Are You Greying Prematurely?

What you can do to reverse the causes of hair to turn grey

April 20, 2017

Some people have no problem with it, others are so obsessed they know the best permanent hair colour for grey hair​. Whether you dye your temples to hide pesky greys regularly or have just discovered the first silver sprout on your scalp, there are ways you can deal with the transformation and prevent grey hair without freaking out! It's natural for hair to turn grey as we age and here's why.

Each strand of hair is made up of two parts:

1. A shaft – this is the coloured part that grows out of our heads

2. A root – this is the bottom part that anchors the hair into the scalp

Each hair root is surrounded by a tube of tissue under the skin called a hair follicle, and each follicle contains a number of pigment cells that synthesise a chemical called melanin. It's this substance that gives growing hair its colour. This colour depends on the ratios of two groups of melanins: pheomelanins (red and yellow pigments) and eumelanins (black and brown pigments). Variations in the ratio of these two pigments can produce a wide variety of hair colours and tones.

It could be black, red, brown, blonde or anything in between. Regardless of the colour, the lightness and darkness of an individual’s hair depends on how much melanin each strand has.

Can premature grey hair be reversed​

Can premature grey hair be reversed​

As we age, the pigment producing cells in hair follicles die gradually. Because of this, the resulting hair strands will not contain as much melanin and will therefore turn a more transparent colour like silver, grey or white as it grows. As we age further, even more pigment cells die and the hair strands eventually end up looking completely grey.

In 2009, scientists in Europe found another contributing factor. They discovered that hair follicles produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Normally, this trace amount of hydrogen peroxide is broken down by an enzyme called catalase. As we grow older, catalase production reduces resulting in a hydrogen peroxide build up. This in turn bleaches melanin, turning hair grey.

Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to causing a speed in the production of grey hair, and there is at least one report of pigmentation returning to hair after the vitamin deficiency was resolved.

There is no evidence linking the onset of greying to stress, lifestyle or diet. Certain autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata and vitiligo can damage pigment cells and induce greying.

What causes grey hair in your 20's​

What causes grey hair in your 20's​

In some families, some member’s hair starts greying in their 20's. But generally speaking among Caucasians, 50 percent of the individuals are 50 percent grey by the age of 50. There however is a wide variation and the numbers differ for other ethnic groups, and this demonstrates the effect of genes on hair colour. Asians tend to start greying while in their late 30's while African-Americans tend to grey starting from the early or mid 40's. The fact that our genes determine the age at which human hair starts greying means that most people start having grey hairs at an age similar to that which their grandparents greyed.

How to stop grey hair from coming back

How to stop grey hair from coming back

There are many natural home remedies you can take on to delay grey hair, including incorporating fresh juices into your diet to fight vitamin B-2 deficiency, getting more iodine to balance metabolism and massaging or oiling your hair to maintain a healthy supply of blood into the follicles.

Scientists also recently unearthed two potential successful remedies to reverse grey hair. Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center for instance, isolated Wnt protein that coordinated pigment cells with other stem cells that guide the development of follicles. When they inhibited Wnt pathways in black mice, they turned grey. So, think of Wnt as a type of element that oversees the production of hair and tells each different stem cell type how fast to work – basically it has everything to do with why our hair turns grey.​ 

For grey hair build up associated with hydrogen peroxide accumulation, researchers found out that a UVB activated compound called PC-KUS could reverse hydrogen peroxide build up to effectively prevent grey hair.

If you colour your hair regularly, use a fortifying colour care shampoo like the Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo & Conditioner Duo​ to prolong your dye job. On the other hand if you fancy it, you can dye your hair a fun and trendy silver colour! You can use products like the Loreal Expert Silver 250ml for Grey and White Hair Shampoo​.

Does everyone get grey hair​

Grey hair is almost immediately noticeable in individuals with dark hair because it stands out, but individuals with lighter hair go grey at the same age. From the time you notice a few grey hairs, it may take well over 30 years for that person’s hair to completely turn grey, so you have plenty of time to experiment or take control!

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Find out why and what you can do to reverse grey hair.