Grey hair: a brief overview
We all anxiously wait for the day that we discover our first grey hair. But what if there’s something you can do about it? One of the best ways to delay the inevitable silver barnet is to provide the hair with oil and nutrients.
Improving and maintaining the health of the hair follicle is vital for preventing premature greying. Learn why that’s the case, in this article.
- Why does hair go grey?
- At what age will I get grey hair?
- What’s the science behind going grey?
- Can vitamin deficiency cause hair to go grey?
- Can I increase melanin in my hair?
- Is Ayurveda good for my hair?
- Can I stop greying hair naturally?
- Does stress cause grey hair?
- Can grey hair regain its colour?
Why does hair go grey?
Grey hair can occur anytime throughout your life, but it’s mainly determined by your genetics. It used to be considered a sign of wisdom and in recent years it became a fashion trend. Whether you decide to embrace your silver strands or cover them, apply our hair care methods to nourish the hair structure.
In this article, we will explain why hair turns grey, how to prevent premature greying, and how to deal with grey hair.
At what age will I get grey hair?
A silver head of hair is a natural part of ageing. On average, due to genetics, White people start going grey in their mid-30s, Asian people in their late 30s and Black people in their mid-40s. However, people can turn grey at any age, it’s determined by your genetics.
You can usually tell when you can expect to turn grey based on when your parents and grandparents did.
What’s the science behind going grey?
The hair structure is made of two parts the shaft and the root. The shaft refers to the hair strand, and the root is the part that anchors the hair into the scalp.
At the route of the hair lives the hair follicle which is home to the cells that produce melanin. Melanin is the chemical that gives the hair strands their colour. Whether that’s blonde, brunette, black, or red.
With age, the cells in our hair follicles that produce the melanin gradually die. Because these cells now produce reduced amounts of melanin, the original pigment in the hair shaft becomes scarce. Therefore, the hair strand becomes more transparent in colour and this causes grey hair (or silver and white hair).
Can vitamin deficiency cause hair to go grey?
Grey hair can appear prematurely if you have a vitamin deficiency. The most common vitamin deficiency concurrent with premature greying is Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Which often occurs with both folic acid and biotin deficiencies. But typically hair goes grey as a result of genetics.
Can I increase melanin in my hair?
According to Ayurveda, an ancient alternative medicine system founded in the Indian subcontinent, your diet can affect premature greying. Specifically, a Pitta-provoking diet can hinder melanin production.
It’s believed that these Ayurvedic herbs can aid in the increase of melanin to combat grey hair:
- Bhringraj – the hair darkening properties are beneficial for reducing greying hair
- Vibhitaka – an oil that’s beneficial for fighting premature grey hair
- Mango seed – the powder from the seed can be turned into a paste and applied to the scalp, providing vital vitamins and minerals directly to the scalp.
- Triphala – balances the melanin level and boosts its production
- Henna and Indigo – Henna works by naturally bringing colour into the hair
- Hibiscus – packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to promote natural melanin production
- Amla – rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that increase melanin levels
What are the foods that increase melanin?
- Iron-rich food: spinach, tofu, fish, bananas, lentils, nuts, and various nuts
- Copper-rich food: leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados and chickpeas
- Catalase: pears, grapes, peaches, sprouts, radish, cucumber, zucchini and red cabbage
Is Ayurveda good for my hair?
As per Ayurveda, knowing your Dosha is important in order to achieve a balanced diet for your body. This customised diet can help you to naturally increase the melanin level in your hair. Thus slowing down the process of greying hair.
But is it possible to consume too much melanin? Yes, it’s possible to consume too much melanin and it comes with its side effects. The presence of too much melanin can cause hyperpigmentation, resulting in uneven colouration. This patchy pigmentation occurs all over the body, from the skin through to the hair.
Can I stop greying hair naturally?
Hair turning grey quickly is called premature greying. Premature greying is a sign from the body. In this way, it makes an inner concern externally visible. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you want to listen to the signs that the body is giving you.
Premature greying is predominately caused by genetics but it can also be a result of a deficiency in:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Premature greying can be addressed with many home remedies derived from natural products like oils. These work to promote the production of melanin and nourish the hair follicle. Olive oil, coconut oil, lemon juice and egg are some of the kitchen stables that prevent premature greying.
A combination of amla oil, almond oil and lemon juice massaged into the scalp can prevent greying. Massaged into the scalp before sleeping nourishes and moisturises the scalp. Thus stimulating cell growth and melanin production.
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Does stress cause grey hair?
The Guardian published an article which analysed a discovery made at the Harvard University about stress-related grey hair. After a series of tests, scientists discovered that a set of specific nerves that make up the sympathetic nervous system (that responds when the body is under stress) reach into the hair follicles in the skin.
The research concluded that when the body is stressed, these nerves pump a hormone called noradrenaline into the hair follicle. This surge of noradrenaline converts stem cells into melanocytes, but they quickly travel away from the follicle and perish.
The activation of the sympathetic nervous system drives the loss of melanocyte stem cells. These stem cells are vital for pigment production, so once they’ve been depleted, that’s it. Following this, the hairs that the follicles create will have scarce pigmentation, resulting in a grey head of hair.
Can grey hair regain its colour?
Once natural greying has begun, it’s difficult to restore the pigment production of the hair follicles. If you would like to restore the colour of your hair then one method to consider is dyeing the hair. The pigment can be added to the hair strands through natural dyes like henna, or through chemical dyes.
You can deal with hair turning grey by either accepting your greying strands or covering them with a dye. If you choose to accept your grey hair, it’s important to know that your hair won’t change colour overnight. When your hair starts to go grey you may notice a division in the hair strand because the colour’s stopped.
If you choose to let your hair grey naturally, you may consider a “colour correction” treatment. This is a technique used by hairstylists to dye your hair close to the colour it’s changing to. By doing this, the greying strands blend subtly into the head of hair. It’s a bit like getting highlights to lighten the hair.
Grey hair is a part of human ageing and is inevitable. As we can see, it’s predominantly controlled by genetics which makes it difficult to change. But ensuring that the hair is in a healthy condition is beneficial for delaying your silver mane.
The methods that we’ve mentioned to prevent premature greying will stimulate the melanin production thus strengthening the hair’s pigmentation.
Ensure that your hair treatments include oils that nourish the scalp such as olive oil, coconut oil or amla oil. Give your melanin cells what they need to ensure they’re at their optimal functional state.