How To Soften Coarse Gray Hair

We got all the hacks to help you smoothen the texture of your coarse grays.

Reviewed by Madison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist Madison Dufour Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on
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As you grow older, your hair goes through changes that may leave it damaged. This damage makes your gray locks rough. But there are ways you can soften coarse gray hair. Your hair incurs damage because of different factors that impact the cells inside your hair follicles (1). Over time, gray hair becomes dull, dry, unkempt, and difficult to manage (2). However, we have the right techniques and tips to soften your hair and make it healthy and shiny. Scroll down to check them out!

Why Is Gray Hair Coarse?

Woman holding her coarse gray hair tightly
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Changes in your hair follicle functionality, moisture absorption, and moisture retention accelerate with age. These may cause your hair to become unmanageable, wild, and dry(2).Also, the hormones that change throughout the body also change and flow through the hair follicles and can change the texture.
  2. The weathering of the hair shaft is another sign of hair aging (3). Styling hair with heating tools, over-grooming, pollution, UV rays, coloring and bleaching, and chemical treatments can cause this weathering and eventually lead to cuticle loss and hair fracture. These hair fractures weaken the hair and make it dull, frizzy, rough, and tangled (4).
  3. Rough hair is a sign of hair damage that results from the misuse of hair products and lack of hair care (4).
  4. Stretching your hair and brushing it while it is wet can also lead to fractures in the hair shaft. These fractures can result in rough hair (4).
  5. With age, your hair loses its color and becomes fragile and dry due to changes in the hair follicle structure (5).
  6. It is known that oxidative stressi  Stress caused by an imbalance between unstable oxygen molecules and antioxidants within the body is linked to rapid aging (3). Aging also causes a decline in the body’s antioxidant defense system, aggravating oxidative stress (6). Anecdotal evidence suggests that this oxidative stress may cause hair to go coarse. The heat from the sun could also be responsible for hair coarseness (7).
  7. Our hair gets its color from melanocytesi  Cells that are present within the skin, eyes, and hair follicles that produce and store melanin . These melanocytes may control more than just hair color (8). They also affect the production of the keratin-producing cells. As you age, the production of keratin in your hair may reduce and lead to coarseness and damage.

Here are some tips and techniques to make your coarse gray hair smooth again.

How To Soften Coarse Gray Hair?

Woman applying essential oils to soften her gray hair
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Stop Using Chemicals: Avoid chemical treatments, colors, bleaches, and perms. These treatments can severely damage the hair cuticles (3). You may instead opt for natural DIY remedies or vegan coloring and straightening products. You can also go for organic alternatives to chemical treatments, hair dyes, and smoothing treatments.
  2. Stop Using Heating Tools: Heat damages hair. Curling irons, flat irons, blow dryers, straightening treatments, perms, and crimping tools require heat. Putting your hair through so much heat every day can leave it rough and dry. Find alternatives for heating tools.
  3. Find The Right Products: Hair damage can be repaired using the right hair products (4). Find a mild shampoo that doesn’t strip your hair dry. Use a conditioner whenever you wash your hair.
  4. Stop Over-Grooming Your Hair: Excessive hair washing or combing can lead to hair damage. Wash your hair twice a week. If you have an oily scalp, opt for using a co-wash or a conditioning cleanser mid-week. Do not comb or style your hair too much. Give your hair a few days off and let it fall naturally. Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on your hair.
  5. Choose The Right Hairstyle: Sometimes, picking the right hairstyle can transform your hair. Excess volume at the bottom can weigh your hair down, stretch it, and cause roughness.
  6. Oil Your Hair: Oiling hair keeps it hydrated. It also enriches your hair with nutrients and makes it manageable. Oils also coat your hair strands and make hair smooth.
  1. Cleanse Your Scalp: Under washing your hair can also lead to hair damage. Excess use of serums, protectants, volumizers, dry shampoos, conditioners, and regular shampoos can leave residue on your scalp. Even hair dyes and chemical treatments penetrate the hair and leave chemical residues, causing hair damage. Wash your hair with shampoo mixed with apple cider vinegar once a week. This ensures no product residue or dirt is left behind.
  2. Have A Healthy Diet: Your body produces less antioxidants as you age. Hence, have fruits that can increase antioxidant production naturally. Have a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and other important nutrients. Meet with a nutritionist and prepare a meal plan.
  1. Avoid Drying Products: Dry hair means rough hair. Avoid alcohol-based products as they can be very drying.
  2. Exercise: One of the best ways to relieve stress is to exercise. No, you don’t have to join a gym or become a fitness expert. But you can opt for less strenuous exercises. Going for a walk or practicing yoga or Pilates can go a long way in keeping you healthy and stress-free.
  3. Use A Healthy Hair Mask: A hair mask helps add moisture to your coarse gray locks. You can use a banana and henna hair mask once a week. Bananas help condition your hair and prevent split ends. Their potassium also promotes hair health and strength. Henna can help nourish the hair shaft, reduce scalp itchiness, and prevent hair fall (9), (10). Mash a banana, mix two teaspoons of henna and water, and mix these ingredients together. Apply the henna-banana mix to damp hair after shampooing. Leave this mix on for about 5 minutes before rinsing it off with cool or lukewarm water.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Deep moisturizing once weekly may soften your coarse gray hair.

If you have curly or wavy hair, here are some specific tips that can help.

Softening Coarse Gray Curls, Waves, And Textured Hair

Woman softening her gray hair by applying hair cream
Image: Shutterstock

Most people with curly and wavy hair have oily scalps but dry hair strands. The sebumi  An oily substance released from the sebaceous glands that offer protection to the skin and help retain moisture. , which help the skin retain moisture” ] that usually produce natural oils to moisturize hair have low productivity in such hair types. The coily structure of curly hair and the S-shaped form of wavy hair keep the sebum from reaching the tips of the hair strands causing them to become very coarse. Here is how you can change that:

          • Comb and brush your hair regularly to evenly spread the sebum through your hair.
          • Stop chemically relaxing and straightening your hair. These treatments cause hair damage, stretch your hair, and change its structure.
          • Use conditioners and leave-in products to decrease any friction between hair fibers.
          • Certain anti-dandruff shampoos leave your hair dry and cause frizz, roughness, and tangles. Always use a conditioner after shampooing your hair. A conditioner reduces frizz and flyaways and smooths hair.
          • Use products that specifically cater to your hair type. Curly and wavy hair is different from straight hair, and each hair type needs a separate set of products.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent your hair from unnecessary frizz.

While heating tools are a big no-no, ionic hair dryers could be different. But do they soften coarse hair?

Do Ionic Hair Dryers Soften Coarse Hair?

Woman drying her gray hair with ionic dryer
Image: Shutterstock

Anecdotal evidence suggests that ionic hair dryers do make hair softer. These are different from regular hair dryers. They release negative ions that attract positive ion water molecules to the hair strands. This helps seal the hair cuticles and increases moisture retention. The water molecules are also thought to reduce friction from the fibers and make hair smooth and shiny.

Does Coloring Gray Hair Make It Softer?

Woman coloring her gray hair
Image: Shutterstock

Coloring gray hair with chemical hair dyes, bleaches, or harsh colorants does not soften it. These hair colors use chemicals that penetrate the hair shaft and cause further hair damage.

You can instead opt for natural, vegetable, or vegan hair dyes. These do not use harsh chemicals but organic plants, fruits, and vegetables. These natural ingredients also contain many nutrients that can replenish your hair strands, build strength, and improve overall hair health.

Infographic: 8 Easy Tips To Soften Coarse Gray Hair

Your hair may become damaged and rough as you age, making your gray locks challenging to manage. Thankfully, there are ways to help soften and bring back the shine to your gray hair. A little effort goes a long way, and we have excellent tips to make your locks look healthy and glossy again. Check out the infographic below to know more.

8 easy tips to soften coarse gray hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Gray hair may feel rough, coarse, lose its natural sheen, and appear unhealthy and damaged. However, you can keep your gray hair healthy with all of the handy tips and high-quality products incorporated into your hair care routine. Your gray hair will be rejuvenated and replenished with the appropriate hair care regimen. Following these tips and the right hair care regimen, you can easily soften coarse gray hair at home and maintain its natural sheen while keeping it from becoming rough and damaged. Follow them for at least a month, and you will definitely notice improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is gray hair so wiry?

Gray hair is wiry and coarse as the hair follicles start producing less sebum when there is a decrease in melanini  A naturally occurring skin pigment responsible for pigmentation and tanning that also protects skin cells from sun damage , the pigment that renders colors to our hair and skin.

Why does hair turn white instead of gray?

There are various reasons behind hair turning white instead of gray, including thyroid and vitamin deficiency, albinismi  A genetically inherited disorder involving insufficient or no production of melanin in the skin, eyes, or hair , and absence of melanin.

How do you condition coarse gray hair?

You can use a good daily conditioner and deep moisturize your hair once a week. Additionally, a hydrating serum can also keep your hair lustrous and smooth.

Key Takeaways

  • Hair damage through excessive styling, sun exposure, chemicals in hair products and aging may leave gray hair coarse.
  • Opting for natural hair products, using conditioners properly, oiling, avoiding heat or chemical treatments and eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients may help to replenish coarse hair, and soften it.
  • Ionic hair dryers help to retain moisture in the hair strands and can thus soften coarse hair.
Soften Coarse Gray Hair

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Grey hair is coarse because it lacks the pigment that gives hair its softness. Learn the reason in this video! Expand your hair knowledge! Watch now and embrace the beauty of greying gracefully.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Normal and Aging Hair Biology and Structure ’aging and Hair’
  2. Grey Hair: Clinical Investigation Into Changes in Hair Fibres With Loss of Pigmentation in a Photo protected Population,
  3. Pharmacologic Interventions in Aging Hair
  4. Hair Cosmetics: an Overview
  5. Histopathology of Aging of the Hair Follicle
  6. Age-Induced Hair Graying and Oxidative Stress
  7. Oxidative Stress in Ageing of Hair
  8. Hair Cycle and Hair Pigmentation: Dynamic Interactions and Changes Associated With Aging
Madison Dufour
Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist
Madison Dufour is a licensed and practicing barber and cosmetologist with 10 years of experience, as well as an entrepreneur running several hair businesses, including MadisonD Barbering and The Exquisite Find Hair Blog. After working behind the chair for several years, she felt the calling to start the non-profit Barber in a Bag that teaches basic hair cutting skills in street and slum communities in South America.

Read full bio of Madison Dufour
Anjali Sayee
Anjali SayeeAssociate Editor
Anjali is an associate editor at StyleCraze. She specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. She has 7 years of experience, and her philosophy about hair and skin care is simple: if you love and care for it, it will be healthy.

Read full bio of Anjali Sayee
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Krati Darak
Krati DarakAssociate Commerce Editor
Krati is an associate commerce editor, a certified skin care coach, and a beauty enthusiast. She has a master’s degree in advertising and publishing relations from DAVV University and three years of experience in writing and editing for different niches.

Read full bio of Krati Darak