If you've spotted a silver strand before your 30th birthday, your natural inclination might be to panic. But finding your first white streaks in your 20s is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially after the year and half we’ve all just been through. So why not embrace those grays and rock them like the badge of honor that they are? Whether you’re dealing with a few graying strands or fully transitioning to gray hair, we’ve got everything you need to know ahead!
According to New York Dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger, your hair goes gray when your body stops producing melanin. Your hair follicles have pigment cells called melanocytes. These melanocytes make melanin, the pigment that gives your hair its color. Dermatologists agree the most common reason your body stops producing this pigmentation is age, but there are several factors that contribute to your hair going gray prematurely.
The following factors can contribute to a reduction of your melanin production, causing you to go gray prematurely.
If you’re on board with going gray, these tips will keep your silver strands looking healthy and bright.
Gray hair has no natural pigment so it can become yellow over time. To prevent this from happening, use a clarifying shampoo weekly to get rid of free radicals and impurities. Follow up with a shampoo for silver hairand silver conditioner to counteract any dull, yellow hues in your hair. This powerful shampoo and conditioner duo works together to illuminate silver or platinum blonde hair and are free of any sulfates, silicones, and parabens.
Gray strands are usually drier than pigmented hairs, so they have a tendency to frizz and can easily look dull if you're not vigilant about hydration. Incorporate a moisturizing hair mask into your weekly hair care routine.
Just because you stop dying your hair doesn’t mean your haircut should suffer. Plus, we already told you that the short gray hair trend is one of the hottest hair looks for summer 21. Whatever cut you choose, be sure to see your stylist for a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. Gray hair can start to look unruly if it's not trimmed frequently.
Environmental pollutants and UV light can make any hair color—including barely pigmented grays—look dull. So wash every other day with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner containing antioxidants to protect against UV and environmental damage.
Gray hair burns more easily due to its texture and porosity. Be sure to use caution when heat-styling your hair. Use high quality hair tools with temperature controls. Don’t exceed 350 degrees, and never let your tool remain in one place on the hair for more than a few seconds. And always coat your grays with a heat protection spray first.
Skip heavy pomades, waxes, and oily serums. These can coat gray hair, making it look dull. Use a shine spray to combat frizz instead. This will make your grays feel softer and look healthier.
Accent your silver, gray or white hair with clothes in complimentary colors like black, white, shades of gray, and jewel tones like ruby red, sapphire blue, and deep purple. Avoid earth tones like beige and olive, as these can make you look washed out.
Choose a blush in a shade like apricot, peach, or rose for a pop of color that really works with gray hair. Stay away from nude or tawny colors that can make skin look dull against gray hair.
Gray hair is gorgeous, but if you’re just not ready to rock it yet, here’s what you need to know to prevent gray hair and preserve the pigment you have left.
Hair dye is the only way to cover existing grays. If you color your hair, plan on regular trips to the salon to avoid a strong demarcation line as it grows out. A more low-maintenance option is highlighting your hair to diffuse the look of the grays for a more natural grow-out.
Chronic stress can lead to inflammation. This inflammation affects the melanin-producing cells in our scalp while shortening our hair growth cycles, leading to premature gray hair. So less stress = less grays.
Make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamins that keep your hair healthy, including:
Minerals also play a vital role in hair growth and repair, so make sure you’re getting enough
This one is a given not only for hair health but for your overall health as well. Among other negatives like cancer and heart disease, smoking has the same accelerated aging effect on your hair that it does on your skin. There's extensive research that shows smoking is correlated with prematurely graying hair in people of all age groups.
We discussed how certain illnesses like autoimmune can cause premature gray hair, so it's important to check in with your doctor on a regular basis. In addition, it's important to speak with a medical professional anytime you have a hair or scalp health concern. Physicians, dermatologists, and trichologists can all help make sure there’s not a more serious underlying issue.
To keep your graying hair looking as bright and healthy as possible, try to reduce the oxidative stress around you. Keep your living environment pure, and breathe fresh air every day. And try to avoid all types of pollution.
If you’re planning to be in the sun for an extended period of time, protect your grays from UV damage the way you would your skin. Slather your strands with UV-protectant products or cover up with a hat or scarf.
Sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase protects your hair from damage while you sleep. These materials create less friction, protecting the hair from breakage, unwanted frizz, and fly-aways. Your grays will break less and hold a style better if you wear your hair up while sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase.
The healthiest thing you can do when it comes to graying strands is to control your emotional response to it. Whether you're a full on silver fox or just starting to notice some silver streaks, going gray is totally normal and a natural part of life. Whether you want to cover or embrace your grays, going gray is nothing to panic about. If you’re on board with going gray, great! Our tips will keep your silver, white or gray hair color looking healthy and bright. And if not, that’s ok too. Decide on your approach to cover those grays and adjust your lifestyle and hair care routine accordingly.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
Cover photo by @the.plan.holyoke
Other photos by @goldandglowco