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Why You Should Never Pluck Your Gray Hairs, According To A Derm

Read this before you grab those tweezers.

While most of us understand that going gray is in our future — and very much a natural part of aging — that doesn’t mean we all like and embrace it. Sure, celebrities and influencers have proudly taken to social media as of late to boast their silver strands and there was even (and really, still is) a stretch of time when dyeing your hair gray was a thing. But for those who aren’t keen on graying anytime soon, there’s still the nagging feeling to pluck those wiry babies from the root every time you see one or two spring up in your mane. 

According to Miami-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Flor A. Mayoral, you may want to refrain from getting tweezer happy. Here, she explains why plucking your gray hair is not the best remedy if you’re sick of looking at a head full of budding salt and pepper.

Why Does Hair Gray?

Let’s start with the most basic understanding of what causes gray hair before we get into the rules on plucking. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, gray hair results from a reduction in melanin in the hair which occurs as we age. The truth is, once your graying process begins, there is no way to stop the grays from coming in for good, according to the Mayo Clinic

It’s also important to note that your genes also play a role in your gray hair journey too. The Cleveland Clinic states that it’s because your genes help control melanin production. Ever wonder why some people start graying in their twenties while others don’t go gray until well into their forties or even fifties? Chances are, it’s genetics — and in some cases really good hair dye, but we’ll get to that later.

Why Plucking Gray Hairs Is A Major Don’t

When you start pulling out a stray gray or two from your hairline it may not seem like a big deal at first, but if you keep plucking at hair follicles you could do some serious damage. According to Mayoral, “sometimes the follicle becomes infected and leads to pustule formation [when you continue to pluck at it]. Repeated plucking can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and actually make the problem obvious to others.”

So while the myth that if you pluck one gray hair ten of its siblings will pop up in its place has been dispelled, you still may want to refrain from plucking. In addition to swelling and scarring, plucking hair straight from the root could also contribute to irreversible premature hair loss in the area.

“While I don’t know [how many times you can pluck a follicle before it stops growing hair completely] it is obvious from the permanent hair loss that results after plucking the eyebrows in a specific shape for several years that the hair stops growing back,” Mayoral says. “Patients that have a nervous tick and pull their hair can have permanent bald spots in their scalp. Hairstyles that require constant pulling of the hair will eventually lead to a receding hairline. The process is reversible if stopped in time. Structurally, gray hair is no different than normal hair.”

The Best Gray Coverage Hair Dyes

Hopefully you’ve been scared straight from plucking your gray hairs. But we also understand that it may not have changed your mind about loving the look of gray hair (on your head at least). Well, you didn’t think we’d leave you without a remedy did you? If going gray just isn't an option for you right now, you can always hide your gray hair or use hair dye to cover up your grays. Choose from our best gray hair coverage options below.

L’Oréal Paris Excellence Créme Permanent Triple Protection Hair Color

Formulated with collagen, ceramide and a Pro-Keratine complex to protect hair as it colors it, this hair dye offers 100 percent gray coverage — even on those stubborn silver strands that fight being coated. With more than 36 colors to choose from, there’s a shade for every blonde, brunette, redhead and black-haired beauty.

L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color

This hair color has stood the test of time — offering shiny, fade-defying color for decades. Available in nearly 50 gorgeous hues, it’s made with camelina oil, vitamin E and UV filter to protect your color for up to eight weeks.

L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Rescue 10 Minute Root Hair Coloring Kit

This quick-fix root kit is perfect for the person who’s just starting to see gray coming in closer to the scalp. The quick precision applicator makes it easy to target 100 percent of your grays. And of course if you’re coloring your hair, it’s the ultimate go-to when you’re between coloring sessions and you see gray roots starting to appear.

L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen

Similar to the root rescue kit, this precision pen is meant to target gray hair (or any regrowth) for a temporary fix when you’re in between dye jobs. The precision brush allows for quick and easy application — but keep in mind, it’s best for scattered grays and currently comes in shades for brown and black hair.

Next: Can Gray Hair Be Reversed?

Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Direction: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Senior Visual Designer: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Assistant: Victoria Ochoa, Digital Tech: Kyle Thompson, Model: Roxanne Hancock

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