We’ve all been there. Innocently checking yourself in the mirror when Boom! you spot a grey hair!
No doubt your immediate response will be to reach for the tweezers to get rid of the little blighter, but is that such a good idea?
Didn’t your mum used to say that if you pluck one grey out, three more will grow in its place? Gah!
Fear not, for Sally-Ann Tarver, Consultant Trichologist, The Cotswold Trichology Centre is here to get the root of the matter (geddit?)
What happens when our hair goes grey?
According to Sally-Ann our hair goes grey when the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce hair pigmentation, become exhausted so they run out. “They’re replaced with what we call white hair, which often gives the appearance of grey hair,” she explains.
Why do we go grey?
Annoyingly the main cause of us going grey is all to do with genes.
“Some people go grey early, while others have a genetic tendency to go grey or go grey late,” Sally-Ann explains.
So if your parents went grey when they were young, then you have a greater likelihood of joining the grey brigade at younger age too.
At the same time if your mum or dad were late to the grey party, you might also be too.
“I had a client in her late 70s who hardly had any grey hair at all and said her mother was exactly the same.
According to Sally-Ann stress can also play a part in going grey. “I’ve seen cases where people have been under extreme stress and this has seemingly caused a speeding up of the greying process,” she explains.
A vitamin B12 deficiency, or pernicious anaemia, has also been linked to premature greying. “One of the symptoms of pernicious anaemia is that you go grey earlier,” Sally-Ann explains.
“Vitamin B12 is a very important for hair and a lack of it can also cause hair loss as well,” she adds.
Sally-Ann says that people with pernicious anaemia often remain undiagnosed for years because their symptoms are similar to many other conditions.
To pluck or not to pluck?
“It’s not really a good idea,” says Sally-Ann. “You can get away with plucking a few grey hairs out, but if do it too frequently, you could start to give yourself a hair thinning problem.”
That’s because repeated plucking could damage the follicles and could eventually prevent the hair from growing back altogether.
Sally-Ann warns that in extreme cases continual grey plucking could lead to tricholomania, a condition where someone can’t resist the urge to pull out their hair.
If you pluck one, will three grow back?
Sally-Ann says this is a myth. “It only appears that this is the case because over time you will develop more grey hair anyway,” she explains.
What else can we do?
Two options: colour it or embrace it.
According to Sally-Ann how well your greys will be covered by hair dye depends on your hair type.
“Some people have hair that sucks up colour really well in which case non peroxide or low peroxide hair dye will cover the majority of grey, but others have what’s known as closed cuticles and these types of dyes may not work for them.”
Sally-Ann says it can be a case of trial and error in finding out what type of dye is going to work for your particular hair type.
And your hair type will depend on how much conditioning your grey hair will need too.
“Those with closed cuticle hair that doesn’t colour well tend to need less conditioning, while those with naturally courser, curlier grey hair will see their hair go dryer so will need to condition it more intensely,” she explains.
Of course with more women than ever before going grey before their 40s, you could just embrace it.
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