Like most people, you probably think that it’s normal for hair to become grey as people age. But did you know that even people in their 20s and teenagers may experience a few strands of grey hair?
Yeah, that’s true! Experts say that premature greying of hair is increasingly becoming very common among people in their 20s and 30s.
The good news is that it’s possible to slow down and even stop the graying process with some natural hacks. It does not matter whether your white hair is a result of genetics, oxidative stress, age, nutritional, or hormonal factors.
In this article, we take a look at some of the common causes of premature greying along with how to stop grey hair.
What Causes Greying of Hair?
When and how your hair turns grey is mostly influenced by the genes you inherit from your parents. Also, the majority of people with gray hair have age-related graying. As it turns out, hair follicles tend to produce less color as they age. Therefore, once your hair goes through its natural cycle, where it dies and then it’s regenerated, it’s more likely to grow grey with age.
However, sometimes, other factors can contribute to premature graying. These include:
A deficiency in certain vitamins including B-12, B-6, D, E, or biotin may contribute to premature graying. According to a 2015 study, nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D3, vitamin B12, and copper were shown to lead to hair greying. The study, therefore, concluded that nutritional supplementation could help restore the color. So, want to stop your hair from turning grey? Be sure to load up on those vitamins.
Race and Ethnicity
This is yet another factor that may lead to early greying of hair. For instance, Caucasians may develop grey hair prematurely as early as 20 years of age. Asians and African-Americans, on the other hand, may go grey as young as 25 and 30 years of age respectively.
Deficiency in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that may help prevent or even slow any damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are simply unstable molecules that damage cells including hair follicles thereby contributing to aging.
If the body is not able to get rid of free radicals efficiently, this may result in oxidative stress which can harm hair follicles. That’s why it is recommended to take foods rich in antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals.
Certain Health Conditions
Some health conditions including autoimmune diseases may also increase a person’s risk for premature greying. These include thyroid disease, vitiligo, and alopecia areata.
For instance, there was a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The researchers concluded that excess levels of thyroid hormone may alter human hair follicle functions and pigmentation.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes loss of hair. This may lead to sudden greying when the hair grows back due to melanin deficiency.
Vitiligo, on the other hand, is a skin pigment condition that occurs when melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) die or stop producing melanin. This disease may cause the hair to turn grey because of melanin cell death.
Smoking has been shown to not only stress the skin but also the hair. In a 2012 study published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, smoking was shown to cause premature hair greying.
The study suggests that there is a significant relationship between cigarette smoking and the onset of grey hair before the age of 30.
Chemical Hair Dyes and Products
Some chemical hair products may contribute to premature greying. This is because most products contain harmful ingredients that tend to reduce melanin. One such ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which is common in many hair dyes.
The Science Behind Gray Hair
Before we discuss various ways on how to stop your once dark hair from going grey, here’s something you should know.
The hair follicles have pigment cells called melanocytes which are responsible for giving your hair its color, melanin. So, when your body is unable to produce melanin, hair eventually begins to turn grey.
But what exactly causes the body to stop producing melanin? In a 2009 study researchers found that buildup of hydrogen peroxide causes greying hair. The peroxide usually blocks the normal synthesis of melanin.
Here is how this chemical works- usually hydrogen peroxide is broken down into water and oxygen by an enzyme called catalase. However, catalase production tends to slow down as you get older. And the result is that hydrogen peroxide ends up accumulating in the body.
So, grey hair is simply a reflection of a reduction of the enzyme catalase, which is one of the most potent antioxidants.
However, there is also another enzyme called glutathione peroxidase which turns hydrogen peroxide into water. This enzyme is produced by the liver but its production may slow down as you get older.
Tips on How to Stop Grey Hair
Wondering how to reverse grey hair? There are a number of natural remedies available for grey hair. These solutions offer an alternative to slow down hair-greying without harming the body or even cause further damage to the hair pigment. However, there is no science that says these remedies work. They include:
Curry leaves are rich in antioxidants which helps neutralize the free radicals and keep your hair strong. These antioxidants also moisturize the scalp and also remove dead hair follicles.
However, to prevent premature greying, Ayurvedic experts recommend using curry leaves together with coconut oil. You simply have to boil a handful of curry leaves and a cup of coconut oil for at least six minutes. Then, let it cool and massage the paste on your scalp regularly.
Apparently, this mixture may help promote the natural production of melanin. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Black tea can make hair darker, shinier, and softer as it is full of tannic acid. It gives a keratin and melanin boost to the hair which restores the natural color of your hair.
All you need is to brew a few cups of extremely strong black tea (at least 6 teabags/tablespoons). And after cooling, massage it on to the hair and scalp, then leave it for an hour before washing it away.
Also known as a ribbed gourd, this is one of the time-tested natural ayurvedic remedies for grey hair. It has been shown to help restore hair pigment.
You can dice the gourd in very small pieces, dry them out and then soak them in olive oil for up to four days. Next, boil the solution until it turns to a dark black color and massage it on the scalp regularly.
Also called Indian gooseberry, this remedy is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidant properties. As such, it may prevent hair from premature greying by simply promoting pigmentation. All you need is to massage the juice every night.
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Loading up on Antioxidants
As we get older, our antioxidants levels start to drop. Catalase is one of the most potent antioxidants that are directly responsible for grey hair. You can ramp up your catalase production by taking a supplement that contains this enzyme as its active ingredient.
Also, supplements containing ingredients like saw palmetto, ashwagandha, vitamin E, and curcumin are rich in antioxidants. Therefore, they can help promote catalase production. You can also eat foods rich in catalase including celery, broccoli, radishes, kale, and cucumbers.
Supplementing your Diet with Supplements
Deficiency in certain nutrients may lead to the greying of hair. The good news? If you are not able to get all these nutrients from your diet, you can take a supplement. However, not every supplement may help stop grey hair by addressing nutritional deficiencies.
Generally, you should consider taking a supplement with ingredients like catalase, copper oxide, zinc, B vitamins, and biotin.
For instance, copper is a vital component of melanin, the pigment that gives the hair, skin, and eyes their color.
The melanin can only be produced by melanocytes and with the help of an enzyme called tyrosinase. Copper helps catalyze this enzymatic reaction thereby promoting the production of melanocytes.
While taking a diet that’s rich in copper may help slow down greying hair, it’s not always easy to maintain a balanced diet. Therefore, a dietary supplement that has copper as its key ingredient may help compensate for the deficiency.
A study published on ResearchGate found that low concentration of copper, zinc, and iron may play a role in premature graying of hairs.
Another ingredient to look out for is biotin. Biotin plays a critical role in nails, skin, and hair health. This vitamin triggers hair growth, treats hair loss problems, strengthens, and thickens the hair. It does this promoting the production of keratin, the structural material that makes up the hair.
According to different scientific studies, low levels of enzyme catalase may play a role in the greying of hair. The low levels usually bring about a build-up of hydrogen peroxide which creates oxidative stress. This eventually leads to the hair turning grey.
All those key anti-greying ingredients are present in a formula known as Foligray.
Bottom Line on Stopping Grey Hair Signs
A healthy diet can do wonders in stopping or slowing down premature greying of hair. However, for most people, taking a proper diet can be hard. As such, it is easy to suffer from nutritional deficiencies which may lead to greying hair.
The good news? Good hair care combined with a multivitamin supplement may help stop and even reverse greying hair in most cases. But in the end, everyone’s hair has to turn grey as we age.