It happens. One morning you wake up feeling like the world is your oyster, and while you are getting ready in the mirror, you see it. That wildly untamable, wiry grey hair that has seemed to pop up almost over night. (Or did it!) Then, the careful examination begins and you realized that scattered throughout your once youthful head is an entire crop of grey hairs. Suddenly, your day is ruined – and you begin thinking about wearing a hat, a scarf or even a bandana to try and cover up the fact that yes, you TOO, have become a victim of aging. Suddenly, the world stinks of a rotten oyster smell.
This ‘life event’ is one that faces everyone at some point. While many people may embrace the new grey hairs feeling that it is just life experienced exemplified, others will frantically begin the process of covering up their grey hairs.
First, a little science lesson. Grey hairs begin to start randomly appearing – mostly around the forehead and temples when your body stops producing melanin. The normal aging process causes your body to discontinue the production of melanin, which is responsible for your hair color. Then, as hair follicles fall out and become replaced with ‘melanin-less’ hair – the hair appears grey in color. As your body depletes more and more of melanin, the hair will get greyer – and eventually white. Additionally, the lack of melanin in the cells that produce your hair follicles is also the underlying reason why grey hairs are so wiry, course and dry.
Twenty years ago, only 18% of men and women saw what could be considered the first sign of middle age, before the age of 30. According to John Frieda, hair care expert – today, grey hair is becoming commonplace for both men women in just the second decade of life. In fact, recent research from Science Daily indicates that around 83% of the population will find their first grey hair before they turn 30. While many people have long believed that early graying is sign of stress, science does not support this theory and blames it more on genetics and environmental conditions that damage the cells rather than anything else. That being said, there is some research that shows a deficiency in Vitamin B can cause early graying, and when rectified can actually slow the process of graying. (Take your B multivitamins!)
Around 8 out of every 10 women who have grey hair begin using artificial methods to color up the grey. And while salon giant L’Oreal is working on natural shampoos and/or food supplements to replace the melanin in hair to prevent or discontinue graying, most women are simply resorting to coloring the hair. The problem is grey hairs tend to have a Teflon type resistance to hair color, which means that you can become a slave to the bottle every 5-6 weeks with an all over color.
Experts suggest choosing a hair color that almost exactly matches your regular hair if you are going for an all over hair color. Nevertheless, if you have just started to grey – you might be able to hide the appearance of grey better, and longer – by simply using high lights and/or lowlights in your hair. Plus, this won’t have to be touched up as often as all over hair color. The first time you try it, you should definitely let a professional do it because you never quite know how your hair and grey hairs are going to react to the colorants.
There are also some natural, chemical free ways to cover up grey at home. Before you try any of these, you might want to spot check an inconspicuous strand of hair. If you have lighter hair, then using a simple henna rinse may work well to brighten up the greys and give them more color. You can use the henna all over your head so that the color is even. Often, you can find natural Henna rinses and colors in beauty supply shops, although herbal experts say that boiling the herb and using the leftover water will work just as well. For those with darker hair, boiling teas or even coffee, mixed with rosemary and tea tree oil can help to revive the natural color of your hair to its brunette state.
In the end, whether to allow the grey to transition in or not, is up to you. Many women end up coloring their hair for the rest of their lives in an effort to keep a youthful appearance. Others, embrace the grey and wear it more with pride than shame. Eventually, everyone will get grey hair. The sheer terror that many women feel when they see the first grey hair is indicative that we live in a culture that does not regard women as beautiful unless they fit into one tiny, 25 year old mold. Yet, no one – not even YOU stays 21 forever.
Believe it or not, women are NOT the only ones worrying about grey hairs these days. Even though salt and pepper hair is often deemed sexy in a man, the hair color for men hair industry is a booming billion-dollar industry.
Will you be, or are you covering your grey? Or will you wear the grey hair as if it is a crown of glory you have earned from life experience?