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Why gray hair appears and how to get rid of it
Why gray hair appears and how to get rid of it

Lifehacker explains where gray hair comes from, why someone turns gray earlier, and someone later, and whether it is possible to postpone or stop this process.

Why gray hair appears and how to get rid of it
Why gray hair appears and how to get rid of it

Why are we turning gray

Generally speaking, the pigment melanin, which is produced in special cells - melanocytes, is responsible for hair color. When pigment production stops and gray hair appears. Several factors can influence this process.

1. Aging

Melanin production naturally decreases with age. The 50/50/50 principle is known: by the age of 50, 50% of the population has 50% gray hair. Several years ago, scientists tested this rule and found out more accurate numbers: 74% of people aged 45 to 65 have an average of 27% gray hair.

Usually, the first gray hairs appear around the age of 30 or later. If pigmentation is lost earlier, one speaks of premature graying.

2. Genetic factors

The time of appearance of gray hair and the speed of its spread depends on heredity. Science also confirms this. So if your parents turned gray early, then you, most likely, will face the same fate.

Race is also important. It has been proven that Caucasians turn gray earlier than Asians and Africans.

3. Diseases

Gray hair can appear due to thyroid problems, certain autoimmune diseases, or progeria. It also sometimes occurs as a result of chemotherapy or certain medications.

4. Smoking

This addiction negatively affects both skin condition and hair color. According to a study published in 2013, smokers are 2.5 times more likely than non-smokers to have premature graying.

5. Deficiency of vitamin B12

Lack of vitamin B12 provokes not only early gray hair, but also hair loss. The good news is that the loss of pigment in this case is reversible.

6. Possibly stress

There is an opinion that the hair turns gray due to nervous tension. One study has confirmed this link, but in general, science is still skeptical about this.

In any case, stress is bad for the body. So be less nervous.

How to resist gray hair

There are no preventive measures against age-related pigment loss or heredity. So the advice here is obvious: if you want to get rid of gray hair, paint over it. Lifehacker gave detailed instructions in these articles:

How to dye your hair without compromising its beauty →

No chemistry: how to dye your hair with henna, basma, chamomile broth and even coffee →

There are also less durable solutions:

  1. Paint over gray hair with mascara. It is great for masking individual strands and can be washed off with water.
  2. Use means to mask gray roots. They come in the form of a spray or powder and stay in place until you wash them off with shampoo.
  3. Use a tinted shampoo. It does not rinse off as quickly as previous products, and is able to stay on the hair for several days.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, gray hairs can be pulled out: this will not cause any more gray hair - just a new gray hair will grow in the same place.

But such a radical method harms the hair follicles, so it's better to resort to more gentle measures.

If it's not age or genetics, graying can be delayed. For this:

  1. Quit smoking (or don't start at all).
  2. Eat animal products, especially liver, which contain vitamin B12. It is best to take special vitamin supplements only after consulting your doctor.
  3. By the way. Check your health: it may be possible to suppress both the earlier graying and the diseases that cause it.
  4. Learn to deal with stress. As already mentioned, it is not a fact that this will stop the appearance of gray hair, but, at least, you will be less nervous about it.

And finally, good news

More recently, scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center made an interesting discovery. According to them, the loss of hair color and hair itself may also be associated with the presence of SCF and KROX20 proteins in cells.

So far, experiments have been carried out only on mice. But the authors do not exclude that thanks to their work, a cure for gray hair and baldness may appear in the future. For now, we can only hope that this future will not be too distant.

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