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What Are the Pros and Cons of Pulling Gray Hair?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

Many people are familiar with the old warning that plucking a gray hair causes two more to grow in its place. Luckily, researchers have proven that this belief is nothing more than a myth. Before breaking out the tweezers, however, it may be useful to first be aware of the pros and cons of pulling gray hair. On the upside, pulling gray hair can provide a temporary confidence booster. Yet the pain and potential scalp injury which can be caused by this solution as well as the persistent nature of gray hairs may outweigh the perceived benefits of plucking.

The benefit of pulling gray hair is fairly obvious: yanking stray grays helps restore a youthful appearance to the hair. Returning the hair to its natural shade by removing grays can temporarily improve one’s confidence in her appearance. This temporary boost of confidence may be helpful to those who are self-conscious about going gray prematurely, or those who simply wish to conceal outward signs of aging.

Tweezers may be used to remove gray hair.
Tweezers may be used to remove gray hair.

Yet this potential benefit may be outweighed by the multiple disadvantages of pulling gray hair. First of all, the scalp can be extremely sensitive, and consequently, many people find plucking hairs from the area to be moderately or even extremely painful. Thus, those who have a significant number of gray hairs may be setting themselves up for agony when they decide to pluck.

In some cases, the costs of pulling gray hair can be more serious than momentary scalp pain. Repeated plucking may cause the scalp and the hair follicles to become irritated. It is possible for the plucked area to become infected, or for the scalp tissue to develop permanent scarring.

Even those gray pullers who are willing to face scalp pain as well as the possibility of more serious side effects may eventually come to feel that they are fighting a futile battle. This is because graying is caused by a loss of the pigmentation cells which are normally found in the hair follicle, and which previously gave the hair its color. Once these pigmentation cells have died, the follicle in which they were based can no longer produce hair in one’s “natural” color. In other words, no matter how many times one plucks a gray hair from a particular follicle, that follicle will continue to produce only gray hairs. All things considered, reaching for a box of dye or simply learning to embrace a “silver fox” image may be preferable alternatives to pulling gray hair.

Discussion Comments


I grew up hearing if you pull out a gray hair, two more will grow back. When my hair starting turning gray a few years ago, I started plucking it before I went anywhere. I really hate the feeling of pulled hair, though, so I stopped doing it this year. I'd call my hair more salt-and-pepper than the distinguished graying on the temples look.

I wish there was a good way to prevent gray hair, but I think it's just inevitable for most people. I've never really found a dye or other hair product that was much good at reversing gray hair. If you fall behind on hair dye maintenance, the gray will start showing again anyway.


I've reached the age when pulling out gray hair is a real temptation. I think I would consider growing out my gray hair if it were just around the temples and sides, but it's also showing in my beard and eyebrows. I can't keep plucking gray hair out of those places. It may be time to consider using hair dye on my beard and talk to my hairstylist about other options on my head hair.

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    • Tweezers may be used to remove gray hair.
      By: paylessimages
      Tweezers may be used to remove gray hair.