In 2019, Glamour reported that the gray hair revolution had begun—and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic expedited the process exponentially. Since then, women of all ages have begun to proudly embrace gray hair. Brides have gone viral for sporting gray on their wedding days, while celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, and Sarah Jessica Parker have all worn various takes on the shade. Now, gray-friendly hairstyles are all the rage: see the TikTok-trending skunk stripe and gray-blending balayage craze.
But the gray hair movement also prompted a surge in something slightly more unexpected: A massive demand for easy-to-install and accessible gray hair extensions.
“Currently, gray extensions are one of our biggest demands—clip-ins, 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 Glamour, explaining that after having appeared on Good Morning America, the number one request they received was to add a gray extension line. Translation? It’s not that people don’t or didn’t want gray hair extensions—it’s that they didn’t know where to find them.
“Now, we have a lot of clients in their eighties wearing our gray hair extensions and loving them,” Richards says, after having added an extensions line in August 2022. “They are purchasing up to four grey hair extension products on our site—as soon as I saw the demand for it, it was overwhelming. I had to added new products and new grey extensions.” Indeed, Luxy Hair is the only other mainstream extensions brand currently selling gray hair extensions in the U.S.—and the line only launched in spring 2022.
While it may seem paradoxical—the “authentic” aesthetic of gray hair juxtaposed with extensions’ high-maintenance aesthetic—it’s actually the conglomerate of two contemporary cultural fads. Post-lockdown, demand for hair extensions skyrocketed—partially due to the pandemic-prompted rise in hair loss (both from COVID-19 and stress), partially due to increased awareness and subsequent accessibility of extensions. “TV shows, celebrities, influencers, news anchors, are all talking about extensions—they’ve been normalized,” says Richards. As a result, seamless-to-install clip-ins are easier than ever to order—and match to your hair color—online, all of which can be done from the comfort of your own work-from-home.