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How to properly maintain your white hair?

Once turned white, hair tends to become drier and more fragile. Additionally, it becomes particularly sensitive to heat. Therefore, it is essential to take care of it daily. Discover some tips for properly maintaining your white hair.

Summary
Published January 26, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

Why does hair turn white?

Hair color is determined by melanin, a pigment synthesized by melanocytes. We distinguish two types of melanin, eumelanin, which is very dark, and pheomelanin, which is lighter. The proportions of these two forms in your hair fibers determine the shade of your hair. However, the activity and number of melanocytes decrease gradually over time. Therefore, the amount of melanin synthesized becomes weaker, which leads to the whitening of the hair (canities) around the age of thirty.

Furthermore, the process of hair growth involves the synthesis of hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct. This reactive species, capable of triggering a chain reaction leading to the degradation of melanin, is naturally broken down by an enzyme called catalase. However, over time, the amount of catalase in cells decreases, which promotes the degradation of melanin by hydrogen peroxide. Other factors can influence the onset of graying, such as heredity, smoking, sun exposure, nutrient deficiencies, and so on.

Some tips for maintaining your white hair.

White hair has a slightly different texture than other hair types and is more fragile and sensitive to external aggressions. This is due to the lack of melanin in the cortex of the hair fiber, the intermediate layer of the hair. Indeed, the role of melanin is not only aesthetic, it also helps to protect the hair, particularly from oxidative stress caused by UV rays or pollution.

Furthermore, the sebum synthesis by the sebaceous glands decreases over time. This is a protective oily film that deposits on the surface of the scalp and hair roots before sliding down the lengths and ends. Sebum plays a crucial role in protection and hydration, and the decrease in its production explains why white hair tends to be drier and more fragile. Finally, it sometimes happens that white hair slightly yellows and lacks luster. For all these reasons, they require a special care. Here are some tips for maintaining your white hair:

  • Hydrating the hair.

    To counteract the lack of melanin and the decrease in sebum synthesis, it is recommended to deeply hydrate your white hair. This will help restore its suppleness and protect it from external aggressions. To do this, you can, for example, apply a treatment like our repairing hair mask or a nourishing oil to your lengths once or twice a week. Leave it on for about fifteen minutes before rinsing. Among the most popular oils for hair, we find the avocado oil, the sweet almond oil and the castor oil.

  • Use suitable skincare products.

    The onset of gray hair can sometimes disrupt the texture and nature of your hair. Your hair may seem drier and more brittle than before, necessitating a change in your hair care routine. Opt for gentle, nourishing shampoos designed for fragile or dry hair, and do not overlook the importance of theconditioner. This product helps to soften and rehydrate the hair fiber, which may be dried out by washing. Moreover, conditioners facilitate detangling and prevent overly aggressive brushing after showering.

  • Avoid using heating devices.

    The use of heating devices such as straightening irons or heated brushes is generally not recommended for white hair. This type of hair is very fragile and does not tolerate heat well. As for the hairdryer, you can set it to the lowest temperature to protect your hair fiber. If you have long hair, it's challenging to do without it because the moisture, by weighing down your hair, makes it more fragile.

  • Regularly visiting the hairdresser.

    Maintaining the health of long hair as it grays can be challenging due to its fragility. Split ends and breakage become more common, leading many people to opt for a short or medium-length cut. If you decide to keep your length, regular visits to the hairdresser to trim the ends before they split are recommended.

  • Protecting your hair from the sun.

    The sun is a source of oxidative stress and can therefore damage your already fragile white hair. It is therefore important to protect them on days of strong sunlight or long exposure by using, for example, a hair sunscreen. The purpose of these products is the same as that of skin sunscreens: to block UV rays. You can protect your hair with a cap or a hat.

Sources

  • JOEKES I. & al. Yellowing and bleaching of grey hair caused by photo and thermal degradation. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology (2014).

  • RAWNSLEY J. & al. Hair biology: Growth and pigmentation. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America (2018).

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