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Help! My Hair's Turning Grey

October 09, 2019

Help! My Hair's Turning Grey

There's no such thing as a grey hair.

The hair shaft either has colour or doesn't, so they are coloured hairs or white hairs. White hair is caused when a protein in the base of the hair follicle triggers a switch-off in the production of melanin. There is no gradual fading of colour for that hair – it changes from fully coloured to white. Genetic programming is the foundation cause but stress and diet can accelerate or decelerate the process.

The ratio of white hairs to coloured hairs on the head gives the overall tone of grey and it’s why blondes and red heads don't appear to go grey, just gradually whiter. They also turn white the slowest. Payback time for those of a ginger persuasion that suffered years of merciless teasing!
As more hair turns white, the base colour also loses tone and moves towards a flatter colour; with darker tones of mouse and brown becoming shades of the charcoal palette. This combined with the increase of white hair gives the dulling and flattening effect to grey hair.

The old adage that women should have their hair cut short at 40 was not about length but a judgement that wizened grey hair was best minimized or hidden away. It isn’t true anymore because we have the skill and technology to address frizzy hair and to deal with the loss of tonal vibrancy.

Some women choose to retain all their white hair and if their look is youthful and their skin radiant it can look strikingly beautiful. These are the more unusual cases when a high percentage of hair turns white at an early age and the concentration of white can look brilliant.

But the colourlessness of white hair can drain colour from the complexion and because it doesn't reflect light very well can look flat and dull.
Is Grey Hair Aging?
I’ve never come across grey hair which hasn’t had an aging effect on the wearer when compared with creative professional colouring. It’s not to say grey hair cannot be attractive but that it does on average add 10 years to ones appearance. Why is this?

  1. Firstly the associations are quite evident. You cannot escape the unconscious comparisons with older people. My own mother won’t wear hearing aids because, she says, “That’s what old people wear!” And she’s 96.
  2. The texture of grey hair is usually coarser, fluffier, wirier and less weighty at the ends so doesn’t move with the same bounce and swing. Again these are qualities we associate with fading energy and age.
  3. Drier white hair absorbs light rather than reflecting it all back. So grey hair doesn't appear vibrant and shiny, qualities we associate with youth. Humans are judged less blatantly perhaps than a young dog or prize horse, but unfortunately a shiny coat is a shiny coat.

All points can be dealt with easily with creative professional colouring and styling.
There are so many ways to approach colouring hair, from temporary natural colouring, through semi-permanent tints, to permanent tints. We would generally use the minimal process necessary to paint out white hairs by hand, building up over the years to slightly more committed processes before full colouring. There are endless bespoke solutions and it’s why colour has been the fastest area of growth in haircare.
Deliberately Grey

Enhanced grey colours of pewter and silver have become very fashionable in the last decade but can be higher maintenance on younger hair without the white base.

Youthful hair either moves energetically or looks as though it can. Older hair is likely to be less mobile, frizzier or coarser and thinner at the ends. And because of the shortening growth cycle, will have more short hairs at the roots. Combined, this pulls more energy into the roots with less flowing through the ends, making it hard for the hair to have movement and swing. Imagine taking the weight off the end of a pendulum.

Smoothing or texturising products help balance out these effects. Techniques that help loosen or boost the roots and thicken and smooth the ends also compensate for these effects. On short hair clever cutting gives the illusion of energetic movement even if the hair is largely stationary.


Thickening Blowdry Spray at the roots, Volumising Mousse at the mid lengths and ends, thickens and smoothes giving control and shine.

Michael Van Clarke 3’’’More Inches

Our Hero product LifeSaver Prewash Treatment is a saviour for white and greying hair to keep it as youthful and well conditioned as possible.

Michael Van Clarke 3’’’More Inches

Ten Second Transformation feeds, smoothes and texturises white hair, eliminating fluffy flyaway ends, infusing body and bringing the look back to vibrant health.

Michael Van Clarke

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