If You Have a Bad Habit of Pulling Gray Hairs, This Is What You Need to Know

Updated: May 01, 2023

You may wonder if you're doing any harm if you tend to pull out gray hairs—here's what you should know.

hairShutterstock ShutterstockUnsure whether or not you should pull out those grays?

It’s tempting to want to pull out gray hairs (especially those first few that pop up earlier than we expected), but should we really be pulling out those pesky grays?

“OMG! I need to know about this!” a colleague e-mailed me when she heard I was looking into this question. She has gorgeous long brown hair, which she colors. She pulls out grays between dye jobs, but had heard that those hairs won’t grow back, or that plucking one would cause more to take its place.

“I see women all the time in my salon who have this habit,” says Montreal-based hairdresser Alain Larivée, Canadian creative consultant for John Frieda. That includes women who have never colored their hair and are starting to see gray, and those who see grays grow in between coloring jobs.

Keep this in mind the next time you go to pull out gray hairs

The hair will generally grow back, but it will still be gray, says Toronto dermatologist Dr. Martie Gidon. “Gray hair already has a coarser texture than naturally pigmented hair, and it will grow back as coarse as before it was pulled.”

Hairdresser Marc Anthony, whose eponymous line of hair care products is sold in drugstores worldwide, says if you see a white bulb at the plucked hair’s root, that’s normal. However, “if you pull a hair out and its root tip is red, you’ve probably pulled out a hair from the blood supply, in which case it will most likely not grow back.” Here are some more secrets your hair is trying to tell you.

Gidon says it’s also possible a new “replacement” hair can become ingrown before it grows out, which could lead to the possibility of infection, then scarring.

If I pull out gray hairs, will more grow in their place?

“That won’t happen, or I shudder to think what would happen to our eyebrows,” says Anthony. “However, it is better to leave it be. There are so many options for gray hair these days­—including just leaving it gray.”

By the way, check out this Rita Hazan root concealer that offers instant coverage on gray hair until your next wash.

Try leaving your hair gray

If you do that, focus on giving hair shine, and consider a clear gloss salon treatment, suggests Anthony.

Also, a shampoo that’s blue-based (for gray hair) or violet-based (for blonde, white or gray) will help keep your hair looking brilliant versus dull and yellowish, he says.

“Tobacco smoke, sunlight and wax-based hair products can give gray hair a yellow tinge, so try to avoid them.” If you want to cover the first signs of gray, he suggests a semi-permanent rinse, or highlights: “A few highlights that complement your natural color can work to camouflage gray.”

Can’t embrace the gray hair? Load on some color

“Book your color service on a regular interval that you are able to live with,” says Larivée, who owns the CAJH Maîtres Coiffeurs salon in Montreal. “I usually say every four to six weeks.”

For those who color their hair at home, Larivée recommends permanent dye John Frieda Precision Foam Colour. “It’s easy to use and covers pesky gray hairs. The non-drip foam formula gives full coverage and helps avoid a mess.” Make sure you’re avoiding these hair-coloring mistakes, though.

Best Health Canada
Originally Published on Best Health Canada