Grey hair may not be as prevalent as previously thought according to a recent study by L’Oreal. For years, the cosmetics industry believed in the 50/50/50 rule of thumb, which states that at age 50, 50% of the population has at least 50% grey hair.
The L’Oreal study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found that at the age 50, the average amount of grey for men and women was only 6% to 23%. In fact, for certain parts of the world, particularly Asia and Africa, the number is substantially lower.
This is an interesting finding, given that L’Oreal is in the business of selling hair dye.
The study analyzed natural hair color of 4,192 men and women from more than 20 different countries around the globe. Overall, the study found that for people 45 to 65 years old, 74% has some grey hair that covered 27% of their head.
As you might expect, with age, the number of people with grey hair increases, as does the amount of grey. For example, between the ages of 45 and 50, 63% had some grey that covered around 20% of their hair. By the time people reach 56 to 60 years, the study found 86% of this group had some grey, which covered almost a third of their head.
Interestingly, grey hair was more common in men than woman, 78% and 71%, respectively. For men, the grey starts at the temples and spreads to the top of the head. For women, it starts equally in the temples and at the top of the head.
The age that graying begins and the rate at which it develops appeared to be linked to the subject’s ethnic/geographical origin. And as you probably have already noticed, people of Asian and African descent have less grey than their Caucasian counterpoints at comparable ages.
We don’t think the study will prompt anyone to throw out their bottle of hair dye, particularly if you are in an ethnic group that tends to grey, but it’s always interesting to see an old adage disproved.