While grey hair is a completely natural sign of ageing, for many of us, just the mere sight of a silvery strand gives us a strong urge to pluck it out immediately.
But does pulling out those grey hairs solve the issue, or is it actually making things worse?
The commonly held belief is that if you pluck them, many more will appear in its place – but this is actually a myth, claims Mirza Batanovic, style director for professional hair care brand Eufora International.
She said: “I wish this were true, because then we could help people with hair loss so easily.
“But plucking one hair doesn’t make more grow, and it’s an idea that has no basis in science. It’s normal to lose up to 159 hairs a day, but basically they’re not connected in any way, so pulling one does not push more out of the scalp.”
Plucking may appear to be a temporary fix for a younger look, but you could be causing some real damage to your scalp.
Stylist Jennifer Korab explained: “By plucking the hair, you may traumatise the hair follicle, which can lead to infection or even bald patches. You may be doing more harm than good.”
When you tug on a grey strand, the plucked hair will rest and start its next growth cycle in around three months, claims Michael Van Clarke, a London hairstylist and founder of 3’’’More Inches Haircare.
He added: “At each cycle after about age 20, the hair grows back a little thinner and stays around for a slightly shorter time.
“Cycles on the head average five years, and there are a limited number of growth cycles.”
Why does hair go grey?
As you get older, your hair follicles produce less of it, which leads to reduced colour and greying hair.
Stylist Helen Reavey explained that melanin is a substance in your body that gives colour to your hair and skin.
The founder of hair care brand Act + Acre added: “The number of pigment granules naturally begin to decrease as a person ages, usually between ages 28 and 40. The reason for this is that the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, begin to slow down and produce less.
“The hair actually isn’t grey, but is actually completely translucent. The ‘grey’ tone is actually down to the percentage of natural hair colour left and mixed in between causing many different shades,” she said.
Genetics play a key role in how quickly grey hair appears, as your biological makeup determines the speed that this can occur.
However, stress can also accelerate the process of greying hair.
Grey hairs are showing up because you’re ageing, not because you plucked one, says Van Clarke.
He added: “I don’t believe revenge is built into nature. But more grey is coming anyway, as this is the trajectory of life.
“If you make plucking a habit when less than 1 percent of the head is grey, you’ll have less hair to work with in a few years’ time, when 10 percent of the hairs are grey.”