Why Is My Hair Grey?

Grey hair

This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked. Actually it’s nearly a daily occurrence. Is it because you started colouring your hair when you were 14 and turned every colour of the rainbow by your 16th birthday? Or is it that your granny turned grey young so you might too?

Here comes the science bit! Cells, called melanocytes, at the base of each hair follicle, inject pigments into the hair. The pigments dictate the colour of our hair. When the melanocytes age, or get damaged by disease or environmental exposure, they stop injecting the pigments. Hence the appearance of white or grey hair.

The appearance of a few greys is mostly common in your 30s with a few reports of earlier sightings. The predisposition to go grey early or later is mostly genetic. However, it is still not clear if stress is a contributing factor. Experts do say that lifestyle makes a difference. Smoking and bad diet can cause stress to the body and, in turn, your hair.

Lets face it – grey hair is more of a psychological issue than physical for most people. It will not cause you any physical harm but psychologically it is a sign you are getting older!

This is where your hairdresser comes in. And he/she will become one of your best friends. She will keep your secret so be nice to her!

Depending on your level of grey hair and your tolerance of it, you have a few options open to you:

1. Do nothing and leave yourself open to expressions of concern for your mental well being from your sisters and other family members

2. Get a smart haircut, suck it up and age gracefully. At least you look like you have made some effort with your appearance. Finding a good stylist that will be able to advise you on the best haircut for your face shape and hair type while maintaining a modern look is the key here

3. You can opt to have your hair coloured. Get recommendations from your friends as to who they go to and make sure you feel comfortable and confident with your choice of stylist. Your stylist may recommend a scattering of low-lites or hi-lites to blend away the grey or you may need a full colour. Find out what the upkeep will be and how frequently you will need to visit the salon. Over-coloured or damaged hair is never a good look on anybody so be sure to do your homework on this one. Most colours are ammonia and PPD free so none of the nasty chemical stuff anymore, but be sure to ask.

About the Author

Orla McDonagh
Orla McDonagh is from Galway and completed her hairdressing training in Galway City ‘many moons ago’. Since then she has gone on to become a bridal hair specialist which led to the opening of Magenta Hair Studio in Mountbellew last year. She is always looking for new outlets and avenues to explore. She says that “The road less traveled excites me!” When she is not at work she enjoys travel, historical walks & talks and owl watching – yes – you read that right – owl watching! Orla will contribute to The Galway Eye in her specialist field of Hair & Beauty.