People can get grey hair at any age. Some get their greys when they are young while others will notice their first grey hair when they are in their 30s or 40s. Some people celebrate grey hair as a sign of maturity and wisdom. But many also feel that they look old when their hair turns grey and want to cover their greys to look young.
The causes of people’s hair turning grey as they age are many. I will attempt to discuss here the facts and explain the myths surrounding the idea that you can reverse grey hair.
Why does your hair turn grey?
Each strand of hair is made up of two parts:
- A shaft– the coloured part that is growing out of your head
- A root – the bottom part, which keeps our hair anchored
The root is surrounded by a tube that is called a hair follicle which contains pigment cells. These pigment cells make a chemical known as melanin that gives your hair its colour.
As you age, these pigments in the follicle can lose their ability to produce melanin resulting in transparent colours like grey, silver, or white. As you age further, there will be fewer pigment cells to produce melanin. Eventually, your hair will be completely grey.
I have darker skin and my grey hair is more noticeable because it stands out like a beacon! But if you have lighter skin, your light hair will go grew but will blend in well. How early our hair turns grey depends mainly on our genes.
Can you reverse your grey hair?
The good news is that in June 2020 researchers from Columbia University found a process that can reverse the colour in hairs that have recently turned grey. Researchers also discovered the beard and pubic hair can also regain their colour as well. Scientist believes that the causes of greying are due to the changes to metabolic pathways which form proteins for the body. These pathways are influenced by hormones produced when there is stress and by relieving stress can undo the process.
Before you get excited over this result, there is still a long way to go as these research papers are still under peer review.
It seems one of the causes of turning your hair grey is stress. Harvard University in Massachusetts experts say the greying could be related to our “flight or fight” response. The hair colour change may be linked to the nervous response system of “flight or fight”.
There is another factor that causes the hair to turn grey – genetics. Check out your family history and see when greying occurred. See if it matches your timeline.
Another likely cause is nutritional deficiency. Lack of certain nutrients can affect premature greying. According to some studies, low ferritin, calcium, and vitamin D-3 can all affect greying. Also, another study has found low copper, zinc and iron can advance premature greying.
Unless you are prepared to dye your hair, you are unlikely to restore your grey hair to its former glory. Maybe not for some time anyway. However, you may be able to delay your hair from turning grey by making some simple lifestyle changes.
How to slow your hair from turning grey?
There is no clear-cut way of you preventing your hair from turning grey. However, some strategies may help to slow it down.
- Managing your stress level – stress hormones can interrupt melanin production.
- Give up smoking
- Maintain your weight by eating healthy and exercising
- Protect your hair from the sun and pollution by wearing a hat or scarves.
- Advocates of natural products suggest using natural remedies such as coconut oil, ghee, wheatgrass juice, etc. These home remedies have not been clinically tested so my advice is to approach this with caution.
- Taking supplements such as calcium, vitamins, etc. may help but I would suggest you check with your doctor first
- Stop damaging your hair by bleaching, using a brush instead of a wide-tooth comb, applying heat with a curling iron or hair dyer, using harsh shampoos, and most importantly washing too often.
There are many homemade hair mask recipes marketed as being able to darken hairs. Common ingredients are coconut oils, almonds, ghee, lemon juice, carrot juice, etc While your hair may feel soft and shiny, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that hair masks boost melanin production.
There are reports that you can get rid of grey hair with potato skins. The idea is the natural starch in the potato skin can help darken your hair in time. There is no scientific evidence that this works.
Premature greying is very much dependent on your hair follicles producing melanin. If you can control your stress level and living a balanced lifestyle, your hair might just continue producing melanin.
In most cases, your greys are controlled by your genes. Genetically driven greying unfortunately can’t be reversed.
If you want to cover your grey, you could consider talking to your hairstylist about permanent or semi-permanent dyes. I would suggest you consider using natural or organic hair dyes and avoid damaging your health with chemical commercial products. Alternately you could embrace your grey hair by using grey hair care products so that they do not turn yellow or brittle.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment box, I would love to hear from you.
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Disclaimer: These statements are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. They are for information purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the FDA. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you suspect that you have a medical condition, seek help from your doctor.