Ways to manage those pesky gray strands
It's something everyone dreads -- that hint of gray in the bathroom mirror as you look up from washing your hands. A gray? Already? In your mind's eye, you can see those shimmering strands sweeping your natural color away in favor of a deluge of wintry gray before the year is out. But...hey...try not to overindulge your imagination. Gray hairs can happen, and there are plenty of products to help you address them. Here's a quick overview on why gray hairs happen and how you can address them if you notice them.
Why Hair Turns Gray
Studies have shown that your hair color—whether blonde, brown, black, or red—is determined by your body’s natural production of melanin in the hair follicles. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for turning your hair a certain color. However, over time, some hair follicles lose their ability to produce melanin. When this happens, those follicles lose their color as well, causing those hair follicles to appear white or gray.
While the exact cause of graying is not yet fully understood, it is likely linked to genetics. Of course, according to a variety of studies, there are other factors that may increase the speed at which your grays appear, including stress, smoking and poor nutrition.
How to Help Reduce the Appearance of Grays
Alas, you may not be able to control your genetics, but you can certainly take measures to help reduce the appearance of gray hairs. Most of them are obvious -- exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and don’t smoke. However, according to a recent study, proper nutrition may also play a role in helping to reduce the appearance of grays: it has been observed that certain vitamin deficiencies such as a lack of Vitamin D3, have been present in cases of premature graying. While there is still more research to do, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can never hurt! Most importantly, though, try not to stress out even more about them! Although the myth that plucking out one gray hair will cause others to spring up has been debunked numerous times, there may be something to the idea after all. Stressing out too much over the appearance of gray hairs may only further reveal additional, previously-hidden gray hairs! According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, gray hair does not fall out as readily as dark (pigmented) hair, so anything that contributes to an increase in hair loss can also help further reveal additional grays that were hidden among the dark hair. Since stress can contribute to hair loss, it’s better to manage your stress levels as best as you can for this and many other reasons. Anyone who doubts the impact of stress on your hair should just compare before-and-after pictures of U.S. presidents who took office.
How to Mask the Appearance of Your Gray Hairs
Okay, now here's what you really want to know: how to address the grays you do have. Gray hair may be trendy in some circles, but you don't have to adopt that full look just yet. Still, it's best not to pluck out those impertinent strands. According to Garnier consulting dermatologist Dr. Diane Madfes, “The follicle can become damaged and not regrow [after plucking].” Instead, explore nourishing color cremes to find your perfect color so you can touch up the appearance of your grays from the comfort of your own bathroom.
Oh, and don't forget about the health of your newly acquired grays! Gray hairs tend to be drier and coarser, which makes proper hydration super important, says Dr. Madfes. “Due to less protection from a tight outer layer, gray hairs are more susceptible to external damage, UV exposure and processing. The hairs are brittle, drier and have a tendency to break easily,” she says. Dr. Madfes recommends using a nourishing conditioner to keep hair soft and supple, and go the extra mile with a weekly hair mask to help provide proper hydration.
Given a little extra love and care, gray hairs don't have to change anything about your daily look. But, for those who still despair -- hang in there, and keep yourself looking younger and fresher with some hair color and conditioning favorites.
1. Reference: http://www.npr.org/2016/03/06/469383340/scientists-find-a-genetic-culprit-for-gray-hair
2. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673399/
3. Reference: https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/hair/grey-hair/
4. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746220/