When it comes to the inevitable, going gray is right up there with death and taxes—at some point, it happens to everyone. Upon spotting your first gray, we don’t blame you if your first instinct is to panic, pluck, or rush to the drugstore to dye post-haste. Before you jump to any of these conclusions, we advise you first to take a deep breath, then take these expert tips into consideration.
Easier said than done, right? If you’ve ever noticed how the leaders of nations and other individuals who work in high-stress jobs tend to go very gray very quickly, you’ll understand the truth behind the rumor that extreme stress and anxiety can cause graying. If you stress too much about going gray, it’s entirely possible that you’ll just go gray even faster, but regardless, let’s be serious: Going gray really isn’t anything to worry about in the big picture of, you know, life, so spare yourself your sanity by not freaking out.
Your first instinct will likely be to just tear the strands out, thereby removing them from your head… and your worries. Bad news: Plucking each hair is nothing more than a temporary solution, because once those hairs grow back, they will grow back gray. Gray hair occurs when cells at the base of of your hair follicles stop producing a pigment called melanin, so removing the hair itself won’t do much of anything. The pigment producing cells at the hair follicle has worn out, so no matter what you do, the hair will grow back the same way, says dermatologist Dr. David Bank.
Change up your style.
Try changing your part to cover gray hairs at the root. A zig-zag part can make them less noticeable, suggests Wendy Lewis of BeautyintheBag.com. Adding some volume to your hair is also a great way to hide the grays by providing some visual distraction—put in some Velcro rollers around the crown of your head post-blowout to amp up your style.
Hide the evidence.
If your grays are sparse, root concealers can make a world of difference. Try a product like EverPro Gray Away or Rita Hazan Root Concealer For Gray Coverage—they’re fast-acting and give you coverage just where you need it, which is great for when you have a few stray grays and don’t want the upkeep of dyeing your whole head.
If you start finding more and more gray hairs in your hairline or part, see a professional colorist ASAP, says Lewis. You may just want to do a rinse or single process to cover your grays, which will need to be redone around the four-week mark, or you can ask your colorist to do some subtle camouflage by adding highlights to turn your grays into golden blonde strands.
See your doctor.
If you’re under 25 and you’ve noticed premature graying, this could very well be due to an undiagnosed thyroid problem, says Dr. Bank. Ask your doctor for a standard blood test to check it out. If the results indicate that you have an underactive thyroid, meaning the gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormone thyroxine, the problem can be corrected with a prescription for a thyroid hormone replacement.
Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Going Gray