It’s a moment that some people dread: the appearance of the first white hair. If it is tempting to want to tear it off, does this risk multiplying them as we often hear? An update with our expert dermatologist.
Ah, white hair… If it’s a sort of obligatory passage for some, it’s downright frightening for others, who will try to get rid of it at all costs. But does pulling out a white hair risk causing others to appear, as popular belief has it?
Pulling out a white hair does not multiply it subsequently
If you are chasing away your white hairs, which are generally few in number at the start, rest assured, pulling them out will not make them more numerous. Indeed, the urban legend lives on, but it is absolutely unfounded.
When you pull out a hair, white or not, only one more grows back in its place, because the follicle can only contain one at a time. On the other hand, if it was white it will grow back white, because melanin, the pigment which colors the hair, will not be produced either.
Why then do we say that pulling out a white hair multiplies them?
In reality, this preconceived idea comes from the fact that when a white hair appears others follow, naturally behind. Indeed, white hair appears when melanin is no longer produced. “It is skin cells called “melanocytes” and located in the hair bulb which will produce these melanin molecules. Thus, it is this variable proportion of melanin which will give a certain color to our hair” explains Dr Jean-Albert Amar, dermatologist interviewed by TipsForWomens.
And if the process begins with one hair, there is a good chance that others will follow.
Is pulling them out safe?
If by pulling out your white hair, you do not risk multiplying them, the practice is nevertheless not recommended. Indeed, after pulling out a hair, the hair follicle remains empty. The scalp’s sebum production is activated to fill it and avoid any risk of infection. Regularly pulling out hair results in faster oiling of the scalp, and the roots re-grease more quickly between shampoos.