One of my favorite things about having albinism is definitely my white hair. It allows me to express myself with fun colors by providing a blank canvas. It also makes me stand out so much, which isn’t always something I enjoy, but can be fun.
Over the years I’ve learned some tips and tricks from hairdressers, my own experience, and research about keeping my hair as white as it can be.
What Causes Hair Yellowing
So many things in our environment can cause our hair to turn from white to yellow. I’ll run through some of those things, and then I’ll share what you can do to get your hair looking how you want it.
Air pollution is an environmental factor that isn’t within our direct control, unless you can afford to move of course. Bigger cities and/or cities with manufacturing, mining, and drilling industries tend to have more air pollution than others.
Soot, dust, gases, and other pollutants can all coat your hair and scalp and cause hair discoloration, scalp itchiness, hair damage and breakage, and other unwanted symptoms.
Sticky hair products can also cause air pollution to become attached to your hair and scalp.
Hard water, or water that is mineral rich, can deposit minerals into your hair. This phenomenon is the reason why people who live in mountainous regions typically have to use more shampoo and condition that people who don’t live in those areas. The minerals make the water heavier and it rinses out shampoo and conditioner more quickly than water that is not mineral rich.
If you’ve ever used a humidifier or any other item where water sits for long periods of time, you will notice colorful stains. Those stains are usually mineral deposits.
Minerals found in water can include potassium, calcium, magnesium, and others. They enter our tap water through underground water sources, old pipes, and mineral runoff from the environment.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that chlorine and salt water can both dry out your hair and scalp. Salt water and sun can fade hair color and dry out the hair cuticle and scalp. I don’t think salt water will turn white hair yellow, but it will damage the hair and make it more susceptible to other pollutants.
Chlorine, on the other hand, will absolutely change the color of your hair. Spend enough time in chlorinated water without protection, and white hair will turn green. I wish I had a photo of this from my childhood summers spent in the pool.
Tobacco, nicotine, and other products that can be smoked can all damage and stain your hair just as they are known to discolor teeth and skin. These pollutants technically belong under the air pollution category, but smoking is so prevalent today that I felt it warranted its own heading.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Hair White?
Having named all the things that can stain your hair, I want to share some of the things you can do to restore it and keep it looking good. For general hair care tips and how I keep my hair healthy, see my post here.
Water Filters & Water Softeners
Water filters and water softeners are two options you can use to filter out contaminants in your water. A water softener falls under the category of a water filter. Water filters can filter out various pollutants including heavy metals, chemicals, microbes, and bacteria depending on the components included in the filter. Water softeners are aimed specifically at filtering out heavy metals and minerals that can be found in hard water.
You can purchase water filters and softeners that will filter the water throughout your entire home. This is excellent if you own your home and have some extra funds to spare, but they can be quite expensive.
The more affordable and flexible option is a water softener for your shower or bath. These seem fairly easy to install and can be found on Amazon for under $100 USD.
Clarifying regularly with a clarifying shampoo will help get rid of some of these pollutants that your hair collects daily. Here is a fantastic article with a list of 20+ clarifying shampoos that aren’t damaging to your hair.
A more harsh alternative is a chelating shampoo. These are meant to get rid of heavy metals, mineral build-up, and other environmental pollutants in the hair, but they are very drying. They are best for regular swimmers or those with hard water.
Do not use either the clarifying or chelating shampoo daily. Use it as needed, but no more than two times a week. Each time you do use one of these shampoos, make sure to deep condition afterward, because they are both very drying.
Use a Toner
Toners add a color over the top of hair to reduce the brassiness or yellow and orange tones. They are often used on people who have bleached their hair and ended up with yellow or orange hair rather than the platinum blonde they hoped for.
It works by layering the opposite color overtop a color like orange or yellow. In these cases the opposites are blue for orange and purple for yellow. This color layering works by canceling out the undesirable color.
Toners are not hair dyes, and they don’t permanently color hair. They tend to last 4-6 weeks, but that time can be extended with a purple shampoo/conditioner.
Here is a thorough and excellent article on toning your hair with specific toners to use for your desired end result.
Purple shampoo and/or conditioner is meant to help once you’ve gotten your hair to platinum. It works to fight the day to day discoloration, so it will not remove yellow or orange hues from your hair. It will help tone very slight yellow discoloration, but that’s all.
Wear a Hat or Other Head Covering
If all these other options just aren’t enough for you, you can absolutely use a hat, scarf, or other hair covering to protect your locks.
Protect Your Hair While Swimming
Chlorine and salt water can both damage your hair and lead to discoloration. Be sure to protect your hair when you swim. Wetting it with unchlorinated clean water will help to keep saltwater or chlorine filled water from penetrating the hair. You can also wet it and apply a conditioner or protective balm to your hair, which will do a better job than clean water alone.
Another step is to use a swim cap. If you’re a regular swimmer, this may be the most practical option for your lifestyle.
Don’t Forget to Deep Condition
Each of these pollutants mentioned above can dry out the hair cuticle and your scalp. After using a clarifying or chelating shampoo, you will also need to deep condition, because those products are drying on the hair as well. Deep conditioning is generally a good habit to get into for any hair type. I’ve had positive results with it on my curly hair.
For more posts on hair, check out the Hair & Beauty section of my site.