What is a Mallen Streak?

Published 05th Sep 2019 by charlottegw

The Mallen streak, once hidden, is now accepted by popular culture and people who embrace their natural grey hair. One example of this is RuPaul's Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, who is embracing her natural grey hair after being told to stop colouring it by her hairdresser. HJ is here for it! 

What is a Mallen streak?

A white/grey streak in hair is called poliosis, but it's much more commonly known as a Mallen streak. It happens when there is no melanin in the hair, causing the hair to have a white streak.

The term Mallen streak came into common parlance in the 1970s. Throughout history, the streak has been linked to evil, think X Men's Rogue or the Bride of Frankenstein.

Originally coming from the Latin word ‘malignus’ (meaning 'bad kind') it was first used by novelist Catherine Cookson in her ‘Mallen’ trilogy. The novels follow the lives of a doomed family, who all share the hereditary white/grey streak in their hair. Cookson writes of the pejorative associations of the streak, “nothing good ever came of a Mallen.”

But thankfully views are changing when it comes Mallen streaks...

Celebrities with a Mallen streak

Figures in the public eye now wear their streaks with pride. Notable celebrities with a natural Mallen streak include actor Richard Madden, politician Ed Milliband, TV presenter George Lamb and author Caitlin Moran.

Some celebrities are even jumping on the Mallen bandwagon and getting white streaks put into their hair, like comedian and presenter Kiri Pritchard Mclean (see below). 

Note that Mallen streaks can often veer into money piece territory, check out our favourite  Gen Z looks here.

How to Work with a Mallen streak

We asked hairdresser and colourist Paul Dennison about his experiences with Mallen streaks and what advice he would give to clients who have them.

The colour director at Ken Picton, always advises clients to embrace and work with their streak as a feature. He says: "It’s incredibly unique and striking and if you cover it, you’ll constantly be fighting the regrowth and trying to conceal it." 

Paul is a fan of the look (natural or otherwise) and has some professional tips on working with a Mallen streak as a colourist.

"It’s a very strong look and because white hair is so clean, it can look really dramatic when sitting next to darker, natural hair," he says.

"I’d aim to enhance this strikingness by covering any other greys, so that the front section becomes even more apparent and really stands out. If a client has covered their white hair previously and wants to grow it out and embrace it, I suggest you pre-lighten the ends as much as possible, then tone to the natural colour with a nice ash or clean blonde."

Take a look at our gallery of Mallen streak looks below to inspire.



Published 05th Sep 2019

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