There will come a time when the crowning glory of women will start to gray. Whether you decide to banish it with dye or rock your silver tresses, you have to know some fascinating facts about your gray hair.
So, what is gray hair exactly and what does it result from? The root of every strand of hair is surrounded by a tube of tissue under the skin that is called the hair follicle. Each of these follicles generates pigment cells which produce melanin; a chemical which gives our hair and our skin its color.
As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. As a result of this, new hair will contain less melanin and will grow as transparent. Yes, you heard it right. Gray hair doesn’t really mean there is a true gray or white pigment in your hair, but it’s due to the way your colorless hair reflects light and the contrast with your dark healthier hair which makes it look gray or white. Also, hair doesn’t actually “turn” gray. It grows that way. When a single strand of hair starts out brown, black, red, or blonde, the color has already been set and it is never going to turn gray.
“Fifty percent of the population has about 50% gray hair at age 50,” says Dr. Anthony Oro, professor of dermatology at Stanford University. This is the ’50-50-50 rule.’ However, age is not the only factor that affects the gray strands in your hair. From ethnicity to vitamin deficiencies your tresses can talk and herald a long list of gray hair causes which go beyond age only.
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What is causing your hair to turn gray?
Your body hair is built from millions of melanocytes; hair follicles that produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives our hair and skin its color. So, the more melanin your hair follicles produce, the darker your hair color will be; the less melanin, the lighter your hair color will be.
With age or other reasons, pigment cells start to die, meaning follicles stop producing melanin gradually. Without pigment, new hair strands will grow transparent. But, as we mentioned above, age is not the only factor to make your hair grow gray. So, except for age, the melanocyte stem cells (MSC) failure can be triggered by:
1. Genes (Gray hair is an inherited trait, which will be passed from your parents to you.)
2. Ethnicity (People whose hair follicles produce more pigment cells, will show signs of aging later than other ethnicities. So, people with darker skin will go gray later than people with less pigment.)
3. Lifestyle (Having low vitamin B12 levels, being exposed to sunlight, smoking, and not consuming food which is rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants can cause your hair to go gray before the time has come.)
4. Stress (Despite not being a direct factor of your gray hair, stress can trigger a condition called ‘telogen effluvium’ which leads hair to shed about 3 times more than they would normally do. As a result, the new hair strands of your hair may grow gray instead of its original color.)
5. Smoking (A 2013 study published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, showed that smokers are two and half times more likely to develop premature gray hair than non-smokers.)
6. Medical conditions (Gray hair may also be a medical condition indicator, such as Vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid disease, vitiligo, etc.)
7. Chemical hair dyes and hair products (Applying hydrogen peroxide or excessive use of products that bleach hair, cheap products, or even shampoos may affect your hair as they contain harmful ingredients that decrease melanin.)
How to treat your gray hair?
Before trying any hair treatment, it’s really important to run a few tests to determine whether there is an underlying health issue bringing your gray strands. When these ’causes’ have been ruled out, you will be diagnosed with either premature graying or natural graying. Based on your hair type, you will be going through the appropriate treatment plan you need.
Though there are no medical treatments to reverse gray hair permanently, there are many things you can do to bring back the natural pigment. Check out the list below to find out how to reverse or slow the graying hair process:
1. Change your lifestyle
Try getting enough vitamins: B12, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin A; minerals: iron, zinc, magnesium; stop smoking; stop using chemical hair products; cover your hair to protect it from the sun.
2. Use home remedies
Coconut oil, curry leaves, onion, amla, almond oil, ginger, carrot juice, etc. may help your gray tresses and take back the vitality of your hair.
3. Create your own natural hair dyes
Carrot juice hair dye (for red hair)
Coconut or olive oil
How to apply:
Mix carrot juice with coconut or olive oil. Apply the mixture to your hair and wrap it with a plastic bag. Let it sit for at least an hour. Rinse with apple cider vinegar. Repeat until the desired result.
Chamomile tea hair dye (for blonde hair)
1/2 cup of chamomile flowers
2 cups of water
How to apply:
Put 1/2 cup of chamomile flowers in boiling water and then let it cool for 30 minutes. Remove the flowers and apply the tea it to your hair damp hair. Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse with water. Repeat once a week.
Coffee hair dye (for brown and black hair)
1/2 cup of coffee
2 tbsp. coffee grounds
1 cup of leave-in hair conditioner
How to apply:
Mix three of the ingredients together. Apply the mixture to clean hair and let it sit for about an hour. For better results, rinse with cider vinegar.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.
You might also want to read: Create Your Own Natural Hair Dye For Covering Gray Hair