A few weeks ago, we explored the topic of stress-induced grey hair and whether excessive worrying was really the culprit. (Grey hair is thought to be brought on by predetermined factors that are the result of genetics.) This week we're revisiting the subject, but turning the focus to what happens if you pluck those rogue hairs. Will three more really grow back in its place like the old legend insists?
In our latest installment of Beauty Myths, we've enlisted Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City, along with Sandra Gilman, trichologist and educational director for The Elan Center for Trichology, to clear up this oft-mentioned hair theory.
"No, we cannot add [to] the number of follicles we have, and it will not cause the surrounding hairs to turn grey," Cunnane Phillips said of plucking and the possibility that more white hairs will pop up in the area. Gilman added that "the only time more than one hair grows from one spot is when, for some undetermined reason, there is a merging of two hair follicles." She conceded that this happens sometimes, but not as a result of plucking.
So, even if we shouldn't, what exactly happens when you do pluck a grey hair? If you're not inviting three more like it to grow back, is there any harm? "There is zero benefit to plucking!" Cunnane Phillips said. "If there is a grey hair that you must get rid of, very carefully cut it! Plucking can traumatize the follicle, and repeated trauma to any follicle is not ideal." Gilman similarly warned of the harm plucking can cause. "If hair is tweezed or plucked from the brows, often some of these brow hairs do not grow back. On the head, if hair is constantly being plucked or pulled on from a particular area, then over time a message is sent to the hair follicle that there is no need to produce hair in that area and the follicle goes into rest, eventually shrinks and no longer produces a hair shaft, which may lead to a bald patch. It is not advisable to go plucking out these beautiful silver hairs. They are coming ... color the hair if you don't like it. That is what hair color is for."
Conclusion: Plucking grey hair will not cause three or more grey hairs to grow back in its place. However, plucking is not an advisable activity because it can destroy the hair follicle and possibly lead to bald patches.
For Beauty Myths, we've enlisted the help of pros to help debunk and demystify some of the most popular advice out there. Do you have a myth you'd like us to investigate? Let us know in the comments section, and check out previous questions in the gallery below.