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Grey and Ageing Hair

Anabel Kingsley

Brand President

Published Feb 2016

Why? Because as we get older, the cells in our hair follicles that produce melanin (pigment) gradually reduce, causing our strands to grow in un-pigmented, or white. 

’Grey’ is not actually a hair pigment in itself – it is a colour that results from a combination of normally pigmented hairs interspersed with white ones. Your hair colour turns from grey to white when all hair pigment cells stop being produced.

At What Age Will You Turn Grey?

There is a huge variation in when different people begin to go grey.

Genetics plays a big part — if either of your parents turned grey early, it is probable that you will too. Nutritional factors can also affect hair colour. So can illness and stress. One of the reasons for this is because stress, illness and an improper diet can deplete your body of Vitamin B, and various studies have shown that a lack of Vitamin B can cause hair to turn white prematurely. Other studies show that certain B vitamins, when taken in large doses, start to reverse the greying process within 3 months, and that the hair goes back to being white when the vitamins are stopped.

It is a common misconception that dark-haired people turn grey earlier than others. While they may appear to, this is just because the contrast between white hairs and dark hairs is more obvious than if you are fair-haired or blonde. If your hair is very fair, you are less likely to notice white strands until you have quite a few of them.

What is the Texture of Grey Hair?

When you go grey, your hair may feel quite dry. But this is not because of its texture — it is because hair usually greys at an age when your sebaceous glands (which are attached to each hair follicle) begin to secrete less oil than before.

Contrary to popular belief, grey hair is unlikely to be coarser in texture than your other hair. In fact, our hair gets finer as we age, so unless you turn grey very young, grey hair is usually not coarse at all.

Caring for Grey Hair

Because grey hair is often finer and drier, you might want to change your hair products. A volumising shampoo and an intensively moisturising conditioner can be very effective.

Otherwise, grey hair should be handled the same way as pigmented hair. If you want to perm it, do so. But be aware that perms can cause discolouration and sometimes turn grey hair slightly yellow — as can smoking. If discolouration occurs, use a blue/purple-coloured shampoo, conditioner or rinse to counteract it.

Dirt shows up faster on greying hair than other hair colours. Shampoo and condition daily to get the best out of your hair.

Because our hair becomes finer as we age, you may use more heat-styling when you go grey, in order to create body and volume. This can further dry out your hair. We recommend using a weekly hair and scalp mask, such as our award-winning Elasticizer, to rehydrate your hair and keep it supple and soft.

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