Your first gray hair is a rite of passage, a reminder that you’re getting older, wiser, and more fortunate to be a vibrant human being. Like fine lines, gray hair is a symbol of a life well lived. But of course, most of us can’t help but wonder: why do we have gray hair, and what, if anything, can we do about it – or not? Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about being a silver fox or dyeing your hair salt and pepper, including insightful information on gray hair treatment.
1. Gray hair is actually different hair
Graying is generally explained as a loss of pigment (aka melanin) in the hair shaft (1). In general, these hairs have a different texture and feel to their pigmented counterparts. We’ve noticed that gray hair is coarser, thinner, and “less manageable” – but there are products to fix that! Think of gray hair as a new stage of life, one that you can learn to embrace in your own way.
2. Learn from your family when gray hair appears
There are many reasons why people get gray hair, but in most cases, it’s simply a matter of natural aging and genetics. This means that it’s a phenomenon common to the genes in your family. Check out when your parents went gray and see if it fits your timeline.
And is premature grey hair hereditary? Genetics plays a key role in the appearance of grey hair in the twenties. Some evidence suggests that certain genes and traits are responsible for premature gray hair. For example, a study published in 2022 (2) indicates that people are three to five times more likely to develop premature gray hair if their parents did the same before reaching the age of 30.
3. Your lifestyle may be responsible for the appearance of gray hair
Environmental and nutritional factors may also be responsible for the appearance of gray hair, especially premature gray hair. Smoking and an unbalanced diet are just some of the reasons why we can start to experience premature gray hair.
Stress is the reason most often cited, but is it true? Stress is not a direct cause of graying, but it is involved in many skin and hair problems. During illness, for example, people can lose their hair quickly. And the hair you lose after a stressful event – such as chemotherapy – may grow back a different color.
4. Smoking plays an important role in the appearance of gray hair
Smoking, for its part, has been shown to have a significant relationship with the appearance of white hair before the age of 30 (3). This makes it one of the most important lifestyle-related causes.
Note: even if you don’t smoke, you need to take second-hand smoke into account.
5. A poor diet can also promote the appearance of white hair
A lack of certain nutrients has been found to play a major role in the premature appearance of white hair. According to one study (4), low levels of ferritin, calcium, and vitamin D-3 affect graying, while another study (5) concluded that low levels of copper, zinc, and iron promote premature graying.
Protein deficiency can also lead to pigment loss in the hair. Vegetarian diets can increase the risk of premature gray hair. It is therefore essential to ensure that you consume sufficient protein.
6. Your ethnicity makes the difference
The timing of when someone begins to experience graying hair is unique to each individual, just like the reasons behind the graying process. For example, Caucasians are more likely to go gray earlier than Africans or Asians. That said, a 2006 study (6) claims that by the age of 50, half of all people have up to 50% gray hair.
7. Changing your lifestyle could reverse the gray
Reversing or avoiding certain factors is essential to combat premature white hair and maintain healthy hair. First of all, if you smoke, talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit. This obvious step could seriously postpone the age at which you start graying. If you find the quitting process stressful, try replacing smoking with other activities.
8. Gray hair can resist color
If you decide to color your hair, you may find that it’s more resistant to color than before you started graying. Some gray hairs can resist coloring. If this is your case, consider going down a color level or using something darker on your roots for even more coverage.
9. Gray hair still needs SPF
Melanin helps protect hair against free radicals such as UV rays. Because gray hair lacks this pigment-producing protein, it’s also much more susceptible to UV damage. Without this protection, UV melts the cortex, making hair more brittle and damaged. So, just like your skin, you need to protect gray hair from the sun. A simple way is to use a protective spray.
10. Maintaining gray hair is not the same as before
Keep in mind that it’s essential to keep your hair shiny, bright and healthy. Gray hair tends to take on a dull yellowish color that can age you. For this, you can use purple toning shampoos.
Myths about gray hair and gray hair treatments
- Pulling out one strand of gray hair will cause another to grow. This is not true; new hair grows at its own pace, whether you pull it out or not.
- Gray hair accelerates when you’re a parent of teenagers. That’s not true; hair graying is primarily influenced by genetics and aging, not specifically by parenting teenagers.
- Hair dyeing leads to premature graying. That’s not true; dyeing hair does not affect the natural pigmentation process.
- Chemical hair treatments, such as perms or fortifiers, cause premature graying. There is no conclusive evidence that chemical hair treatments, such as perms or fortifiers, directly cause premature graying.
- Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can turn your hair gray.
- Gray hair has a naturally coarse texture.
- Gray hair is difficult to style. That’s not true; gray hair can be styled just as easily as pigmented hair.
- Gray hair doesn’t grow long. That’s not true; gray hair has the same growth potential as pigmented hair.
- Stress can turn your hair gray overnight.
- Only permanent coloring can cover gray hair.
- Excessive dyeing turns hair gray faster.
- Highlights are the only way to conceal gray hair. Other methods include overall color, low light and various hair coloring techniques.
- Hair can turn gray after a fright or an extremely frightening situation.
Last Updated on January 24, 2024