As a hairdresser, I’ve spent over 36,000 hours analyzing grey hair with my clients. I’ve listened to complaints and worries about going grey, and worked hard to cover up and disguise the existing ones. As I look back on the last 18 years of my work, I notice a pattern as people start greying; it first starts to appear along the hairline. In the past, I would have people ask "why do I go grey on my hairline first?” and my response would be generic: “its just what you see most, but the rest will follow.”
In our research toward developing ‘Not Today, Grey’, we discovered so much about why hair turns grey. The more we learned that genetics only accounts for 30% of the picture, the more we focused on oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is the result of our body’s response to chemicals, foreign substances or UV rays. The more things you expose or apply directly to your skin, the more free radicals are being accumulated, leading to potential hair color loss.
Most people assume oxidative stress is a result of exposure to things like pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays and toxic chemicals, but it’s important to consider that some of it comes from within our own medicine cabinet, too. Hair color, shampoo, face wash, sunscreen and make up can all add to the oxidative stress payload.
With the plethora of products we apply on a daily basis, it’s important to consider where we’re putting them too.The hairline is unique in that it is the intersection point of both hair and facial care products. Can you now start to imagine how many products are applied to this part of your body? Likely more than any other place. In speaking to my clients, I found the average consumer uses at least five products on their face and hairline daily, with some clients using upwards of fifteen plus. Imagine how that adds up over weeks and years.
This is where we can take an active step in mindfully using products and being aware of their ingredients. Cosmetic chemists and dermatologists can assure us that most products are safe for use on the hair and skin, but what hasn’t been evaluated enough is the layering and combination of multiple products on one area of the body. Using too many products on the same area of the body can potentially cause a higher level of oxidative stress and lead to a buildup of free radicals.
Moderating product exposure could reduce the oxidative stress and help maintain hair health. The products that we use have a place and a purpose and help us feel better about ourselves, and that’s OK, but try to be more discerning and test out using 25% less to reduce your exposure to oxidative stress and try taking “Not Today, Grey” to help reduce the free radicals that result from our exposure to it.