Not ready to embrace your greys? We’ve got you. We asked a dermatologist to debunk common grey hair myths for us, and reached out to experts to learn their top tips on how to dye grey hair, including what to ask your hairdresser for, how much maintenance you should expect and ways to colour your roots at home.
If you have dark hair
If you’re looking for total grey coverage, Joan Novak, an independent colour stylist based in Whistler, B.C., says to ask your stylist for permanent dye. “Grey hair can sometimes be more resistant to colour, so your colourist might adjust your dye formula and timing to ensure it covers [even the most] stubborn hairs,” she says. Also, keep in mind that staving off the greys is a commitment. Novak says that to keep your regrowth under control, you can expect to be back in the salon chair every three to six weeks.
If you have light hair
Blondes have it a little easier when it comes to full-coverage colouring. The lighter hue isn’t as stark of a contrast as it is on brunettes, so strands can be tinted with a light blond dye or sometimes blended with foil highlights, depending on how much grey you have. “[You can also] do a combination of full colour with highlights for a colour variation,” says Novak. Maintenance appointments are a little more spread out as well, with most blondes needing root touch-ups every six to eight weeks.
If you want to dye it at home
Kristjan Hayden, creative director for Aveda Canada, has a hot tip for getting your colour just right. “Make sure that you don’t pull the dye through to your ends each time you colour your hair. You really just want to isolate the root regrowth area,” she says. If you continuously pull the colour through to your ends during each colouring session, those ends get repeatedly dyed, making it very difficult to soften that colour in the future.
If you only have a few minutes
Whether you’re dealing with regrowth at the scalp or want to cover a streak, there is a plethora of tinted products that make quick work of greys. “These products won’t alter your hair colour—they just sit on the surface so they won’t interfere with your natural shade at all,” says Novak. Hayden’s go-to root touch-up is tinted dry shampoo, which is fuss-free to apply and blends easily for an ultra-natural look.
Don’t fall for these myths around grey hair:
As we age, the melanin pigment in our hair follicles decreases, causing hair to turn grey. But thanks to old wives’ tales, there’s still mystery surrounding silver tresses. We asked Toronto-based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett to separate fact from fiction.
Myth #1: If you pull out a grey hair, three will pop up in its place.
False: If you yank out a grey hair, it’s not going to multiply, says Kellett. But she warns against plucking. If you’re pulling out with force, you could permanently damage the hair follicle, which could lead to it ceasing to produce hair at all.
Myth #2: Stress causes grey hair.
True, sort of: This answer isn’t black and white. There are some studies that show that stress may affect melanin production beneath your scalp, but there’s no hard evidence on the connection.
Myth #3: Genetics determine when you’ll go grey.
True: “There are a couple of genes that are responsible for grey hair,” says Kellett. It’s not exclusive to one side of the family, so look at both your mom and your dad’s percentages of grey hair. “If your parents went grey, you’re more likely to go grey.”
Myth #4: Colouring your hair causes greys.
False: Because hair follicles sit under the skin, nothing you do to your strands once they’ve grown past the scalp will affect whether you go grey or not, says Kellett.
Myth #5: You can laser away grey hairs.
False: “Because laser hair removal devices work on pigment, they [don’t work] on grey hair,” says Kellett. “I always tell people that if they’re thinking of doing laser hair removal, they should do it while they’re young.”