What Makes Hair Turn Grey?

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You might have heard it said that stress causes hair to go grey. Turns out, that’s a myth. True, it isn’t exactly beneficial to your health, but stress won’t change the color of your hair. Here’s the real scientific reason why hair turns grey…

Hair Cell Pigments

Hair contains melanocyte cells, which produce pigments in your hair cells as they grow into hair fibers. They determine the color of your hair, and are ultimately responsible for its natural fade to grey.

We typically become aware of those first grey hairs when we hit our 30s. Generally, by the time we reach 50, half of us will have lost color in 50% of our hair. As a general rule, men tend to go grey faster than women, and men of Caucasian descent are generally more affected by greying than those of African and Asian descent.

Why Grey?

The hair growth process is cyclical. Each cycle lasts three to five years, with a rest period of around three months in between cycles, before additional hairs start growing. This process continues throughout our life, but as we age, our bodies become less adept at creating new hairs and the melanocytes lose their ability to produce additional pigment.

What’s the Solution?

As is the case with baldness, scientists are still trying to find ways to prevent hair from going grey. Technically, we need to find a way to prolong the life of melanocytes in the hair bulb, by protecting them from injury, or expanding the pool of melanocyte stem cells in the top or upper section of hair follicles so that they continue to replenish lost pigment cells.

Another way to solve the problem would be to prevent the damaging of the melanocytes between hair growth cycles. A team of French scientists are working on a solution based on this approach, which centers on using a unique enzyme. If successful, this solution may open the door to a host of innovative products which will keep your hair full of color for longer.

Finally, it should be noted that not everyone dreads the idea of becoming a silver fox. A host of celebrities have let their hair go naturally grey, and most look better for it. Jamie Lee Curtis, George Clooney, Helen Mirren, Anderson Cooper, and Glenn Close are just a few examples of famous people who have adopted a healthy and more relaxed approach to this very natural process.