I found gray hair. I'm 25.
January 16, 2013 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm a 25-year-old female with thick, dark curly hair. Every now and then I see a single gray hair making its way through. I hadn't seen any for awhile, then tonight I noticed a silvery strand near my temple. Is this normal?

I know this rather shallow and that there could be so many other things wrong than finding gray hair, but I dunno, I'm just not confident enough to rock the gray if I am indeed headed that way and I feel that dying my hair would be such a hassle. I honestly don't think my grays are noticeable to anyone except myself, and I can deal with plucking a few every now and then. What I'm really worried about is my entire head turning gray quickly and that attempts to dye it will look obvious. I don't color my hair now. My mom, at age 54, had maybe 30% gray hair that was hard to notice and my dad is 64 and is mostly gray; I don't remember them going gray very early.

Is it normal to find a few grays every now and then? Or will I be completely gray by the time I'm 30?
posted by thank you silence to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (60 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, and maybe?

People go gray at different ages and at different rates. 25 is early for many people to see gray hairs, but it is normal for some people to see gray hairs at that age, and they do not go gray until much later in life. Some people see gray at 25 and are gray by 30.
posted by OmieWise at 4:37 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is it normal to find a few grays every now and then? Or will I be completely gray by the time I'm 30?

Both are possible. I (male) started finding gray hairs around the age of 27. More than 10 years later, I have more gray hairs, but I still haven't "gone gray."

However, the truth is that a significant number of your friends have a lot of gray hair already, but you haven't noticed because they are all dyeing their hair to cover it up.
posted by deanc at 4:38 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, I don't know if it's normal, but I've been finding the occasional gray hair since I was 16. I'm 38 and still am not gray, at all, really. Just still one gray hair now and then.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:38 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think it's normal. I have black hair and found a gray or two in my late teens. I'm 45 now and only about 10% gray.
posted by marimeko at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2013

100% normal. Mrs. Deadmessenger has had at least a few grey hairs since she was 22 or so. She's 38 now, and is firmly in the salt-and-pepper category.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2013

I've been finding gray and white hairs every once in a while all my life, like from early childhood. I am a few years older than you now and nothing has changed, I find one or two now and then and that's it.
posted by cairdeas at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I found my first couple when I was your age. 4 years later, I have maybe a few dozen? the only time I see them is when I go six months without coloring my hair, & even then, they're no big deal. deanc's right -- a huge portion of women your age dye or highlight their hair, which is why they're not commenting on it. this isn't unusual at all.
posted by changeling at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my first gray hair at 27. I turn 33 next month, and have about 6 gray hairs (that I'm aware of). The rate at which you'll go mostly gray is probably more correlated to your family history, rather then when you find your first gray hair or two. I'd say you're pretty normal. It's probably a thousand times more apparent to you than anyone else. Besides, having dark hair, sometimes the angle of light makes things look silvery anyway, so a couple of grays naturally blend in pretty well. Don't worry, be happy.
posted by raztaj at 4:44 PM on January 16, 2013

i also have thick, dark curly hair and started getting my very first grays in my late 20s. i plucked strays and didn't have to start dying my hair until my early 30s. so yeah, it's normal for some of us. i have gone gray gradually as my mom did. i keep telling myself gray hair means i'm wise. ;)
posted by wildflower at 4:45 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had stray gray and white hairs since I was about 17. I have a *few* more here and there now I'm in my 30s but it's never been like, epidemic.
posted by sweetkid at 4:45 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my first grey hair when I was 29. I'm 37 now, and I have maybe half a dozen of them. It's perfectly normal, and if you don't like them, you can pluck 'em.
posted by KathrynT at 4:47 PM on January 16, 2013

Totally normal. Found my first grey hairs at 23 or so. Now over a decade or so later I've definitely got more (I freaked out when a clump could have been called a 'grey streak') but I'd still say I have no more than 1-2% grey. Not a big deal yet for me anyway.
posted by cgg at 4:47 PM on January 16, 2013

Had my first grey at 16, 80% grey at 34. I dye my hair. All of this is normal.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:49 PM on January 16, 2013

Yeah, this isn't a big deal. I have a couple of friends who started going grey in their twenties, and they're healthy as all get out.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:49 PM on January 16, 2013

I'm a woman with dark thick curly hair. I found my first full-length grey hair when I was 12. Which means that it started growing when I was like 10. It started being a few here-and-there around 25. Now I'm 30 and I have a lot (like 10 for every inch-wide clump of hair I gather), but it's not really obvious unless you're within a foot or two of my head. But I don't care. It's silvery and awesome.

And don't pluck them! Because then when they grow back in they are going to be sticking out!
posted by greta simone at 4:52 PM on January 16, 2013

I had a friend in high school who started going gray when she was 13 or 14. "Black Irish" hair famously starts graying early; my own first gray hairs came in my early 20s.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:58 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Normal. And you won't know until you know as far as how soon they increase. First started finding an occasional grey hair in my dark chestnut hair at age 26. Thirty years later, I am still finding an occasional grey hair. Go figure.
posted by batikrose at 4:58 PM on January 16, 2013

Oh, and neither of my parents went gray early, but neither had curly hair. My observation is that dark curly hair grays fastest.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:59 PM on January 16, 2013

My sister found a gray hair on my head when I was about 8. I am now 26 and about 30% gray. My mom was salt-and-pepper when she was 30, and I am sure I will be too. I occasionally dye it but it's a big pain in the ass and costs a lot so I mostly leave it alone. I don't love how it makes me look but I get lots of compliments and it's definitely a conversation-starter! I figure it could be worse... I could be balding (no offense if anyone here is).
posted by queens86 at 5:00 PM on January 16, 2013

If the timing works out right (or wrong?), you can simultaneously be half-gray and still have acne!

But seriously, I have been "going gray" for well over 20 years. It is still not noticeable until you are within 3-4 feet of me. It will probably take another 20 years for people to consider my hair to be gray from afar.
posted by 99percentfake at 5:01 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got my first grays as a teenager, now at 35 I'm having to dye it although I'm still more pepper than salt. Life, eh?
posted by (F)utility at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2013

I started finding gray hairs at 20. At 37, I now have a gray streak and a general sat and pepper look. So, this is normal and you may not be completely gray by 30.
posted by Area Man at 5:09 PM on January 16, 2013

My first grey hairs showed up when I was 13. I am now 45 and still mostly pepper but with lots of salt so it can go slow in some cases.

Dark hair only appears to grow grey faster or more often because the grey hair stands out against dark hair.
posted by srboisvert at 5:11 PM on January 16, 2013

I starting finding random grays in college. I'm in my early 40s and have an awesome silver streak in my bangs, and only random grays elsewhere.
posted by scody at 5:19 PM on January 16, 2013

I started getting grays in my early twenties. You know what's weird? Finding greys that suddenly start growing out black again, I'd like someone to explain THAT.

Nothing to worry about. Totally normal.
posted by mooza at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2013

My fiance has had the random half-dozen gray hairs since I met him (at 24). I, now 30, don' t have any that I can see, but I'm naturally blonde so it would be much harder to tell. I think the message is that almost anything is normal.
posted by celtalitha at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2013

A friend of mine went completely grey by the time she was 22, same for her brother.

The husband of another friend of mine is completely salt/pepper and he's only just turned 30.

Don't sweat it. Kind of cool to get it while you're still very young.
posted by lizbunny at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2013

Yes, and maybe.

My own first grey hair came in my twenties; now, mid-fifties, and I've got a very light scattering of grey. My siblings got their first greys also in their twenties; by their fifties, they range(d) from a scattering to "I have no idea, because I'm never giving up on my hair dye." Mom got her first grey in her forties, and was still a darkish salt-and-pepper when she died at 76; Dad's sideburns started going grey in his thirties, and he was solidly white-haired by 70ish.

So the answer to when you'll be grey-headed is, who knows?!?
posted by easily confused at 5:33 PM on January 16, 2013

Very variable. I got my first handful of grey hairs around 28. At a few weeks shy of 34 I have, maybe two handfuls now? It's been a very slow creep. I'm told it's basically unnoticeable unless you know to look for it; I promise, no one is keeping an eye on your one grey hair except you. (And your stylist. My old one was appalled that I wouldn't dye my grey because I think it's cute. Apparently it's an abomination against nature, or something.)
posted by Stacey at 5:40 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my firsy grey at 22, sticking staight up on top of my head. Freaked me out, but it hasn't progressed too fast since then. I have medium brown hair, and used to have copper highlights. At 41 all those coppers have gone and I have silver threads. Unless you're standing close to me, or the overhead light is especially harsh, I'm not noticably grey.
posted by saffry at 5:46 PM on January 16, 2013

Found my first last year. Haven't found any since. I'm 26 and I think this is pretty normal. Thick black curly.
posted by windykites at 5:49 PM on January 16, 2013

I started going grey at 16 and had 80% grey hair by 22. I curse my father and stupid genetics lottery as he went grey at the same age, luckily I didn't go bald like him. I have been dying my hair like one possessed since then. Add to that the fact my hair grows almost an inch in 6 weeks and I have to colour it every 3 weeks to hide all evidence. I imagine your friends also have the odd grey hair and you either haven't noticed or they too are colouring their hair. Don't imagine that made you feel any better but you could be like my husband who has had grey in his sideburns since I've known him but it's never gone any further than that.
posted by wwax at 5:51 PM on January 16, 2013

I had grey/white hairs by the time I graduated high school. It's genetics -- my father had completely grey hair by his mid/late 30s. I have many more now, at 34 (maybe 5-10%? My hair is light-ish so the white blends in). I color it. (And hey, the new color is more fun anyway!) My younger brother has them too now, at 30.

What's really fun? White eyebrow hairs. Sigh.
posted by lysimache at 5:56 PM on January 16, 2013


I just witnessed a scene much like you describe, the next chair over from me in the hair salon where I was getting a trim.

There was a guy sitting there, getting his hair cut. The sylist said, "Huh, you have a few grays! How old are you, again?" (They'd just been discussing college internships and entry level jobs and other young'un type subjects.)

He replied, "23. I can't believe I already have gray hairs!"

The stylist commiserated, continued to cut, and eventually he paid and left. He looked totally normal and rational, to me.

On the subject of going gray and whether you should begin to prepare yourself -- look to your family, especially family members who have a similar hair type to yours.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my first gray hairs at 15. My natural hair colour was so streaky and multi-tone (auburn with blond highlights) that they blended in at first. At 20 I had to start dyeing my hair. I'm 39 now and maybe 10% gray. I still dye it of course.

They happen. It doesn't sound like you need to worry much about it yet, and you're not necessarily going to be snow white in five years — in fact that is very unlikely. Don't start dyeing before you have to, just wait and see.
posted by orange swan at 6:21 PM on January 16, 2013


And people can "go gray" really slowly, too - I found my first gray hair sometime in my early 30's, and it's been ten years and I still only have a dozen or so. With me they sort of blend in (I'm a darkish ash-blonde).

And don't dye yet; you actually may realize you like the few grays you have after a while. (I do mine. They sort of look like they're.....sparkling.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

So very very normal. I've had the odd white hair here and there since I was about 20 - I'm 29 now and get them a bit more now but they're not visible unless you go looking for them.
posted by moorooka at 6:56 PM on January 16, 2013

My now-ex-husband, who sports a big head of dark curly hair, had a nice bit of salt in the pepper when we first met, when he was in his late 20s. Now, at 45, he is still more than 50% dark haired. I think it looks very distinguishing, but in particular I think that women with a full head of grey hair are beautiful, but I could be in the minority. (46-year-old lady with a few grey hairs of her own.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:29 PM on January 16, 2013

I am 27 and have never had a gray hair. Both of my parents are nearing 60 and only have a handful of gray hairs among them, all of which have showed up in the last 5 years or so.

I have lots of friends who are graying (some a few here and there and that's how it's been for a while, some creeping steadily towards gray) at a variety of ages between 25 and 40.

I have a friend who went from having very dark almost black hair at 22 to being salt and pepper at 23 to being Anderson Cooper at 24. Just like his parents.

All of these are, more or less, normal.

How you deal with it is up to you, but frankly I'm pretty jealous of people with salt and pepper hair. I think it looks awesome, but unless I'm some freak genetic mutation from the rest of my family, I'll never have it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my first few grey hairs at 24. Now at age 32, I have barely more than I had then.
posted by 168 at 7:39 PM on January 16, 2013

I've heard it's very common for people with very dark hair to gray early.

Frankly, I love gray hair, and think it's very cool. Unfortunately I have the kind of light brown hair that simply does not show gray very well. I'm 40 with no appreciable graying, and I doubt I'll have much more at 50.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:55 PM on January 16, 2013

I first noticed white hairs when I was in my early 30s. Since then, I've been keeping an eye out for them (in part because I'm hoping I wind up with white hair like my paternal grandmother, instead of gray hair like my maternal grandmother). Ten years later, the ratio of white-hairs-to-regular-colored-hairs seems to be holding roughly steady.

FWIW, my father got the first signs that he was going to be salt-and-pepper when he was 17. Since then his previously black hair has become steadily and increasingly white, and now at age 72 it's pretty much pure white. And, as mentioned, I was 32ish before I noticed my first not-the-usual-color hair and it's held steady since then. I think the predictability in this area is low.
posted by Lexica at 8:00 PM on January 16, 2013

I refer to any grey hair as "natural platinum blonde highlights."
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:15 PM on January 16, 2013

Started seeing my first greys around 25, mostly behind my temples. Six years later, I've got just a few more than I did then. Totally normal, and while you could go grey in a few to several years, you could also take a very long time still...

Personally (I'm a dude, if that matters), I'm actually OK with going grey and wearing it well. It's the weird transition point between where I'm at and "salt and pepper" that worries me a bit.
posted by rollbiz at 8:36 PM on January 16, 2013

Anecdata, but I found about 5 pure-white hairs growing out of my temple when I was *twelve*. Freaked out at the time, but I'm 34 now and have seen no sign of additional hypopigmented hair. Which is actually kind of annoying, because I'd like to have pure white streaks that I could then easily dye ridiculous colors! That aside, overall, greying of the hair seems to be one of those things that has no real bearing on one's overall health, and even if your hair was totally grey right now it wouldn't mean you were at any increased risk of, say, heart disease or early Alzheimer's. I know some people my age with beautiful silver-all-over and/or salt-and-pepper hair, and like others in this thread, mainly I'm envious, because it looks incredibly cool!
posted by aecorwin at 8:41 PM on January 16, 2013

I found my first grey hair at 17. I was in my late 30s when my temples were pretty silvery, but not the rest of my hair. My drivers licence said "brown" when I renewed it at 40. I renewed it this last December and it says "grey". I'm now 45 years old. My hair was a medium reddish brown, thick, straight when short, wavy if I let it go past my shoulders.

As you can tell from all of these different answers - anything is normal.
posted by deborah at 8:41 PM on January 16, 2013

If you have scattered grey, then matching up a dye to your hair is not going to be noticeble. I used to be a hair dresser and dreaded the thought of going grey. However my specialty was hair colr, the entire color spectrem natural hair color through the blues, pinks and greens. If you can not afford to go to a hair salon, then there are plenty of good hair products out there. I suggest a beauty supply or an omline supply and buy higher end products to ensure minimal hair damage. Usually apply product at roots only then coming it thru is enough, it blends with your natural colr better without saturating completly. Hair coloring really is no big deal. I started going grey at 27, but I did not give a damn, since i was rockin the most vibrant indigo blue hair at the time. Now, I have it down to a one hour routine every 3 months. Some greys pop out, but that makes it look more natural, yet my hair feels good to me ; ) !
BTW, I waited till I was 35 to start coloring my hair to its natural color to hide the grey, I like a little grey to show actually around the temples, I think its sexy!
posted by SteelDancin at 10:34 PM on January 16, 2013

It's totally normal to find grey hairs when you're a teenager, even. It doesn't mean you're going to turn grey soon. Most of my friends have had a couple grey hairs through their 20s, and a handful of them even had them starting in high school. I have had exactly one for four years.

If you start looking at people with very coarse dark hair that are your age, many of them will have grey hair. It's just not as obvious on people with finer or lighter hair, so you could get the idea it's unusual to have grey hair right now just because you don't notice it. I realized this the other day when one of my Asian friends with grey hair was talking about how so many Asian people have grey hair starting in their teens and they were miffed that the characteristics of their hair made it stick out more. You could have had grey hair for a while now and not even noticed, if your hair is fine or light. You might have had some in your teens, and I might have too!
posted by Nattie at 1:03 AM on January 17, 2013

My husband has black, straight hair, and has had a small sprinkling of white hairs since I first met him, when he was 26. He is now nearly 40 and doesn't have that many more. I am 36 and have dark brown straight hair and have noticed the odd white hair over the past few years.

My son has had the odd white hair since he was 2. He doesn't look like he is going grey any time soon.

In other words - it's normal. If you want to dye it, I suggest for the first time at least go to the hairdressers.
posted by Megami at 1:12 AM on January 17, 2013

I found some first grey hairs as I was writing my senior thesis in university (age 21). I haven't grown anymore since then, and I honestly believe they were cause by stress. (Now I'm 24)
posted by raccoon409 at 3:00 AM on January 17, 2013

"I noticed a silvery strand near my temple. Is this normal?"

For you it is. That doesn't mean that you know what it means, however.
posted by markkraft at 4:00 AM on January 17, 2013

Totally normal. It happens very young too. I knew a guy in high school who had a patch of gray hair at 16. I found an odd single gray hair on my daughter - she's 9.

And it gets weirder - I've got a couple good solid patches of salt in my beard and chest hair - the newest hair on my body - and not on my head. I also pull out the occasional beard hair as a habit when I'm thinking and I've found hair that is clearly gray at the far end but goes dark into where the came out from the skin.

Clearly, hair pigmentation is not binary and the process of changing is highly variable. There are a lot of different approaches to dealing with this from nothing to dyes to wigs, to unusual haircuts. Whatever makes you happiest is the right answer for you.

When my dad went gray he went at the temples first and he hadn't really noticed. His mother-in-law noticed when we were visiting and said, "George, I see you have the aristocratic touch of gray." My dad sulked for the entire visit.

I'm wasn't happy when the gray hit my beard and plucked for a bit, but at this point if I plucked I'd look like I had mange. So I just go with it. If I start graying at the temples like my dad, I may just lose my beard so I can rock a natural Reed Richards instead of an ersatz one.
posted by plinth at 5:50 AM on January 17, 2013

I'm 33, have reddish brown hair and haven't found a grey hair yet. My mom (very dark brown, very straight hair) found her first grey when she was 30 (she commemorated it by clipping a piece of the hair, and putting it in an envelope in her scrapbook). But now at 54, she still only has about 15-20 random grey hairs when she doesn't dye it. She dyes because she thinks her hair color is boring, not to cover grey since you can't really notice it unless you're standing right next to her. My grandfather (maternal) died this past year at the age of 86, and he never went grey. He went bald, but the few hairs he had left were all brown. He was a redhead as a kid and young man but as he got older his hair got darker. My hair is doing this as well so I hold out hope that I'll follow the same pattern of never going grey/not going grey until really late in life.

This does depend a lot on genetics, but there's other factors as well that make it pretty impossible to predict what your hair will be like in 5 years. You might be completely grey. It's probably more likely that in 5 years you'll just have more grey than you do now but still be mostly dark haired.
posted by katyggls at 6:29 AM on January 17, 2013

I found my first gray hair when I was 24 -- on December 20, 1997 -- exactly 9 days after my first child was born.
I am now about to turn 40 and I have about 8 gray hairs total. So finding one (or more) is not necessarily meaningful.
posted by MeiraV at 6:37 AM on January 17, 2013

My first grey hair turned up when I was around eight. I'm now 30. My (black) hair is in a bun right now, and you can't see any greys. But when it's out and straight people notice and comment that it looks like 'natural highlights.' I'd say it's less than 20% grey.

My husband's greys started at your age and five years on, he's less than 10% grey too.

My neighbour has been dying her hair for sixty years after she went all white at 18.

My MIL's hair darker (brown to black) right around the time she had BIL when she was 35/37. Then at 43 she was all white.

I guess what I'm saying is that it depends.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:03 AM on January 17, 2013

My paternal grandmother was totally gray at the age of 20. She sported technicolor hair most of her life, choosing full on, gorgeous silver in her 50's. My maternal grandmother only had a few grays at her temples.

I saw a few grays, but I've been doing goofy color stuff since I was about 20. Henna, washes, then dying. Husbunny asked me just the other night, "What's your natural hair color?" I had to think long and hard about it (very dark brown, I was a 7 year old goth).

At 50, judging from how my roots come in, I'm getting pretty silver. When it's time to touch up, I can see a "skunk stripe".

The other fun thing, after my hysterectomy, my hair changed texture. It used to be poker straight, now it's pretty wavy, with more curl in the back.

So...yeah, lots of stuff can contribute to the color and texture of your hair, heredity mostly. Roll with it. A few gray strays here and there is no biggie, if it becomes more aggressive, you may choose to color.

I will say that I'm coloring/touching up about every 15-20 days. It's not so bad.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:06 AM on January 17, 2013

Just chiming in to say that I also think grey hair can look really good. I knew a woman with steel-grey (died, I imagine) waist length hair and it looked freaking gorgeous, distinguished and unusual and almost- powerful. It was obviously well taken care of so it wasn't scraggly or dingy. My fellow's got a sprinkling of grey at his temples and in his beard and I think it's super sexy. It just looks- adult. Mature. Like character lines.
posted by windykites at 7:31 AM on January 17, 2013

I knew a woman with steel-grey (died, I imagine)

Do you mean dyed?
posted by sweetkid at 7:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

do you mean dyed?

Yes. Yes I do. That's... amusingly embarassing.

I imagine her hair was dyed steel grey since "greys" are actually white. I hope and believe she's still very much alive.
posted by windykites at 8:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Look at the women in your family My mom was totally grey by her thirties. Sure enough, I started going grey at 16 and am almost totally there (I'm currently 31). Nothing wrong with grey hair (I dye mine blue and green).
posted by picklesthezombie at 9:43 AM on January 17, 2013

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