Gray Hair Explained

Gray hair is a natural part of getting older and yet we all try to avoid it. I always say “but I feel young” yet those gray hairs keep on creeping in. For those of you who may be contemplating a midlife crisis this is the article for you.


First let me explain the science behind gray hair. The hair on our heads is made up of a shaft, or the colored strands we see growing out of our heads, and the root, which is the part of the hair anchored under the scalp. The hair follicle is a tube of tissue under the skin that surrounds the root of every strand of hair. This hair follicle houses a particular amount of pigment cells that continuously produce a chemical called melanin. How dark or light your hair is depends on the amount of melanin the hair contains. A dark pigment called eumelanin and a light pigment called phaeomelanin blend together to make up the wide range of hair colors.


As we grow older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in the hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and therefore become lighter or transparent- gray, white, or silver. The older we get the fewer pigment cells there will be to produce melanin and eventually the hair will look completely gray.


Now most people associate gray hair with old age, which is true, however some people can get gray hair as early as their teens or as a young adult. From the time a person notices a few gray hairs, it may take more than 10 years for all the hairs to turn gray. Our genes determine the age at which we get gray hair. This means that most of us will start having gray hairs around the same time that our parents started getting gray hair. Smoking, anemia, poor nutrition, insufficient B vitamins, and untreated thyroid conditions have also been claimed to speed up the rate of graying.



So now you are noticing the gray hairs and you ask yourself what should I do? Do you pluck them? Do you dye them? Do you get highlights?


Dying the gray hairs is a great option because it preserves a youthful look for the client. If you just have a few strands of gray you could try a demi-permanent hair color, which will stay in the hair for 28 shampoos or about a month and half, depending on how frequently you wash your hair. Demi- permanent hair color molecules get under the outer cuticle of the hair shaft but it does not penetrate the deeper cortex. They are just stuck under the cuticle until they are washed out. Demi-permanent hair color is a great option for someone who is just starting to go gray and wants to experiment with color. It can look natural because each gray hair will take the color differently, ultimately giving the hair a “highlighted” look.


Permanent color differs from demi-permanent color in the way that the color invades the hair shaft and lodges itself. The chemicals in permanent color open the hair cuticle and allow the color to reach the deeper cortex. So instead of fading away like demi-permanent colors, your hair stays whatever color you dye it. As the hair grows, the roots will be the old color (or gray). The permanent hair color will give you more coverage and over all a more youthful look, but it will have to be maintained every few weeks. At Casa di Menotti we use a remarkable Italian product called BES (Beauty and Science) that gives the hair a youthful shine and amazing reflective color. It also changes the texture of the hair to smooth and silky.


Whether you decide to dye your gray hair or embrace it, make sure to moisturize your locks and use quality products that will maintain the integrity of your hair. I recommend the BES products such as Silkat for dry damaged hair and Colour Lock for color-treated hair. If you have any questions feel free to send us a message!


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