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Photo by Darling Arias on Unsplash

If there’s one thing that is pretty much a fact of life for most of us, it’s that, at some point, we’re going to go gray. In fact, according to many studies, as much as 50 percent of us will be 50 percent gray by the time we turn 50 (crazy, right?). As far as what causes this to ultimately happen, there are several factors — genetics, aging, smoking and definitely stress (when you get a chance, check out Scientific American’sGray Hair Can Return to Its Original Color—and Stress Is Involved, of Course”).

And while there are some things that you can do to slow down the premature graying process (for instance, did you know that not having enough copper in your system can lead to graying earlier than you should? More on that in a bit), once the grays are present and accounted for, to this day, there isn’t a ton that you can do to turn back time. Because this is the case, rather than fight Mother Nature, what I’m going to encourage you to do today, is actually make peace with the grays that you have. Here’s how.

Again, It Happens to Most of Us

I’d be lying to you if I said that everyone on the planet eventually goes gray. I’ve actually read, a few times, that 1 in 10 individuals still don’t have a single strand of gray hair by the time they turn 60 (again…genetics). What I will say is that’s not exactly the norm because most of us start to see signs of graying at around the age of 30. When it first happens, I know that it can feel strange because it’s a clear reminder that the aging process is setting in. Still, it’s nothing to feel uncomfortable with or awkward about because, even if you think that other people aren’t going through what you are, trust me, they are. It’s just that, as long as hair dyes exist, you may never know it.

Work WITH Not AGAINST Them

Speaking of dye, if your first inclination, when it comes to your gray hair, is to cover it up with hair color, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, gray hair can be quite resistant to dye because it tends to have a “rougher” texture than hair that has more melanin in it does. This means that you could end up damaging your hair as you’re trying to figure out what to use “get rid” of your grays. Not to mention the fact that covering up gray hair doesn’t make them permanently go away and so, the more dye that you use, the more you can put your health at risk (for instance, an increased your cancer risk according to a 2001 University of Southern California study). Then there’s the money that you’re spending to cover up your grays, along with the fact that healthier options like semi-permanent and henna don’t always give you the results that you’re looking for. That’s why, it might be a good idea to consider — just consider — letting your grays shine through.

You know, I’ve got a friend who’s 40 who is doing just that. Her gray hairs are coming through her hairline, she has 3B texture strands and because of that, her grays actually look like subtle highlights. It’s quite lovely. Besides, after a while of using harsh chemicals (including silicones and sulfates), your grays can end up looking yellowish and dingy and oftentimes, that is hard to reverse once it happens. That’s why, again, it really may be best to stop fighting gray tresses, so that you can actually become “friends” with them. This brings me to my next point.

Use Products That Will Bring Out the Best in Your grays

As far as commercial brands go, there are all kinds that will help to bring the most out of your gray hair (just go to your favorite search engine and put “products for gray hair” in the search field). Yet did you know that there are natural ways to give your hair that silver sheen that is really quite stunning? First, it’s important to keep in mind that, aside from constantly coloring your hair, UV rays, medicated shampoos, heat damage, smoking and even minerals in your water (which is why you might want to wash your hair with a showerhead that has a filter attachment on it) can also play a role in your grays looking dull instead of brilliant.

And as far as actual natural products go, apple cider rinses (on wash day) can remove environmental toxins; fish oil, omega-3s, Vitamin E, biotin and zinc supplements can help to keep your grays strong and healthy; making conditioners that contain ingredients like yogurt, banana, egg and avocado can help to “tame” unruly gray hairs; avoiding products with mineral oil in them is wise because those can weigh your gray hair down while making it difficult for moisture to penetrate your strands and eating lots of protein can help to bring elasticity and manageability to gray hair. Oh, and Naturcolor is an herbal-based hair color brand that is designed to help your grays blend better. When you get a chance, check them out. You might be surprised what it can do for you.

Remember, There Are Ways to Slow Down Premature graying

What if you know, in the very core of your soul, that you are experiencing gray quicker than you should be? If that is indeed the case, there are some proven ways to slow the entire process down a bit. I’ll list seven of them here:

Stop chemically processing your hair so much

All that does is damage your hair strands, making them more vulnerable to graying. So, if you’ve been looking for a reason to go natural, avoiding premature graying just might be it.

Cover your hair up in the sun more often

Just like chemicals can damage your hair, so can heat; especially heat that comes directly from the sun. That’s why it’s a wise move that, when you know that you’re going to be outdoors for a long period of time that you put on a hat or scarf.

Pre-poo your hair with coconut oil

Remember how I said that hair needs protein? Something that is loaded with it and can protect your hair from the outside in is coconut oil. Just apply a teaspoon to tablespoon of it before washing your hair. Massage your scalp and make sure to cover your hair from root to tip. If you do this on a regular basis, you may notice that your gray is slowing down.

Shampoo your hair with zinc pyrithione

If you’re looking for a shampoo that can help to slow down the graying process, look for one that contains zinc pyrithione. It works because it’s full of antioxidants (something else that pigmented hair needs) and it can protect your hair from UV damage.

Consume enough copper

Copper is a mineral that helps to make up melanin; that’s why it’s important that you have it in your system. Foods that are high in copper include dark chocolate, spirulina, sesame seeds, shellfish and spinach.

Take an L-tyrosine supplement

If you’re not familiar, L-tyrosine is an amino acid that can make you more alert, help to improve your quality of sleep, reduce depression-related symptoms, regulate your thyroid and, because it’s another nutrient that helps with melanin production, I’m sure you can see how it can slow down the graying process as well.

De-stress

The reason why stress can kick graying into high gear is because, when your cortisol (your natural stress hormone) is elevated, that can affect the stem cells in your body that are responsible for creating hair pigmentation. That’s why exercise, meditation and getting no less than 6-8 hours of sleep, each and every night, are so important.

gray Can Be Absolutely Beautiful

Rihanna. Rita Ora. Pink. These are just some of the celebs who have dyed their hair gray or silver before — on purpose. And again, if you go to your favorite search engine and put “dyeing hair silver” and then click on the images that are available, you will see all kinds of pictures of women, some of them who are quite young, who have gray or silver stands and they look beyond amazing! It’s a reminder that, these days, gray hair isn’t just a “sign of the times” but a reminder that it’s trendy, it’s appealing and it’s certainly nothing to shy away from. So…don’t.