Dec 6, 2019

Why Does Hair Turn Gray?

FINALLY, the science-secrets behind gray hair are being spilled 😉

Though for many people graying hair is simply an expected part of life, the science behind it is pretty complex (and interesting!)

What does the hair follicle have to do with gray hair?

Gray hair begins at the hair follicle (the spot at your scalp where your hair strand is grown and begins to emerge). Each of your hair follicles contain pigment cells (called melanocytes), and these pigment cells give your hair its natural color (blonde, black, brown, red, et cetera) through a chemical called melanin. The color of your hair that you have between birth and the onset of hair graying depends on the types of melanin that are produced by your hair follicles, as determined by your genetics.

Like everything else in our bodies, hair follicles change over time. It is natural and common for the pigment cells in your hair follicles to eventually decrease in activity, lessening the amount of melanin given to new hair strands. When a hair follicle begins to produce a new hair strand and has pigment cells that are still producing some melanin, but not as much as they did previously, the result is gray hair. When a hair follicle begins to produce a new hair strand and has pigment cells that are no longer able to produce any melanin, the result is white hair. Grey and white hair is ultimately just what a hair strand looks like with little to no pigment.


What can contribute to gray hair?

Though gray and white hair hair is often associated with aging, the two are not necessarily always connected. For example, some people never experience hair graying, while others experience it beginning in early childhood. Graying can be influenced by an enormous variety of factors, broadly including:

  • Genetics (if your parents and grandparents went gray at an early age, there's a decent chance you will too)
  • Smoking
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Underlying medical conditions, like thyroid disorders and anemia.
  • Racial heritage (people with African ancestry typically have hair follicles that produce melanin longer than hair follicles of people with European or Asian ancestry)
  • Stress (Although stress has not been seen in clinical research to stop a hair follicle from producing melanin, stress can cause non-grey hair to fall out more quickly. If the follicle producing that hair is beginning to slow melanin production, the hair that grows to take its place may be gray. Stress cannot, however, make an already pigmented hair loose its color.)

Is gray hair a bad thing?

Ultimately, hair graying is a complex process, and is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are beginning to go gray. It is really up to you to decide if you would like to dye your hair or embrace your new silver shade. Both choices are perfectly valid, and your decision should be based on what makes you feel best. Just be sure you pick up a set of great products to help your gray hair with its unique needs!

Courtesy of Modern Man TV


The Formulate Team

Caroline Schmidt