Going Gray? To Dye or Not to Dye

by Farah Merani

There comes a point in every person’s life when they’re confronted with the reality of graying hair. Whether you’re 24 or 54 when those first spry little strands sprout, there’s no denying their eventuality and it can be an unsettling experience. To dye or not to dye, that becomes the question.

Although many women are choosing to avoid dyeing their hair for a variety of reasons, for some there’s no question. Samantha Stonehouse, Creative Director at Parlour Hair Salon in Toronto, offers a few things to consider whether you’re weighing your options or have already hopped onto the color wagon.

1. If you have only the odd stray strand, the simplest thing to do is let it be. Avoid plucking, as it may aggravate the follicle itself and the surrounding follicles. You won’t get more grays from plucking but you will definitely get more pain, and as it grows in again might stand straight up apart from the rest. Snipping the hair might seem like a good idea but again, “It can make the hair stick out straight from the head, making it more visible,” Stonehouse says. Once cutting out the grays means cutting chunks of your hair, it’s time to consider dyeing.

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Dying your hair at home can be a great way to save money and still look amazing

2. Know what your options are and don’t be afraid to ask a color specialist. That’s why they’re called specialists. People are often surprised by how many options they actually have when it comes to color, product, and duration. There’s a whole spectrum of choice. “[Coloring] is very personal for people,” says Stonehouse. “Some have low tolerance, others don’t mind it. The best way to start is by using a semi-color to blend the gray into your natural. It’s lower maintenance and has less visible regrowth,” she advises. “You can also try lowlights of the natural color.”

3. Doing it yourself at home is also a good way to maintain your color. From non-permanent touch up wands and pens to henna, there are many ways to safely conceal grays. Just be sure to use a product that doesn’t contain ammonia or peroxide; those should be used by a trained colorist only. Semi-permanent formulas from the pharmacy are also a suitable option because they’re straightforward and easy to use. They wash out more quickly than a salon color treatment so it’s a good way to test out a color without having to commit.

Gray hairs are coarse and wiry, which are especially noticeable if you have smooth or naturally dark hair. Regular intense conditioning will help keep grays smooth and manageable. “A [deeply moisturizing] leave-in conditioner really helps. Or a smoothing serum will keep the texture of your hair looking more uniform,” Stonehouse advises.

What you eat contributes greatly to the health of your hair. Foods rich in protein and vitamin K are important. Brazil nuts are the best! If you’re low in the B vitamins, you may be more apt to developing grays. There are lots of hair- and nail-specific vitamins that you can buy but a general multivitamin will also do the trick.

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