Like many things, with maturity comes gray hair which for most people happens sometime during their 50s. Occasionally people's hair turns gray early, usually a genetic inheritance. And often it looks terrific–white or silvery when it is well groomed. Hair color and texture changes over time are natural and there are ways to accommodate those to keep your hair soft and manageable.
How Hair Turns Gray
As we age, there is a reduction of pigment resulting in gray hair, and sometimes a complete loss of pigment results in white hair. The hair tends to become drier and requires more moisture than ever before. As the size of the hair follicles diminishes, hair growth slows and there is less new growth to replace what we lose. In this process, hair also loses some of its elasticity and the texture changes. Those changes are also affected by the diminished production of skin oil (sebum) as we age.
Care of Gray Hair
No shampoo alone will slow or reverse the change in color, although some claim to do so. You will have to use a coloring product in combination with a gentle shampoo afterward. Usually a shade that is close to your original color works well. You can also color with highlights to accent it in attractive ways. Blondes often do this, mixing a lovely champagne color with the gray. After using any coloring product it is essential to moisturize your hair. So any shampoo should always be accompanied by a good rich moisturizer and used on a regular basis.
Color Products for Gray Hair
Shampoo alone will not cover or change hair color–you will have to use a coloring product. That could be henna or one of the products by L'Oreal, Clairol, etc., which are easy to use and popular. After coloring your hair it is a good idea to use a moisturizing treatment once or twice a week to replenish the moisture and boost shine and manageability. The same products work well for both men and women.
Shampoos and Conditioners
There are very fine shampoos and conditioners made by Kiehls in NYC. You can also call them and discuss your needs. They can advise as to which of their products will work best with your hair. Another excellent gentle shampoo is Dr. Bronner's castile soap, which comes with no fragrance as well as with almond, lavender and mint. It has no detergents and is primarily made with glycerin and natural oils.
Henna for Gray Hair
Henna is a natural substance for hair color used for thousands of years. Cleopatra is said to have used it for her hair and beauty regime. It can be used to color gray hair, and has excellent conditioning properties. Henna comes in pre-mixed packages if you want to achieve a specific color. You can also mix henna with other ingredients like herbs to achieve particular results. As with all coloring products, henna will fade over time. After coloring, you should use gentle shampoos and conditioning products like those recommended above. Regular moisturizing will keep your hair soft and manageable.
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Wanda Bershen has been writing for over 20 years on Fundraising, Marketing and Planning for arts organizations, including newsletters, proposals & planning documents, and articles for leading art and film publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Philosophy from Yale University.