remove any chlorine residue that may have seeped under your cap.

Hot tools

Using heated tools like curling irons or hair dryers can also cause yellowing because they can scorch your hair. Avoid using styling products like mousse, gels, and hairspray in coordination with the use of heated styling products. Combining products and heated tools will elevate the heat level even more, creating scorched yellow marks. Instead, place a heat protection serum on your hair before using hot tools. Try to find a product that has added heat protection plus UV protection and will never weigh your hair down. Our social media manager swears by the Kenra Blow-Dry spray.


Hairstyles that heavily rely on the use of chemicals can also provoke traces of yellow. To avoid this, consider a new style and drop the perm.

Home hair care products

Before choosing any hair care products, take a look at what they contain. If you use products with silicones, parabens, and sulfates, you’ll find that they can cause discoloration, especially with repeated use. Try not to use anything that’s a much darker color than your actual hair because it can make a difference in how your hair reacts. Also, natural hair products are the best option, and if you find yourself having dull or discolored hair, visiting with your stylist can open your eyes to the best products for you and your situation.

If your hair is scorched or stained yellow, we recommend that you not use a blue shampoo. Keep in mind that blue and yellow create green, so you may just end up with green hair!  It’s better to try your best to remove the yellow first using a specialty shampoo. You should also consider adding a toner to your hair care routine, it helps to nourish and strengthen your hair without using any harsh chemicals.

Seek professional help for yellowing hair

If any or all of the above are not working, it may be time to seek your hairdresser’s help to remove the yellow. They might have to resort to cutting or coloring it, but it is still good to understand the possible causes so you can prevent the same problem from reoccurring.

Read Next:

The Best Haircuts for Thick Coarse Hair

6 Great Shampoos for Gray Hair

How to combat yellow tinges in hair


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