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Auntie SparkNotes: Can a Teenager's Hair Go Gray?

Auntie SparkNotes: Can a Teenager's Hair Go Gray?

Dear Auntie,
My problem isn't serious, but it's still freaking me out, and I can't go to my mom because she'll just freak out too and ultimately not help me. It all started a few weeks ago when I found a yellowish hair in my bed. I assumed it belonged to my blond roommate, but then I found another one growing out of my head. I remembered my mom complaining that her gray hairs were looking kind of yellowish because of her frequent relaxer treatments, and I'm also a regular relaxer-er. I'm only 19, and not under an undue amount of stress, so how can I be going gray already? Is there anything I can do to stop it besides dying? (I heard that if you dye your hair too often it starts to fall out). And if I must go gray, is there any way to make it come only in streaks so I can look cool like Rogue from X-Men? Should I just dye it all white now and tell everyone I'm going for the Daenerys Targaryen look? Please help me.

Help? Help? You don't need help, Sparkler! That is, unless it's help in the department of Not Freaking Out Unnecessarily Over Your Hair Which Is Almost Certainly Not Going Gray. But you know what, guys, I’m going to answer this letter anyway, because:

a) it’s an easy one, and my dog has an ear infection, and the sooner I finish today’s post is the sooner I can stop him from rubbing bloody bacteria-laden earwax drippings all over my furniture, and also because

b) I laughed for ten minutes at “Is there anything I can do to stop it besides dying?” (Oh, honey! No matter how many problems you're having with your hair, death is never the answer!)

And now, in order, here are the answers to your questions:

1. In all likelihood, you aren’t “going gray” at all. One gray hair does not a larger trend make; chances are, you just have one underachieving follicle on your head whose pigment cells couldn’t hack the pressure and quit a few decades early. As do most of us. It's normal.

2. However, if your hair is changing color on an accelerated schedule, then bad news: there’s not a thing, apart from dyeing—with an E, by the way—that you can do to stop it. (Although dyeing every few weeks most certainly does not make your hair fall out... as evidenced by the fact that Katy Perry is not bald.)

3. And more bad news: you can’t control the pattern or rate of your gray-going, so looking like Rogue is a no-go. Although hey, if it happens all at once, you might kinda look like Storm!

So, what should you do? Um, whatever you want! It’s your hair, and it’s up to you to cut/color/style it in a way that makes you happy. But whatever it is, don’t do it because you allowed one lonely hair out of thousands to convince you that your tresses are about to go the Full Granny. They’re not. And trust: if you’re going gray early—which does happen, albeit rarely, and usually to people with a family history thereof—you’ll know soon enough when that one pale strand of yours is joined by several hundred of his closest friends.

But hey, if you do decide to go lighter, or darker, or brighter at your salon, maybe schedule yourself a relaxing massage into the bargain? Because for someone not under an undue amount of stress, you seem just the teensiest bit prone to panic.

Anyone else out there in a hairy situation? Tell us how you’re feeling! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: A Hairy Situation

Topics: Advice, Beauty
Tags: auntie sparknotes, hair, dyed hair, body image issues, gray hair, going gray

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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