Common Causes of Gray Hair and How You Can Prevent It
By Maria Elisa Pineda
As your body ages, it goes through a lot of major changes. Your bones and muscles get weaker, the skin starts to wrinkle, and your immune system gets more vulnerable. Another common sign of aging is getting gray or white hair. This is all normal and just a part of the aging process.
There have already been extensive studies done on what can prevent signs of aging in the skin and body. We’ve got all types of lotions, serums, moisturizers, and even medical procedures that help reverse or slow down the symptoms. Lifestyle changes and supplements can also help with overall health and appearance. But what about the hair? Is there any way to reverse or prevent the ultimate aging symptom that is gray hair? Is there any way to bring back its original color? You’ve got your skincare down, keeping your skin as young and healthy as you can to slow down the aging process. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same for your hair?
There are also instances where gray hair can come earlier. Premature gray hair can manifest in Caucasians by 20, Asians by 25, and Africans by 30. Evidently, it’s not just aging that can cause gray hair to manifest. So, what else causes it? Let’s explore the common causes of gray hair and what you can do to prevent it.
What Causes Gray Hair?
You might be wondering why some people have immaculately pigmented hair in their senior years and some go gray earlier. It’s just the mysterious world of genetics. Some people got the gray hair gene and some people just never get it or get it a lot later in life. Just as genes play a huge part in height, hair loss, and facial features, it also affects hair pigmentation. If you have a lot of relatives with gray hair, chances are your family got the gray hair gene.
Age is the most common factor that causes gray hair. We can’t stress this enough but it’s absolutely normal! There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you start to show signs of aging such as wrinkles and gray hair. It just means you’re living life! Don’t freak out if you start getting some platinum in your locks. It’s totally okay to want to prevent it, cover it, and look a little younger but remember that it’s nothing you should hide if you don’t want to.
There’s an expression that people often say when they’re stressed which is something along the lines of, “this is gonna make me go gray”. Gray hair is frequently associated with stress and there is a reason for that! A study shows that cells that produce pigment in the hair are decreased when the body is under a lot of stress. So that expression? There’s definitely some basis to it.
Nutritional deficiencies or vitamin deficiencies can often cause premature graying in younger people. Hair, just like any body part, needs nutrition to stay healthy. It needs vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein to stay strong, hydrated, and yes, pigmented. A vitamin deficiency can cause all kinds of problems such as hair loss, dandruff, weakness, and the depigmentation of hair aka gray hair.
Sun exposure is known for lightening the pigments in the hair. If you have dark hair, it’ll turn a brassy, light brown color and if you have blonde hair, you’ll have some really highlighted pieces. Now, that might sound nice at first but getting too much sun can damage the hair and cause all kinds of problems. That includes premature graying. The harmful UV rays of the sun affect the health of your scalp and turn the hair brittle, dry, and cause premature gray hair.
When you start getting gray hair, what’s the first thing you want to do to get rid of it? That’s right, dyeing it. However, it is a vicious cycle. You want to cover up your gray hair with dye but the number of gray hairs increases if you keep using harsh chemicals on your hair. Hair color contains harsh ingredients that damage the hair and decrease melanin (pigment) production. The more you dye your hair, the more grays you’ll have.
Studies suggest that smoking also plays a massive part in causing premature gray hair. It’s been proven that smokers are more prone to getting gray hair before the age of 30 compared to non-smokers. Smokers are 2 ½ times more likely to get gray hair earlier.
How Can You Prevent Gray Hair?
Now that you know the most common causes of gray hair, you will have an idea of what you can do to prevent it. And there are also some ancient remedies used in traditional medicine that you can try out to reverse the process.
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Polygonum multiflorum is a plant native to China and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times. It is believed that this plant contains properties that can be used to fight diseases like cancer, inflammation, Parkinson’s, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Aside from that, polygonum multiflorum is also the ultimate anti-aging hair remedy. Traditional Chinese medicine also used it as a beauty remedy for gray hair. And again, they were right. Studies show that using polygonum multiflorum can naturally and effectively reverse the depigmentation of hair and bring back its original color. It also has other properties that nourish the hair and help improve its health which then prevents premature graying further.
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This report in the International Journal of Farmtech Research states the use of curry leaves as a traditional remedy for premature graying. They are also high in protein, antioxidants, and beta-carotene which helps improve hair health.
When there aren’t enough antioxidants in your diet, the free radicals that attach themselves to your body are not cleansed and put a strain on your health and your hair’s health. This is called oxidative stress and when this happens, aging happens faster and hair loses its pigment. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can prevent this.
Stress can cause a cluster of problems in the human body. It’s always important to manage your stress well, especially if you want to prevent premature graying. Manage your time, make sure that you’re always practicing self-care, and relax!
A change of lifestyle can contribute significantly to your hair’s health. Stopping smoking, eating healthy, keeping up your fitness, and taking care of your mental health are all ways you can stop gray hair. If you can commit to living a healthy lifestyle, your body will retain all the right nutrients and help with keeping the hair strong, hydrated, and pigmented.
Protect Your Hair
Your hair gets damaged literally all the time. It’s just unavoidable with all the environmental factors, styling, and chemicals that we encounter daily. Make sure to protect your hair by wearing a heat protectant, lessening styling, using organic products, and staying away from toxic chemicals.