Not so long ago for many of us, a hint of grey hairs would have gotten alarm bells ringing for a trip down to the hair salon. Much is changing, however, in our perception as we increasingly embrace ashy locks. For starters, grey hair can be beautiful full stop. No wonder, all sorted of chalky pastel dyes are now a popular request irrespective of age. On the other hand, greys tend to certify life experience and wisdom, even if you do get your first handful of silvers in your twenties.
There is a certain misconception that grey hair is dull. However, grey hair actually has an astonishingly rich palette with silver, platinum, ashy, smokey, salt & pepper and even that rare pure white variety, which very light natural blondes tend to transition into. Rather impressive, we should think. Much care is, however, required when it comes to maintaining those gorgeous greys.
Restoring natural hair colour in greys?
We would like to start off by debunking one of the myths of greys. It is often believed that once you go grey, you cannot go back to your natural hair colour. Now, while this can be true, it all ultimately boils down to the specific cause of greying.
1/ Biological causes
The main cause of greying with age is a drop in the production of the colouring pigment melanin by the melanocyte cells in our hair follicles over time. Grey hair has minimal amounts of melanin, while white hair has none. Research shows that on average melanin levels fall by 20% per decade, starting with one’s thirtieth birthday. However, it can also occur prematurely due to genetic factors. Greying hair caused by biological and genetic factors can certainly not be reversed.
2/ External factors
Some of the other causes of premature greying can be stress, thyroid issues, deficiencies in vitamins B9, B12, copper and iron, as well as adverse external influences such as pollution. Restoring natural colour in these cases is possible, though not guaranteed, if immediate medical attention is sought. As with most things, however, it is much easier to prevent greying by keeping your stress levels low and including mineral- and B vitamin-rich food groups in your diet.
Why do greys need special care?
Once you go grey, you will probably notice some changes to your hair texture.
- Your hair has become more coarse, porous and uneven. Thicker intervals might alternate with thinning patches.
- Greying brings a change in texture as well as colour, sometimes resulting in wavy or even slightly curly hair. Although not bad in itself, uneven surface is not as good at reflecting light and makes hair lose its shine.
- Ageing and greying hair tends to become dry as the activity of sebaceous glands drops with the melanin synthesis. Rough, brittle hair with reduced elasticity is common.
- Light grey hair can also often gain a yellow tint from the effects of cigarette smoke, sunshine, chlorinated or hard tap water.
Looking after grey hair
What is the best way to grow out your greys, if you have always been used to dying it? A few options are available. For instance, you can start off by growing out your grey roots by a few centimetres and getting it cut short. If this prospect is too radical for you, it is worth trying out a temporary dye such as a powder, a tinted dry shampoo or a colour correcting spray on your roots, while you grow them out for a few months.
Either way, a new haircut is inevitable. Individual colour permitting, you may be able to dye the tips of your hair ashy grey to even out the colour. Switching to a natural grey colour will take some time and special care, so be prepared. Based on the changes in your hair, you will need to rethink what products you use, focusing on the following.
Once you have decided to show your greys, moisturising products should really come to the forefront of your hair care routine. Shampoos, conditioners and masks must contain such moisture retaining ingredients as hyaluronic acid, glycerine, betaine, collagen and seaweed extract. Antioxidants such as green tea and grape extract are also important in maintaining a healthy scalp.
Tackle coarse silver strands by introducing leave-in hair products containing jojoba, moringa, coconut and argan oils. Hair milks, serums and dry oils will come to your aid by smoothing out the hair cuticles, making your locks softer, shinier and more supple.
3/ Hair styling
Hair pomades and creams with a dense texture are the best choice for styling grey hair. These products will help tame flyaways, ease brushing and generally help maintain your hair in a good shape. Do consider an anti-frizz spray to reduce fluff and static electricity.
It is also worth investing in a silk pillowcase, as silk is also known to help with all of the above. Remember to massage your grey hair frequently and thoroughly with a brush. This will help kick the sebaceous glands into action and spread your natural oils across the full length, while stimulating hair growth at the same time.
Grey hair would benefit from an occasional annual treatment using ampules containing biotin, amino acids and antioxidants. Spread the contents of the ampules onto your parting and massage into the scalp for around 3-5 minutes.
5/ Maintaining your shade
To prevent colour fading, try using purple shampoo which will help neutralise the yellow and highlight the silver shades in your strands. The pigments contained in these products will make the hair texture more even. There is no need to make purple shampoos a regular product and usually once a week is enough. You can also try using toning masks instead.
Our top picks
infuse My. colour™
A purple shampoo for grey and bleached hair. Effective at neutralising yellow and brassy shades, creating a beautiful icy platinum shine.
Hydrating Cream Hairbath Shampoo
An intensive moisturizing shampoo which strengthens your hair from the inside. Sage and tamanu essential oils help balance the scalp. This deeply moisturizing but light formula with no added siliconea will bring bounce back to your hair.
Colour Toning Drops
Toning drops of indigo for bleached and grey hair to neutralise yellow tones and restore lustre. Can be added to your usual shampoo, conditioner or a leave-in product for a deeper treatment. Can be used to create personalised colour depth and tone.
Caffeinated Hair Mask
A revitalizing hair mask with caffeine, niacinamide and hydrolyzed keratin. Helps balance the scalp, bring back moisture, improve the state of your hair follicles and restore keratin proteins while reducing inflammation.
Smoothing Hair Balm
A hair wax balm with the scent of gardenia to help maintain colour, soften the hair and bring back shine.
Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil
A nourishing aromatherapeutic oil for the scalp to help remove debris and stimulate healthy growth, while also preventing breakages and split ends.