5 women with different hair types according to their ethnicity

When Will Your Hair Go Grey? Why Your Ethnicity Matters

Seeing your first silvery strands? Going grey is nothing to worry about, it’s a normal part of aging. But did you know that the timing of your first grey hair is directly linked to your ethnicity?

According to dermatologists1 and hair experts, here’s how your race determines when your hair will turn grey:  

    • Black people and individuals of African descent: you can expect to see grey hair in your mid-40s.
    • White people: you are likely to go grey in your mid-30s.
    • Asian people: your late-30s is when you begin to see grey hair.
    • Latino and Hispanic people: you tend to start greying around your mid-30s.

As a stylist for over 20 years, I’ve seen clients of all ethnicities go through the greying process. Everyone’s experience of going grey is different but everyone has similar issues with their grey hair. Whatever your ethnicity, your new grey hair is likely to be dry, fragile, and have a different texture from your pigmented hair. 

When I co-founded Arey Grey with my client Allison Conrad, it was specifically to design the best care for aging and greying hair. We created science-backed grey hair treatments to give you control over your greying process and your hair health.

Are you ready to learn more about why we go grey? Whether you are Black, Latino, White, or Asian, here’s what the science says about going grey according to your ethnicity.

 

How Do Different Ethnicities Go Grey?

Your hair goes grey because the cells in your hair follicles (melanocytes) stop producing melanin. Melanin is what gives your hair (and skin) its natural color. 

People of African descent, Thai, and Chinese people, go grey more slowly. It might not feel slow to you because your new grey hair stands out in your dark hair. But the truth is that you actually have fewer grey hairs and less dense greying than people with lighter hair.2

If you are worried you are going grey prematurely, that can also be determined by your ethnicity.

Greying is considered premature3 at these ages: 

    • Hispanic people: before age 20
    • White people: before age 20 
    • Asian people: before age 25 
    • Black people: before age 30 

Premature greying can be caused by lifestyle choices. It may also be the result of medical conditions like vitiligo or thyroid issues. If you are worried then it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. 

 

The Best Care for Grey Hair According to Your Ethnicity

Every ethnicity has a unique hair structure so your hair shows its age in different ways.  

How to Keep Your African Hair Healthy as You Age

African hair is the finest of all studied hair types. Each strand has an average diameter of 55 micrometers. Fine hair tends to grow slowly so African hair takes a long time to gain length.4

African hair is fine and delicate so it is even more vulnerable to breakage and damage.

Here’s how to reduce age-related hair damage for your African hair:

✅ Avoid tightly knotted styles, chemical treatments, and extensions: these can cause you to experience breakage close to your roots.4

✅ Shampoo less frequently: try using a dry shampoo like Wait A Sec to extend the time between washes. 

✅ Take care of your scalp: scalps get drier as you age and this takes a big toll on dry hair types. Use a scalp exfoliant like Scrub to detox and soothe your dry scalp.

✅ Don’t skip heat protectants: African hair is especially vulnerable to heat-styling damage because it has less tensile strength than White or Asian hair. Always use a heat protectant like Mend that seals your strands against heat damage. 

Because your African hair type is so delicate, make sure you always use clean, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. And stay away from yellow-tinted hair products which might stain your greys.

 

How White People’s Hair Is Affected by Age

Whites and people from the Middle East have densest of all hair types.4 It also has the most variation in structure – ranging from straight to curly, and fine to coarse. 

According to experts, even though it is thicker and stronger than African hair, White people’s hair has lower pigment levels which makes your hair more vulnerable to greying from oxidative stress.4

Here’s how to prevent greying from oxidative stress in your White ethnicity’s hair type:

Protect your hair from the sun: exposure to the sun’s rays can trigger oxidative stress.1 Always wear a sun hat and use sunscreen for your hair like Live In Mist.

Color your hair with care: hair dying can cause oxidative damage to your hair fibers. This leads to cellular aging and potentially more grey hairs. 

Get your antioxidants: an antioxidant-rich supplement like Not Today, Grey acts like an off-switch to free radicals (unstable atoms) that result from oxidative stress. 

By boosting your antioxidant intake through diet and supplementation, all hair types can slow and delay grey hair growth. For extra protection against oxidative stress, we combined our nutritional supplement Not Today, Grey with an antioxidant-rich topical serum To The Root

 

The Best Care For Aging Asian Hair

Asian hair tends to be the thickest of all studied hair types and has a diameter of 80-120 micrometers.4 Your Asian hair type also benefits from the strongest protective cuticle layer. This means your hair is less easily damaged by heat-styling and chemical treatments.

As you age, you will notice a decrease in shine, flexibility, and even changes in texture. Here’s how to protect your Asian hair from the effects of aging:

Boost your hair’s natural UV resistance: as you age you will lose some of your natural protection against sun damage. A sunscreen for your hair like Live In Mist can help replace what aging has taken from you.

Use a proactive serum to combat age-related hair changes: your hair density will unfortunately begin to decrease in your 40s and 50s. Good nutrition, supplementation and a topical serum can help slow this decline and maintain healthy hair.

Protect your hair texture: A recent study5 concluded that Chinese hair is particularly sensitive to heat damage, so don’t skip the heat protectant. Arey Mend is a leave-in conditioner that protects your hair up to 450°.

Studies have shown that South and East Asians have the strongest and most deeply pigmented hair of all ethnicities. Only 50 percent of Asian hair types will start to see significant grey hair by age 50.4 

The Aging Process for Latino and Hispanic Hair

In general, your Latino and Hispanic hair is harder to define than other studied hair types.4 This is because Latino and Hispanic communities are ethnically very diverse, with mixed Indigenous, European, Native American, and African ancestry. 

Latino and Hispanic hair is slightly finer than Asian hair and slightly less dense than White people’s hair. Your hair type is close to African hair in terms of density but similar to White people’s hair in terms of texture.

In terms of greying, a recent study of populations from five South American countries showed that your Latino and Hispanic hair scored highest for hair color and lowest for hereditary greying.6 This means that your hair benefits from proactive lifestyle changes and supplementation that can preserve your natural pigment.

 

Arey’s Science-Backed Solutions for All Types of Aging Hair

Whatever your ethnicity, your new grey hair needs specialized care. Make sure you use haircare products that are designed especially for grey hair. 

Our gentle shampoo, scalp scrub, and clean dry shampoo all contain our anti-aging Mela-9™ Complex – our patent-pending blend of antioxidants and a clinically efficacious peptide (growth-boosting protein).

The ingredients in the Mela-9™ Complex slow the growth of grey hair and can help with repigmentation by activating melanin production in your MC1-R gene (Melanocortin 1 Receptor).Mela-9™ delivers everything you need for your strongest, healthiest, most balanced hair.

To keep you on track with your hair health goals we offer a 25% discount on all subscriptions. Because science+consistency = results. 

We are here for you with science-based, effective solutions. We want you to feel happy and confident with your hair. Have questions? Visit our FAQ page or email us at hey@areygrey.com.


Jay Small with customer

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist in Los Angeles with over 18 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.



REFERENCES:

  1. Race, Ethnicity, Culture All Affect Hair Aging
  2. Greying of the human hair: a worldwide survey
  3. what-going-gray-early-can-tell-you-about-your-health
  4. Hair Aging in Different Races and Ethnicities 
  5.  comparison between Chinese and Caucasian hair
  6. A genome-wide association scan in admixed Latin Americans 
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/mc1r/