Getting grey hair is inevitable and although for many black men having grey hair feels like a sign of maturity, wisdom, dignity and power, for some it is viewed as an unwelcome sign of ageing.
Whatever your feelings are towards having grey hair, making sure you take good care of them is going to make a huge difference to their appearance. We often get asked how to take care of grey hair and what products to use to keep it healthy.
Grey hair does require a different approach to care and here is why. To start with, let’s look at what causes our hair to turn grey in the first place.
What causes grey hair?
Melanocytes are the cells that live around the hair follicle and produce melanin. Melanin, as you well know, is the natural pigment in skin and hair. The melanin produced by melanocytes disperses into the cortex of developing hair strands, and the structure and concentration of that melanin is what ultimately determines the color and shade of your hair.
With age and other causes, your melanocytes slow down, stop producing melanin, and eventually die. This happens in a few follicles first, and eventually throughout your hair, resulting in hair without any pigment. This is the process of going gray. While graying is affected by a range of factors including genetics, lifestyle, stress, and even ethnicity, the number one factor in graying is age.
But it’s not just the color and pigment of your hair that alters when you stop producing melanin- the structure and properties of your hair will also change. When melanocytes die, this can cause a slight change in the shape of the hair follicle. Since your curl pattern is determined by the shape of the follicle, you may notice gray hairs will not follow the curl pattern you’re used to- they may be more or less curly than before.
Additionally, gray hair strands can develop a medulla: a hollow core that makes those strands more wiry and unruly. The absence of melanin in the cortex can also lead to reduced elasticity and strength, and a tighter cuticle layer, making gray strands more difficult to penetrate with color treatments.
Finally, melanin is a protectant from environmental damage. With the loss of melanin, your hair will become more vulnerable to UV rays, and you’ll be more likely to experience broken hair, split ends, frizz, tangling, cuticle damage, and even yellowing.
Many black men opt to color their gray hair, either to avoid the effects described above, or simply because they prefer the look of colored hair. But gray hair can be tricky, time consuming, and expensive to maintain coloured and many black men choose to embrace their grays. The choice is up to you! If you do choose to keep your gray hair, here are some tips for keeping it healthy.
1. You have to be more careful with your hair and beard than you used to be.
Gray hairs have reduced strength and elasticity, making them very breakable. Be careful of over-styling or using too much heat, both of which will be more damaging than before. You can also try a protein treatment every 4 to 8 weeks.
2. You are going to need more moisture than you ever needed before
Gray hair tends to be more dry, so be diligent with conditions and moisturizers. Always use oils to seal in moisture, use a daily leave-in conditioner, and if you’re still struggling with dryness, deep condition more often- even up to once a week.
3. Avoid conditioners or hair products with mineral oil.
Mineral oil coats your hair, weighing it down and making it more difficult for moisture to penetrate your gray hair.
4. Avoid harsh shampoos and other chemicals that can dry out your hair.
But don’t neglect to use a clarifying shampoo to remove mineral buildup in your hair- this can cause discoloration or yellowing of gray hair.
5. Take extra precautions to protect your hair from UV radiation.
Wear hats or scarves if you know you’ll be out in the sun for a while.
6. Gray hair can also look dull or less vibrant than it used to. Vitamin E Oil can help with shine!
We especially recommend our Hair and Beard Oil which in addition to being an oil that seals in moisture, contains Castor Oil, Vitamin E and other natural oils to help keep your hair moisturized, strong, and shiny.
7. A healthy body is the key to healthy hair.
Be sure to exercise regularly and fill your diet with nutrients, protein, and water, which will ensure your hair gets everything it needs to grow.
8. Figuring out your gray hair can be challenging!
The new texture and pattern of your hair can make your go-to styles difficult, and if you’ve been using the same tried and true regimen for years, you may need to start over and create a completely new regimen for your changing hair. Be patient with your hair and yourself, and treat this challenge as a new journey and adventure