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The Magic Time of Going Gray: Making the Most of It

There are many ways to spin gray hair. It’s a simple biological reality and a genetic inevitability. When it comes to appearance, it gets to be a sensitive subject. Gray hair ages us, marking us as somewhere past our thirties. Not only does it make you look older than you feel, but it also alters your self-image. On top of all that, many men see graying as a memento mori, telling you every day that your time is running out and your biological body won’t last forever. Even the nose and ear hairs are not immune.

The psychological effects are frequently alleviated with dying and a youthful haircut. However, if you like your gray hair, this aging effect doesn’t have to be a negative association. Many men get away with the fact that age looks good on them, making a man appear distinguished and experienced.

There’s no reversal for going gray, so your next step is finding out how to make the most of it.


What Causes Gray Hair?

Gray hair is a normal part of aging. In fact, dermatologists predict it, using the 50-50-50 rule. This means that fifty percent of the population will have fifty percent gray hair by the age of fifty. Caucasians begin going gray earliest at around age 35, followed by those of Asian descent in their late thirties, and then those of African descent in their mid-forties.

Graying is a product of hydrogen peroxide that naturally occurs in our hair follicles and builds up as we get older. This blocks our melanin production and, therefore, our hair’s ability to create pigment. In other words, our pigment wears out.

Our hair does not actually turn gray. Instead, as we age, the new hairs that grow in are more likely to be white. This is because each time a new hair begins to grow within the follicle, that follicle re-forms its pigment cells, which wear out over time.


How to Prevent Gray Hair

The time-frame of when a person grays is mostly genetic. However, there are a few factors to consider, particularly for those experience premature graying:

  • Stress – While scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint the connection between stress and graying hair, it plays a part in many skin and hair issues and could very well lead to premature graying.


  • Smoking – Smoking stresses the hair and skin, causing early graying. Smokers are 2.5 times more likely to go gray prematurely.


  • Vitamin B12 Levels – Having low Vitamin B12 causes loss of hair pigment. You can consume Vitamin B12 in fish, eggs, meat, and dairy products.


  • Underlying Medical Disorders – Sometimes premature graying can be a sign of underlying medical disorders which should be examined and treated by a doctor. These may include autoimmune or genetic conditions, thyroid disorders, vitiligo, or anemia.


Mastering the Silver Fox Style

The silver fox style allows older men to exude a polished sophistication, adapting many of their manly qualities for an older age bracket. It’s not for everyone, but sometimes staying natural and embracing your age can give you strong feelings of confidence.

A level of polish and maintenance is required to turn graying into an attractive, even at times magnetic, style. You will need to take care of your hair, using the right products to keep it soft, healthy and moisturized.

As hair grays, it becomes finer and somewhat dryer, as our scalp produces less oil with age. Melanin produces moisture, so when hair loses its melanin, it becomes brittle and likely to split or break. One way to keep your gray hair a nice sheen is to use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners which contain high quality oils.

Going gray might also mean adjusting your clothing style and color choices. The first steps toward redefining your style is to bring in lower contrast and fewer cool color choices than what you might have worn when your hair was a darker brown or black.

Beiges and deeper reds work wonders to give warmth to silver hair, as do lighter colors and interesting textures.


Gray Beards

Most men are more accepting of a little gray entering their beard than they are with it in their hair. While lighter hair may unbalance a style’s color contrast from head to toe, a lighter beard is a style that’s easy to work with and reshape on a more moderate basis.

In fact, sporting a gray beard is one of the best ways to retake control over your gray hair, and give it a strong sense of dignified intention. When first going gray, most men opt for a short or mid-length beard, since stubble or bushier beards can make a man look older. Aside from that, gray beards can come in all shapes and styles. The key to not looking like Father Time with your white beard is to maintain it with a quality beard conditioner while keeping it neat and polished.


Hairstyles for Gray Hair

Even without gray hair, certain hair styles are likely to age you while others help you to appear more youthful. One of the best ways to get personalized advice about this it to go to a hairdresser. Your hairdresser can recommend a hairstyle based on your face shape, the amount of gray in your hair, and the kind of image you wish to project.

When transitioning into wearing their gray hair, most men start with very short hairstyles, such as a buzz or a fade cut, which can be created at home with hair clippers. These styles don’t require you to hide the gray hair, while they also don’t accentuate it. Short hairstyles can therefore make a good entry point for someone who is graying, but wants to keep it natural.


Should You Dye Your Hair?

Most of the men that we see on TV and in movies who are over the age of 35 dye their hair. Dying is a personal choice, depending on you comfort level with showing your age. Many men even opt to color their beards in the process.

Men’s hair coloring products generally fall into four categories:

  • Progressive Coloring – The active ingredient is lead acetate, which darkens when it is exposed to air. This approach allows for a gradual darkening.


  • Direct Dyes (6-10 washings or 1 month) – These are colored molecules that coat the hair. Quick and easy to apply, this is the basis of many DIY kits. The need for consistent application works well for someone concerned about showing their roots.


  • Semi-permanent Color (12-20 washings or 2 months) – Also known as tone-on-tone, this method uses peroxide to allow color molecules to enter the hair itself.


  • Permanent Color (until the hair grows out) – Permanent hair dye uses both peroxide and ammonia to bleach and dye the hair. Since this effects the hair until it grows out, it’s best to try out your intended color with direct dyes or semi-permanent dyes first before going through with permanent color.


Some gray hair resists coloring. If you find this is a problem, there are a few work-arounds, though it’s best to consult a professional who can give you more specific advice. One way to get past this is to go lighter, selecting a shade that will blend in with the grays.

Gray hair is usually accompanied by other hair problems associated with age, such as ear a nose hair, which for some adds insult to injury. With a little maintenance and care, however, these markers of age can actually enhance an appearance.

In the end, the aspect that most stands out about a graying man is his sense of confidence and authenticity.


  • Depending on the day, you’ll find Rebecca in a well thought-out ensemble that she handcrafted herself, or in hiking and rock climbing gear. An avid outdoorswoman, cyclist, and cat lover, Rebecca reminds us all on the Groom+Style team just how much we need to get outdoors. She’s worked in spas and salons off and on before going full-time with the G+S team.

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