Gray and white beards have made a successful comeback over the past decade, and it's easy to see why. Black men are enjoying facial hair once again, from the five-o'clock stubble, soul patch beard, or classic goatee to the circle beard, chin strap, or even mutton chops. Even celebrities like Will Smith, Steve Harvey, Deion Sanders and Idris Elba have embraced the gray! A beard elevates your appearance, reveals your individuality, and highlights your best features. Even better, men and women alike adore them!
But, when your beard color begins to change, you've got some new choices to make. Gray, white, and salt and pepper facial hair are unavoidable, and while it is seen as a symbol of maturity, wisdom, and authority by many men, it can also be viewed as an unpleasant sign of aging. Whatever your feelings are about having a gray, white, or salt and pepper beard, embracing and taking proper care of it will make a significant difference in how it looks.
Gray hair necessitates a unique approach to care, as explained here. But first, it's important to consider what causes our facial hair to become gray in the first place.
The Science Behind The Silver Fox: What Causes Beards To Turn Gray First?
For many men, their first glimpse of gray hair appears in their beard. That moment can cause emotions of denial and fear that send men on a mission to color, cover, or remove the offending hair as quickly as possible. Many also ask, why is this intruder showing up in my beard first?
The truth is that experts aren't sure why beards are the first to gray. There have been almost no scientific studies on hair graying patterns, believe it or not. But what we do know about graying is that, between the ages of 45 and 65, 74 percent of men have grayed by 27 percent on average. Men go gray more quickly than women, and people of Caucasian origin go gray more rapidly than people of other origins.
Melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, are responsible for graying hair. Melanocytes are the cells in the hair follicle that give your hair (and beard hair) its natural color. They disperse into the cortex of developing hair strands, and the structure and concentration of that melanin are what determines your beard's color and tint. Those melanocytes, however, wear out and quit operating as we become older. Thus, hair & beards begin to gray as a result.
This process begins in a few follicles and then spreads throughout beard hair, leaving you with a beard that is completely devoid of pigment. This is the beginning of the graying process. While various factors influence graying, including genetics, lifestyle, stress, and even ethnicity, age is the most critical factor.
Different sections of hair are linked to various genetic origins, which explains why the beard becomes gray first. This is why many guys have beards that are not the same color as their scalp hair. Similarly, your beard hair may be predisposed to gray at a younger age than your scalp hair due to genetics.
When you stop producing melanin, your beard's color and pigment change, but it's also the structure and qualities of your beard that change. The death of melanocytes can result in a minor change in the morphology of the hair follicle. Because the shape of the follicle determines your curl pattern, you may notice that gray hairs do not follow the curl pattern you're used to—they may be more or less curly than before.
Gray beard strands can also develop a medulla, a hollow core that causes the strands to become more wiry and unruly. Lack of melanin in the cortex can result in decreased elasticity and strength, as well as a tighter cuticle layer, making color treatments more challenging to penetrate gray strands.
Finally, melanin acts as a shield against the effects of the environment. Your beard will become more exposed to UV rays as a result of the loss of melanin, and you'll be more prone to encounter damaged hair, split ends, frizz, tangling, cuticle damage, and even yellowing.
Many men dye their gray hair to avoid the problems stated above or because they like the look of colored hair. However, coloring gray hair may be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. But many men choose to embrace the natural look, as they should! Gray or white hair can be both sophisticated and sexy! According to a 2020 survey conducted by Match.com, 72 percent of women think men with gray or white hair are more attractive than men who don't have a salt and pepper hairline – so there's that.
To Embrace Or Not To Embrace?
The biggest choice men have to make when it comes to a graying beard is whether or not they should color it or embrace their new look. Slowing the graying process is possible if you can minimize the stress and anxiety in your life. You can also prevent graying by avoiding smoking (smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to develop gray hair at a faster rate) and minimizing your caffeine intake (caffeine can dehydrate your hair). Studies have also shown that taking supplements like Copper and B12, among other vitamins and minerals, can help avoid early graying.
But let's be clear, any attempts to slow the process are simply putting off the inevitable. And while a graying beard may be concerning, even traumatic, for some, others accept the natural process of genetics and aging more easily. And for those who choose to dye their beard for whatever reason, it's not exactly the easy solution many men think it will be. There is a downside to resisting the natural course of science.
If you are considering dying your beard, consider these realities:
- Hair dyes can be damaging. Hair dye contains chemicals that can cause hair to fall out in some cases. And thin hair, ages you.
- Your hair must be dyed every four to eight weeks. You'll either have to visit a hairdresser every month and a half or go through the rigors of dyeing your beard at home, which includes applying Vaseline to keep it from staining your skin and cleaning up stains on your countertops and hands.
- You must continue to color your beard indefinitely or until you change your mind about going au naturel. Beards grow with their natural color, so you'll have to keep dyeing them. When you stop, your beard, especially if it's mostly gray, will come back oddly. Dying your hair is a long-term commitment, so if you aren't prepared to color your beard frequently and regularly, don't start coloring it.
- It is expensive. Beard coloring at a hairdresser can cost anywhere from $25 to $100. That's going to mount up quickly over time, which might be decades.
The bottom line is that coloring your beard (which usually also means coloring your scalp hair) can be challenging to manage. It's much easier, and many would say more attractive, to let nature take its course and embrace the silver fox look. Once you can get over that hump, you'll soon discover how smooth a gray or white beard can be. You'll have an evolving look that suits you and a newfound confidence that will only add to the sexy beast that you are – it’s the silver fox way.
Keeping Your Gray Or White Beard Healthy
The majority of advice about taking care of your gray or white beard applies to any beard, but there are a few things you can do specifically for your beard. Here are some tips for keeping your gray or white hair beard looking healthy and attractive:
- Trim It Up: Keep your beard well-trimmed when it's growing out, especially around the edges. This aids in the growth process and makes it appear tidy and well-kept. We guarantee that a well-kept beard will not go undetected. Beards might take months to grow out completely, so be patient. Patchy spots on a beard are unattractive, so give your beard time to grow. Patchy beards will fill in. Use a good beard oil to help with any discomfort or itchiness.
- Wash Your Beard: To avoid breakouts and ingrown hairs, use a natural face wash to keep your entire face clean. Next, invest in a quality, natural beard wash to clean your beard down to the roots.
Related Article: Why A Daily Skin & Beard Care Routine Is Crucial for Black Men
- Hydrate Your Beard: Beards, especially gray beards, require a lot of conditioning. This is because gray hair grows thicker and faster than other hair. Using a moisturizing beard conditioner to keep your beard moisturized.
- Groom Your Beard: Using a good beard comb consistently will keep your beard untangled and smooth, assisting in the growth process. Trimming scissors are also helpful for tightening your beard edges and removing stray beard hairs that refuse to cooperate.
- Use Beard Balm or Beard Oil: Natural beard oil and balm hydrate your hair and skin, enhance its natural texture and shine and provide protection to your hair follicles. This is crucial for gray hair because it lacks the required proteins that colored hair does, leaving it more vulnerable to harm. Not only that but beard oils and balms will help you style your beard while avoiding the itching that often accompanies growing a beard.
Related Video: The 4-Step Beard Care Routine For Silver Fox Men On The Go!