Gray Hair Less Common Than You Thought
October 1, 2012

Gray Hair Not As Common As You Think, Says L’Oreal

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

When companies conduct their own surveys, they´re often part of a sales campaign — a way to back to up their claims with quasi-scientific support. For instance, Square Trade often releases surveys detailing which state is the clumsiest or how many mobile devices bite the dust each month and for what reason. Square Trade, as you might have already guessed, is in the business of selling third-party warranties to cover these devices.

Today, however, one company has issued a study that defies an old wives tale and appears to offer no immediate financial benefit for their business.

There are many ways to explain away the existence of the grey hair which accompanies aging. Many say the silver strands are a sign of wisdom, while others claim these hairs are the results of stress.

Cosmetics manufacturers L´Oreal set out to explain the commonly held belief in the “Rule of 50,” which holds that 50% of 50-year-olds have about 50% grey hair on their head.

According to their research, while grey hair does increase with age, the notion that 50% of the scalp can be covered in these white whisps is hardly accurate.

L´Oreal´s worldwide study found that fewer men and women have grey hair than previously thought — something as few as one in ten for those over 60 — giving people an extra ten years to worry about coming down with the grey-haired blues.

Furthermore, the L´Oreal study also found that less than a quarter of 60-year olds who participated in the study had any grey hair, and in many parts of the world this number was even lower.

L´Oreal´s researchers studied the heads of some 4,000 men and women of all ages, countries and ethnic backgrounds, and have found that men are more likely (78%)  to develop grey hair than women (71%).

Going by the numbers, the old “Rule of 50” didn´t seem to hold up very well. Of the 4,000 scalps analyzed, 74% of those aged 45 through 65 had signs of silver, but it constituted only about 27% of their hair.

As the participants got older, so too did the amount of grey on their heads. Sixty-three percent of those individuals between 45 and 50 years old had about one-fifth of their heads covered in grey hair. As men and women approached 55, however, the number of those with grey hair leapt to 78%, with about 26% of their scalps covered in those silver strands of wisdom.

And in the four years that follow this from 56 to 60, this number jumps even higher — up to 86%. Finally, at 91% of those between 61 to 65, the overwhelming majority of participants did have some grey hair, which made up on average 40% of their total hair.

While it may behoove L´Oreal to release statistics which reveal that people should begin buying their hair-coloring products at age 30, these numbers could help the cosmetics company to find a more specific target demographic.

And L´Oreal is no stranger to battling the effects of grey hair. Last year, the company announced its fantastical plans to develop a pill that can prevent the growth of grey hair. Said to be due out in 2015, this pill “contains an undisclosed fruit extract that mimics the chemical tyrosinase-related protein or TRP-2, an enzyme that protects pigmentation production,” said the company in a statement reported last year by Huffington Post.