There was a time when men and women swore by hair dyes to keep their tresses black as those of Black Beauty. Then the world realized the benefits of using henna on the hair, and there came a revolution where older people were seen flaunting a head full of light brown hair. But, of course, that era didn’t last long, and there was a significant revolution in hair coloring when salons started promoting chemical-ridden ‘permanent’ hair colors that came in various shades, ranging from black to brown, dark, and lighter shades, and even gold!
The hair colors stayed, adding on even a broader gambit of colors – you can now even have mermaid hair color and variety in shading (a full head of colored hair or just some highlights). But these colors don’t last long, even though salons promise a lifetime. But here are some tips on how you can maintain that favorite shade of yours for a more extended period without running to the salon for touch-ups now and then.
Science Behind Graying
But first things first. Why do some people get gray hair faster than others? Well, there are multiple reasons, the most common being your genes – if your mother and your grandmother had gray hair at a younger age, there’s a high probability of you also having gray earlier. There’s also stress and bad eating habits that contribute to hair turning gray faster.
Here’s what you should know:
- Our hair is made up of two parts, a shaft, and a root. The colored part that grows out of our heads is the shaft, while the part under the scalp is the root. The root is surrounded by hair follicles that contain a chemical called melanin. Melanin is what gives the shaft of hair it’s color (1).
- As we grow older, the pigments in our hair follicles die, leaving little melanin that causes hair to turn gray, white, or silver.
- From the first time you notice gray hair, it takes about 10 years for all the hair to turn gray.
- If you have darker hair, your grays will show faster than those with lighter hair colors.
Reasons Why Your Hair Turn Gray
- You can get gray hair at any age, as young as when you’re in school or college or your late 30s or 40s. This is entirely dependent on your genes. If you start getting grays at a particular age, chances are your parents or your grandparents got them too at that time.
- Oxidative stress can also lead to hair turning gray. This happens due to an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. For example, some studies show that a chemical called hydrogen peroxide leads to oxidative stress in hair follicles, which is compounded when there’s a low level of catalase (a compound that breaks down hydrogen peroxide) in the body (2).
- Other factors such as inflammation or prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light can also lead to hair turning gray.
- Your lifestyle and specific health conditions can also impact your hair. For example, deficiency of vitamin B12, diseases like tuberous sclerosis, thyroid, vitiligo, and smoking can cause your hair to turn gray.
How to Refresh Your Hair Color
The market today is ridden with hundreds of options to help people cover up their grays. From sprays to organic dyes and henna, various options are available as per the customer’s needs. But the most popular so far has been hair coloring.
What works the most in the case of hair coloring is that if taken care of properly, it can last longer as compared to other options, and you also get a variety of colors to choose from. If your natural hair is black, you can always switch to a brown or burgundy when your hair starts turning gray.
However, these come at a price. And it’s not always a viable idea to go running to your salon when your head starts to show a gray strand. But with some care and a lot of love, you can make your hair color last longer. Here are a few tips on how to rejuvenate and maintain that shade of yours.
Fun fact: Up to 23 percent of people will have half their hair turn gray by the age of 50.
Root touch-up: Once you’ve got your hair colored, go for a root touch-up every three to four weeks. This is the most basic as well as an essential part of permanent hair rejuvenation. Each of us has a different hair growth pattern; some take days, while others take weeks for their hair to grow. The new expansion will naturally be gray, so a root touch-up will ensure that the new hair growth is taken care of and not the entire length.
Soap cap: Using a soap cap or a shampoo cap is another effective treatment of your colored hair. A soap cap is a traditional way of lightening your hair color with bleach and mild shampoo.
- All you need to do is blend an equal amount of bleach and mild shampoo in a bottle and shake well.
- Now apply this soap cap over your hair. Wash it off after five minutes, and you’ll have your permanent hair color refreshed within minutes, without any significant damage.
- Soap cap is often considered the best way to refresh your hair, even at home, with little or no damage done to the hair. In addition, it suits majorly all types of hair, so you don’t need to worry about the quality of your hair when following this process.
Hydrogen peroxide: You can also use a small quantity of hydrogen peroxide in your touch-up formula to refresh your permanent hair color.
- Apply the mixture at the ends of your hair after you’re through with your touch-up.
- Wait for 15 minutes and wash it off with cool water.
- Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and is one of the popular ingredients in hair dyes, apart from ammonia and paraphenylenediamine (PPDA).
- When using hydrogen peroxide, be very careful. Large quantities of it can cause scalp burns, hair loss, and even rashes on the skin.
Once you spot a gray, you’ll have to take extra care of your hair. Gray hair is coarse and wiry and can turn yellowish if you don’t care for it.
Semi-permanent color: Sometimes, using a semi-permanent dye on your hair ends can help to complement your permanent hair color.
- All you need to do is apply it directly following a touch-up and wash it away after 15 minutes.
- Semi-permanent hair color doesn’t last long and lasts about 28 washes.
- Once you’ve colored your roots with it, you don’t have to wait for them to grow out, it will naturally fade away.
Graying hair is a natural process and comes with aging. It is something one cannot avoid, no matter how healthy you are or how much you look after your tresses. Although there are several ways in which one can take care of their grays – some depend on home remedies, while others try out damage-free hair products – the easiest and lasting way to treat them is hair coloring. However, no permanent hair color can last you a lifetime. And hence, you need methods that are pocket-friendly and don’t cause too much hair damage. Try root touch-up every three to four weeks after you’ve got your hair colored. Or, bleach the hair with hydrogen peroxide or use a soap cap that can leave your tresses looking refreshed. Last but not the least, a semi-permanent hair color when applied to the roots can hold them in place for a good number of days. Whatever your pick, these easy-to-do methods are less harmful and also cost-effective, so you don’t have to worry about going to a salon every time that gray shows up!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I slow down the process of graying?
Graying hair is a natural process, but you can slow it down. First, ensure to include vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, in your diet. It can be found in dark leafy greens such as spinach, legumes, and root vegetables. Also, have iron-rich foods such as kidney beans and dried fruit like raisins and prunes. Adding copper to your diet is also a good idea as it produces melanin. Foods such as potatoes, mushrooms, and dark leafy vegetables are a rich source of copper.
What myths are there about gray hair?
There are a lot of myths when it comes to gray hair. Some of them, such as coloring, lead to faster loss of natural hair color, plucking of gray hair leads to more graying, and bleaching causes hair to get gray.
- “Why does hair turn gray?” – kidshealth.org
- “Why Gray Hair Cannot Return to Its Former Color” – goodrx.com