The Ultimate Guide to Removing Yellow Tones from Gray Hair

Have you ever noticed how sometimes gray hair can start to look a bit yellow? It’s a pretty common issue, and if you’re seeing it, you’re definitely not alone.

This yellow tinge can really take away from the beautiful, natural look of gray hair. But don’t worry, there’s good news! Understanding why this happens is the first step to finding a solution that works for you.

The key to tackling this yellowing lies in getting to know the causes behind it. It could be anything from the environment around you to the products you use on your hair.

Once you grasp these reasons, finding the right solution becomes much easier. And that’s exactly what we’re here for – to guide you through understanding these causes and exploring effective ways to bring back the natural beauty of your gray hair.

Stick with me, and let’s explore how you can keep your gray hair looking gorgeous and free of any unwanted yellow tones!

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MethodDescriptionFrequencyBest For
Vinegar RinseMix apple cider vinegar with water and use as a rinse after shampooing.Once a weekMild yellow tones, general maintenance
Baking Soda TreatmentMix baking soda with water, apply to hair, leave for a few minutes, then rinse.As neededMild to moderate yellowing, gentle cleansing
Hydrogen PeroxideMix hydrogen peroxide with conditioner, apply, leave for 20 minutes, then rinse.Once a monthStubborn yellowing, more dramatic results
Herbal RinsesUse tea made from betony flowers or hollyhock petals as a rinse.Once a weekNatural solution, mild yellowing
Purple/Silver ShampoosUse shampoos with purple or silver pigments to neutralize yellow tones.As per hair washing routineModerate yellowing, maintenance after salon treatments
Professional TreatmentsSalon-grade toning, clarifying, or color-correcting treatments.As recommended by stylistSevere yellowing, complex hair history
Preventative MeasuresIncludes using filtered water, avoiding chlorine, UV protection, careful product selection, regular trims, healthy diet, and minimal heat styling.OngoingPrevention of yellow tones

Why Does Gray Hair Start Looking Yellow?

Ever wondered why your chic gray hair sometimes gets a brassy yellowish tinge? It’s not just you – this is a pretty common thing. Let’s talk about why it happens.

First off, the environment plays a big role.

Things like pollution, smoke, and even minerals in your water can affect your hair color.

These elements can leave deposits on your hair, leading to that yellowish look. Sun exposure is another big factor. Just like it can change the color of your fabrics, the sun can alter the color of your hair over time.

Then there’s the products we use.

Shampoos, conditioners, and styling products might contain certain chemicals that don’t always play nice with gray hair.

These can gradually build up and give your hair a yellow tint. Even some hair care products specifically made for gray hair can have this effect if they’re not right for you.

Everyone’s hair reacts differently to these factors.

Your friend might swear by a product that just doesn’t work the same way for you. That’s because our hair isn’t just about color; its texture and history (like previous dye jobs or treatments) also influence how it responds to treatments and environmental factors.

So, what does this mean for you? It’s all about finding what works for your unique hair. And don’t worry, we’ll go through some great options in this guide. Whether it’s home remedies or store-bought solutions, there’s definitely a way to bring back the true beauty of your gray hair.

Expert Insights

“Have you noticed your hair color fading a bit during showers? That’s because hot water can make hair color bleed, revealing the underlying yellow tones. But there’s a neat trick to fix this. Try mixing a bit of hair color into your conditioner.”

Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

3 Easy Home Remedies to Reduce Yellow Tones

Are you ready to tackle that pesky yellowing in your gray hair right from home?

It’s absolutely possible! Many people have found success with some simple, everyday items you probably already have in your kitchen or bathroom.

Let’s explore a few tried-and-true home remedies that can help you say goodbye to those yellow tones and hello to gorgeous, natural-looking gray hair.

These methods are not only effective but also easy to do yourself. Here we go!

#1 Vinegar Rinse: An Easy DIY Solution

how do you get the yellow out of gray hair natural method 1 apple cider vinegar

Guess what? Something as simple as vinegar can be a game-changer for your gray hair. According to a handy tip from wikiHow, using apple cider vinegar can help reduce the yellowing in gray hair​​.

It’s all about the acidity in the vinegar, which works to balance your hair’s pH and remove build-up that might be causing the yellow tint. Remember, it’s best to do this once a week for the most effective results.

What to Do:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 gallon of water.
  • After shampooing, rinse your hair with this mixture.
  • Work it through your hair and then rinse out with clean water.
  • Repeat this process once a week for best results.

Also recommended by: LoveToKnow also backs this up, suggesting a mix of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one gallon of water for a post-shampoo rinse.

#2 Baking Soda: More Than Just a Kitchen Staple

how do you get the yellow out of gray hair natural method 2 baking soda

Did you know that baking soda isn’t just for baking or cleaning? It’s also a secret weapon against yellow tones in gray hair.

Your Hair Trends explains that baking soda can lighten hair color and is particularly effective for mildly yellow hair​​.

What to Do:

  • Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water.
  • Wet your hair, and then apply the baking soda mixture.
  • Massage it into your hair and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly and follow with your usual shampoo and conditioner.

Also recommended by: Healthline who tells us that baking soda can also remove stains from hair. It’s sometimes used as a natural remedy to remove semipermanent hair color.

#3 Hydrogen Peroxide: For More Stubborn Yellow Tones

how do you get the yellow out of gray hair natural method 2 hydrogen peroxide

When the yellowing is a bit more stubborn, hydrogen peroxide might be your answer. Hair color experts Ugly Ducking Color suggests a mixture of conditioner and hydrogen peroxide to combat yellow tones in gray hair​​.

This method can provide more dramatic results but remember, it’s a bit stronger, so use it cautiously and not too frequently.

What to Do:

  • Mix 1/8 cup of 10-volume hydrogen peroxide with an equal amount of hair conditioner.
  • Apply the mixture evenly to your hair.
  • Cover with a plastic cap and leave it on for about 20 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair out, then shampoo and condition as usual.
  • Use this treatment sparingly, not more than once a month.

Watch and learn: Yellow Hair – How to get rid of it and AVOID it

here’s a great video from top stylist and hair colorist Justin Hickox who guides you through some great ways to get rid of those nasty yellow tones hair in gray hair for good.

Herbal Solutions for Yellowing Gray Hair

Natural remedies aren’t just limited to kitchen staples. There are also some fantastic herbal solutions that can help reduce the yellowing in gray hair.

These methods are gentle and can be quite effective, especially if you’re looking for a more natural approach.

Betony and Hollyhock Rinse: Nature’s Touch

Herbs like betony and hollyhock aren’t just pretty to look at; they can also be your gray hair’s best friends. Mind Body Green recommends using these herbs to create a tea rinse that can counteract yellow tones​​.

What to Do:

  • Steep purple betony flowers or purple hollyhock petals in hot water.
  • Allow the tea to reach the desired purple shade (darker tea for more intense yellowing).
  • After shampooing, rinse your hair with the tea and work it through your strands.
  • Rinse out with clean water and condition as usual.
  • Use this rinse once a week for consistent results.

Hair Type and Herbal Treatments

It’s important to remember that different hair types can react differently to herbal treatments.

If you have fine or particularly porous hair, the tea might impart a slight tint.

On the other hand, thicker or less porous hair might require a few applications for visible results. As with any new hair treatment, it’s a good idea to do a small patch test first to see how your hair reacts.

KERASTASE Blond Absolu Lumière Illuminating Shampoo | For Lightened, Highlighted and Grey Hair | Nourishes and Illuminates | With Hyaluronic Acid | 8.5 Fl Oz

Products and Shampoos to Combat Yellowing in Gray Hair

While home remedies are great, sometimes you might want something a bit more specialized. Thankfully, there are several commercial products and shampoos designed specifically to reduce yellow tones in gray hair.

Let’s look at some of the most effective options available.

Purple Shampoos: Color Theory at Work

As every good hair stylist knows, the secret to removing yellow from gray hair lies in color theory.

Purple and blue shampoos are fantastic for this purpose because purple is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel, effectively neutralizing yellow tones​​.

hair color wheel infographic

How Do Purple Shampoos Work on Gray Hair?

Purple shampoos are a popular choice for neutralizing yellow tones in gray hair.

But how exactly do they work? It’s all about color balancing.

Purple is directly opposite yellow on the color wheel, which means it can counteract and neutralize yellow hues. When you apply a purple shampoo, it deposits small amounts of purple pigment onto your hair.

This pigment works to diminish the visibility of yellow tones, giving your gray hair a fresher, cooler appearance.

Expert Insights

“Use the purple shampoo for about 3 days- or until the yellow tones are gone from your hair then continue to use it only about once a week. (it can turn your white hair purple if used too much; in that case, you’ll have to use a clarifying shampoo &it will wash right out)”

Megan Barry, Professional Hair Stylist

Which are the best purple shampoos?

We’ve tried and tested all kinds of purple shampoos to see their effects in neutralizing yellow tones in your hair.

The thing to know is that purple shampoos can be quite drying, so make sure you use a good sulfate-free conditioner afterwards too.

Here are our top recommended purple shampoos to banish brassy yellow hair. You can read more about each one in our Best Purple Shampoo reviews.

Best purple shampoos for gray hair at a glance.

ShampooLooks likeBest forBuy it now
Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo for Blonde Hair. BOLD UNIQ Purple Shampoo for Blonde Hair - Toning Shampoo for Blonde, Platinum, Bleached, Grey, Ash, and Silver Hair - Eliminates Brassy, Yellow Tones - Vegan, Paraben & Sulphate Free - 8 Fl Oz
Keeping gray hair cool.
Redken Color Extend Blondage Shampoo Redken Purple Shampoo, With Citric Acid and Vi Violet Pigment, Hair Toner, Color Depositing Formula, For Blonde & Treated Hair, Neutralizes Brassy Tones, Extend Blondage, 10.1 fl.oz./300ml
Darker grays.
Pureology Strength Cure Best Blonde Shampoo. Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Purple Conditioner for Blonde & Lightened Color-Treated Hair, 9 Fl Oz
Bringing gray hair back to life.
Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Ultra-Violet. Kerastase Blond Absolu Bain Ultra-Violet 8.5 oz
Happier and healthier cool gray hair.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Violet Crush Tone Correcting Purple Shampoo. John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Tone-Correcting, DUO set Shampoo + Conditioner, 8.45 Ounce, 1 each
Refreshed gray on a budget.
Fudge Professional Purple Toning Shampoo. HATOLDLIY Fudge Clean Blonde Violet-Toning Shampoo 8.4 oz, Black, (100104033)
Frequent use.
TIGI Bed Head, Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo. TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo, 13.5 Ounce
Less brassiness, more softness.

What to Do:

  • Choose a purple shampoo as recommended by us
  • Apply the shampoo to your hair, lathering twice if recommended.
  • Leave the shampoo on for the duration specified on the product (usually around 5 minutes).
  • Rinse thoroughly and follow with a conditioner that complements the shampoo.

Also recommended by: Katie Goes Platinum suggests the Fanola No Yellow Vegan Shampoo from Amazon. It’s formulated without sulfates and provides a potent toning effect without the harshness of traditional shampoos​​.

Finding the Right Product for Your Hair

Every person’s hair is unique, so what works for one might not work for another. It’s worth experimenting with different products to find the one that suits your hair type and the extent of yellowing.

Also, keep an eye on how your hair feels after using these products, as some can be drying. A good conditioner or deep treatment can help counteract any dryness.

how do you get the yellow out of gray hair before and after toning hair

Professional Treatments for Yellowing Gray Hair

Sometimes, despite our best efforts with home remedies and over-the-counter products, the yellowing in gray hair can be stubborn.

This is where professional salon treatments come into play. Let’s talk about what these treatments entail and when it might be time to book that salon appointment.

The Power of Professional Treatments

Salon treatments typically offer more potent solutions to yellowing issues than home remedies or commercial products.

Professional stylists have access to high-grade gray hair toners, clarifying treatments, and color-correcting products that can effectively target and neutralize yellow tones.

These treatments are often more long-lasting and can provide a level of precision and customization that’s hard to achieve at home.

When to Consider a Salon Visit

So, when should you consider heading to the salon? Here are a few signs:

  • If you’ve tried multiple home remedies and shampoos without satisfactory results.
  • If the yellowing is severe or your hair has a brassy tone that’s difficult to neutralize.
  • If you’re unsure about the cause of the yellowing and need professional analysis.
  • If you have previously colored or chemically treated hair, which might require a more delicate approach.

What to Expect in the Salon

At the salon, your stylist will assess the condition of your hair and the extent of yellowing.

They may suggest a toning treatment, a color correction, or even a deep cleansing treatment to remove build-up.

Remember, professional treatments can vary in intensity, so it’s important to communicate your expectations and any hair history to your stylist.

Expert Insights

“Ask your stylist about a hair toner or hair gloss to remove the yellow in your hair.As these will last approximately six weeks depending of course upon how often you wash your hair.”

Melvin Walden, Professional Hairstylist

Balancing Professional and Home Care

While professional treatments can be highly effective, they don’t have to completely replace your home care routine.

In fact, maintaining the results with suitable at-home products is key.

After a salon treatment, ask your stylist for recommendations on shampoos and conditioners that will help maintain the color and health of your treated hair.

how to stop gray hair turning yellow

How to Stop Gray Hair Turning Yellow

Maintaining that gorgeous, natural gray hair color is not just about fixing yellowing after it happens – it’s also about prevention.

By taking a few smart steps, you can significantly reduce the chances of your hair picking up those unwanted yellow tones. Here are some easy, effective tips to help you keep your gray hair looking its best.

1. Mind Your Water

Did you know that the water you wash your hair with can affect its color? Tap water often contains minerals that can contribute to yellowing.

Consider using a filtered showerhead like this best buy from Amazon to minimize this. Also, try to keep the water temperature cooler, as hot water can open up hair cuticles, leading to color loss.

2. Say No to Chlorine

Swimming is great, but chlorine is not so friendly to gray hair. It can cause discoloration and dryness.

To protect your hair, wear a swimming cap when you hit the pool. If you do get your hair wet with pool water, rinse it with clean, non-chlorinated water as soon as possible.

3. Embrace UV Protection

Just like your skin, your hair needs protection from the sun. UV rays can bleach your hair over time, leading to yellowing.

Look for hair products with UV protection or wear a hat when you’re out in the sun for long periods. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference.

4. Choose Your Products Wisely

Be selective about the hair products you use. Some products can leave a residue that builds up and causes yellowing.

Opt for products specifically designed for gray hair or those that are clarifying and sulfate-free. These tend to be gentler and less likely to affect your hair color.

5. Regular Trims and Healthy Diet

Don’t underestimate the power of regular haircuts. Trimming your hair gets rid of split ends and keeps your hair looking fresh and healthy.

Also, a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can do wonders for your hair’s health and color.

6. Be Careful with Heat Styling

Excessive use of heat styling tools can damage and discolor your hair. Try to limit the use of hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. When you do use them, apply a heat protectant to minimize damage.

Parting words

The journey to maintaining beautiful gray hair is uniquely yours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods and products to find what works best for you.

It’s all about understanding your hair’s needs and responding to them. Remember, gray hair is a crown of glory, and it deserves the best care you can give it.

Finally, keep exploring and enjoy the journey of caring for your gray hair. With the right approach, you can keep those yellow tones at bay and let your beautiful gray hair shine in all its glory.

Here’s to embracing your hair’s natural beauty and feeling confident in your look!

Found your perfect shade? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair dye success stories. Looking for more hair care tips? Check out How to Look After Colored Hair: 11 Expert Secrets For Long-Lasting Color.

hair dye icon

Our Research & Review Process

To ensure our recommendations are as comprehensive and reliable as possible, we’ve undertaken an extensive research effort.

We cite scientific evidence and journals, collect real user reviews and gather impartial perspectives from hair stylists, users, and experts in the field.

Additionally, we conduct hands-on testing by using products and applying hair dyes not only on our own locks but also on real human hair extensions and hair pieces of different hair type, textures and lengths.

This rigorous approach allows us to provide you with insights into which products genuinely live up to their promises.

As always – please consult with a professional hair colorist or stylist for advice on how to color your own hair at home. It’s different for everyone!

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.