One of the best things to come out of the past few years, as everyone takes stock of their societal contributions, is the way we talk about aging. Growing up, my mother's 2000s-era women's magazines were rife with euphemisms for aging, recommendations on "turning back the clock", boosting youth, and looking 15 years younger. These days, while those sentiments are around, they're considerably softened. Outlets routinely feature gorgeous mature women, aging gracefully has replaced clinging to youth, and we've all come around to a should-be obvious consensus that aging is significantly preferable to the alternative. With that in mind, there's something to be said for wanting not to look younger, necessarily, but to be well-preserved; looking like the version of you you're used to for as long as you want. For many people, that becomes a focus when gray hairs start to outnumber the color they were born with (or pay a lot of money for). It's not that no one ever wants gray hair, which is both natural and stunning. It's just that some people, who might have otherwise turned to dyes or concealment techniques, could want an alternative—or maybe they just don't want the gray today. Now, futuristic as it may seem, that's actually an option.
Arey, a science-backed supplement from the minds of top hair stylist Jay Small and Blushington co-founder Allison Conrad, has developed a daily supplement that quite literally puts the brakes on hair color loss. Arey's Not Today, Grey supplement ($40) is the first of its kind, filled with a cocktail of hyper-focused vitamins that work together to support melanin production while smoothing and thickening existing hair. Backed by qualitative studies, a staggering 100 percent of participants report heather and "more vibrant" hair while 91 percent saw less gray growth. To truly appreciate Arey's feat, we need to take an inside look at exactly how it came to be.
Like so many great partnerships, Arey was developed right brain-left brain style. Founders Small and Conrad used their expertise and knowledge of all things hair and beauty, plus their own personal experiences, to conceive the idea and kick things off. From there, they turned to a crack team of MIT engineers, a top pharmacologist, and clinical dietitian to develop things further. But while the supplement itself is very scientific, the inspiration behind it is both simple and universal. When Conrad saw her first gray hair at 30, she turned to Small for cosmetic help who gave her two options: dye your hair or just accept the grays. Small, a stylist for 18 years, knew too well the toll covering grays can take on otherwise-healthy hair, which he passed down to Conrad. "I know the longterm effects of what it means: having to come in too often, or hair getting damaged. I try to talk people out of that initially, just so they can think about it. You start coloring and then every two weeks you think about coloring it again."
Still so young, Conrad knew there had to be an alternative, discussing treatments and procedures with Small. "'Why can't there just be a pill I can take?!'" she remembers lamenting to Small. "That's what prompted it all, my personal problem," she laughs. "It feels so much like serendipity." Serendipity, yes, but also a family affair. That top pharmacology doctor and clinical dietitian? Those are Conrad's parents, Dr. Ken Conrad, MD and JoAnne Conrad, MS RD. Small's wife also serves as the brand's creative director, bringing the two families together.
The supplement itself seeks a solution to what looks like a numbers game. Research points out that 50 percent of the population will be 50 percent gray by age 50, stats easy enough to remember but hard to swallow if you find yourself on the wrong side that first 50. The thing is, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Though scientists have isolated the specific gene that causes gray hair, they've also discovered a shocking fact: that gene only accounts for 30 percent of gray hair growth, meaning the other 70 percent is (more or less) within our control, often spurred by lifestyle choices and chronic stress. That's where Arey comes in, using its vitamin-, mineral-, and antioxidant-rich formula to reverse those aging signals on a cellular level.
"The entire supplement of Arey is formulated around these key ingredients that focus individually on a role in either cellular products, cellular removal, or types of follicle stimulation and growth," Small breaks it down for me. There's B6 and B9, which stimulate better absorption of other ingredients; B5 and Selenium increase cell turnover and fight damaging free-radicals; iron helps produce more red blood cells; paba, vitamin D, and copper protects against actual color loss as B7 strengthens hair protein. But the real star of the show is a Chinese herb called Fo-Ti, long celebrated for its age-slowing properties, used here in conjunction with B12. In fact, an English translation of one of Fo-Ti's names literally means "the black-haired Mr. He," referencing folklore of a man whose hair turned from gray to back to the black of his youth while subsisting on the herb. "It's a way to rid the body of oxidative stress, this buildups we have in our bodies," Small explains, going on to say that excessive anti-aging efforts can actually be counterproductive, only serving to breed more oxidative stress. Even a shampoo can cause oxidative stress because it's a foreign entity on the body, he says. "[Your body] is going to put up some kind of defense." And that's exactly what the supplements were developed to eradicate.
Even if grays aren't your primary hair concern right now, the vitamins and minerals found within Arey benefit all types and ages of hair. In those same qualitative studies, 90 percent of research participants saw smoother hair and 91 percent saw thicker, fuller hair after just three months of use. I know I've seen improvement particularly in my hair texture after taking the supplements for around six weeks. My hair, which can be coarse and frizzy, is notably smoother. I'm in my mid-20s with no grays yet (that I can see, anyway) so I can't measure that growth firsthand but studies citing early 30s as most women's gray debut (a graybut, if you will) encourage me further to keep taking it—I'm in this for the long haul. And really, why not? Everything in the vegan, nontoxic supplement is well-researched vitamins and minerals I should probably be taking anyway.
I'm excited for Future Amanda to go fully gray, but I'm also totally cool with saving it for another day.