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What to Do When You Have a Few Gray Hairs

What to Do With a Few Gray Hairs

We're excited to present this article from Allure!

I have had a small number of stark white strands in my hair since I was 14. Since I come from early-graying roots (jokes!), I wasn't surprised by their appearance, but have marveled at their lack of progress. They're not clustered together, and are only noticed by other people every once in a great while. They've never bothered me, perhaps in part because they're a rather pretty white. (If this is the way my full head is going to be in 20 or 30 years—great.) But I recently overheard someone lamenting a slightly different situation. She, too, has only a few white hairs (defined by her as about 10 or 15) but they're front and center framing her face. It's not a X-Men's Rogue or Bride of Frankenstein situation where there's one white patch, but they're all nearby each other, and she feels like they're aging her prematurely. She wondered, "Is this too much to yank out, or is it time to color?" We asked colorist Rita Hazan of Rita Hazan New York for answers. To see Rita's tips on dealing with gray hairs, just keep reading.

People often say, "I have a few gray hairs." What would you define as a few? I would say that's anywhere from 5 to even 10 percent of your hair. If they are concentrated in one area that could be a problem, but they usually start coming in more sporadically, and many will be underneath what's typically visible. So you probably wouldn't notice 10 or 20 in the thousands of strands on your head.

At what point do you advise people to start coloring? When you have 20 to 30 percent grays, but it's really subjective. [20 to 30 percent] has been the general rule of thumb because that's when you actually notice it—especially if there's a lot on top or in the front by your face.

What if my few grays are all in one area like that? If you're starting to notice and you want to try something before you commit to coloring, spray a root concealer on that spot. It will stay until you next wash your hair. Or you can go to the salon and ask them to use a semi-permanent dye just on that one spot. If you have really coarse gray hair you might want to try a permanent dye instead of the semi. [Ed note: Semi-permanent color eventually washes out; permanent color grows out.] Or you can enhance your overall color with a vegetable dye, either at home or at a salon.

If I'm coloring just that one spot at home, how can I make sure that I have an exact match? It doesn't have to be an exact match, you just want it to blend in; so say you're a brunette, try a golden brown. Because your hair is white or gray, the worst that can happen is that it's translucent and light. Then you just pick up a box that's one shade darker.

Is there anything that should be left to a colorist? If you're having a hard time covering it on your own—if you have really porous or resistant gray hair—go to a salon and have them figure it out for you. You might need stronger, professional products.

Is it bad to yank one gray hair...or maybe a couple? Yes! Yanking is a bad thing because normally, if there's one, there's more. And what I've noticed with my clientele is that they yank one, see another and think it's the same one coming back—yank that one, and before they know it, they have a little bald spot on their head. That seven gray hairs grow where one was pulled out is a myth—if only it were true! Everyone would do it just for thicker hair. It's the opposite. If you keep pulling hair out it will stop growing; it's just like with waxing or tweezing.

More stories from Allure:
The lengths women go to for clear skin
Can grown women wear pigtails?

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