Gray hair extensions are in high demand

In 2019, Charm reported that the gray hair revolution had begun — and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the process exponentially. Since then, women of all ages have started to proudly embrace gray hair. Brides have gone viral for wearing gray on their wedding days, while celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Sarah Jessica Parker have all worn different versions of the shade. Now, gray-friendly hairstyles are all the rage: check out the TikTok trendy skunk stripe and gray melange balayage craze.

But the gray hair movement has also caused a surge of something slightly more unexpected: massive demand for easy-to-install and affordable gray hair extensions.

“Grey extensions are one of our biggest requests right now – clips, pony, volumizers, tape, keratin, hand-tied and even braided headbands in different shades of gray,” Lisa Richards, Founder and CEO of RPZL Hair Extension & Blowout Bar, tells Charm, explaining that after appearing on Hello America, the number one request she received was to add a gray extension line. Translation? It’s not that people don’t or haven’t want to gray hair extensions is that they didn’t know where to find them.

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“Now we have a lot of customers in their 80s who wear our gray hair extensions and love them,” says Richards, as RPZL added a line of extensions in August 2022. “They buy up to four extension products from gray hair on our site like as soon as I saw the demand it was overwhelming I had to add new products and new gray extensions indeed Luxy Hair is the only other mainstream extension brand currently selling gray hair extensions in the United States – and the line only launched in the spring of 2022.

While this may seem paradoxical – the “authentic” aesthetic of gray hair juxtaposed with the demanding aesthetic of extensions – it is actually the conglomeration of two contemporary cultural fads. Post-lockdown, demand for hair extensions skyrocketed, partly due to the pandemic-induced increase in hair loss (both due to COVID-19 and stress), partly due to because of increased awareness and later accessibility of extensions. “TV shows, celebrities, influencers, news anchors are all talking about extensions — they’ve been normalized,” says Richards. So it’s easier than ever to order seamless install clips and match them to your hair color online, all of this can be done from the comfort of your own home office.

David R. Brewer