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When you were young, you may remember seeing men with gray hair and noted how old they appeared. As you grew up, your first gray hair probably caught you by surprise; perhaps it left you feeling old like the men you saw as a kid.
Once your hair begins graying, it only gets worse. Although the process is slow, it can still be dreaded. No matter how many gray hairs you have or how old you are, these pesky whites can make you feel self-conscious.
Many men refer to a gray head of hair as ‘silver fox’ hair, making this journey sound much more exciting. However, for an authentic silver fox look, your head has to be entirely gray; it also takes a while for the shine and color to come through.
Without proper care, gray hair can look sad, off-color and dull. Although people say “grey hair, don’t care,” you do have to care for your hair, just not what other people think about it.
Your hair gets its natural color through melanin. This pigment is made in your hair follicles. Eventually, the follicles in your scalp will stop making the melanin, and your hair will become gray.
This is due to the absence of melanin, and it can happen at almost any age. Most young men begin seeing gray hairs somewhere in their twenties, but only a handful. However, people go gray for a variety of reasons! Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes.
Genetics is one of the largest contributing factors to when you go gray. Caucasians gray first, then Asians and Africans gray last. Redheads are the fastest subcategory of people to go gray, and many redheads get their first gray hair before they reach 20!
By the time you are 50 years old, half of your hair will likely be gray, especially true Caucasians. However, this does not apply to everyone.
Some family lines simply tend to gray at a different rate than the average; sometimes this rate is slower, and other times it is faster. The only way you can determine how fast your family grays is to look at old photo albums.
If you are under 35 and notice more gray hairs than usual, you may have an underlying medical condition. If you think that you are graying sooner than you should be, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can do a few different tests to determine what the cause of gray hair might be. Your doctor will probably check for vitamin deficiency first.
While a vitamin deficiency can be serious, it is usually pretty easy to treat. However, other premature causes of gray hair are much harder to manage.
For example, thyroid issues can cause your hair to gray prematurely, but you are limited to solutions. Some medications can help your thyroid, but it will not help your hair.
If you are worried that you are graying too soon, talk to your doctor. Catching these things early on can minimize the damage done to your hair.
While you will eventually lose the fight to gray hair, there are some ways you can postpone going gray. For example, taking daily vitamins can ensure your hair is getting proper nutrients.
Healthy habits are also important to help you avoid gray hair. If something is bad for your health, it is probably bad for your hair. While you will not notice any immediate difference, the adverse side effects will start to show over time.
Some of these bad habits include eating junk food, not getting enough sleep, smoking, drinking, etc. Make sure to not use too many chemicals on your hair and rinse out any chlorine after swimming.
Although these things may seem small, they make a significant impact on your hair.
Dying Your Hair
As your hair slowly turns gray, you may turn to highlights to hide any discoloration. Eventually, dying your hair might be preferred.
Let’s remember that dying your hair is a preference! While you do not need to hide your grays, it is still nice to have options.
You can even visit your local drug store for all of your dying needs. If you are dying your hair a single, solid color, an at-home dye job might be perfect for you!
If you would like to apply highlights, visit your hairdresser and find what works best for your hair. But remember, with any dye job, you will have to reapply color every one to two months.
How often you reapply color largely depends on what kind of products you use. Let’s take a look at the four categories of hair color products that men can choose from.
Progressive coloring is one of the more common dying techniques; it often comes in foam, but you can also apply it as a liquid or cream. Acetate is used in the dye, causing your hair to darken when exposed to air.
Thanks to the acetate, it is easy to get the exact shade you want—with a little extermination, of course. The longer you leave the product in your hair, the darker your hair will get. Once the dye is off of your hair, your hair will stop darkening.
Directs dyes are packed with color! Each strand of hair is completely coated with this method; this makes it relatively easy to apply. Unlike progressive coloring, direct coloring is not determined by the duration it is left on your hair.
Since your hair is only coated with direct coloring, the results only last between five to ten washes. Frankly, the product does not fade nicely either.
Semi-Permanent hair dye relies on peroxide to achieve your ideal color. The peroxide opens the hair’s follicles, allowing the dye to saturate each strand. With this method, your hair color lasts approximately a month and a half.
With semi-permanent coloring, you can complete the process in about fifteen minutes, allowing it to sit for an additional twenty. However, this product does stain! Make sure to wear gloves and avoid getting the dye anywhere but your hair.
Unsurprisingly, permanent coloring lasts the longest. Although your hair will fade slightly overtype, you’ll have the best results with permanent dye.
Permanent dye uses ammonia (sometimes peroxide) to penetrate your hair with its new color.
However, if you decide that you don’t like the color you end up with, you are stuck with it. You can try to dye over it, but this often does not work and results in bland, murky colors.
Whether your hair is gray or not, your haircut should always be one that goes with your facial structure. Your lifestyle and personal preferences should also play a role in what cut you choose to go with. Finally, your hair should reflect you as a person.
For example, if you do not have the time or the inclination to put styling gel in your hair daily, you would be far better off getting a haircut that will not need daily styling. Similarly, some haircuts can be styled in various ways, which is nice if you want to regularly change up your look.
There are a few key haircuts that go great with graying and gray hair. Haircuts that are shorter on the sides on longer on the top are almost always a good option. Sometimes these cuts taper gradually from short to long, or they can show a clear line of difference.
Hair that is given any length tends to look better if it is wavy. This also helps it look thicker and, if you direct the hair to fall a certain way, it can hide a receding hairline.
When it comes to beards and mustaches, these can look great but are purely a matter of preference. Facial hair often grays at a different rate than the rest of your hair. Sometimes it is almost solid gray, while the hair on your head only has a slight sprinkling of gray.
Situations like this can look awkward, but the effect is eye-catching. If your beard has some color, you can sometimes hide the gray by keeping it as stubble; however, this will make your beard hard to see when it turns white.
Caring For Your New Gray
It does not matter if your hair is pepper with a little salt or half salt and half pepper. You can still look great as long as you keep your hair shiny and healthy. Gray hair does have a stronger tendency to look dull if it is not cared for.
Styling your silver fox hair should be done with care. Powders tend to make gray hair look dull, while hair oils make gray hair look greasy. There are textured pastes that you can get specifically for gray hair, and you only need to use a little.
Other than that, some simple changes, like switching out your shampoo to one that is made for gray hair, are all that you need to do for your gray hair. You don’t’ have to worry that your gray hair will take a ton of extra care.
A salt and pepper look is not the end of the world. It is becoming common to let your hair grow naturally; this saves the trouble and expense of coloring, which damages your hair anyway. Regardless, there is something about gray hair that can simply make you feel old. Even if other people love your hair, knowing that you have gray hairs can bother you.
However, silver fox hair can even look better than your natural color! Next time you’re feeling down about your grays, take a look at some men who rock their silver hair. You should only feel confident about your gray hair.