Got Your First Grey? Don’t Panic, We’ve Got It Covered

TV Stylist Stacy London embraces the grey. Image: Getty

TV Stylist Stacy London embraces the grey. Image: Getty

You've got a grey hair! Do you freak out? Or yank that sucker and move on? For a lot of people it's a combination of both.

Plenty of people start getting grey hairs young, young enough to not feel the societal pressure to be ashamed of dreaded "signs of aging" breathing down their necks. And with the increase in hair color, there is an increase in women who go blissfully ignorant of grey hair as they're really not sure what their natural hair color is anymore.

But, for some, it can be upsetting. As a beauty writer, I get questions about how to hide greys most often from my friends with darker hair, for whom a grey is more obvious and more difficult to hide or pass off. When a quick yank is no longer a viable maintenance strategy, there are a few courses you can take if grey hair is just not something you're ready to embrace.

Grey hairs come from a lack of melanin in the pigment of our hair. It is associated with age, but it can also be genetic or the result of natural chemical changes or exposure to environmental pollution. There's no way to naturally increase melanin pigment, so it's a game of hiding the grey if that's your choice. We'll work from the least intensive to most intensive methods.

Hair Mascaras

Hair mascaras (or regular mascara for that matter), hair markers, hair sticks, hair color mousses and hair color rinses are all equally inexpensive, easy to apply and, unfortunately, equally temporary. Most of these products, found at drugstores or beauty supply stores shampoo out. This means you have to reapply after every wash if you really never want to see those greys again. The marker and stick both use real liquid hair color, and blend out greys particularly well. If you really only have a few, you might prefer the hair mascara for it's precision application. Mousse is really like any other styling mousse with a bit of temporary haircolor mixed in. The application is a bit imperfect, and you'll be applying color to areas of your hair that don't necessarily need it, but if you use mousse regularly it would be easily integrated into your routine.

Hair Rinse

The hair rinse is used in each shower. It reminds me a bit of the trick of keeping your color vibrant by adding a little dye to your shampoo. Which, coincidentally, would also work. With these methods, we're moving more towards straight up dying your hair.

Demi- and Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Demi- and semi-permanent hair colors both deposit color without ammonia, but demi-permanent color uses stronger hydrogen peroxide, which is more potentially damaging but also lasts longer. Semi-permanent color is healthier and gives shinier color but only lasts up to 12 shampoos.

These dyes are all available in both drugstores and beauty supply stores and at your salon. The salon color may be of higher quality, the application will be professional and could result in less damage, but they won't last any longer.

If you're bothered by the growth of your roots in between coloring, there are some simple tips to minimize the effect. Mixing highlights and lowlights, especially around the crown and hair part, if you do color your hair, makes greys less noticeable. So does avoiding pulling hair straight back into a ponytail, which emphasizes the line of new growth where greys will be most evident.

Embrace It!

Don't discount the option of going grey glamorously and gracefully. If you've never dyed your hair, greying doesn't mean you have to start. Grey hair is particularly flattering on pink, olive and dark complexions. A weekly deep conditioner can help minimize dryness of any greys that come in looking wiry, and the whole process can be embraced as a welcome change.