Let’s face it, we are all going to go grey at some point in our lives. It’s just a natural part of ageing. But here’s the thing, even though I know all this, the very sight of a grey hair has me reaching for a pair of tweezers and googling for the best root touch up home-hair-colour kits available.

According to my mother, and just about everyone else I know, you should never pluck a grey hair or more greys will follow in its wake. Thankfully, this is a myth. The surrounding hairs will not turn white until their own follicles’ pigment cells die, so the next time someone sprouts this age old myth, feel free to educate them.

So, does this mean it’s perfectly fine to pluck out those stray greys? The truth is that it’s not, and here’s why. Only one hair is able to grow per follicle. When your strand turns grey, the pigment cells in the follicle surrounding the hair have already died. So plucking a grey hair will only get you a new grey hair in its place, so any plucking is pretty much pointless since you’re simply delaying the inevitable. 

In the long run, you’re actually doing more harm than good. This is because plucking can traumatise and damage the hair follicle to the point where it will no longer grow any hair, which is honestly worse. The repeated trauma from plucking can even cause infection, scar formation, and bald patches, ultimately resulting in the appearance of hair loss and thinner hair.

When the follicle produces less melanin, it tends to produce less sebum as well, so gray hair has a different texture from the rest of your pigmented strands. In the best case scenario, the grey hair that grows back in its place will be wiry—think coarser, thicker, and more noticeable than the hair you had before. So the best thing to do if you notice a grey hair is to ignore it, or dye it back to its original colour.

If there is a grey strand you absolutely must get rid of and have no time to dye, very carefully cut it off as close to the root as you can, instead of plucking it.