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  • Writer's pictureJason Collier

How to Embrace Grey Hair

Unfortunately, grey hair is an inevitable part of the ageing process and the age at which you'll get your first grey hair is largely determined by genetics. You'll probably get that first strand of grey around the same age your parents and grandparents started to go grey. By the age of 30 most people have a few ‘grey hairs’, and by 50 at least half of your hair will have turned grey.

Grey isn’t actually a hair pigment in itself – it’s a colour caused by a combination of normally pigmented hairs interspersed with white ones. What causes your hair colour to change? That has to do with the process controlling the production of the pigment called melanin, the same pigment that tans your skin in response to sunlight. Your hair colour turns from the appearance of grey to completely white when all hair pigment cells stop being produced. The cells that produce hair colour are formed at the bottom of the hair follicle, and the exact mechanism that causes the pigments to change is still not fully understood.

Nutritional and hormonal factors can affect hair colour, as can illness and stress. Smoking is known to increase the rate of greying. Anaemia, generally poor nutrition, insufficient B vitamins, and untreated thyroid conditions can also speed the rate of greying.

It’s thought dark-haired people turn grey earlier than others, but this is just because greying is more obvious. If you are fair-haired or blonde, you probably won’t notice grey hair until you have quite a few white ones, as white hairs blend in easily with your natural colour.

Grey hair can look fabulous but can also be quite draining depending on your skintone. If you decide to go grey, then you will probably have to adjust your makeup accordingly to prevent looking drab. It is entirely down to personal choice whether you colour it or not, many people associate greying hair with getting old and aren’t ready to make that leap.

Grey hair is of a different texture to other hair and can be frizzy, but it is actually finer not coarser as everyone’s hair gets finer with age. The reason why it feels wiry is because oil glands produce less sebum when we’re older, which results in drier and more roughly-textured hair. We also tend to overcompensate during the initial stages of going grey by overdoing chemical styling processes such as colouring, perms - which are still popular with more mature women, straightening and bleaching. These make permanent changes to the cortex of your hair and destroy part of its structure. These processes can leave your hair weaker, drier and more brittle.

As you get older, simply washing and blow drying can have a similar effect. As a result, hair loses properties such as strength, elasticity and youthful health – your hair becomes damaged. I love using hair masks and serums to restore anti-ageing properties to the hair; using nourishing products can help to re-establish strength and elasticity to the hair to make it healthier and give it a new lease of life.

I’m a big fan of products that can tone brassiness and take the yellow tones out of greying hair. I strongly recommend using a toning silver shampoo, which really brings out the cooler tones in grey hair to give a luxe, silvery look.

If you decide to go all grey then you must plump for a fashion forward cut. If you fall into the trap of cutting it short and not using products will age you drastically. Sarah Harris, fashion features director at Vogue has been grey since her teens and wears her hair long and flowing. Her makeup is always flawless so her hair never ages her. Another great example of wonderfully fashionable grey hair is Ruth Chapman from Matches and super stylist and skincare guru Linda Rodin. Again, their hair is in the most fabulous condition and both wear it long.

I’m also a big fan of quite directional haircuts on hair that is grey. A sharp yet funky bob looks incredibly elegant in silver or a softer, more feminine style like the inimitable Helen Mirren, who still looks very sexy. Jamie Lee Curtis works her super short pixie cut beautifully but if you do go in that direction invest in some great texturizing products to give hair movement and create interest.

Above all, have fun with your hair – grey can be gorgeous and glamorous at any age!

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