Rise of the Silver Fox: Grey hair has never been so popular among men – here’s how to embrace it
Grey hair in men has been made increasingly popular by the likes of David Ginola, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hanks. Find out how to nail the silver fox look by either embracing what you’ve got or by faking it until you make it
G rey hair is no longer something to cover up or be ashamed of. A number of leading actors, former footballers and celebrities are embracing the silver fox look and it’s a trend that’s only set to rise as more men embrace the natural ageing process.
If you’ve started sprouting the odd grey hair, are experiencing so-called “salt and pepper” locks, or you want to get ahead of the inevitable, we’ve explained more about what causes grey hair below. We also get expert tips from award-winning men’s stylist, Jim Shaw, and show you how to use grey hair dye for men to fake it until you make it.
Grey hair men: What causes grey hair?
In the same way, the cells and structure of our skin die off as we age, so too do the cells in our hair follicles.
This is what’s behind hair loss in men and women, but it’s also what causes the cells to produce less melanin.
Melanin is what gives our hair its colour, or pigment, and when the amount of pigment drops, it causes strands of our hair to become less coloured.
A study from 2009 additionally found that grey hair itself is caused by a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in hair particles.
You may recognise the name of this chemical because it’s the chemical found in bleach and hair dyes. It’s used to turn hair blonde.
Our hair naturally makes hydrogen peroxide but it’s usually broken down by an enzyme called catalase.
As we get older, we produce less catalase which causes hydrogen peroxide to build up and when levels of it build up in the hair, it effectively dyes it from the inside out.
Other, external factors, can also cause the production of catalase to slow down or become disrupted.
This includes stress, a lack of sleep, anxiety, high blood pressure; autoimmune diseases, like alopecia and vitiligo; a lack of Vitamin B-12; and hormonal changes caused by a thyroid problem. There is also a link between smoking and premature grey hair.
Elsewhere, your genetics play a role too. If your parents or grandparents developed grey hair at an early age, chances are you will too.
How to nail the Silver Fox look and “go grey”
If you’re ready to embrace grey hair, celebrity hairstylist Paul Edmonds recently told our sister site mamabella that you should start off with highlights and gradually increase the dye job over time. He added that making sure your grey colour is all one shade is the best way to turn grey hair into a style statement.
“When it comes to embracing grey, now is definitely the time to do it!,” explains Jim Shaw. “Grey hair has never been so on trend and this shade looks particularly great on men paired with an on trend cut for a super stylish finish.”
He recommends opting for a short hairstyle when you’re looking to embrace grey hair. This way you can get rid of old colour and allow the grey to catch up with your length. Just as Edmonds suggests, Shaw also says you should “consider some subtle blonde highlights before going all over grey to allow you to grey gradually and to help your grey tones blend in with the rest of your hair.”
If you’re, instead, looking for a short-term fix, Edmonds recommends changing the tone of your grey highlights by pre-lightening the ends. This will remove any colour residue from previous dye jobs.
How to look after grey hair
“When you do go grey, maintenance is key for keeping your grey looking its best,” continues Shaw. “A silver shampoo is a great product to keep brassiness at bay and your grey looking its best with added shine.” We recommend the John Frieda Shimmering Silver shampoo (£5.99)
Grey hair tends to feel drier because your sebaceous glands, which are attached to your hair follicles secrete less oil than usual. Grey hairs can also feel thicker and coarser.
As a result, you may want to invest in some styling products, such as serums or hair oils that can be applied through your hair to give it further shine and to keep your hair moisturised. Toners at the salon can additionally help to keep your grey vibrant in colour with a healthy shine.
Switching your current hair products for volumising and moisturising shampoos and conditioners is a good place to start. You need volume to counteract your hair thinning as you get older, while the conditioner will rehydrate the drier strands. Check out our guides to the best shampoo for men and What does shampoo and conditioner actually do to your hair?
It’s also worth investing in hydrating hair masks. Look for masks with natural oils to keep that soft and supple feel to your hair. And keeping your hair regularly trimmed will also help keep it in great condition.
If, on the other hand, you’re not going grey yet and you’re instead looking to use grey hair dye to “fake” the silver fox look, you’ll still need to nourish the hair but you may find the texture isn’t as coarse as it is naturally. We’ve got options for grey hair dye in our best hair dye guide.
How to hide grey hair
If you’d rather not embrace the grey just yet, there are a couple of ways for you to hide your grey hair. You may even be able to stop it from coming through altogether, or at least delay its onset.
The obvious route is to use a hair dye. However, you can also take glutathione supplements. In addition to catalase, there is another enzyme called glutathione peroxidase – an antioxidant produced in the liver – that does a similar job. The supplements will replace some of the enzyme lost naturally. Eating grass-fed whey as well as foods rich in Vitamin C will also help.
Other steps include increasing Vitamin B-12, giving up smoking and getting more exercise. Working out boosts your body’s antioxidant levels, including glutathione. You can read more about the best foods for skin and hair here.
The Inkey List sells a scalp treatment designed to reactivate the pigment in the hair follicles. Called the Amino Acid Anti Gray Scalp Treatment, it contains 1% Darkenyl, 1% Betaine and 1% panthenol to maintain moisture levels. This is an overnight treatment which The Inkey List very boldly claims that it not only helps to pre-empt but restore loss of pigment.
You can also buy shampoos that promise to reduce grey hair. We’ve used, and recommend, Just For Men Control GX (£9). It’s technically a hair dye but it’s less harsh on the hair than a dye and reduces grey gradually with each wash.
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