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How-To Take Care of Naturally Gray Curly Hair

Posted on 10 April 2020

Gray hairs happen (sometimes sooner rather than later!), so whether you've fully embraced the silver mane or are only seeing a few specks of glitter, we've got some tips and tricks to help you along the way!

How do grays happen?

Let’s get to the root of it.

The same amino acid in your skin that gives it its pigment (melanin) is also present in your hair. Over time, our bodies stop producing the melanin in our hair and gray or white hair grows instead. For most, this starts to happen around age 35. As this process begins, the colored strands of hair don’t actually fade to gray. Rather, grays grow in after old, colored hair sheds and falls away. That’s why most people begin with a sparkle here or there, with gray slowly replacing their original color over time.

So when does our hair decide to go gray? We’ve heard old wives tales that plucking one gray hair will make 3 more grow in its place, but, tempting as it may be to believe, this is just a myth.

For most people, the rate at which gray hair grows is largely determined by genetics. Looking at how your parents and grandparents went gray will be the strongest indicator of how you’ll experience the same process.

However, we know that many people look at gray hair as an indicator of stress (think Obama’s hair before and after his presidency). Most studies show that stress doesn’t directly cause hair to turn gray, but it can cause hair to shed much faster than normal. If your hair has already started graying, high stress levels could cause more strands to shed, leaving room for new gray hairs to come in. That being said, a recent Harvard study published in January of this year concluded that stress in mice directly causes their hair to gray. When put under stress, the cells which produce pigment in the mice’s hair began to break down, indicating that something similar could happen in humans.

Lastly, certain medical conditions have been linked to graying hair including vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid disease, and alopecia. Graying hair from these conditions is not as common but it does happen, particularly in people who start to go gray at a very young age.

This shouldn’t be cause for alarm; for the overwhelming majority of people, genetics plays the biggest role in when and how fast your silvery strands announce themselves.

How do grays happen?

Genetics! These bad boys play a huge role in the graying process. It’s a common misconception that stress leads to gray hair. A few studies have found that nutritional and hormonal variables can also affect the rate/age that our hair begins to transition. Since the pigment cells in hair follicles, known as melanin, determine our hair color. As time goes on, our hair follicles simply begin to produce less color.

How-to Transition to Gray Hair

For some, going gray is just part of the aging process. For others, they may want to hang on to their natural color a little longer. Either way, do what makes you feel like the best version of you!

The Perks of Going Gray

Grays are beautiful. Period. The beauty industry has conditioned us to believe that they should be banished, but why? Gray hair is natural, eye-catching, and sexy! Check out these LUS beauties rocking their grays…

Plus, going gray is easier and cheaper than keeping up with dying your hair. All that time spent between repeat salon appointments and at home touch-ups can be mentally exhausting. At some point you might just have better things to do with your time. Why not embrace your inner silver fox and take the plunge?

If you decide to do so, there are a few ways you can ease the transition:

A Fresh Cut

A bob or a pixie cut can help reduce the contrast between colored and gray strands. You can go shorter than your normal look or try something radically different.

Want to keep the length? Start slow and gradually trim the ends of your old color over time.

A Hint of Color
Adding highlights and lowlights can help to blend any incoming grays. If you choose this route, we always recommend going to see a stylist. They can help you choose shades that blend and match your new incoming grays.

Caring for Gray Hair

As we age, we produce less oil on our skin and hair. Although it may seem that gray hairs themselves are dry and course, they are simply less lubricated than before. So whether you decide to color them or not, your gray strands are going to be thirsty for moisture!

Start with your shampoo 

Product and environmental buildup can discolor and limpen gray hair, so it’s important to wash it, but using a shampoo with harsh sulfates can cause even more dryness. Using a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser will help remove buildup and keep your silvery strands glowing, without robbing your hair of much-needed oils and nutrients.

Your Grays + Conditioner = BFF

Water and conditioner are going to be your gray’s best friends! Investing in a good, hydrating conditioner will give thirsty grays the moisture they crave. We also recommend adding a deep conditioning treatment to your routine if you notice your strands are especially dry.

A good deep conditioner contains humectants and emollients which help to maintain moisture levels in your hair. Humectants are designed to attract and draw water into the hair, while emollients work to seal and trap that moisture in!

A good deep conditioner contains humectants and emollients which help to maintain moisture levels in your hair. Humectants are designed to attract and draw water into the hair, while emollients work to seal and trap that moisture in!

New Textures

When your grays come in you might notice they look and act completely different than what you’re used to. That’s alright! It’s normal for grays to grow in with a different curl texture. It happens because the slowed oil and melanin production in the hair affects its chemical structure.

As your grays grow in, whether you decide to color them or not, you may need to switch up your styling routine, opting for styling products that provide more moisture than your old ones. You can also look to oils as a way to provide extra nourishment for your scalp and curls while smoothing flyaways.

How do I Fix Discolored Gray Curls?

A number of things can cause grays to become dull or yellowish: dyes in products, environmental pollutants, chlorine pools and even some minerals found in your water are just a few.

Clarifying removes product buildup on the scalp, but it also helps with hair discoloration. A good ol’ ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) rinse every once in a while can remove brassiness and yellowing in gray curls. If you want to learn more about it, check out this blog, Do Your Curls Need Clarifying?


So Let Those Grays Be!

Going gray is a life stage we’re all going to experience at one point or another. While we encourage you to embrace your grays, we understand many people aren’t ready or simply don’t want to and that’s okay!

If you think about it, gray hair is a part of the curly hair journey and learning to care for it is just a new chapter. Exploring new ways to love and live with your new shade could make for an exciting and freeing experience. Embrace the silver crown (when you’re ready) and show the world that you lived and experienced amazing things!


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