Silver strands SOS: What causes grey hair and how to manage it

Turning 50 shades of slate, ash or stone? Don't panic. ATH reveals what causes grey hair and the best ways to look after silver strands...

As one of the more obvious aesthetic changes associated with ageing, going grey can be a pretty daunting change. Aside from wanting to know what causes grey hair, many women also question if they can reverse, stall or slow down the process.

“Over time the biological processes that produce melanin switch off, this is what causes hair to appear grey.” Says our expert, Unilever’s Peter Bailey, Global Technical Manager, Hair Care.

Whether you’re noticing a few streaks here and there or have a full head of striking white locks, many women have the same concerns around the causes of grey hair. Explaining the science behind silver strands, Peter gives his verdict on some of the most searched for queries surrounding grey hair. Plus, ATH reveal our go-to grey-friendly product formulas.

What causes grey hair Maye Musk standing outside in the street
What causes grey hair? Read on to discover the ins and outs. Credit:

Grey hair causes: The science behind silver streaks

Why does hair turn grey? Peter explains, “hair colour is caused the presence of two types of melanin (a pigment) which is distributed throughout the hair structure. The variety of hair colours results from the quantity and ratio of the black-dark brown eumelanin and the reddish-brown pheomelanin. Without pigment hair is fairly translucent, which is how it appears grey or white.”

Hair follicles contain pigment cells that produce melanin, which is what gives your hair (and eyes and skin) its colour. When your body produces less of this pigment, the hair appears white, silver or grey.

It’s important to note that existing hair doesn’t simply turn grey, it grows that way. Credit: @Mayemusk

What causes grey hair Sarah Harris from British Vogue with long silver hair outside
What causes grey hair? We decipher the facts. Credit:

How can I stop my hair going grey?

As the hair turns grey for a variety of reasons, there is no one cause and as such, it’s not possible to stop your hair turning grey.

If you want to want to camouflage any silver strands that are coming in, check out our expert guide on how to cover up grey hair – without dyeing it.

What causes grey hair woman with white hair
What causes grey hair?
We answer all your queries. Credit:

What products should I use on grey hair?

Now you know what causes hair to turn white, it’s important to learn how to maintain it. Like blondes, grey hair can throw off some golden or orange tones.

Manage these by using a purple shampoo that will neutralise the warmth, leaving you with icy silver locks. The Tigi Dumb Blonde Bed Head Purple Toning Shampoo, for example, uses violet toners to banish brassiness and brighten the hair.

If you’ve dyed your hair in an effort to cover up any grey roots, make sure to use a colour-enhancing shampoo like the TRESemmé Colour Revitalise Vibrance Protection Shampoo. This will gently cleanse and help keep your shade more vibrant, for longer.

(PS: if you’re looking to update your beauty toolkit, check out our top shampoos for grey hair). Credit: @le_renard_argente

WHat causes grey hair woman on phone with grey hair walking down street
Embrace your silver strands. Credit:

What causes hair to go grey in your 20s?

Due to a variety of factors that impact why hair goes grey, due to genetics, you can also go grey earlier than expected.

“Melanin is produced at the bottom of the hair follicle in the scalp. Over time, the biological processes that produce melanin switch off, this is what causes hair to appear grey,” reveals Peter.

Generally, people go grey at different stages in their life, some much earlier than others.

What causes grey hair woman with panckake braid close up
How gorgeous does grey hair look?! Credit:

Can premature grey hair be reversed?

No matter what age your hair turns grey, it’s not a process that can be removed or reversed.

If silver streaks are starting to appear, don’t panic. As ATH reveals, grey hair is trending, so check out our gallery of 22 ways to rock the lookCredit: @jess_ic_ahh