A recent Reddit post featured a user sharing the contrast between a lock of her hair from age sixteen (16) to her current hair at age twenty-seven (27). As you can see, the older lock is vibrant and her present-day hair has faded. This is very common amongst natural reds and that’s why comments flooded in with redheads sharing their own fading-hair stories.
If you’re a natural redhead reading this, you’ve probably also noticed your hair isn’t the same color it was when you were younger. Your hair may be darker, more vibrant, lighter, or less vibrant. The changes that happen to our hair as we get older are natural, and occur in most hair types. Let’s explore why this happens and what you can do to keep it vibrant.
Why does red hair get darker and or lighter with age?
The hair color of redheads is primarily determined by the presence of the pigment called pheomelanin, which is responsible for their characteristic red hair. The variation in hair color among redheads can be influenced by genetic factors and the interaction of different pigments in the hair.
As people age, the amount and type of melanin produced in their hair follicles may change, leading to variations in hair color. Some redheads may experience their hair getting darker over time due to an increase in eumelanin, a darker pigment. On the other hand, others may see their hair getting lighter due to a decrease in pheomelanin or changes in other genetic factors.
While genetics plays a significant role in determining hair color, environmental factors like exposure to sunlight and hair care practices can also impact how the hair appears over time.
Mostly it depends on the natural shade of your hair. Typically, those with lighter red or more strawberry blonde hair will see more fading. Those with darker more auburn hair will see their hair deepen in color, but maybe not in vibrancy, making it appear more brown than red.
This change also has to do with age. As we transition from children to adults, our hair often darkens. This is true for blondes as well. Many people who were blonde as children find themselves having brunette hair as adults. Then as we transition into the later years of our life, we may see our hair begin to lighten and turn white or grey. For most redheads, our hair doesn’t really get grey, it just lightens and loses pigment until it’s white or a very light reddish blonde shade.
Why do most natural redheads go white later in life, rather than gray?
Whether you go light or dark throughout the years, ultimately, red hair turns white, not gray, as individuals age. This is due to a lack of pigment production in the hair follicles. Gray hair results from a mixture of pigmented and non-pigmented (white) hairs. When hair turns gray, it is because the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for hair color, decreases over time. As a result, the hair appears lighter and less saturated with color.
For individuals with red hair, the primary pigment present is pheomelanin, which gives the hair its red hue. As they age, the production of pheomelanin decreases, and eventually, the hair follicles stop producing pigment altogether. As a result, the red hair turns white when no pigment is present, creating a distinct contrast between the white hair and any remaining red or gray hairs.
How can you keep your red hair vibrant?
So, depending on what your natural shade is and where you are in life, your red hair may go through many changes. Combating these changes is a personal choice and can be done through glosses, color-depositing products, and of course dye.
If you do opt to dye, it is essential to consult a professional hair colorist to ensure the dyeing process is done correctly and with minimal damage to the hair. Regular hair care, using appropriate products for color-treated hair, and protecting the hair from excessive heat or environmental damage can also help maintain healthy-looking hair regardless of its color. Ultimately, embracing the natural aging process and choosing a hair care routine that works best for them is essential for individuals with red hair or any other hair color.
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