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What to Do When You Find Your First Gray Hair

Sprouting gray hairs is normal, but that doesn’t mean they’re wanted.
November 22, 2023


Some things in beauty are inevitable, including that day you start to see your natural hair sporting a gray color (if you never get grays, congrats to you). When you notice your first gray it doesn’t mean you need to immediately cover it up or stress about more sprouting up.


Gray hair is most often associated with aging, but sometimes grays show up sooner due to genes or lifestyle. Having gray hair is a normal part of having hair and it can be quite stunning, but we know not everyone wants to see these signs of aging sooner than expected. Basically, going gray can be a tricky subject, especially when it’s all new to you. Don't stress out about it; we're here to help. Read on to learn what to do when you spot your first gray.


What Age Do You Get Your First Gray?

For the most part, you may start experiencing your first gray hairs in your early to mid-30s, according to a 2020 study by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). However, everyone is different and since there are many causes of gray hair, they can start sprouting on your head at various ages. Some people have reported — per the NCBI — graying prematurely, with their first grays appearing before the age of 20. 


What Causes Hair to Turn Gray?

One day, your hair is the same color it's always been, the next it’s speckled with wiry, grays. These silvery strands might seem like they come from nowhere, but there’s a reason (three actually) to the graying hair madness. It’s often thought that stress can cause your hair to turn gray, and while there are some studies that support this theory, the evidence isn’t conclusive enough to fully consider stress a cause of gray hair, per the NCBI.  But there are other causes to consider; below, learn about three different factors that contribute to hair graying. 



Look to your parents, grandparents and other family members to gauge when you can expect your first gray hairs to show up. Genetics play a big part in a lot of things — like hair color, eye color, skin color and when your hair will start graying, confirms the Cleveland Clinic. Gray hair happens when the hair follicle produces less pigment and eventually grows in gray. The actual time this occurs can depend on genetics since your genes help control melanin production.  



Of course the most well-known cause of gray hair is aging, which is why silver strands are closely connected to older individuals. However, as previously mentioned, gray hairs can appear as young as your early to mid 30s. As the body ages things change, like the production of melanin (that deplete with time) in hair follicles. Basically, the older you get, the more gray hairs you’ll have since your hair is also getting older. 


Medical Conditions or Illnesses

According to Harvard Health, a number of illnesses can cause hair to turn gray by affecting the pigment production in the hair follicle. If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid disease or alopecia, you may notice your hair turning gray before you’re ready. These illnesses and medical conditions are a few examples of health factors that can cause your hair to turn gray — regardless of age. 


What to Do When You Find Your First Gray Hair?

If you look in the mirror and discover your first gray, prepare yourself for more. It seems like gray hairs come in packs, with one strand (usually) meaning more are coming. How you decide to handle your gray hair is up to you, no matter what society or people on social media say. 


That means covering the silver color if you want or owning it as it grows out. But the truth is, owning your gray can mean whatever you want it to. Below, check out three ways to handle your first gray hairs to find a solution that works for you.  


Embrace Your Gray Hair

Maybe you’ve been waiting for your hair to go gray your entire life. It’s understandable with the gorgeous silvery gray color that seems to shine (with the right hair products) in every light and is a trending color among younger people. When your first gray hairs start to come in, embrace them fully by speeding up the process and dyeing your entire head a gray color like L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color in Smokey Silver. You can blend your grays in with the help of highlights, a balayage or an all-over color with this at-home box dye. 


Make sure you refresh your box dye gray or natural grays with a glossing treatment that restores shine, balances brassy tones and deep conditions. Try L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss in Silver, Silver White or Silver Slate to best match your hair color for a boost of nourishment that targets dull tresses.  


Cover Gray Hair Temporarily

Sometimes, when you’re new to something, it’s best not to choose the most permanent solution straight out of the gate — and that logic applies to going gray, too. Opt for a temporary fix, especially if you’re not 100 percent sure of the best way to own your gray. Both of the following options allow you to cover grays quickly and completely and will wash out with your next shampoo. 


L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen 

If you’ve only just noticed gray hairs starting to come in, you probably don’t yet have a full head of gray hair, maybe just a gray strand here and there. In that case, you don’t need a full box of permanent hair dye, it’s best to use a product that allows for precise application of those few strands. This root touch-up pen lets you conceal grays just where you need it. It’s also perfect for on-the-go use thanks to its convenient size (it really looks like a pen) and mess-free application.


L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up

If your grays cover a wider area, a root cover up spray may be the way to go. This root concealer can be saved for days when you don’t feel like having visible grays or if you need to color your roots immediately. This spray quickly covers hair without the mess of an at-home box dye that needs to be combined, thanks to the pointed nozzle that offers targeted application.


Cover Gray Hair Permanently

Maybe you would prefer an option that allows you to think about your gray hairs less often. With a permanent hair color that covers grays, you won’t have to give your graying mane any thought until it’s time to dye again. And yes, you can do this at home. Grab a box of L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme Cool Supreme Permanent Gray Coverage Hair Color in a shade that matches your natural color, or go for a totally different shade and mix up your look while you’re at it. 


If you’ve been coloring your grays this entire time, you might not need an entire box dye to target that fresh root growth. Instead, pick up a box of L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Rescue 10 Minute Root Hair Coloring Kit which includes everything you need to conceal grays in a compact bottle. The convenient packaging has a soft brush tip for a better application while the formula covers up to 100 percent grays in 10 minutes.  


How to Take Care of Your Gray Hair

If you’re team “proudly owning gray hair”, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking care of the new silver tresses that require their own dedicated routine. Gray hair tends to grow thicker, wiry and quite dry, thirsting for moisture, so you’ll want to use products that target these concerns. 


Use a shampoo and conditioner specific to caring for gray and silver hair, like L’Oréal Paris EverPure Ever Silver, Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Ever Silver, Conditioner. The sulfate-free shampoo cleanses hair without stripping it of natural oils or leaving it feeling dry and brittle while the conditioner nourishes strands leaving it stronger and more hydrated. 


Use this two-step system daily (or however often you cleanse and condition your hair) and add a toning treatment once a week to neutralize brassiness that silvery gray hair is prone to. Reach for L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti Brass Purple Mask Treatment and apply it to your hair after shampooing. Let it sit for five minutes so the treatment can do its job (neutralizing brassy tones to promote shine) and follow up with your conditioner.   


Next: How to Blend Highlights and Lowlights for Gray Hair


Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Erin Williams

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