There comes a time, perhaps when we're in our forties, or perhaps when we're in our sixties or seventies, when we decide that we're ready to embrace grey. We spoke to expert trichologist Iain Sallis, known to many as the 'hair medic', to talk us through what's happening to our hair.

What happens as we age?

Childhood, adolescence, adulthood and the menopause all bring changes to hair's texture, oiliness and overall condition. As Iain explains, 'As we get older the growing phase of the hair becomes shorter, so our hair does not grow as long and more hair falls into the shedding phase quicker. One of the main effects of ageing on hair is when a women reaches the menopause; oestrogen is reduced meaning that male hormones in the body have a bigger effect on the hair cycle. Increased testosterone activity causes the hair cycle to shrink, making hairs finer and thinner.' Our hair ends up drier too. 'Lipids (natural oils) within the skin tend to change and decrease after the menopause, leading to drier hair. We lose approximately 5% of our volume of hair per year after the age of 35 through the ageing process.'

Why do we go grey?

As we age our hair follicles stop producing melanin, which gives both our hair and our skin their colour. As far as we know, this is entirely caused by our DNA – the old adage that stress makes us go grey has no scientific evidence (at least not yet). Our DNA also determines what shade of grey we go. Grey as a catch-all term is misleading – your hair can be grey, silver, white or salt and pepper.

Top Tip! A bit of clever highlighting or lowlighting can help you blend in your roots when you're making the transition to grey.

Healthy hair guide

Pay attention to your diet. Load up on good fats (such as olive, fish and nut oils) to promote healthier hair, while green leaves, carrots, mangoes and sweet potatoes are a great source of antioxidant protection and help your scalp to produce the oil it needs.

Warm and cold, but never hot. Only ever wash hair with lukewarm water to protect your scalp's natural oils. (Likewise, turn down the heat on your hairdryer!) Finishing your shower with a blast of cold water will give your hair an extra shine by smoothing the hair cuticles.

Give your skin a glow. As well as using a cleanser, toner, serum and moisturiser that will look after your skin, a couple of make-up tricks can give you a little boost once you've decided to go grey. To prevent you looking washed-out, choose a foundation or tinted moisturiser that boosts radiance and make blusher your new best friend. Light pinks look best on pale skins, or if you have darker skin, you can opt for something deeper.

A routine for hair health

Iain recommends a thorough hair routine which 'includes regular washing and conditioning, weekly hair masks to give that extra moisture boost and changing any excessive chemical processing for something more gentle.'

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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