Gray hair is often regarded as a clear-cut sign of getting older. That first gray hair can arise when you least suspect it. Although it’s typically seen in older adults, even people in their 20s and late teens may see silver strands.
There are people of all ages doing their best to cover up gray hair however they can, while others wear it proudly. But why does it happen, and what can you do about it if you want to get rid of it to look younger?
Why Your Hair Turns Gray
Your white, silver, or gray hair is a natural part of the aging process.
There are two parts of your hair, a shaft (or strand) and a root. The hair strand is the hair color you see, and the roots are anchored under your scalp. A tube of tissue under the skin encloses the roots of your hair strands. These are called hair follicles, and they’re made up of pigment cells, which constantly produce the chemical, melanin. Melanin is what determines your hair color.
The natural aging process will gradually cause pigment cells in the hair follicles to die, which means your strands will therefore contain less melanin. The result is a transparent hair color, which appears as white, silver, or gray hair. Your hair color eventually completely turns gray because the older you get, the fewer pigment cells you have for melanin production. This can make it harder to cover up gray hair.
Why You Might See Gray Hair Earlier
Your genes help determine how early you will get those first gray hairs. Do you know when your parents and grandparents started to go gray? That would be a good indication of when you will, too. Unfortunately, you can’t control your genes. But what you can control is the progression of your gray hair. You may be speeding up the process of graying through poor nutrition, anemia, smoking, vitamin B deficiencies, and untreated thyroid conditions.
It is also debatable whether stress causes gray hair. A 2009 Japanese study found that stress could cause gray hair from genotoxic stress, which you get from ultraviolet light and chemicals. This could damage your DNA and deplete the melanocyte stem cells.
How to Care for Gray Hair
When you get that first gray hair strand, just calm down; it’s a natural process of life. Productive things you could be doing to maintain your healthy gray hair, if you’re not already doing them, is to ensure you’re getting the right vitamins. Try supplementing with daily multivitamins or a B-complex vitamin. A healthy diet full of B vitamins can help feed your hair and nourish the body. Excellent food sources for B vitamins include whole grains, brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, and also some fruits and vegetables.
If you do decide to use color to cover up gray hair, it’s best to use the various natural hair products on the market, which are free of peroxide and ammonia. Also, various shampoos contain hair-damaging chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, dioxane, diethanolamine, MSG (monosodium gluamate), or propylene glycol. The many chemicals can lead to health conditions, such as skin and eye irritation, and even possible mutations and cancers.
How to Effortlessly Transition to Gray Hair
The best anti-aging solution might just be to embrace your gray hair. After all, if you’re eating right and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, your gray hair might just be part of your genetics. To ease the transition into gray hair, get your strands professionally styled—a trendy style can make all the difference.
It really comes down to your mental perception. Some people will spend thousands of dollars on hair color products just to cover up gray hair; however, it’s about how you feel in your own body, and that includes your hair. If you accept the way you look, your gray hair can add character. Look at celebrities like Steve Martin, Anderson Cooper, Meryl Streep, or Jamie Lee Curtis. They have certainly given gray hair a chic style over the years, and have even made it work seamlessly with today’s hair trends.