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Truth is, we all start to go gray at some point in our lives. While gray hairs are completely natural, just the sight of one triggers an internal instinct to immediately pull it out. 

Now, the commonly held belief is that if you pluck it, many more grays will follow in its wake. This is actually a myth—what you do to a single strand can't spread like contagion. "The surrounding hairs will not turn white until their own follicles' pigment cells die," says Trey Gillen, hairstylist and creative director of education at SACHAJUAN

So, why all the panic about plucking gray hair? Well, there are almost zero benefits to the temporary departure of a gray strand; in fact, there are worse consequences. 

There is only one hair that is able to grow per follicle. When your strand turns gray or white, the pigment cells in the follicle surrounding the hair have already died. "In other words, plucking a gray hair will only get you a new gray hair in its place," says Gillen, 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. "Plucking can traumatize the hair follicle, and you can damage the follicle to the point where it will no longer grow any hair," says Gillen. Forget about having gray hair—you won't have any hair there at all. "If you're a serial plucker, repeated 'plucking trauma' can even cause infection, scar formation, and bald patches," adds Gillen. Ultimately, this will create the appearance of hair loss and thinner hair.

If you consider yourself an expert plucker, you might be thinking that you can pluck the hair carefully without causing damage. But tread with caution—the reason people think more grays are summoned when they pluck is because it looks and feels more noticeable on your scalp. 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 gray hair that grows back in its place will be wiry—think coarser, thicker, and more noticeable than the hair you had before, says Gillen.

Gillen agrees that the best thing to do if you notice a gray hair is to ignore it—it happens to the best of us eventually—or dye it back to its original color. If there is a gray strand you absolutely must get rid of, very carefully cut it off instead of plucking it. And of course, you can always embrace it—there's a silver lining in going gray. There is wisdom in age, after all, so consider those distinguished strands a crown of wisdom.