What’s the Deal with Gray Hair?
If you are battling with it, gray hair can seem like an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
However, believe it or not, gray hair is much the same as other hair (pigmented hair), except for the fact that it has little to no pigment.
There are unfortunately a few crazy gray hair myths floating around out there that are scary and untrue, so let’s begin by examining the truth about gray hair, and then debunking the myths!
Each hair follicle contains pigment called melanin. This is what gives each strand of hair its color.
Every individual strand if hair is doing its own thing at any given time. Yep.
No two strands are the same, nor will all the strands of hair on your head be in the same stage at any given time.
As we age, the melanin in the follicle can virtually disappear, and then the hair that grows from that follicle will be of a gray or silver pigment, until there is no melanin at all, and then the hair will be white.
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Debunking the Myths
Myth- IF I PLUCK A GRAY HAIR, IT ELIMINATES THE PROBLEM.
NO! STOP WHERE YOU ARE AND PUT THE TWEEZERS DOWN! Plucking a gray hair, or twelve, will not eliminate the problem unless the problem is having hair.
If you tweeze the grays that you see around the hairline, a hair may NEVER grow back in that place.
Do yourself a favor and get some permanent hair color and apply it to your new growth (roots), and this will be tons more effective.
Myth- IF I PLUCK A GRAY HAIR, TWO WILL GROW IN ITS PLACE
Also untrue. When you remove a hair from its follicle, assuming that you did not remove the follicle as well, only one will grow back in that follicle. Gray or not.
But no tweezing hairs in your head!
Myth- THE STRESS IN MY LIFE WILL GIVE ME GRAY HAIR
Not likely, and not probable. While other factors can play a role in the graying of hair, the primary cause is genetics.
If your mother and/or father have gray hair, and if the developed it at an early age, you can pretty much count on having gray hair as well.
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Myth- I CAN BUY A PRODUCT TO REVERSE GRAY HAIR
Nope. I really hate that we can’t, because I’m all about staying youthful and vibrant for as long as possible, but there hasn’t been any scientific evidence to prove that gray hair can be reversed.
There ARE products that can potentially cause hair to appear thicker and fuller which may lead to the illusion of less gray and more pigment, but as far as the total reversal…not so much.
Myth- THE 50/50/50 RULE
There have been research reports in the recent past stating that it is believed that, by age 50, 50% of the population will have 50% gray hair.
However, there are so many genetic patterns for so many people.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to indefinitely determine what the exact circumstance will be for everyone.
As stated before, genetics play a large role. And race. Studies show that people of the Caucasian race begin too gray first. Followed by Asian, followed by African American.
Myth- NOTHING I DO AFFECTS THE GRAYING PROCESS
Not exactly. Studies have also shown that people who smoke are 2 1/2 times more likely to have issues with premature aging. And being an esthetician, i can tell you that smoking, for the sake of the hair, skin, and nails, is a no-no.
Even gray hair can become tinged with an undesirable yellowish/orange when it is introduced to cigarette smoke. Also, the suns rays can “bleach out” gray hair, causing it to have a similar unwanted tinge.
There are a number of products that can be purchased to aid in the prevention and treatment of this issue.
I highly recommend grabbing a purple shampoo. This is a shampoo, just like any other, except that it has a purple hue to it which will balance out gold/yellow/orange tones.
Myth- GRAY HAIR IS COARSER
Now this does APPEAR to be true.
Because of the depleted melanin, the amount of moisture in the hair is also at a low level, so gray hair can become very brittle and rigid.
This causes the hair to appear and act as a coarse hair would, but really the gray hair is probably not much different from the other pigmented hairs.
Hair products for unruly and frizzy hair can be extremely helpful in these situations.
I recommend opting for a nice conditioner that has smoothing properties, and possibly a leave in cream if your hair is not too thin and fine.
The use of a curling iron or flat iron could exacerbate the issue substantially.
Myth- HEALTH IS IRRELEVANT TO GRAY HAIR
There are actually a few things that could be causing gray hair, outside the genetic norm.
A B12 deficiency, for example, is a possible cause. Also, a couple of rare, inherited conditions could lead to lack of pigment in hair.
Thyroid disease is another, and finally, Vitiligo. This is a condition that destroys pigment making cells in the hair and skin.
No Gray Area
To sum things up, there are definite causes of hair becoming gray, and far-from-definite old wives’ tales that have brought about fear and a little confusion to some of us!
The crowning glory of a woman is her hair, and it is a difficult thing to embrace the changes in appearance that come with gray hair.
Hey-you may be rocking it! Many people love their hair with a little salt and pepper, or opt to keep things completely natural even as all the pigment fades.
If you prefer to cover it up, I definitely recommend a PERMANENT color, as the gray is a little difficult to fully cover with a demi or semi permanent. Either way, gray hair is much easier to maintain or color when you’re in the know!
Thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!