Hair graying is part of aging. But to some, it happens earlier than expected. However, as much as everyone experiences this natural process in different stages of life, it will eventually occur sooner or later. While some may be comfortable embracing the new white strands, others may not be prepared, especially if it happens earlier than expected.
For this roundup-I will take through the psychology of hair graying and how to delay the process. But first, let’s have a look at its causes.
What Causes Gray Hair
Aging & Genetics
Aging and genetics are the key contributors to hair graying. The two determine how fast your hair will gray. Like our skin, our hair produces melanin (a pigment that gives our hair a dark color). As we age, the melanin production reduces, making the hair gray.
Genetics is said to also play a role in graying, but there are no studies that explain how the two are connected. However, if your family has a history of premature hair graying, you may experience it.
Environmental Hair Stressors
When outdoors, our hair is susceptible to environmental stressors. External hair stressors like pollution, and excess UV exposure, can cause premature hair graying. People who work in unfavorable conditions like exposure to industrial chemicals and spend less time on fresh hair are also at high risk of PHG.
Smoking cigarettes has also been linked with hair loss and premature hair graying. Research has shown that people who smoke are at high risk of experiencing early hair graying. Smoking impacts your body's hormones subjecting you to stress. This damages the hair follicles making your hair look lighter and eventually gray.
Medical conditions like vitiligo (a condition that affects the skin's ability to produce melanin) have been linked with hair graying.
People with Thyroid conditions also have high chances of experiencing premature hair graying. Other conditions like Tuberous sclerosis have also been linked with early hair graying.
Stress affects your mental health and your hair follicles, hair, and scalp. A study conducted in Feb 2020 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that stress affects stem cells that give the hair its dark color. If not managed, you will experience hair loss and premature hair graying.
One of the most common Vitamin deficiencies that cause PHG is Vitamin B12- one of the essential vitamins in our body that is responsible for DNA formation. DNA is a genetic material present in almost every cell, including nerve, blood, and hair follicles.
Hair follicles are responsible for melanin production, which gives hair a dark color. These hair follicles rely on blood cells for nutrients and oxygen. When B12 levels go down, chances are you will experience early graying. However, hair graying as a result of B12 deficiency is reversible.
Other vitamin deficiencies that influence PHG, including iron, zinc, folic acid, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), cannot be reversed.
How to Prevent Hair Graying
As mentioned earlier, stress impacts the hair follicles. When your body is under pressure, the cortisol levels increase, affecting your hair follicles. Managing stress through meditation or massage can help relax and calm your mind.
Consider talking to a professional therapist to help you choose the right massage for you.
If you smoke and notice some of your hair strands are gray and thin, it may be high time you quit. The toxins emitted during smoking alters your hair follicles DNA. With time, you may notice you are slowly losing hair. The hair damage caused by smoking cannot be reversed.
However, you will notice healthier hair when you quit smoking and add a healthy diet and hair care routine. Taking collagen supplements and a healthy diet can also help restore your hair follicles and make them even stronger.
Protect your hair from environmental stressors
If you spend time out in the sun, consider using hair products that have UV protection. Products with Vitamin E and C are also known to help delay hair graying. However, more studies need to be done.
Working or living in an environment where you are exposed to secondhand smoke can trigger faster hair graying. Consider covering your hair and getting enough fresh hair.
We are what we eat. When you have some vitamin deficiencies, chances are your hair will be unhealthy and increase your chances of PHG. Improve your hair and body wellness by eating a well-balanced diet. Ensure your diet includes foods rich in B12, iron, Vitamin D, copper, Selenium, Zinc, Iron, and calcium.
Supplementing your diet with vitamins will help fill in the nutritional gaps if you have deficiencies.
Maintain a Healthy Hair Care Routine
Avoid hair care routines that subject your hair to heat over 1900 C. If you have gray hair, consider Keratin hair smoothening treatment to help restore protein, moisture, luster and eliminate freeze.
Preventing hair graying takes time and needs patience. However, some causes like smoking, stress, vitamin deficiencies, and medical conditions trigger premature hair graying. Managing these triggers can help delay the process.