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    Maybe you were in your 20s when you found your first gray hairs. Or maybe you made it into your 50s before a gray hair made its way to your head. Regardless of when it crops up, once it does, you’ve got to make a decision about what to do about it. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Embrace It or Hide It?

Understanding your options when your hair decides to go gray.

Maybe you were in your 20s when you found your first gray hairs. Or maybe you made it into your 50s before a gray hair made its way to your head. Regardless of when it crops up, once it does, you’ve got to make a decision about what to do about it.

Once considered a sign of old age, some young people are now embracing going gray or even dying their hair gray as a fashion statement. Should you?

That’s up to personal preference.

But why does hair turn gray? And if you choose to hide your grays, what are your options?

Why the Gray?

For as long as you can remember your hair was naturally blond, brown, red, or black, so why is it beginning to grow a different color? It’s a question that has plagued great thinkers for millenia. The answer? Hair follicles contain pigment cells that determine its color. As you age, these cells begin to die. The fewer the pigment cells, the less melanin, and the whiter the strand of hair will look.

Genetics also plays a role. The earlier your parents or grandparent went gray, the earlier you can expect to go gray as well. Caucasians typically start seeing grays in their mid-30s, while African-Americans typically start going gray in their mid-40s. No matter when it starts coming in, by the time people turn 50, most have a noticeable amount of gray hair.

Genetics aren’t the only thing responsible for changing your hair color. Smoking causes a four-fold increase in your chances of having gray hair, no matter your age. This happens because cigarette smoke harms free radicals, thereby damaging the pigment cells in hair follicles.

Certain illnesses may also be the cause of graying, particularly premature graying. Health conditions that result in early graying include tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, a vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid disease, vitiligo, and alopecia areata.

And though many people think stress is a major cause of gray hair, it’s not true. The only way stress can cause gray hair is if it causes your hair to fall out at a faster rate and premature grays grow in their place.

Embrace It

Once the grays show up, you’ve got two choices: embrace the gray strands or work hard to keep them hidden. For years, people were taught to believe that gray hair is unattractive and unwanted, but more and more people these days are choosing to naturally go gray. Even models and celebrities are embracing their grays, making it easier for regular folks to do the same. Thanks to this change of perspective, you can have gray hair and still be energetic, stylish, and healthy.

If you’re tired of concealing your grays, there are several ways to make the transition easier. First, get a stylish, short haircut so your roots aren’t as noticeable as they grow out. Then get lighter highlights throughout your hair as you change over to gray.

Lovely as it is, gray hair may require special care. The sun, cigarette smoke, pollution, and heat styling tools can all cause white hair to take on a yellow tint. If this happens, use a purple or blue shampoo to counter this effect. And since gray hair may have a coarse, frizzy, or wiry texture, apply a conditioning mask every few weeks and use a flat iron to keep it shiny and sleek.

Hide It

Most people choose to hide their grays, at least when they first show up. This can be done with permanent hair dye, applied by a professional or at home. Other people use semi-permanent or demi-permanent color that lasts a few weeks depending on how often you wash your hair. Colored hair sprays and tinted makeup can also be used to hide gray roots, but these wash out with your next shampoo.