Most of us dread the idea of going grey, but for many, it’s an unavoidable reality.
By the age of 50, half of the population has at least 50 per cent grey hair.
In fact, most people usually notice their first grey hair in their early 30s, says trichologist Anabel Kingsley.
“However, women and men can begin to turn grey as early as 18, while others experience their first white hairs much later in life,” she added.
Celebs embracing their greys
But how we choose to react to our greys is another story.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston, 50, declared in a recent interview with InStyle that she would never quit her monthly dye appointments.
“I’m not gonna lie - I don’t want grey hair,” she said.
“Grey hair was typically considered undesirable for women as it was a clear and unavoidable signifier of age,” says Rachael Gibson, a freelance hair editor who goes by the handle @thehairhistorian on Instagram.
However, Rachael says there’s now a push toward embracing our naturally grey strands, and social media influencers and a number of A-listers, including Jamie Lee Curtis, 60; Diane Keaton, 73; and Helen Mirren, 74, are leading the charge.
As for the gentlemen, George Clooney and Patrick Dempsey are leading the way for the silver fox brigade, with 33-year-old Bodyguard star Richard Madden popularising grey among the younger generations.
There’s also a growing trend for people who aren’t naturally grey choosing to go silver at the salon.
In fact, according to Pinterest, searches for grey hair inspiration has increased by 879% in the past year.
Real-life story: ‘I went grey at 13’
Instagram influencer Elizabeth, 32, who has asked for her last time not to be mentioned, is one of the younger women pioneering the naturally grey trend.
“My mum found my first grey hair when she was putting curlers in my hair when I was 13 years old,” she told Yahoo UK.
From the age of 17, she coloured her hair every month for a decade but has eschewed hair dye for the last four years.
Posting from the Instagram account @young_and_gray29, Elizabeth has accrued over 9,000 followers with her grey hair pictures and updates.
While many men and women bemoan going grey early, Elizabeth believes it was an “advantage” to go grey young.
“I get so many more compliments on my hair than I ever did with dyed hair,” she said. “Pretty much every day a stranger tells me they love my hair.”
Jennifer Smith, 46, who goes by the handle @silverfox40tales, is another example, sharing her “journey to grey-tness” with her 13,000 followers on Instagram.
She tells Yahoo UK: “I was 19 years old when I noticed my first greys popping and I didn't decide to go grey until I was 45. Just prior to my decision to go natural, I would have said never ever!”
“I was colouring every 2-3 weeks regularly and having to use root concealer in-between. Without a doubt, I always said I won’t let myself go grey until I am really old!”
However, this all changed last year – and Smith has never looked back, with some fans of her grey hair referring to her as a “goddess”.
“In September of 2018 I decided to quit everything and just let it grow completely dye-free,” she adds.
“Believe it or not, I get way more compliments now on my hair than I have ever had!”
However, not everyone is so keen on grey hair, with the majority of female respondents admitting it made them feel “frumpy” in a Lancome survey published last year.
Why does hair turn grey?
Hair goes grey when the follicle that it grows from stops producing melanocytes, a type of pigment-forming cell that gives hair its colour, Anabel explains.
The rate at which this happens is governed largely by our genes - meaning we have little control over whether we’re affected.
How to care for grey hair
Grey hair styling depends on the texture of your hair. If it’s coarse, Anabel recommends a layered cut, while finer hair should be worn in a blunt cut.
Unless you are blessed with thick hair, she would advise against longer styles: “As grey hair tends to be dryer, and also may not be able to grow as long, longer styles can become wispy looking at the ends.”
You should also invest in a special shampoo to keep your grey strands looking their best.
“To improve the appearance and condition of grey hairs, I suggest using a shampoo and conditioner that contain violet hues and optical brighteners. Such products help to counteract any yellow or discoloured tones and make hair look healthier and shinier,” said Anabel.
Additional reporting by Francesca Specter.
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