Breaking Gray Hairs

New hair growth
Photo: Dreamstime
Q: I am a 34-year-old, mother of thre young kids. No doubt my little angels are the cause of this gray. And as much as I love them, I do not love my gray. I have dark brown hair, and I like to color it close to my natural color. I use a one-step process with warmth, no highlights.
Over the last few visits to my salon, I've noticed that my regrowth contains a lot of short gray hairs. I have to believe that my color or some part of the process is breaking my gray hairs rather than just coloring them. Not all my gray regrowth is short, but the majority of it is. Could the color be causing this or do you think it could be new hair?
I've also noticed that my hair seems thinner. Which would make sense if my hairs, gray or not, are breaking from the color I'm using. My salon used to use Aveda color. Of course I didn't notice this issue until the salon began using Wella color. What do you think is going on here?

A: There is no easy way for me to determine what is causing your particular situation, if – in fact – it is an abnormal occurrence at all.
What could be happening is simply a phase of the hair growth cycle wherein a higher percentage of hairs were shed and the subsequent new growth is all returning at a similar time. It isn’t exactly common for the hair to behave in this fashion, but it wouldn’t be impossible.
It is also possible that your hair is responding more harshly to the change in hair color formulas being used. However, it would only seem obvious that such a reaction to the new hair color being used would be apparent in the condition of the remaining hair. Does the rest of your hair feel drier or rougher? If so, this would indicate that the color is at least a factor in the problem.
Furthermore, signs of breakage typically show up in “high stress” areas of the scalp, where the styling is most likely to cause damage. These are the forward edges of the scalp at the hairline and along a parting line. If the lengths of the “short hairs” are rough and uneven and are increasingly populous along these areas, then you are more likely dealing with styling damage, probably exacerbated by the color treatments.
It isn’t necessarily one brand of color over the other that’s causing the problem either. It could very well be simply cumulative damage from the long-term series of color services. My advice is to discuss the matter with your stylist and seek his or her opinion on the matter. A visual inspection will reveal clues to a trained professional that I can’t perceive through your description.
See also:
How can I tell if the short hair I see is new growing hair or broken hair?
Will coloring damage my hair?
Does semi-permanent hair color damage hair?
What makes hair break more in fall and winter?