Health Care

Stop plucking grey hair or be ready to face these side effects

People generally start going grey in their 30s, though some may begin experiencing the process earlier than that. Most women like to cover it up with the help of hair colour or cutting off the affected strands of hair. But there are some who spot their first grey hair and pull it out. If you do that, it’s time stop as plucking grey hair has side effects.

What causes grey hair?

Grey hair is basically part of the natural ageing process. The production of melanin and the pigment responsible for hair colour decreases as the age increases, explains dermatologist Dr Sameer Apte. Each hair follicle contains pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. As we age, these cells gradually become less active and eventually stop producing melanin. The result is hair that appears grey or white.

Grey hair can be due to many reasons apart from ageing. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Apart from the natural ageing process, several other key factors contribute to the onset of grey hair.

• Genetics
• Exposure to environmental pollutants
• Smoking
• Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in vitamins like B12 and minerals like iron.
• Stress

Does plucking grey hair cause more grey hair to grow?

The notion that plucking grey hair causes more grey hair to grow is a myth, says the expert. Plucking grey hair doesn’t influence the surrounding hair follicles or the melanocytes responsible for hair colour. Each hair follicle operates independently, and plucking one hair doesn’t affect the others. As hair grows back, new hair may emerge with varying degrees of pigmentation, including grey or white. This can create the impression that plucking causes more grey hair, but it’s simply the natural progression of hair growth. However, repeatedly plucking hair can potentially damage hair follicles over time, leading to hair loss, but this is unrelated to the colour of the hair.

What are the side effects of plucking grey hair?

Pulling out grey hair doesn’t mean you will lose all your black hair, but there are some side effects.

1. Risk of infection

Plucking might expose your hair follicles to bacteria, potentially causing redness, swelling and the discomfort of folliculitis. It is a condition where the hair follicle becomes infected or inflamed, causing a skin condition that often looks like acne, says Dr Apte.

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2. Ingrown hair

Plucking grey hair may alter the natural growth direction of the hair, increasing the likelihood of ingrown hairs. They occur when the hair curls back into the skin, causing inflammation, red bumps and potential infection.

3. Skin irritation

Irritation caused due to plucking may manifest as redness, itching or a burning sensation. If you have sensitive skin, you need to be careful, as you may be more prone to such reactions.

4. Follicle damage

Too much plucking can potentially harm your hair follicles, resulting in slower hair growth. In some cases, it may lead to permanent hair loss.

5. Hyperpigmentation or scarring

If you are a chronic plucker, you might end up with dark spots where the hair used to be. Trauma to the same area can lead to scarring, affecting the overall health of the skin and potentially hindering future hair growth.

6. Hair shaft distortion

The act of plucking can distort the hair shaft. This can make the regrown hair appear coarser than the original hair, says the expert.

7. Uneven hair growth

Plucking can throw off your hair’s natural growth cycle, resulting in hair growing back at different rates. This can lead to uneven lengths and textures, which can be particularly noticeable with grey hair that might come back coarser or with a different colour.

What are the ways to take care of grey hair?

If you want to darken grey hair naturally, you can try homemade hair packs. You can also try these tips for grey hair:

1. Focus on moisturising hair

Grey hair tends to be drier, so moisturising it will help keep it hydrated. Look for shampoos and conditioners designed for mature hair, as they often contain ingredients that help to retain moisture and enhance shine.

Woman flaunts her grey hair
Make your grey hair shine with these tips! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Protect from sun damage

Protect your hair by wearing a hat or using hair products with UV filters. Also, consider avoiding prolonged sun exposure or using protective styles when outdoors for extended periods.

3. Gentle styling practices

Treat your grey hair with care to minimise breakage. Use wide-tooth combs to detangle your hair, and avoid aggressive brushing, especially after washing your hair. Choose heat-free styling methods whenever possible to prevent damage from styling tools.

4. Regular trims

Trimming helps to eliminate split ends and promotes healthier and more vibrant hair. Regular maintenance can also prevent the appearance of dullness and frizz.

5. Balanced nutrition

A balanced diet, which is full of vitamins and minerals, is crucial to stay fit and maintain healthy hair. Ensure you are getting adequate nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, as they contribute to overall hair health.

6. Invest in good hair products

Use hair care products specifically formulated for grey hair. These products often contain ingredients that enhance silver tones, reduce yellowing and address the unique needs of grey hair.

So, instead of plucking your grey hair, consider embracing your natural hair colour.


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