Embrace the natural beauty of gray and white hair.
Glorious gray is actually willfully white—when it comes to hair, that is. In fact, gray hair is a misnomer. The reality is that gray hair is the result of natural hair color mixing with white strands of hair. As we age, each hair follicle stops producing melanin. Without melanin—or color—hair grows in colorless. So, naturally dark hair blends with the new white strands to look silver or gray.
“I started getting gray in my later 40s,” Ginny Nelsen (81) of Inver Grove Heights says. “I was salt and pepper until my late 60s. I didn’t have a hard time accepting the color change, but it also helped to get compliments through it all.”
Exactly when those gorgeous locks start to “go gray” can depend on a number of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, climate, hormones and even pollutants. But as stylist Pajar Vang of Pajar Hair Art (housed at Salons by JC–Woodbury) says, there are things to do to keep hair, especially as it begins to change, healthy and looking its best. She suggests “using the right products to strengthen the hair; using a good professional grade shampoo and conditioner, hair serums and leave-in treatments.” Another pro tip: Always make sure to get a trim or cut every four to six weeks to keep growth in check and hair healthy.
Research shows hair doesn’t actually change texture as a person ages. Instead, the amount of oil secreted by sebaceous glands decreases, causing the hair to become drier. To combat the effects of less oil, Vang offers tips like adding vitamin E, hydrating shampoos with antioxidants to stay bright and fresh and, occasionally, a clarifying shampoo to reduce toxin damage and build up. “Don’t be rough on wet hair, let it air-dry as much as you can and use less heat if possible,” she says.
For some, the intentional silver-color trend has been a gentle way to embrace the “gray,” especially during and post-pandemic, but for others, that very visual reminder that aging is inevitable can be difficult. “I tell [my clients] that it’s a part of them, and instead of trying to hide it, embrace it because people are spending hundreds of dollars to look like them,” Vang says.
Anne (56) of Lake Elmo was in her 20s in college when her stylist suggested she start coloring her pops of silver. She says, “As I get older, the space between coloring sessions is getting shorter, so it’s definitely a time and money commitment.” She says if she were in her 20s today, she would get a little experimental with a variety of tints and colors as her white hair started settling in.