Gray Hair: How we grow it and what we can do about it.
Gray hair is something that women (and many men) dread.
We don’t think much about grey hair until we find that first one. From that moment on, we obsess about them. Many of us start by plucking them.
Legend has it that for every hair we pluck two more will grow. And if you are like me, you pluck out two black ones before you get hold of the gray one you were aiming for.
Eventually we begin to see them where they don’t even exist and assume that everyone around us sees them sticking out from our head like horns.
Some people make peace with their silver lining and continue with life as always. I have great respect for these people and admire their beauty. Many turn to their trusted stylist or drug store shelf to look for ways to cover those grays. I have understanding for these people and get it that we are not all ready to embrace our silver lining yet.
So what causes gray hair?
Genetics – this is one you can’t avoid. Take a look at your parents, and other older blood relations to get a glimpse of your future.
Stress – this one plays a role in so many of the bodies functions. You hear of people claiming to have gone grey overnight. While this might not be entirely true, a stressful period in your life can cause you to grow more grey hairs.
Lifestyle – Lack of sleep, eating processed food, smoking and too much alcohol all cause oxidative stress, which accelerates the ageing process which is one of the causes of premature gray hair
Age – we can’t escape getting older, but as we age the store of melanocytes depletes so the new hair grows out gray.
What can we do about gray without further damaging it with harsh chemicals?
Henna – this is one of the most widely used natural solutions for grey hair. It comes from the Lawsonia inermis tree and has a lovely orange colour to it.
Henna usually comes in a powdered form. Some have other herbs added that benefit the health of our hair and can help change the orange tone of the henna. Indigo can be added for a darker colour and other herbs give different shades of orange and brown. Be sure to check the full ingredient list of your henna as some compound hennas contain heavy metals.
The henna is applied to the hair as a paste and usually needs to be left on for 4-6 hours before being washed off. Henna will stain the skin, so be careful when applying. One of the downsides to henna is you can’t avoid the orange tinge as the colour fades.
Tea - This is one of the oldest methods used by women around the world. Black tea for brown or black hair. Rooibos tea for red hair and chamomile tea for blonds. The tea stains the hair so with repeated applications the grey looks more blended in.
Brew two or three tea bags in a cup of water and allow it to cool. Once cool, apply it to your hair and let it sit for about an hour. Rinse in cool running water. Do not shampoo. You will need to repeat this once or twice a week to improve and maintain results.
Coffee – Works a lot like tea and is great for darker hair or if you wish to go darker in colour. Brew a cup of strong coffee or expresso and let it cool. Once cool apply it to your hair and let it sit for an hour or two. Rinse in cool running water. Do not shampoo. You will need to repeat this a couple of times to see results.
Potato Peels - Yes, you read that correctly. The starch in the peels act as a natural pigment that helps cover the greys.
The next time you are peeling potatoes, keep the peels and boil them in a pot for 25 minutes. If the smell is too strong for you add a couple of drops of an essential oil. Allow to cool and then apply to your hair as a rinse after washing and conditioning. Rinse gently with cool water. You might need to add potatoes to your diet on a regular basis as this like other natural remedies needs to be repeated regularly to see results.
Beet, Carrot Juice and Lemon Juice – These three juices can be used in combination or alone to add some highlights to your existing hair. Beets are best for darker red highlights, carrots for softer orange highlights and lemon for golden blonde.
Mix one cup of juice with hair conditioner or apply on its own. Be aware that both beet and carrot juice with stain the skin so be sure to apply an oil to your hairline to prevent staining.
Hairprint - This is the only permanent hair color solution with the coveted MADE SAFE Certification. Your natural hair color is created by pigment cells producing melanin in the hair follicle. With aging, we stop producing melanin, and hair turns gray. Hairprint uses 8 clean ingredients (so safe you can eat it) to recreate the missing melanin and apply it to the hair.
With all of these options above, the less you wash your hair, the longer they will last. Try to rinse your hair in cold water as this helps to maintain the shine in your hair and is less likely to wash out the ‘colour’ you have added. Do keep in mind that natural remedies usually take longer to work, a little bit of patience will go a long way.
Finally, while we can’t influence factors like age and our genetics, we can influence our lifestyle, diet and stress. As for so many other things in our life, it is important to take care of ourselves. Eat well, exercise, get adequate sleep and stay healthy. A healthy body and scalp is the right medium to grown healthy hair.