Going Grey in Your 20s? An Expert Explains How to Work With Your Grey Hair, Not Against It
Most of us will remember our first grey hair. I was living in a crusty New York sharehouse when I spotted a suspiciously light-catching strand sprouting from my deep-brunette scalp. The bright white hair looked more at home on a wizard in a children’s film than on my 26-year-old head – I was dumbfounded and instantly blamed the stress of living in the “greatest city in the world” on the development.
Since then my white hair hasn’t been joined by that many others and I’ve resided in the no-woman’s land of not enough white or grey hairs for it to “be a thing” but enough to wonder what I’m meant to do with them (tip – don’t just rip them out, as one hairdresser did for me)
For me, the solution has been moving away from chestnut brown to a more forgiving blonde balayage with a root stretch– but there are plenty of options. We spoke to Jaye Edwards owner, founder and colourist at, Edwards And Co, about why we go grey, and what are options are.
Why Do We Go Grey?
Your genetics are the best predictor of when, and how you will go grey – so ask your parents! Your ethnic background is also an indicator, with individuals of European heritage going grey younger.
While you might think 26 or 32 is far too young to start greying, the scientific bar for what is considered “premature greying” is actually quite high – in the Caucasian population greying is considered premature if it occurs before the age of 20, before the age of 25 for those of Asian descent and before the age of 30 for those of African descent.
What’s Actually Happening When We Go Grey?
Billy Daniels explains, “As we grow older, our production of melanin, the pigmentation cells responsible for hair colour, begins to slow down. As a result, usually by our 30s, we start seeing sparkles of white hair coming through, by our 50s many of us can expect to be up to 50% grey.”
So, How Do You Make Grey Hair in Your 20s and 30s Work for You?
Daniels says that increasingly, women are opting to go with it. From the silver-blonde trend championed by Kim Kardashian in 2017, to actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker and Salma Hayek going grey has accrued a certain cache.
Daniels says, “Your first option is of course to embrace it! In the salon we are seeing more and more women opting to keep their greys and blend them in, rather than covering them entirely, a trend being led by many women in Hollywood.”
Not Ready For au Naturel?
For those who are not ready to revel in their greys just yet, Daniels says there are a number of options depending on hair colour. He explains, “Toner is great for someone who is blonde wanting to add reflection and blend their grey regrowth. A permanent colour root shadow is a great full coverage option to eliminate greys on darker brunettes.”
Another quick fix for brunettes and redheads is root touch up products. Daniels has some hacks for using them.
It’s important to handle with care as applied incorrectly these products can have undesirable effects. He says, “Be extra delicate around your part and hairline, you really want a fine mist for the most natural result and to avoid colour transfer. Try using hairspray to seal in the colour and limit hair movement so it’s not brushing across your face.”
Best Products for Managing Your Greys:
For Root Touch-Ups: ColorWOW Root Cover Up, ($53)
Aerosol root touch up sprays are handy, but used carelessly they risk destroying white shirts or recently completed makeup looks. Top rated on Adore Beauty, ColorWOW Root Cover Up’s precise brush application method immediately cuts the risk aerosols versions pose. It also comes in eight shades, meaning you’re far more likely to find your perfect match.
For Locking in Colour: Redken, Triple Take 32 Hairspray, ($34)
Billy Daniel’s tip for working with root touch up products? Lock them in with hairspray the way you’d set your foundation with a mist to avoid product transfer. Redken, Triple Take 32 is endorsed by the pros, for a strong, long hold that’s never crunchy.
For Toning: Olaplex No. 4P Blonde Enhancing Toning Shampoo, ($50)
An at-home toner will keep your blonde or balayage colour brighter, blending in greys that might crop up around the roots. Olaplex is a solid option
This at-home treatment will brighten your blonde and hydrate your strands, infusing locks with Glycerin, Macadamia oil and Argan oil.