Now there’s a reason for grey hair, but I still don’t care…

Scientists have discovered a reason for grey hair, but that's not going to stop me embracing my salt and pepper locks...

Scientists have finally discovered why some of us go grey quicker than others.
There’s a gene behind the process that controls it, named IRF4 which involves the pigment or melanin production. In fact 15% of Europeans have a version that means that melanin production stops more quickly than non Europeans. And whilst scientists are working on how to reverse this and create pills and products to stop us going grey more quickly – that’s not going to help me, and I don’t mind.

Admittedly, I did spend most of my 20s covering it up, but really I had my epiphany soon after my 30th birthday, having realised I was fighting a losing battle. ‘If you can’t beat it, make something of it’ became my mantra, and I started with a streak at the front (Caitlin Moran copied me, mine was better), followed by one underneath and, before I knew it, I was sprinkled with silver which drew so many compliments from colleagues, friends and strangers. It had always been my intention to cheat a bit and speed up the greying process, and finally this year I decided the time had come to dye my hair grey.

It really was a no-brainer that Bleach London would be the place to go. This cool, funky brand with a fashion punk aesthetic, founded in 2010 at the back of Wah Nails in Dalston, is the go-to place for dip-dye, rainbow colours and any-which-way bleach artistry. Armed with my favourite reference pics of Sarah Harris and Kristen McMenamy, I could hardly contain my excitement when Sharmaine, a platinum blond Aussie rock chick, nodded with agreement. Her really laidback ‘yep, I can do that for you’ attitude put me totally at ease and filled me with confidence.

why grey hair is nothing to be afraid of

Life’s a Bleach Then You Dye

She explained the process would involve highlighting all my hair with their very special bleach blend, followed with white toner and, after a sprinkle of her own special magic (unicorn dust?), I’d be silvery grey all over by the end of the afternoon. She was careful to explain the pros and cons: pros – highlights meant I got to keep some of my own grey tones which would add to the desired multi tonal grey I was after – cons: a strict after care routine, for which they have a comprehensive array of products for.

grey hair


The process was long, admittedly, but I have a lot of hair. It didn’t matter because the salon in Topshop is an eye candy treasure trove; bottles of bleach come in all colours of the rainbow with fantastic names (I personally loved the sound of Washed Up Mermaid), they have My Little Pony and Barbie nestling in between the rainbow of bottles (they did a collaboration with Barbie, check out the Barbie x Bleach tumblr, it’s genius) and I whiled away the hours with their fabulous Bleach App (available for free from the iTunes store), a selfie booth for your after shot which you can adorn with all of your favourite things (in my case, unicorns, flamingos, stars and puppies). It was magic.

grey hair

The end result…

Finally, the great moment had come and after several toner washes (Sharmaine’s attention to toner application was intense), I was ready for the blow dry and I have to admit I actually cried tears of joy when I saw the results. She’d got it just right; I was the perfect shade of silvery grey platinum with just the subtlest hint of Bruised Violet. We all had a bit of a cry, followed by a group hug, it was a very emotional moment.

grey hair

Who knew grey could look this good?

The next day, having not told a soul in the office what I was up to, I walked nervously to my desk. My colleagues, having lived through all the incarnations of my look, all gasped in wonder. The consensus is it’s a triumph. They’ve even coined a name for my new locks – Unicorn Dust.

Now, can we all just accept grey is good and, shock horror, it can even be gorgeous.

grey hair

Who knew grey could look this good?

If you decide to embrace your grey too, here are some tricks for keeping your grey hair in great condition:

1. Wash your hair every other day to prevent your ends getting too dry.

2. Only brush your hair when it’s completely dry and only comb hair when it’s wet and has conditioner in it. Hair is at it’s most brittle when wet.
3. Leave hair to dry naturally, you can create waves and shape by plaiting or twisting.

4. Your hair is as sensitive as your skin and requires an equal amount of protection from the sun. Try to use products containing a filter or sunscreen for your hair to lock in colour and prevent fade.

5. Try brightening up your wardrobe and change your makeup to a slightly yellow undertone to keep skin looking fresh with a healthy glow against the grey tones of your hair.

Recommended products:

1. Bleach London Silver Shampoo and Conditioner (£5.00 each from Boots) to keep your colour looking grey. For the strongest grey result leave the shampoo on for up to 20 mins.

2. Bleach Split Fix Serum (£6.00 from Boots) used everyday makes sure the ends stay smooth.

3. Bumble and Bumble Deeep Treatment (£22.50).

4. Use a strengthening and reparative hair mask once a week such as Bumble and bumble Deeep Treatment or Bleach Reincarnation Mask (£6.00 from Boots).

5. Tangle teaser brush

I went to Bleach London and had a full head of highlights £120. The top up toner treatment £20.

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