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Color Hair Gray

Q: Ok, I have been searching for an answer on my gray hair dilemma and have had no luck in finding an answer. My hair for the most part is dark brown. Grey hair is coming in at the front and I would like to let it remain gray while continuing to color the rest of it. Is there any thing I can put in my hair at the front to help the gray progress? I guess I am asking if it’s possible to color your hair gray (or at least some of it) I love the look of dark hair with a streak of gray, but I am too lazy and my hair is too long for me to wait for the natural process. Do I make any sense? I look forward to your reply.
 
A: There is nothing, insofar as I know, that will increase the progression of gray hair. Gray hair, known professionally as canities, is caused by the combination of genetics, aging, stress and sometimes prolonged illness. The hair becomes “gray” because the hair loses all of its pigmentation, and the hair follicles no longer produce pigments in the hair that grows.
 
      Because hair bleaching uses an artificial process to disperse the pigment in the hair, you can only remove so much pigment via bleaching. The best you can hope for tends to be a pale yellow color. With darker hair especially, bleaching to the palest possible color level can cause severe damage. Many women have literally destroyed the structural integrity of their hair trying to get pale, pale blondes, much less true white.
 
      That being said; there are “white” hair toners, which are little more than topical cosmetics for the hair, that can be applied to bleached hair to create a white effect. These are primarily used in theatrical settings for aging make-up effects. They are temporary haircolors and last no longer than the next shampoo, generally.
 
      My recommendation is to try to be patient and allow your hair to gray naturally. Once you get the level of gray you desire (and in order to preserve the gray you already have) you can use the “foil” method in reverse, to protect the gray from coloring while you add color to the remainder of the hair. You can find instructions on the foiling technique here on our site.
 
      Finally, you could consider having your hair “highlighted” to a pale, platinum blonde, to create the effect you desire. The concern with doing this is that having dark brown hair, you run the risk of damaging the hair. If you want to pursue this option, you should really see a professional stylist/colorist.
 
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