5 Simple Steps to Give Yourself a Gray Hair Makeover

Clothing and makeup for gray hair can be a bit different. Here are tips and tricks for a gray hair makeover to help you shine.
Give yourself a gray hair makeover, woman in a sweater

As your hair’s pigment seemingly evaporates into thin air, you might notice that your favorite makeup and clothing colors no longer look as good on you as they once did. That’s because gray hair, whether salt and pepper, silver, or pure white, tends to have a cooler undertone, which changes how your tried-and-true color palette works. The best way to recapture the contrast is to do a little sleuthing and give yourself a gray hair makeover.

If you’re one of the multitudes of people who have recently embraced their gray hair, either because salons were closed or because it was just time for a change, it’s time to learn how to best match makeup and clothing colors to flatter your new locks. You’ll find that the color schemes that best suited you pre-gray may not necessarily be your go-to colors any longer. Here are some steps to help with the transition.

Pinpoint Your Gray

First, determine what type of gray you are working with. There are many shades — not 50, per se, but many. You likely fall into one of five general categories — salt and pepper, pewter, champagne, silver, or pure white. Once you’ve pinpointed your category, look at its tones and highlights. As we mentioned, most are cool, but pewter tends to have an ashy green cast, while champagne can have a slightly warm, yellowish tone. Take this into consideration when choosing your clothing and makeup.

women with various shades of gray hair

Figure Out Your Skin’s Undertone

You likely know your complexion’s undertone — cool or warm — and that will serve you well in determining your best new color matches. If you don’t know it, here’s a quick primer: Check the veins on the back of your wrist — are they blue or green? Bluish/purplish veins mean your skin has a cool tone, while green veins denote a warm tone. If you can’t figure this out, you’re likely neutral — which means you can wear pretty much whatever you want — but you’ll want to consider the following tips to balance your gray anyway.

Pick Colors With Depth and Vibrancy

Sure, you can stick to a rigid set of rules, like the seasonal color analysis of “I’m a Winter” or “I’m an Autumn,” in which hair, skin, and eye color dictate what you wear. But here’s the thing: That’s not fun — and it can be restrictive. Instead, adopt this overall idea: Because your hair’s pigmentation has softened, choosing makeup and clothing colors that have depth and/or vibrancy introduces color back into your face. But that doesn’t mean you should snap up all the brightest reds, boldest blues, or hottest pinks; that can become visually overwhelming due to the high contrast between color and noncolor (your hair). Instead, seek colors that are a few shades deeper than these super-bright hues.

Gray haired woman in a blazer with a fashionable scarf

Dynamic midrange colors and rich jewel tones, like sapphire, turquoise, emerald, ruby, and amethyst, have the right amount of vibrancy and depth to brighten your complexion without overpowering you. Pick what you’re attracted to — typically what has always complimented your skin’s undertones (warm or cool!) — and then dial it down if it’s too bright or up if it’s too bland to balance the gray.

Choose Universally Flattering Hues

Midrange colors — warm pink, teal, medium gray, soft white, and medium violet — look great when your natural pigmentation is low. Since gray hair tends to be cooler, cool hues like lavender and periwinkle also play up features beautifully — even if you have a naturally warm complexion. Basic black, on the other hand, can appear harsh. If you feel like it’s hard on you, go with navy or charcoal gray. Skip beige, however; it tends to muddy the complexion once hair’s gone gray.

Woman with salt and pepper gray hair wearing a lavender shirt

Where to Wear Color

For clothing, concentrating color around the neckline helps brighten the face. When it comes to makeup, focus color on a favorite feature. Here’s the thing: You want to add warmth and definition to balance gray hair, whether your complexion is cool or warm. Always give your cheeks a touch of peachy or rose-pink blush to introduce warmth, and make sure your brows are subtly defined with a hue that’s a tad lighter than your hair color was before you went gray.

Line your eyes with brown or navy, and make sure your lips get a warm burst of rose, peach, apricot, or red. If you feel really bold, dress your pout in deep magenta or pomegranate pink. Adding splashes of color to your makeup will bring out your facial features and flatter your lighter hair tone.

As we age, our hair goes through a bit of an evolution. It seems like it’s an ever-changing feature from the time we’re very young through our formative years and, finally, into adulthood. You’ll find ways to bring out your beauty and play with the varying shades of gray and white as your hair color follows its natural progression. 

Tools to Bring Out the Vibrancy in Your Gray Hair Makeover

Lavender V-Neck Blouse

Chiffon V-Neck Blouse, $29.99

Benefits: The light lavender color of this top will perfectly compliment your hair and skin tones, and it’s made of a soft fabric that will pair well with jeans or slacks.

bareMinerals Statement Luxe-Shine Lipstick

bareMinerals Statement Luxe-Shine Lipstick, $14.66

Benefits: The deep red of this statement lipstick will add a pop of color when your pigment lightens. Plus, it’ll add a bit of shine and make your lips perfectly kiss-worthy.

Benefits: This charcoal gray top will flatter your lighter hair tone – especially as your hair color increasingly lightens.

Cotton Silk Scarf

Emerald Cotton and Silk Scarf, $13.95

Benefits: We love accessories, and few will flatter your gray hair better than this brilliant emerald silk scarf. Dress up a jacket or add a little warmth with this beauty (plus, it comes in a wide variety of other colors!).

Honest Creme Cheek Blush Plus Lip Color

Honest Creme Cheek Blush Plus Lip Color, $20

Benefits: We love accessories that work double duty, and this creamy blush/lip duo will add some soft color to enhance your natural beauty.

Benefits: The brilliant red of this dress will flatter your lighter hair tone, and the tie belt and wrap style will help enhance your curves for a lovely finished look.

LAURA GELLER NEW YORK Kajal Longwear Kohl Eyeliner

Laura Geller Kohl Eyeliner, $20.90

Benefits: This kohl eyeliner glides on and allows for even blending and an all-day look.

Benefits: The deep plum color on this gorgeous velvet jumpsuit will pair well with any shade of gray, and the outfit itself will transition from office to a night out in a pinch.

Read Next:

Is Your White Hair Color Washing You Out? Here’s What To Do!

5 Best Products for Curly Gray Hair

How To Combat Yellow Tinges In Gray Hair


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