A few days/months/years later, you probably noticed a couple more.
You’re still young, you told yourself while examining a single silvery strand in the mirror. The best years are ahead of you.
Then one day, you were practically Meghan Markle walking out the door with everyone in the entire galaxy fixated on your one pesky, wiry grey hair… like we were on Mamamia Out Loud.
Truth is, we’ll all start to go grey at some point in our lives. You might’ve already started. While there’s nothing wrong with having one
hundred grey/white hairs, for many of us, the mere sight of one gives us a strong urge to pluck it out immediately.
But does plucking those grey hairs solve the problem or make things worse? And if you can’t pluck them, what can you do if you’d rather they not exist?
To find out, we asked a trichologist (a.k.a hair doctor) to explain everything you need to know about grey hair, whether or not you should pluck them and what to do instead.
You might want to put the tweezers down for this one.
What makes grey hair grey?
Put simply, grey hairs only have a little bit of pigment (colour) left in them. White hairs are completely void of any pigment.
Specialist Trichologist Anthony Pearce said this loss of pigment occurs within the hair follicle, which is why greys tend to turn up and stay in the one spot, rather than popping up randomly each time you pluck.
“Chronological ageing results in a progressive reduction of pigment-causing factors within the hair bulb, including melanocyte function (the cells that produce the pigment, melanin) and tyrosinase production (an enzyme that stimulates the production of melanin),” he told Mamamia.
Without the fully functioning production of melanin in your hair follicles, the hair that grows from that follicle will have reduced pigment, or none at all.
Pearce also said true grey or white hairs are caused in most cases by the ageing process. In younger people, ‘grey’ hair is generally a stronger mixture of white (non-pigmented) and your natural pigment.
For example, redheads might find their ‘greys’ are actually a strawberry blonde colour.
When will you ‘go grey’?
When you will start going grey depends on your genetics. In most cases, it’s predetermined.
Pearce said the average Caucasian will start seeing an increase in grey or white hairs around age 34, between 34-40 for people with Asian heritage and 43 for people with African American heritage.
You’ll also notice them towards the front of your head around the temples first. Not because you can’t see the back of your head (well, that too), but because greying typically works from front to back.