Why is There no Cure for Gray Hair?
It’s no secret that, as you grow older, many functions and body parts stop working as well as they once did (hearing, eyesight, hands, feet, arms, legs, ad infinitum). Among these are the hair follicles. They get tired and tend to pass on to the great beyond even before the rest of you gives up the ghost. This can mean hair loss for some. For others, the dearly departed follicles stop producing melanin, which is the stuff that puts color in your hair. Without color, your hair tends to go gray, although some people’s hair turns a bright white.
Maybe White Hair is Better?
While some people like the gray, others are so fond of bright white hair that they work to make it even whiter. One thing they do is put bluing in it, just like they put bluing in their laundry to make the whites whiter. We’re not sure how the chemistry of this works, but we used to have an old teacher back in fifth grade, Miss O’Connell, who put bluing in her hair. Some days she used too much and her hair was a whitish blue. Sometimes she used way too much, and her hair was a darkish blue. She may have been the prototype for Marge Simpson.
Well, that’s one way to prevent gray hair – try to make it white. Or make it blue. But most people who want to get rid of the gray want to look younger, not look like dandelions gone to seed. Or look like a Smurf.
Dying to Get the Gray Out?
How do they go about getting the gray out and restoring youthful blonde, brunette, black, or auburn locks? In an attempt to look more youthful, some people respond to ads on the internet for pills that promise to return your graying hair to its original color. Do the pills work? Not too likely. Some people swear by special diets or Chinese herbal treatments. These may or may not work, either, but one thing that will absolutely, positively, guarantee a change of color is dying your hair.
If this is the way you want to go, and you’re the cautious type, you might visit a dermatologist to get some assurance that your hair and scalp are healthy enough to handle the chemicals (such as ammonia) you or your hair dresser are going to pour on your head. The chemicals are part and parcel of the process to make the fake color cling to your real hair for awhile. (But there are other, less caustic, preparations that give you a temporary color fix.)
If the doc says your head can handle it, you’re free to make a b-line with a big wad of money in your hand to a hair dresser -or- you can take a trip to the local drugstore with about $15 in your hand to pick up a box of hair coloring. These go by such brand names as Clairol, Revlon, L’Oreal, and Maybelline. (If you only want a deep black, you can pick up a container of generic henna.) Each brand has a broad range of colors. The formulations are different, and after maybe a few experiments with different brands, you should find one you prefer, then you can stick with that brand and color.
Hair Color for Men?
Males will find two types of hair coloring products supposedly made just for them. One is a lead-based product. After you spatter it on your head, you spread it around by running a comb through your hair. Do that a few times, and the lead makes the gray start turning darker. The best known of these products is Grecian Formula. Unless informed to the contrary, we believe there is not a women’s version of this product because women are too smart to be spattering products containing lead on their heads. Men would probably put camel feces on their heads if someone told them it made them look sexy.
The other product “for men” is the same kind of dye the ladies use. Men will notice a much more limited selection of brands, typically only one or two (such as Just for Men or Clairol’s Men’s Choice), than there is over on the women’s shelf. And they cost more. The higher cost is one of the two basic differences between these hair tinting products and the women’s hair coloring products. The other difference is that the men’s product has a picture of a man on the box rather than the female model whose photo is on the women’s product.
So, guys, unless you’ve got some macho issues, you would be well advised to bring home a woman’s product. It’s cheaper, and you’ve got a wider range of colors and higher degree of permanence. Let’s face it, hair is hair, whether it’s on a man or a woman, and that goop you buy is going to work just as well on you as on your wife. Don’t worry, you won’t come away from the experience with your voice two octaves higher or feeling an overwhelming urge to cross-dress.
DIY or Stylist?
Some ladies who go to the hair dresser may opt simply to get their gray hair covered completely, or they may choose to put some blonde or colored streaks in their naturally gray tresses or their new color job. That can be pretty nice, and since it’s not the kind of thing most oldsters can do at home over the bathroom sink, it’s probably best to let a hair stylist handle it. (Learn how to highlight hair)
If you’re a guy doing this for the first time, check out a few local salons for stylists who have a lot of male clients – or ask your friends for referrals. Then if you like, while you’re getting you hair done you can bombard the stylist with questions about over-the-counter dyes and how to take over the job yourself. For more information on hair dyeing, read how to dye your hair with henna and how to cover gray hair.
- iVillage Beauty & Style Color at Home. Advice on how to do it.
- Are dye jobs to die for?, USA Today, Health.
- You may want to think twice before deciding to depend upon hair dyes. You could get bladder cancer. Or Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Some hair dye substances have been banned in Europe.
- The Hairfinder International Hair Directory answers many questions about living with gray hair.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of grey hair.