Photo Credit: redken.com
If you have found a telltale gray hair (or two), it is not necessarily an indicator that lines and wrinkles and sagging are coming soon. Some women get gray early or during perimenopause that can start at age 35.
Why does our hair turn gray? According to Washington DC dermatologist Rebecca Kazin, “Gray hair has lost all of its melanin so the color appears washed out. Genetics and stress can be contributing factors, along with aging. Hydrogen peroxide, which is produced naturally in the body, interferes with melanin. The body also produces catalase, an enzyme which breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. When catalase production slows down, hydrogen peroxide can build up, and our hair turns gray.”
BeautyintheBag has some expert tips for surviving the early signs of stray grays.
Gray hairs tend to grow in coarse. If your gray are wiry like a wire-haired terrier, your hair may be too dry. Using an intense conditioner daily or at least a few times per week can help, like Phyto 9 Nourishing Day Cream with 9 Plants ($28), which is well suited to ultra-dry hair to keep it moisturized and manageable.
If you have just a few gray hairs, you may be better off leaving them alone. If they are too noticeable, start with one of the nifty root touch up products on the market – like Color Mark or Color Wow Root Cover Up. These are temporary solutions that last until you wash your hair, but can be real lifesavers in between trips to the salon. You can also try changing your part to cover up gray hairs. Try experimenting with a middle or side part, or try out a zig zag part to make grays less noticeable.
If you start finding more gray hairs in your hairline or part, see a professional colorist ASAP and do not pass go. You may just want to do a rinse or single process to cover your grays, which will need to be repeated at about four week intervals. If you’re just starting to go gray, a semi-permanent glaze can be just the ticket. It will stain some of the gray, and when the color starts to fade, you won’t see a stripe of gray roots. Semi-permanent color delivers a beautiful shiny color tone, but it tends to fades out quickly, within six to 12 shampoos. Black and brown hair tones with grays are usually easier to color because darker colored dyes get absorbed better by gray hair that has lost its pigment.
A good colorist can add highlights to turn your grays into the golden blonde strands of Rapunzel. According to Teresa Probst, Color Director at Varin Salon in New York City, “Gray hair isn’t as obvious on lighter hair shades like blondes and redheads. A few grays can look like highlights and don’t always need to be colored.” She recommends never going too light or too dark with gray hair. “Stick to a color within two or three shades of your own to get a natural-looking result and minimize the appearance of roots as your hair grows out.” said Probst.”A good leave-in conditioner is also vital for managing gray hairs. It’s important to shield your hair from the sun, environment, and heat styling damage to preserve the color for longer,” she said.
We love Redken Diamond Oil Shatterproof Shine ($50), which is a versatile choice for taming brittle gray hairs. Use a few drops as a styling product, sleep on it overnight, or add to your daily conditioner. In a pinch, it can do double duty as a nourishing oil for your dry skin.
A word of caution….Gray hair can be extremely aging, and not always flattering, depending on your skin tone. If you have fair skin, going gray can make you look washed-out (Think True Blood). Brown hair that looks drab as the grays come in can be brightened up by adding highlights and lowlights in tones of honey, tortoiseshell, or mahogany.
If you decide to embrace your gray hair, your makeup may need an overhaul. Gray hair has blue and ashy base tones, which can appear dull and make your skin seem sallow. Warm up your makeup with dewy foundation and a pretty peachy shade of blush. Fill in sparse brows with a soft pencil and use a brow gel to keep stray hairs in place. If you are fair with light brows, choose a light to medium taupe or beige shade. For more olive or bronze skin tones with darker brows, look for a deep brown shade. TouchBack Brow Marker ($19.95) is a real miracle worker to touch up and blend graying brows. Brush on, fill in, and it lasts all day. Try to go easy on the jet black eye pencil and mascara that may be too harsh in contrast to your silver strands.