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Don’t Panic! What To Do When You Find Your First Gray Hair

photo of grey hair growing into scalp

The day you’ve been dreading for years has finally arrived—you found your first gray hair. Don’t panic! We know you’re tempted to pluck it out and pretend you never saw it, but trust us, there will be more. Luckily, women and stylists have been dealing with gray hair for decades. With just a bit of guidance you’ll conquer your graying hair in no time.

Let us introduce you to your gray hair guru: Danielle Keasling, Matrix artistic director and brand ambassador. Keasling’s got all the inside scoop on when you can expect your first gray hair, how to care for it, and the best ways to cover it.

On average when do gray hairs begin to appear?

The age at which your hair begins turning gray varies for everyone, but Keasling says most of her clients begin to notice gray hairs during their 30s. Because that age is determined by your DNA, the best way to figure out a potential timeline may be asking your parents when they began to go gray. If they noticed their first gray hair in their 20s, chances are you’ll see your first gray hair early on.

Unfortunately for those of you dreading turning gray (although we promise—there’s nothing to be scared of), there is no way to prevent

How does your hair change when it turns gray?

A new hair color isn’t the only change you’ll experience when your hair begins to turn gray, you may also notice a change in your hair’s texture.

“Usually the texture of your hair becomes more coarse and resistant. Grey hair can be stronger in texture and tough to color,” the stylist explains. “It can also take on a wiry appearance.”

Just like many of us change our skincare routines to battle the signs of aging, Keasling says we should take a similar approach to our graying hair.

“I believe as we age we should absolutely take better care of our hair. Our hair needs protein, moisture, vitamins, and nutrients that our bodies start lacking as we get older,” Keasling says. “It’s imperative to put in those nutrients and balance what age is taking away from us.”

What is the best way to cover grays?

Assuming that you’re looking to get rid of your gray hair, you only have two options: Cut it off or color it. If opting for an extreme cut is your style—kudos to you! In case you’d like to hold on to your strands for just a bit longer, Keasling says there are several options that’ll help you achieve whatever color your heart desires.

Keasling prefers to use permanent hair dye on clients who hope to cover their gray hairs. Many modern day formulas are designed to create the most color impact while doing the least damage to your locks as possible.

Permanent dye is formulated with tiny molecules that can penetrate the hair cuticle and enter the hair cortex. Once the molecules are inside the hair cortex, the bleach and ammonia lift the hair’s natural color allowing the dye to give your strands a new hue. While permanent dyes can fade, they will never wash out.

If you’re not 100 percent sure you’re ready to part with your gray locks, a demi or semi-permanent dye is a great option. The molecules that form the semi or demi-permanent dye are big enough to coat the outside of the hair shaft, but just small enough to enter the edge of the hair cortex—the thickest layer of a hair strand. This allows the color to last a bit longer, anywhere from four to six weeks. While the color will usually last weeks, semi or demi-permanent dye fades very quickly and (even with proper care) your color may begin to fade drastically before reaching the six-week mark.

As Keasling explained earlier, gray hair often becomes coarse and tough to color. For that reason, it is imperative to head to the salon and allow a professional to color your locks. This will guarantee you end up with the exact color you’re hoping for and your locks remain as healthy as possible.

If neither cutting off all of your hair nor coloring your precious locks are styles you want to try, there is always a third option: Embrace your gray hair! Not only will your hair look stunning in its natural state, but also gray hair is one of the hottest trends of the year! Your friends might even think you dyed your hair gray on purpose.