Ask the Experts: To cover or not to cover...the grey dilemma March 6, 2023 13:53

So, you've spotted your first grey hair - welcome to the club! It's a rite of passage, a sign of wisdom and experience, and a reminder that you're a vibrant human being. Like laugh lines, grey hair is a totem of a life well-lived.

But we know that you might still have some questions about this touchy subject, and that's why we've enlisted the help of the fabulous salon owner and colourist Jennifer Morgan to share her knowledge and thoughts.

First things first, let's talk about why your hair turns grey. According to research, grey hair first appears in both men and women generally between the ages of 34 and 44. As for premature greys, those occur in folks under 20 and are largely genetic. Your hair follicles contain pigment cells that produce melanin, which gives your hair its colour. When your body stops generating melanin, hair becomes transparent, which we observe as grey, silver, or white. So, it's just a natural part of the ageing process.

Now, you might be wondering whether stress has anything to do with greying hair. Well, research indicates that it's unclear whether emotional stress is truly associated with greying of the hair. We know that stress can have physical effects, interfering with wound healing and promoting inflammation. We don't know how significant of an impact it has on hair colour. So, don't go blaming your kid or significant other for your new silver strands quite yet!

But what should you do about those greys? Well, that's entirely up to you! You can follow in the footsteps of silver fox Jamie Lee Curtis and wear your greys in a super-fly pixie cut. Or you can channel your inner Maye Musk and rock a gorgeous, glorious white bob. And of course, some people love their natural dark hue and stick to it regardless of nature's intent.

However, when you spot your first grey hairs, step away from the tweezers! While it may be tempting to pluck out a silver strand or two, doing so can actually get in the way of your grey greatness and make your hair appear thinner. Plus, it can cause inflammation of the root of the hair, leading to damage to the follicle and even scarring or infection of the skin.

Now, you might be wondering how your greys differ from your other hair. Grey hair is not physically coarse or shaggy, despite what you may have read or heard. It's actually finer, but can feel more coarse because of nature. As you age, your oil glands generate less sebum, which lubricates both skin and hair, leading to drier follicles across the board. But that can also be a positive thing, especially for those of us whose hair can't hold a curl or a wave to save our lives!

So are you wondering what to do about those pesky greys? Don't worry, we've got you covered (or not, if that's what you prefer).

First off, Jennifer suggests that if you're not ready to go full-on silver fox, you can start colouring your hair once it's about 30% grey. But instead of covering the greys, she recommends blending them in for a more natural look.

You can achieve this by using demi-permanent colour or playing around with highlights or lowlights. Plus, this technique allows for a more gradual transition to an all-over grey look, without the dreaded two-tone effect.

However, be aware that the maintenance of darker hair is higher due to the contrast between white and brown shades. But don't worry, your stylist can help create a customised look for you.

If you're planning to embrace your greys, remember that patience is key. You can take baby steps by starting with a few grey pieces in the front, or go for a new haircut altogether, like a choppy pixie or loose waves.

There are plenty of ways to ease into your silver colour in a way that makes you feel comfortable, and it's important to chat with your colourist to put a plan in place and manage your expectations. You also might like to consider whether you actually want to be 100% natural or if a transition to something 'more natural' will allow you to have fun with your hair without being a slave to your regrowth. The narrative seems to have been very much an "this or that" conversation...grey cover or no colour...but for many that is not the case. Colour should be fun and accent your hair and your style, whether you have a few natural sparkles or not.

But wait, there's more! To keep your new hue looking fresh and bright, make sure to use blue or purple-hued shampoo and conditioner. And don't forget to hydrate your hair with a daily or go-to shampoo that's full of antioxidants.

When it comes to styling, avoid thick serums or pomades that can make your hair look flat. Instead, try a light anti-frizz shine spray to keep things smooth and bouncy.

And finally, remember that whether you choose to embrace, blend or cover your greys, the most important thing is to have fun with your hair and feel fabulous. So go forth and rock your most stunning hair ever!