Looking After Silver Hair


During 2020 lots of us started embracing our natural waves and curls: ditto ditching the dye and embracing the silvers. I’m four months into a ‘soft’ version of the latter (I wish I'd started during lockdown 1.0 when I had six months of regrowth, but getting to grips with my natural waves and curls kept me busy enough. Plus I just wasn’t ready: it seems to me that you know when you’re ready, and feeling ready is key to getting through the tougher times).

Why do we 'go grey'?

Cells in our hair follicles produce melanin (pigment) which gives our hair colour. As we age, melanin production reduces, and new hair strands grow without pigment: essentially, white.

Grey is not a hair pigment but the resulting colour from normally pigmented hairs being interspersed with white hairs. Hair colour gradually turns from grey to white when all hair pigment cells stop being produced. Some people never reach pure white (think steely tones, or a salt-and-pepper vibe): where we end up on this spectrum is largely down to genetics.

So far, aged 52, I’m only around 30% white. For ten or so years I had been having a semi-permanent colour to match my natural hair and cover up my roots. Several months ago we switched to a few scattered lowlights around my crown. I’m not sure how long we’ll do this blending for, but as always I feel completely safe in my hairdresser’s capable hands and I’m really happy with the results thus far. (It helps that Bernie is a couple of years ahead of me and has been through exactly this process).

Here are my tips for protecting and caring for our hair as it ages:

  • Grey hair can feel quite dry because this change usually starts at around the same age that oil-secreting sebaceous glands slow down. Moisture is key and you will likely need to change your products, and include a regular deep conditioning hair mask. Check out these microwaveable deep heat caps by Hot Head Thermal Hair Care.
  • Contrary to popular belief, grey hair is not always coarser. If your hair has always been coarse it may well become more so, but generally hair gets finer with age. With less natural oil hair can become brittle, dry, wiry and frizzy. Silk or satin pillowcases are far more gentle for ALL hair types (and skin!) so look at making that switch.
  • Because of its texture and porosity, grey hair will burn more easily. When heat styling use good quality tools with temperature controls. Look for products with SPF, and protect your hair, scalp and skin with a Global Babe sun hatthey carry the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 1200+ as approved by the Australian Radiation Protection Authority. They're an investment piece, but are Sophia-Loren-chic, and come in a variety of stunning shades.

  • All hair is most vulnerable when wet, and this is especially true of grey hair. Handle it with care post-washing by using a Good Wash Day hair towel. Our organic jersey cotton towels (also known as T-shirt towels) can help reduce friction, damage, split ends and excess frizz. They also help reduce drying time (prepare to be amazed at how much water they absorb!) but without leaving hair overly parched like regular towels.

By cultivating a pro-ageing mindset, embracing the greys is nothing to fear. Bring it on!


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