Of all the beauty myths that never made a whole lot of sense, this old wives’ tale probably takes the cake: if you pull out one gray hair, a bunch more will grow back.
Once and for all, here’s the truth. Not only is this weird saying totally false–it’s also biologically impossible.
“The hair follicle (the little tube beneath the skin that contains the root of the hair) only contains one hair,” says Carly Bowers, expert for Latest-Hairstyles.com. “Pulling out one gray hair won’t cause two hairs to grow in its place; it will simply eliminate the hair until another one grows back in it’s place.”
I’m afraid there is a bit of bad news, however: if you happen to find a single gray hair, pulling it so you can get on with your life isn’t a good solution. “Plucking each hair will just cause them to grow back and they will grow back gray,” says Dr. David E. Bank, founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “The reason? The pigment-producing cells at the hair follicle are most likely worn out so matter what you do, the hair will grow back gray.”
Gray hair occurs when melanocytes in the hair stop producing melanin, causing pigment loss, Bank explains. “This is mainly caused by genetics, but it can occur with prolonged illness or stress. Even medications such as chemo-therapeutics, Ferritin, Vitamin D3, Methotrexate, Lithium, Echinacea and Vitamin E may lead to gray hair,” Bank says.
In addition to not being effective, plucking hairs can also cause permanent damage and scarring to the hair follicle, says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse at Rapaport Dermatology of Beverly Hills. “In this case, the hair would be unable to grow back at all, and you would have a bald spot where that hair was,” Shainhouse says. “True, it would be small, but if you keep plucking out the grays, you could cause permanent thinning of your hair.”
Your best bet when trying to cover up a few grays is to use a permanent marker, says Shainhouse, or a temporary hair color like L’Oreal Paris Root Rescue, which comes with a special applicator designed to make root application a breeze.
“If a person finds one or two gray hairs and doesn’t want to have to change her color, there are plenty of very temporary solutions,” Bowers says. “Using a colored hair powder only on the area where the gray hairs are will work. Bumble and Bumble makes a great one. Or, you can have your hairstylist put just a touch of color on the area with grays.”
Whatever you do: keep your tweezers far, far away from your scalp.
For more beauty news and tips, check out the one thing girls with color-treated hair should never do and 4 natural (and foolproof) ways to lighten your hair.
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