In a world that’s moving towards embracing each individual as they are, flaws et al, beauty comes with a whole new set of definitions. Inclusivity is the new cool and it’s a sigh of relief for many people—the pressure of upkeep that comes with unnatural beauty standards can be hard work for those who don’t enjoy it. An ongoing debate in today’s times is focused on whether signs of ageing, like grey hair, should be hidden at all. What you decide to do about your grey strands is a matter of personal choice—either you embrace them as they come, or you choose to hide them with a fresh hair colour job. Either way, both scenarios come with their own share of haircare routines. Here, we got two Mumbai-based celebrity hair experts, Anchal Morwani and Hiral Bhatia, to give us their best advice on caring for your greys.
How does hair turn grey?
“Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes their distinctive colours. Hair turns colourless (white) when the body stops producing melanin. Apart from this, your hair can also turn grey if you have inherited the gene from your family, have a low protein intake, are perpetually stressed, have nutrient deficiencies or chronic illnesses like anaemia or diabetes, or live a generally unhealthy life,” says Morwani.
Should women be embracing natural grey hair?
As is most of what beauty is about, whether you want to let your grey hair be or you want to colour them back to what your natural hue used to be, it’s all up to what makes you feel better about yourself. “I’m a strong believer in embracing all things natural,” says Morwani. “When it comes to hair texture, it’s best to work with what you have, rather than burn it by extensive straightening, for example. But when it comes to greying, I think it’s an extremely personal choice and therefore subjective. For some people, more the whites, bigger the impact on an individual’s self-confidence; having said that I know lot of women who embrace their greys and feel very happy about it.”
What is natural grey hair really like?
“For most individuals, colourless or white hair can grow shaggier and more frizzy than naturally coloured hair. Since these hair strands are lighter than your natural hair, they stand out even more, highlighting a different texture that you may not have ever experienced before up until now.” With age, the oil glands generate less sebum (which lubricates both skin and hair), leading to drier follicles and therefore drier hair.
What happens if you pluck your grey strands?
Heard the myth about five new white hair popping up if you pluck one? While that may not be true, Morwani gives us the actual 101 on what happens. “The best way to take care of your greys is to stop plucking them out. The first thing to observe is that there is a high contrast between your naturally coloured hair and your greys. These pieces can be spotted very evidently. When you start plucking out the lighter strands, especially around the top of your head (the area most visible to you and the world), just like normal hair they start to grow out again. But the problem here is that now you have tiny white hair sticking out of your head on that mane of black making the whites even more prominent than before. If you allow your greys to grow with the rest of your hair, they blend in better with your natural hair, won’t stick out and the breakage-prone frizzy strand will eventually settle as the length increases,” says Morwani. Plus, plucking, especially if you use too much force, can cause inflammation at the hair root, therefore causing those strands to grow out thinner and more breakage-prone.
What should your haircare routine look like for grey hair?
“Just like you would for coloured hair, use a shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for naturally grey strands to maintain their health. Most importantly, use a good conditioner and leave-in conditioner, as sometimes grey hair can look very dry and frizzy,” advises Bhatia. “Ensure that you use a colour-safe conditioner so that it doesn’t stain your greys. Smoking, heat exposure, chemicals from other hair products and chlorine can all make your grey hair look yellow. If you feel like your greys are starting to look yellow, you can use a purple shampoo once a week to neutralise it,” adds Morwani. “You can also try an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week to tackle this.” Most hairstylists suggest using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner as well as moisturising masques to deal with the lack of natural sebum in the hair.
“Heavy pomades, waxes and oily serums can make your greys look dusty, so stick with lightweight styling products. Alcohol-free sprays prevent hair from drying further. Use an alcohol-free shine spray or an anti-frizz spray to control the unruliness, which is common in grey hair and makes it look glossy and shiny,” suggests Morwani.
What should you keep in mind when colouring grey hair?
“Firstly, it is very important to take expert advice from a hairdresser with a thorough visual consultation,” advises Bhatia. “Secondly, the best option is for you to add lighter colored highlights to camouflage your greys, specially if you don’t want to touch-up every month. If you want a 100 per cent coverage, I’d suggest picking an ammonia-free colour. Try and keep your touch up colour a little on the lighter side, with a reflection that suits your complexion. If your touch-up colour is too dark, your regrowth will show up too soon because of the contrast, and you’ll end up colouring your hair too often.”
Morwani suggests babylights and maintaining translucency of your greys as the best way to color them. “Train your mind to be more accepting of translucency instead of 100 per cent coverage,” says Morwani. “The best way to enhance that salt and pepper look is with highlights. Weaving the head with its base colour by taking super fine weaves makes it look very natural,” she says.