Yep, we said it. Even though those shiny tinsles may be telling you otherwise, don’t listen to them! We’re going to break down all-things grey hair, from the science behind it to how to do it gracefully.
Since the early COVID days when getting your roots done wasn’t an option, more women than ever have been embracing their natural hair, saying ‘goodbye to dye’, and letting their greys sit front and center. Paired with the patience of a saint, you’ll need the right stylist by your side during what is sure to be a worthwhile journey.
More than one way to grey
It's important that your hairstylist is open to this conversation and doesn’t simply try to talk you out of going grey. They should be offering you all the information possible while making you feel fully supported regardless of what route you take. You should always feel in control but remember, going grey is complicated. Your stylist is an expert and wants to give you the best results so trust their advice and trust the process. Need a trusted stylist? Head to VERVERY.
That being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to grey hair. It may involve going cold-turkey from your typical 6 week root color, doing a big-chop to speed up the process, or embarking on an extensive (and expensive!) color journey a la ‘the king of grey’, @JackMartin. With so many options, odds are you and your stylist will find the perfect solution.
Your grey hair isn’t actually grey
You may be asking, “well why can’t I just get my hair colored grey?” Because that would be too easy of course! But actually, grey hair really isn’t the color grey. And it’s really hard to recreate something that doesn’t exist right? We’re going to break down the science behind this tricky color - but first, let’s tackle how grey works in your hair specifically. Your grey hair is actually a mix of ‘salt and pepper’ hair. Here’s what that means:
Salt is straightforward. White, unpigmented hair that is devoid of all melanin (the substance that produces color throughout your body like in your hair, skin, and eyes.) Your hair doesn’t actually turn white though, it grows in that way as new hair. A pigmented hair falls out, and a new unpigmented hair grows in its place. That’s why your new little white hairs are always poking up!
Pepper is your natural hair color, dulled over time. As we age, what was once shiny and bright with red and gold undertones (yes, everyone has them) loses its luster and vibrancy, causing it to appear darker, duller, and become the dreaded “mousey”. So, when all those tiny salt and pepper hairs are hanging out together and reflecting off each other in the light they create a grey-like hue! But the hairs aren’t actually grey.
Nifty shades of grey
Your natural hair color dictates how your grey looks as you mature. Women with very dark brown or black hair will have the most vibrant steel grey look due to the intensity of the salt and pepper hair reflecting off each other, like mixing black and white paint! Natural blondes, however, will mostly end up with a white or soft grey look because their ‘pepper’ is already so light to begin with. The lighter the hair, the longer it takes for greys to appear noticeable due to the lack of contrast!
Redheads may be considered the luckiest of us all due to how beautifully their hair turns grey. Even as their natural red color starts to lose its vibrancy, it still reflects a fairly rich tone that's closer to a warm brown than pepper. When the salt hair reflects off that warm tone, it tends to look more like a blonde or peachy highlight! Jealous, right?
Let’s get technical
The color grey itself is in the achromatic family - meaning literally 'void of color'. Remember creating colors on the color wheel from grade school art class? You likely remember that we achieve grey by mixing black and white. Black, as we know, is all of the colors mixed together. But when you reduce that blackness into a 'grey', that shade of grey can easily lean a little too hard towards an actual color on the color wheel and reflect a grey-blue, or grey-green, or grey-violet or pink, etc. Especially if that grey color is put onto a head of hair - which is not a simple white piece of paper. This is yet another reason why it is so difficult to color someone's hair grey and not have it look fake. Have you ever picked out a grey color swatch at Home Depot, only to bring it home and realize it looks like some other color? That's because again…grey is not a color, it's a temperament of light and a reduction of every single color combined. Whoa.
You're a color genius now
So let’s combine the fact that grey is not a 'real' color, with the fact that grey hair is really just patterns of salt and pepper throughout your head and you should be left with a clearer picture as to what to expect from your journey and your hairstylist. You’re officially a grey pro! If you loved these facts on grey hair and grey color, let us know! There are plenty more fascinating things to know about this natural phenomenon.
And if you still don’t believe us, try plucking out a truly ‘grey’ hair. Don't worry, you won't get 2 more in its place! 👩🦳