beauty

Going grey in your twenties and thirties? Here's what experts recommend you do.

Image: iStock

Of all the truths nobody ever warns you about before you hit your twenties, two are particularly hard to accept:

1. The end of adolescence does not spell the end of pimples (added fun: you now get wrinkles, too!)
2. You might start to go grey.

We’re not referring to that hip ‘granny hair’ trend from earlier this year, either. The hard, cold truth is, you might actually find naturally-occurring silver strands sprouting from your head, despite being decades away from being classified “elderly”. This seems highly unfair, but it’s not necessarily uncommon — research suggests as many as one in three women spot their first greys before they hit 30.

Regardless of why or when it happens, once your follicles go grey, you can’t really do anything to reverse the process. You might decide to conceal the evidence or you might be happy to let nature take its course. Here’s what the experts recommend either way.

Concealing the greys

If you’d rather keep your greys under wraps for the time being, hair colour is your friend — but don’t immediately reach for the nearest box of permanent dye.

The tabloids freaked out when Kate Middleton was photographed with visible grey hairs earlier this year. Seriously, people?

"[Early greying] is definitely more common than people think, but there are some really creative ways to hide it. Chat to your stylists about ways to diffuse it instead of going straight in with full block colours," says ELEVEN Australia co-Creative Director and three-time Hairdresser of the Year, Joey Scandizzo.

Hey, blondes? You have a natural advantage here, as your silver or white strands can be easily concealed with highlights and incorporated into your overall look (hurrah!). Things are a little more complex for brunettes.

"With dark hair, you can foil out and just colour the greys instead of having to go straight to an all-over colour. It’s best to start with a semi-permanent if the grey hair is not too resistant, that way the colour fades out instead of having to grow out so you're not left with the regrowth line," Scandizzo suggests. (Post continues after gallery.)

To get you through the between-appointments period, Andrew Wilson, Director of Transitions Hair, recommends using a hair crayon to cover your emerging roots. You can also buy coloured sprays and powders for this purpose.

"Or, use a product like Biothik Hair Fibres that will both cover the grey and also give a little extra volume. This works well for both darker and lighter colours," Wilson adds.

Going grey

Although women have been dyeing their greys — and thus keeping up the 'grey hair is limited to old age' ruse — for decades, that doesn't mean you have to follow suit.

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If you're content to embrace your greys, then go for it — but just be aware it's not necessarily an easy or instantaneous process. You won't go from red/brown/blonde/black to silver foxy lady overnight, especially if you've been dyeing your hair up til this point.

Rogue, Anna Paquin's X-Men character, and her famous grey streaks.

"You can let it grow out by doing progressively less and less foiling. Depending on the length of hair, this can be a 12 to 18 month project," Wilson says.

If you're planning to grow out a solid colour, consider switching to highlights. "This will break up the regrowth line, and then you can do less and less over time and keep trimming the ends so you are cutting out the old colour," Scandizzo explains.

If you're daunted by the idea of 'going grey', it might be more flattering than you think, especially as you grow older and your skin tone changes.

"You just need to make sure you have a sharp haircut that suits your face shape and that you keep your hair in good condition so it doesn’t look dry," he says. (Post continues after gallery.)

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Regardless of which route you choose to go down, both experts say there's no reason to panic or feel alone (because you're absolutely not). However, Scandizzo says there's one grey hair emergency response you should absolutely steer clear of.

"Definitely don’t pull them out! They grow back coarse and wiry and they are harder to tame. You need to keep your hair in good condition because grey hair can appear dryer and can look dull so use products that have a nice natural sheen to them."

Did you find your first grey earlier than you expected? How did you react?