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How to Get Rid of Yellowish Tone in Gray Hair

It’s a huge step in any woman’s life when she decides to embrace her beautiful crown of gray hair. Gray hair can come in many different shades, and can sometimes be more white than gray, but whatever the shade, there is no doubt that it is absolutely stunning.

If you have decided to embrace your gray hair, you may have noticed that it behaves much differently than it did when it was still pigmented.

As a hairstylist, I have had many clients express their bewilderment as their gray hair grows out to be coarser, curlier, or straighter than their pigmented hair.

Another new characteristic that you may notice in your silver locks is a yellowish tint. Although this is a common problem, it doesn’t make it any less bothersome when it happens to you. You may wonder why your gray hair is starting to yellow, and how you can get rid of the yellow tint.

In this article, we will answer the question of why gray hair sometimes develops a yellow tone. Then, we will discuss these three ways to  eliminate a yellowish tone in gray hair:

  1. Protect your gray hair from environmental damage.
  2. Protect your gray hair from chemicals, heat damage, and product buildup.
  3. Use yellow-eliminating toners.

Why Is My Gray Hair Turning Yellow?

reasons why gray hair turn yellow

Perhaps you have asked yourself the above question. Unfortunately, there is no one answer. But, it is theorized that because gray hair lacks pigment, it is easily pigmented by its environment.

Here are a few things that can give gray hair a yellowish hue:

  • Exposure to the sun
  • Exposure to pollution in the air
  • Hard water
  • Smoking
  • Heat damage
  • Deposits from shampoos and conditioners
  • Bleach or hair lighteners
  • Health conditions or medications

Now, you may be looking at this list thinking, “Great. Pretty much everything is making my hair yellow.” While it’s true that a variety of factors can contribute to the yellowing of gray hair, it can also be fixed pretty easily.

With a few adjustments to your daily routine and some occasional maintenance, you can eliminate the yellow hue in your hair and display your silver locks with confidence.

Note: Certain health problems, vitamin deficiencies, and medications can cause yellowing of the skin and hair. If you suspect that any of these factors could be the problem, make sure to consult your medical provider.

How to Prevent Yellowish Tones in Gray Hair?

You can get rid of yellowish-gray hair with hydrogen peroxide but it will cause damage to your hair.

As we said many factors cause brassy gray hair, and we have described how to brighten your gray hair or prevent yellowing gray hair below.

Protect Your Gray Hair From Environmental Damage

The things we come into contact with every day are absorbed by our skin and hair. It’s no wonder then that environmental factors can play a role in our appearance. Here are a few factors that can contribute to the yellowing of gray hair:

Sun Damage

Remove Yellowing Tones in Gray Hair from Sun Damage

Sun damage has been a hot topic in recent decades, as sun safety has come to the awareness of the public. Instead of rubbing ourselves with oil and laying out in the sun, we are now applying sunscreen before we even step out of the house.

The sun can also have a bleaching effect on the hair, which is why after spending a summer in the sun, your hair has a “sun-kissed” look with subtle highlights. However, if you have gray hair, this bleaching effect can also cause yellowing.

Getting rid of the yellowish tones: The best way to counteract the effect of the sun’s rays on your beautiful silver hair is to wear a hat. If you don’t want to cover your lovely hairstyle with a hat, there is also another solution!

There are plenty of sunscreen mists for the hair and scalp. By protecting your hair and scalp from the sun, you are both protecting your health and maintaining your silvery locks.


use protective products to save gray hair from turning yellow

Pollution in the air can be difficult to avoid, especially if you live in a city or an area that has a lower air quality.

Of course, I am not going to tell you to lock yourself in your house and never go anywhere, but there are ways to protect your hair while you are out and about.

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: One way to protect your hair from pollution is by creating a barrier between your hair and the air. Depending on the texture of hair, this could include hairspray, hair sheen spray, a light oil, or some other after-styling spray.

By adding this barrier, you are preventing your hair from soaking in the pollutants in the air. This is especially important if you have porous hair.

Hard Water

Depending on where you live and what your water source is, you may struggle with hard water. According to, “Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, largely calcium and magnesium. You may have felt the effects of hard water, literally, the last time you washed your hands.

Depending on the hardness of your water, after using soap to wash you may have felt like there was a film of residue left on your hands. When using hard water, more soap or detergent is needed to get things clean, be it your hands, hair, or your laundry.”

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: The minerals in hard water can affect your hair in more ways than one, including the tone of your hair. But don’t despair! It is usually fairly simple to purchase a water filter that can attach right to your shower head.

I have one, and I absolutely love it! Also, you may need to deeply cleanse your hair every few weeks with a clarifying shampoo in order to eliminate any mineral buildup.

2. Protect Your Gray Hair From Chemicals, Heat, and Buildup and Bad Habits

Chemical processes, heat damage, and product buildup can all cause a yellow tint to show up in your gray hair. We will discuss a few ways that you can counteract these damaging factors and thereby maintain your cool, silvery color.


fixing gray hair turned yellow from bleach

Bleaching or lightening your hair can create a yellowish tint. As a hairstylist, I have seen this the most with my clients who are transitioning from their colored hair to gray. This can be a frustrating process because when hair is bleached it naturally presents an orangish-yellow color, which is probably not what you’re going for.

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: If you are transitioning from your tinted hair to your natural gray hair, your stylist may need to lighten both the colored hair and the silver hair in order to blend them well.

Your stylist will need to tone your hair afterward in order to eliminate the inevitable yellowish hue. It’s important that you don’t try bleaching or lightening your hair by yourself because this can have disastrous results.

Heat Damage

use hairspray to protect gray hair from turning yellow

Repeated use of heat on your hair can have a damaging effect on not only the structure of your hair but the color as well.

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: There are two things you can do to avoid damaging your hair with heat. First, try to avoid styling your hair with heat every day, and don’t style your hair with the highest heat setting.

Second, use a heat protectant if you are going to style your hair using heat. Heat protectants can come in the form of sprays or creams, and are very effective in preventing heat damage.

Product Buildup

use clarifying shampoo to remove yellowish tone from gray hair

Just as hard water can cause buildup on the hair, products can do the same. It is important to select good quality products to avoid yellowing your gray hair.

Usually, the simpler and more natural the product, the better it is going to be for your hair and the less buildup you will have.

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: Another important part of eliminating product buildup is using a clarifying shampoo. Every few weeks, thoroughly cleanse your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup.

This will keep your hair looking voluminous, and it will help eliminate any product buildup that is causing a yellowish tint to appear in your hair.

Bad Habits

How to Remove Yellow Tones in Gray Hair from Smoking

Smoking is an extremely difficult addiction to quit, but if you resolve to quit smoking, you will not only notice an improvement in your health, but also your hair. The chemicals and debris in tobacco smoke can cause yellowing of the skin and hair.

How to get rid of the yellowish tones: If you have the habit of smoking tobacco, that may be the cause of the yellow tint in your gray hair. As discussed earlier, hair tends to soak up the pollution of the air surrounding it, so if you are filling your immediate surroundings with smoke, your hair is basically smoking too.

Although it isn’t easy, with the help of an understanding medical provider and a good support system, you can kick the habit of smoking and improve your health and your looks.

How to Remove Yellow from Gray Hair Using Toners

If you have been protecting your gray hair from as many environmental and chemical pollutants as possible, but you’re still seeing that bothersome yellow hue, it may be time to use a hair toner.

Hair toners are less damaging than hydrogen peroxide and more effective than other gray hair brightening techniques.

There are a variety of different toners available, from demi-permanent hair colors to purple shampoos/conditioners, to color-depositing masks.

We will discuss these types of toners and how you can use them to eliminate the yellow tint in your silver hair.

Use a Demi-Permanent Hair Color

Demi-Permanent Hair Color to Remove Yellowish Tone from Gray Hair

Using a demi-permanent toner is the most effective way to eradicate the yellowish tint in your hair and showcase your icy-silver locks.

Demi-permanent toners are used for depositing color and adding a different tone to the hair. They don’t lift color out of the hair, but by using the correct toner, you can deposit a color into the hair that will cancel out the yellow.

The best toners for eliminating a yellow color are blue or purple. As you can see from the color wheel, blue and purple are on the opposite side of yellow and orange. By applying blue or purple demi-permanent hair color to your yellow-gray hair, you are able to cancel out the yellow color.

How to Use a Demi-Permanent Toner to Get Rid of the Yellowish Tones in Gray Hair

Liquid, demi-permanent toners are very effective and are the easiest to use. Here are a few tips to guide you when using a demi-permanent toner:

  1. Before you start toning your hair, make sure you have all of the supplies needed, which may include the developer/processing solution, gloves, a cape or apron, clips, combs, and a plastic cap.
  2. Make sure to follow the directions on the package when preparing and mixing your toner.
  3. Set your timer for the recommended processing time, but make sure to check your hair occasionally to see its progress. Some toners are stronger than others, and some hair is more absorbent, so you want to check your hair often to make sure that it isn’t becoming too toned (turning blue or purple).

Use a Purple/Blue Shampoo and Conditioner

Use a Purple/Blue Shampoo and Conditioner to Get Rid of Yellow Tones

Purple/blue shampoos and conditioners can help to eliminate the yellow pigment from hair by depositing the purple or blue color to the hair, thereby toning down the appearance of yellow.

Unlike a demi-permanent hair toner, these shampoos and conditioners don’t actually penetrate into the hair. They simply coat the hair with a light tint of blue or purple.

Using a purple/blue shampoo and conditioner can help maintain your desired color after toning it with a demi-permanent color, or they can prevent your hair from developing a yellowish hue to begin with.

If you have gray or white hair, it’s always a great idea to add blue/purple shampoos and conditioners to your hair care routine.

Use a Purple Hair Mask

Purple hair masks are similar to purple conditioners, but they can be a bit more potent and are therefore better for those more stubborn yellow hues. There are many product lines that offer purple masks, so you have an abundance to choose from!

Also, the great thing about purple hair masks is that, in addition to depositing a yellow-counteracting color, they can strengthen and moisturize the hair.

After applying your hair mask, put on a plastic cap to keep your hair damp and prevent the heat from your scalp from dissipating. This will enhance the effect of your purple hair mask.

If you have decided to embrace your natural grays, congrats! Gray hair is stunning, sophisticated, and classic. If you apply the tips from this article, you can keep the yellowish tones at bay and rock your gray hair with confidence!

In Summary

  • Sun damage, hard water, and pollution can cause yellowing of gray hair. Make sure to protect your hair from these damaging environmental factors.
  • Protect your hair from chemical and heat damage in order to avoid yellowing.
  • Use a demi-permanent hair toner to eliminate yellow tones from the hair.
  • Maintain your ideal color by using purple/blue shampoos, conditioners, and masks.