Remember where you were when you found your first grey hair? You may have felt a heart sink moment. You may even have plucked it out. But then more came. And at some point you’ve had to think about whether to dye your hair or go with grey. Faced with these choices, here are some tips to make the most of your hair, whether you decide to stay natural or use a colourant.
What causes colour loss
As you age, your hair’s melanocytes — cells that produce pigment —make less melanin. That’s when your hair seems to ‘turn grey’, but it’s actually just losing its original colour, not acquiring a new one. It makes no difference whether you end up with a head of grey, silver, or white. Like light brown, or dark brown, it’s just a shade variation and you should treat it the same as the others.
Once the change to your hair colour begins, the rate at which your strands lose colour varies. The age you start to grey and whether you’re greying fast or slow is all about genetics – so you can blame it on your parents.
Should you go for silver?
Maybe you’re concerned because your first white strands have started to multiply. Or maybe you’ve covered up for so many years that you no longer know just how much white you’ve got. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you have a choice: conceal with colour or let it go grey.
If you decide on the chemical route, the plus side is obvious; the downside is the time and money you will have to spend on covering your grey. Taking the natural grey route could be your answer — unless you fall into one of these categories.
Your skin is yellow or olive-toned
Grey is a cool shade, so it doesn’t always complement warm skin tones.
Your hair is thinning or fine
Unless you cut your hair very short, a light colour – whether blond or grey – can make it look even sparser than it is.
Your hair is very frizzy
Flyaway hair is more noticeable with grey or blond hair. So if you have trouble with frizz control, consider colouring for a sleeker look.
Going for grey
Uneven grey patches: consider salt-and-pepper
A sprinkling of silver can look great. The way to achieve that look is to even out your colour and make your grey appear well blended. However, this can be difficult since it tends to grow in random clusters.
To achieve a well-blended look have strategic highlights. When you lighten the right strands, you end up with ribbons of highlights instead of a patchy mess. However, this is hard to do on your own so if a salon treatment isn’t in the budget opt for all over colour or all over grey.
If you have dyed hair
If you’ve been colouring for as long as you can remember you could consider going all over grey. One of the major benefits of stopping dying your hair is that there’ll be no dealing with roots. However, there is no easy path to all over grey, and many women who stop dying their hair can end up with a two-tone look.
To avoid this you can make a more gradual change. If you’ve been using permanent colour, switch to semi-permanent, which is more translucent. he says. Use a lighter shade with each touch-up and never put colour on the ends. If you cover only the new growth, the ends will fade until eventually you have the colour you want.
If you’re mostly grey, consider blond highlights. They’re easier to do and will blend with your grey to give you a white-blonde colour.
If you have: a head of grey hair already
Hair that’s losing its colour is susceptible to a problems you may never have experienced before, such as frizz, wiriness, and yellowing. Grey hair needs TLC so you should condition regularly using a moisturising shampoo and conditioner every time you wash. This will help to make your hair more elastic and thus less likely to break and split. When styling, use a shine spray or serum to restore lustre. A monthly rinse with lemon water (the juice of one lemon for every two cups water) will help eliminate smoke and pollution-induced discoloration.
Got your first grey? What to do next
Don’t pluck. The follicle doesn’t die when you pluck, so that hair will start growing again, and it will still be grey. But until it’s long enough to blend with the rest of your hair, it will just stick out. Instead, conceal minor greying with easy-to-apply, temporary colour.