Going grey: to dye or not to dye

December 12, 2011

Report by Katherine Ellis

For some, finding that first strand of grey hair can be a hard experience.

Diane Fuanmayor, a colour technician with 37 years of experience who is currently working at the Antonio Hair Design in Ottawa, says that plucking hairs and expecting more to grow is an old wives’ tale.

“Nobody is happy to see grey hair and they often think: ‘Oh my God, I am getting old, I look washed out!’” she says.

Many people dye their hair when they find that first grey strand.

Jessica Monette, a hair stylist at The Loft salon in Ottawa, says that one of her clients has been dying her hair so much, that she did not even realize she was turning grey.

“I said, ‘Now I know why you colour your hair so much’ and showed her the grey. She started freaking out,” she adds.

A 2011 study by John Frieda® published in Life & Style in April this year, found that 32 per cent of women in Britain under the age of 30 dye their hair, a nearly two-fold increase (18 per cent) from two decades ago. The study even coined a new term for the consumer demographic: Grey Haired Over Stressed Twenty Somethings or GHOSTS.

Though it is still unproven that stress can cause grey hair, Fuanmayor disagrees. “I honestly believe that stress is an issue. If something drastic has happened in [my client’s life] and they come back to redo their colour, all of a sudden they have a big patch of grey hair,” she says. “I believe that greying of hair is all about your own private system and your reaction to things.”

Dr. Jones. Photo: Cory Meli.

Dr. Robert Jones, a cosmetic surgeon, has been working with hair for the past 15 years. He says that there is no way to prevent grey hair, and that in his experience at his transplant centre in Oakville, he has seen premature greying in patients as young as teenagers. However, the average person begins to notice a change in their 30s.

According to Jones, hair appears grey or white due to the lack of melanin – a pigment that gives hair its shade and that slowly fades with age. Premature greying can also have many causes, including thyroid disorders, anaemia, B12 deficiency and even genetics. If your mother or father are prone to grey hair at a young age, there is a strong likelihood that you will be as well.

“There are no diets or special nutritional supplements that have been proven to slow or stop the greying process, though many have been marketed over the years,” says Jones. “Just colour your hair or accept that you’re going grey.” Interestingly, hair will grey faster at the temples and roots, and slower at the eyebrows.

Fuanmayor has also noticed the trend where younger women in their 20s and 30s are dying their hair more, but adds that we must keep in mind the circumstances of today’s society.

Jessica Monette.

“Before people wouldn’t colour their hair because they were not in the job force,” says Fuanmayor. “But I feel the younger generations, who are going to school or starting a job in their early 20s, are driven to look good.”

Monette says she is a grey hair activist, encouraging her clients to embrace their silver coiffure. Her approach to grey coverage, if asked by the client, depends on the situation. If it’s a light dusting, she will suggest blending in the grey hair with lowlights or highlights, depending on her client’s natural hair colour.

“Just have fun with it, if you can,” says Monette.

“If you can handle the grey hair with your skin tone and it does not ‘wash you out,’ stop trying to cover it all up.”

Though she would love to be able to rock grey hair herself, Monette says that with her pale skin tone, any ashen colour near her face is not flattering.

“Unfortunately, though I love it, I will never be able to have it!” she says.


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One Comment »

  • The Imagined Community of L’Oreal « fromthedeskofstgroud said:

    […] hair’ and ‘youth’ in opposition makes physiological sense, for the most part. But research by Life and Style magazine revealed that almost a third of British women are going grey before their thirties. I’d be […]


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