Ask The Experts: How To Go Gray, Gracefully—Even In Your Thirties

It’s a common misconception that gray hair is associated with old age. In fact, as someone who spotted their first silver strand in their teens, I can tell you firsthand that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Contrary to popular belief, gray hair can pop up at any age—yes, even in your 20s or 30s.

Are you tired of plucking your gray hair or covering it up with hair dye? Well, now is the time to embrace it.

We asked Dr. Michelle Henry, clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College in New York, what causes Black women to gray early and her advice on how you can effortlessly embrace your gray hair, whether you’re 30 or 50 years old. In addition, we’ve included 12 flattering examples below that prove gray hair doesn’t have to age you.

According to Dr. Henry, the primary cause of graying, as you may have guessed, is genetics—not stress. She adds that certain vitamin deficiencies or thyroid disorders can also cause a reversible type of premature graying.

“Actually, African-American women begin graying at a later age,” Dr. Henry tells ESSENCE. “Typically, white people will begin going gray in their mid-30s. Asians begin a bit later in their late 30s, and African-Americans, not until their mid-40s on average. Premature graying would be considered if gray hair is seen before the age of 30 in African-Americans.”

As far as coping with premature graying, Dr. Henry advises that you must first accept yourself—gray hairs and all.

“More and more women seem to be accepting their natural look and flaunting their gray hair,” explains Dr. Henry. “Some women even dye it that color. Dyeing your hair a lighter color, rather than a dark one, will make grays less noticeable. Also, you can consider getting highlights in concentrated areas. There are also temporary spray dyes that can cover surprise grays.”

Still not convinced? Scroll through the photos below for some gray hairstyle inspo. Even if you haven’t gone gray yet, these styles will have you longing for a few strips of silver.

I cannot wait to see you boo. #DirtyComputer

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