Premature gray hair seems so unfair: why do some of us enjoy their natural colors well into the old age, while others are compelled to take up a regular dyeing routine to hide white hair in their 20s already? But what causes white hair at a young age and is it possible to delay graying? As a professional trichologist, I have the ultimate answers for you.
Fast Facts on the Graying
Before we come down to the discussion of early gray hair, it is worth referring to hair science to understand what is a norm and why hair turns white at all.
Our hair gets its color from a special pigment present in hair follicles – melanin. Melanin, in its turn, is made up of specialized pigment cells; they gradually die as we grow older, so our hair loses its color, turns gray and, eventually, white. This is why graying is one of the normal changes hair undergoes as we age.
Normal graying begins in mid-30s in Caucasian, in late-30s in Asian, and in mid-40s in African American women. Random white hairs become more frequent and by turning 50, women already have a significant amount of gray hair on their heads.
As you might have guessed, teens with white hairs or women with the full head of gray locks in their 30s have grayed prematurely. Let us look at why this can happen.
Premature Gray Hair Causes
There are several factors making hair grow silver prematurely, genetics being one of them. If your parents or close relatives turned gray long before they expected to, you are likely to go through the process at the same age.
Another common factor causing premature gray hair is stress. While the connection between stress and hair loss has been long backed by science, the link between stress and early graying has been proved by research just about a year ago.
Namely, scientists revealed that stress activates nerves responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which damage stem-cells responsible for pigment regeneration. Trauma and continuous experience of strong emotions can affect the process of pigmentation too.
#3: Nutritional deficiencies and unhealthy habits
The causes of growing silver hair at the young age may also stem from your skin microbiome. Even if you have a perfect genetic history and avoid stress, but face vitamins and minerals deficiency can lower blood supply to hair follicles, and you will gray much faster. Thus, improper or unbalanced diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can all cause early graying.
#4: Exposure to harmful chemicals
People working in harmful conditions that spend little time on fresh air but regularly inhale harmful fumes can also spot hairs turning white prematurely. For example, this can happen to mortuary workers who deal with formaldehyde and even hair stylists who perform permanent straightening treatments.
I have myself witnessed girls who exhausted and poisoned their bodies after one or two years of working with such treatments, causing hair loss and speeding up the process of graying.
#5: Specific diseases and medical conditions
Early gray hair can be the sign of a disease too. The most common example is vitiligo, a disease that results in discolored patches of skin in different areas of the body. If such a patch appeared in the area of hair growth, hair loses its pigmentation.
Other medical conditions that cause premature graying are: thyroid disorders, pituitary problems, autoimmune diseases, vitamin B12 deficiency and anemia.
How to Prevent White Hairs
There is no magic trick that will work overnight, but you can avoid early gray hair by minimizing the stressors, consuming enough vitamins and minerals, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
It is vital to stay alert to the changes in your body and consult with relevant specialists as soon as you notice any malfunctions. Proper functioning of the endocrine, cardiovascular and digestive systems is essential to growing strong and healthy hair.
Your diet is critical to delaying silver hair too. It should include foods rich in copper, calcium, chromium, zinc, iodine and iron. Dairy products, veal, eggs, mushrooms, and legumes are great products for hair that should regularly find the way to your table. Mind that vitamins for hair growth can supplement, but not substitute good nutritional habits.
Remember that the lack of fluid in the body can negatively affect the state of hair follicles and intensify graying. Thus, the mantra of drinking 8 glasses of water per day is a good one to adopt.
A popular recommendation on the Internet is to avoid sunlight to delay graying, but the connection between the exposure to sun and early graying is nothing more than a myth. More than that, science, as well as my personal observations, suggest that sunlight has a positive impact on our wellbeing. Thus, it may even make you feel happier rather than stressed and depressed – two states promoting early graying that you need to learn to avoid.
How to Reverse Graying
If you have found a white hair at 25 or even at 15, don’t panic or hush to get it dyed. Even if the process of graying has already started, modern technology can help to reverse it.
For example, I recommend a now popular supplement for hair pigmentation Melaniq, which is a great source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The supplement’s formula has been developed by British scientists to support the production of melanin pigment by the provided nutrients.
For example, it has been scientifically proven that people affected by premature gray hair lack copper. Low copper reduces the activity of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for the production of melanin, and thus, getting more white hairs. Melaniq helps to restore the required amount of copper and hair regains pigmentation.
Below is the image of my client, whose hairs (white for 30 years) started growing their natural color again after two months of Melaniq treatment.
More than that, besides copper, the supplement contains L-tyrosine, quercetin, Biotin, vitamins C, D3 and B12, green tea extract, lycopene and folic acid that will sure benefit your overall health. A nice bonus to reversing early gray hair, isn’t it?
Another effective means to stop gray hair are procedures and injections such as:
- scalp mesotherapy;
- magnesium injections (should be prescribed by trichologist);
- physiotherapy procedures (darsonvalization, laser or ultrasound therapy, etc.)
The main goal of these procedures is to stimulate blood circulation and metabolic processes in the scalp and heal and strengthen hair follicles, which will ensure healthy pigmentation processes in your hair.
Another method to delay graying for years is available to those who resort to hair transplantation. Namely, removing donor grafts, a transplantologist can choose not to transplant gray hair. This way, white hair will not appear in the areas of hair transplantation for a longer time. Thus, hair transplantation can reach two goals at a time: restore the fullness of hair and delay graying.
At the same time, I do warn you against DIY remedies to reverse gray hair and other trials you might be exposing your hair to. It has become so popular to recommend different natural dyes and oils designed to reverse graying. Unfortunately, onion peel, curry leaves, black tea and other “remedies” will unlikely do anything more than staining your skin and ruining your manicure. At best, they will tone the scalp, so it will look like you have less gray hair before the next shampoo. However, some treatments, like garlic and red pepper masks can harm your tresses, so be careful with what you apply on your hair.
Found a White Hair: What’s Next?
The fear of gray hair is natural, just as the wish to avoid graying for as long as it’s possible. Thankfully, it is possible if you set the right goal, demonstrate discipline and readiness to take care of your health.
The key thing you need to understand is that the response to early graying should target its causes. Thus, when you have found a white hair, do not just pull it off, ignoring the process, which is already underway. If you are not yet ready to embrace your gray, schedule a consultation with a professional trichologist who will determine the risk factors and create a strategy to reverse graying.