Gray hair. It’s one of those signs of getting older, yet many of us get grays at a very young age. My first gray hairs sprouted in my early twenties and there has been no stopping since then…sigh. So, with all these years of experience dealing with those pesky grays, I have learned some great tips to style & cover up emerging grays and slow down their growth… for a little while longer at least.
Plucking gray hairs – Who hasn’t heard this old wives tale? Turns out there’s not a bit of truth to it. Plucking one gray will not result in two, three, or seven more. So if you have a few gray strands here and there, it’s not a cardinal sin to just pluck them out. That said, don’t make it a habit reaching for your tweezers every single day. Plucking can cause permanent damage to the hair follicle and the strand may never grow back—and as you age and your hair naturally thins, you’ll need every strand of hair you can get!
Turn grays into highlights – If you have just a few strands of gray, a full head of color correction can be too much of a time (and money!) commitment. Highlights are a great first step for color, as they blend in the grays so you can’t really tell what’s a highlight versus what’s gray. Stick to a highlight shade that’s close to your base color, and it’ll look very natural. Another plus is that highlights are much easier to maintain!
Try A Root Concealer – Whether you are between salon visits or starting to see a few grays pop up, wash-out root touch-up products with temporary hair color can be a great quick-fix to to cover up the annoying gray roots. Most of these are formulated without ammonia or peroxide and are not harsh on hair, which makes them a safer alternative to permanent dying and chemical processes. Here are 2 Root touch-ups that I really like – TRUHAIR Color-n-Lift Powder Brush and Gray Away (it’s also sweat-proof and stays put until the next time you shampoo)
Play With Your Part Line. For many women, grays often grow in more heavily on one side of the head than the other. If grays are more prominent on one side, try switching your part to the other side. A zigzag or diagonal part may also help conceal grays that are growing in more scattered around the head.
Go for a semi-permanent hair color – For locks that are about 20 to 25 percent gray, use a demi- or semi-permanent hair color that’s closest to your natural tone in order to blend away the grays with minimal damage to the hair. Both types deposit color without ammonia and wash out after about 6-8 weeks so this also gives you a chance to experiment with different colors…no commitment required! I really like and use either Clairol Natural Instincts or Revlon Color Silk, both are ammonia-free. However, if more than half of your hair is gray, go the permanent color route. Permanent hair color contains ammonia which opens the hair cuticle to allow the color to penetrate.
Watch your diet – Studies have shown that low vitamin B12 levels can cause lessening of hair pigment and thus cause premature graying of hair. So, if you have noticed more gray strands sneaking in, be sure to include protein and B-vitamins rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, fish, eggs, beans and legumes, chicken, liver, avocados, bananas, tomatoes and grapes in your diet. Also, avoid too much alcohol and limit the intake of processed or junk foods. Stick with fresh foods as much as possible and snack smartly (I have a handful of almonds or walnuts when I get home or while cooking dinner to curb those hunger pangs!) Fresh, healthy foods help feed hair the same way they nourish your body!
Embrace a healthy lifestyle – While you can’t really stop or reverse graying, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to avoid premature graying. Smoking, for example, stresses and ages your skin & hair so you ought to ditch the habit. Exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are also essential to slow down the aging process of the entire body, your hair included. If you get bored exercising alone, try a group fitness class. (I love Zumba…so much fun!) And while increased stress doesn’t actually cause graying, it can trigger temporary hair loss and when hairs grow back, they’re often less pigmented or turn gray. Try yoga, deep breathing or other relaxation techniques to keep your stress under control.