No doubt you can think of people in your life whose hair has remained its natural color throughout their lives. And you can probably also think of people who went gray early – maybe even starting to acquire gray hair in their twenties. Some people experience it earlier than that.
So, what’s going on? Why does hair turn gray? When does it happen? Can you reverse gray hair?
Why Does Hair Turn Gray?
We all have melanin in our hair. There are different types of melanin, and the quantity you have of a specific type determines what color hair you’ll have.
The amount of melanin in our hair naturally drops the older we get. For some people, those levels will drop further and faster than for others. The color of your hair comes from the hair follicle. As you age, you’ll have less color coming through as the amount of melanin drops. The faster it falls, the faster someone will begin to get lighter hair and eventually have gray or white hair.
So, What’s the Difference Between Gray and White Hair?
You can probably figure this out now. Gray hair still has some melanin present, although nowhere near as much as it had before the individual began going gray. If that person’s hair eventually goes white, it means there is no melanin left at all.
At What Age Is It Normal to Get Gray Hair?
Most people begin spotting their first few gray hairs during their thirties. However, this process can begin sooner or later than that. It’s merely when most people notice these hairs for the first time.
What Causes Gray Hair at an Early Age?
Now, maybe you’re reading this thinking, ‘hey, I got my first few gray hairs in my early twenties!’ It can happen – some people may even spot some earlier than that.
While several factors can contribute to the age where you might start getting gray hairs, genetics is the biggest. So, if your mom or your dad – or both – went gray early, there is a big chance that you will too. Stress can raise the risk too, as it can potentially interrupt the production of melanin, but genetics is way ahead.
Can You Put Melanin Back Into Your Hair?
It seems sensible enough. There are things you can do for hair loss, so why not hair color – other than dyeing it.
You can eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, as this may help you improve the amount of melanin produced. However, it will not magically make your hair grow darker again. There is nothing you can do to reverse gray hair or begin producing more melanin. You cannot take a melanin supplement to boost melanin production in your hair follicles, for example.
Is Gray Hair Becoming Popular?
If you’re fighting against going gray but you’re not keen on dyeing your hair, you may be surprised to know you could be at the forefront of a trend that shows no sign of stopping.
Some women found they had to go through the pandemic and associated lockdowns without their usual hair dye treatments from their hairstylist. While some soon went back to it when restrictions eased, others embraced the gray.
But gray and white hair began its rise to popularity before the pandemic arrived. Rather than seeking color treatments to hide it, women (and men) began to consider how to make the best of this natural look. While some grew out their color over time, others sought advice from their hair stylist for stripping out the color, going short, or adopting another stance to get there faster.
So, now you know that the color of your hair is determined by the amount and type of melanin you have in each hair follicle. The good news is that no matter how much or little gray hair you have, you can embrace it and make the best of it. In fact, some younger people can’t wait – they’re hitting the salons and going silver even as you read this.