Why does grey hair appear as a person ages

For most people, grey hair is associated with general ageing. Is this really the case? Let’s look at why grey hair comes, what techniques there are for treating grey and how to properly care for your greying hair.

Why go grey?

People get grey in different ways: some go gray to old age retains its natural colour, someone’s head turns white in a matter of months. While there’s no definitive answer to the question of grey, scientists have identified a few key factors governing the natural history of hair discolouration.

How stress and nutrition affect grey hair

Numerous experiments prove that short-term or chronic stress leads to premature greying. This is caused by the release of the hormone noradrenaline into the bloodstream: it causes frequent activation of melanocyte stem cells, from which melanocytes are derived. As a result, the supply of stem cells is rapidly depleted and the production of melanocyte cells that produce hair pigment is stopped.


Norepinephrine leads to spasms of the blood vessels, the hair follicles receive less nutrients and virtually stop producing the natural pigment, and the hairs gradually lose their colour.

A side note. The common myth that being startled or subjected to severe emotional stress will make hair turn grey overnight is largely unfounded: it takes a long time for stressed hair to turn white. Human hair is not dependent on physiological processes in the body and the pigment does not disappear on its own overnight.

An unbalanced diet is also a major cause of grey hair growth. Lack of high-quality animal products in the diet leads to a lack of protein tyrosine, trace elements iron, zinc, copper, which are essential for melanin production.

At risk of premature graying are:

  • fast food and junk food eaters;
  • vegetarians;
  • those who like low-calorie diets.Фастфуд


Turning grey is a manifestation of a genetic process that nature has programmed for us, and genetics have a big part to play. If the patriarchs of the family had fine silver hair in their early years, their descendants need not expect to maintain their natural colour until they reach old age.седые волосы генетика

The appearance of a single grey hair at the age of thirty-five, barely noticeable in a mass of normally pigmented hair, is considered the conventional norm. The physiological peak of gray hair reaches the age of fifty-fifty.

Important: Heavy gray hair that appears before the age of thirty is considered early.

Melanin deficiency

Natural hair colour depends on a particular pigment called melanin. It is produced by melanocytes located in the hair follicles and determines the colour of hair: the more melanin, the darker the hair. Over time, melanocytes become less active, produce less melanin, and eventually stop producing the colouring pigment and hair turns colourless.

Synopsis. The silver colour of grey hair is an optical phenomenon; in fact, pigmentless hair is colourless. The combination of colourless and coloured cells in a single hair gives it an ashy-grey colour.

Greying is not a one-off event; the decrease in melanin synthesis begins long before the first signs of greying appear.

Important! In some cases, melanin deficiency may be caused by toxic substances: prolonged contact with chemicals, dyes, heavy metals, chemotherapy sessions, or large amounts of antibiotics.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are characterized by attacks of the immune system against the body’s own cells. Melanocytes are often attacked as well, disrupting hair pigment production. Such diseases include vitiligo (complete disappearance of melanin), focal alopecia (hair loss), type I diabetes, and iron deficiency anemia.Алопеция

Vitamin D and B12 deficiency

Vitamin deficiencies affect the body as a whole, and two of these vitamins are responsible for hair beauty:

  1. D , a hormone-like vitamin, is one of three anti-ageing vitamins. He regulates calcium-phosphorus metabolism, improves the condition of hair follicles, promotes the production of keratin and melanin. Vitamin D is synthesized in the body in sunlight.витамин д
  2. B12 (cobalamin) is involved in metabolic and energetic processes, promotes cell regeneration, with its deficiency hair quickly becomes dull, brittle and graying early. Vitamin B12 can only be obtained from food, and is found in large quantities in beef, liver, poultry, fish, and seafoodвитамин В12

Warning! A course of taking vitamins D and B12 can’t restore the beauty of your newly grayed hair, but it can slow down the appearance of new “silver threads” in your hair.


Dark-haired people have a lot of coloured pigment in their hair, while blonde Europeans have considerably less. Because of the scarcity of pigment in Northern people, greying of hair is completely natural at age 35; Asians’ hair starts to turn silver at age 40; and people of the Negro race see white threads in their hair in their fifties.седина у темнокожих

Harsh shampoos

Harsh surfactants, preservatives and perfumes in shampoos and harsh chemical constituents in hair dyes can really mess with your scalp’s protective barrier. Damaged hair follicles are much less able to cope with pigment production and lead to premature discolouration of hair.Жесткие шампуни

Thyroid disorders

Anything abnormal with the thyroid gland causes a hormonal imbalance. Hypothyroidism (goiter) leads to a lack of the hormone thyroxine, which is necessary for the production of hair pigment.Расстройства щитовидной железы

Important! Hair that has gone grey due to a thyroid malfunction may gradually return to its natural colour after treatment.

Why do men and women go grey differently?

Statistically men go grey earlier than women:

  1. Men are the first to turn white at the temples and in the beard, and large quantities of grey appear at once, giving men’s hair a “salt-and-pepper” tint. It is not uncommon for male grey hair to be linked to androgenic alopecia (loss of hair due to impaired testosterone production)Андрогенная алопеция
  2. In women, greying starts with a few strands of hair at the nuchal-parietal level, with white locks gradually coming to the fore.Ранняя седина

How does the structure of hair change during graying?

Melanin not only provides hair colour, but also, in combination with keratin, makes hair strong and resilient and protects hair from environmental damage and UV damage.

As air bubbles fill the previously pigmented hollow spaces in the hair shaft, it causes the structure of white hair to change, making it

  • vulnerable to external influences;
  • stiff, dry, brittle;
  • they lose their shine;
  • is difficult to style.

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⠀ So, gotta fix it before I get my dreadlocks up again 😎I’ve been growing my silver for 4 months . ⠀ Why? Well firstly #hochuine dye, and also I honestly think that it will be beautiful (well when the gray hair will grow out completely) But for now of course thrasho 😂. That’s why I will be braided again, that would be psychologically easier to go through this period ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Why am I writing about this? Honestly, it’s just not to snap 🙈 I kinda said it out loud here and there’s an incentive to hang in there. And in general, the support from you is tremendous of course, in offline life alas, it’s not like that. The stereotype that grey hair = neglect, old age and sickness is firmly planted in the heads of our women 😒 ⠀ ⠀ P.C. If you want to see women wearing grey hair proudly around the world, there is a special tag #silversisters ⠀ ⠀ ⠀

A post shared by Hostess of Character 🏚 (@savelenok) on

Is it possible to fight graying?

There’s no way to repair graying strands, but it is possible to slow down the appearance of new ones.

Drinking enough fluids

Hair follicles are sensitive to fluid deprivation. Disruption to hydration leads to poor uptake of nutrients by the hair follicle and reduced production of melanin, the colour pigment. It is important to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of pure water per day to maintain the natural colour of your hair.употребление воды

Proper nutrition

According to nutritionists, normalising your diet and including protein, vitamin and trace element rich foods like bananas, eggs, nuts, fish, seafood, dairy products, pulses, green vegetables, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds is enough to reduce white hair.продукты от седины

Improve blood circulation

A rush of blood to the hair follicles stimulates the metabolic processes in melanocytic cells. A daily scalp massage with your fingertips will not only improve hair structure but also help maintain its natural colour.массаж головы себе

Combat stress

Stress is not something you can control, so you can learn to control your emotions alone or with the help of special training and techniques that help you release nervous tension.арт-терапия

Smoking cessation

Smoking causes premature ageing due to a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood and the formation of free radicals. Microspasms in the scalp affect hair health by reducing melanin production.курение


A good night’s sleep for at least eight hours is beneficial for humans of all ages, though sleeping till midnight is the most effective way to restore the appearance of your hair and skin.Здоровый сон

How to Care for Gray Hair

Grey hair needs to be handled with care and attention:

  • use special shampoos for grey hair, they contain ingredients that remove unwanted yellowing;
  • use a balm or conditioner after each wash to reduce the dryness of your hair and make it more manageable;
  • do a nourishing mask once or twice a week to help restore and strengthen locks;
  • use products with SPF to protect your hair from harmful UV rays.маска для волос

A side note. No need to grow your hair long; a mid-length, stylish haircut will be far more attractive and easier to maintain.

Gray Hair Dye

Colouring grey hair is a frustrating experience for many people:

  • the colour doesn’t cover the grey;
  • the colour fades quickly;
  • gray hair is brighter than natural and too visible.Седина До и После Фото 3

When dyeing grey hair, only ammonia-based colours should be used. Unammoniated tonics or henna are only suitable for giving the right shade.

For good colouring of thinned hair you need to consider some nuances of technology:

  1. Make a pre-pigmentation preparation for colouring (mordonsage). Pre-pigmentation is done on difficult to colour “glassy” hair, the upper layer of the cuticle is softened with hydrogen peroxide to facilitate penetration of the colouring pigment into the hair structure.
  2. Use an oxidizing agent with at least 6% hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Increase the dyeing time to 45-50 min regardless of the chosen colour and the time specified by the manufacturer.
Help. To mask partial grey hair, colouring in the technique of ombré, shatouch, balayage, which will ensure a smooth transition from dark roots to a lighter tone at the ends.

Preventing grey hair

There’s no way to stop genetically conditioned grey hair from turning grey, but it’s possible to forestall the onset of premature or age-related grey hair:

  1. Lead a healthy lifestyle: do sports, avoid stress, heavy physical activity, smoking, alcohol and coffee.
  2. Establish a sleep and rest schedule, make time for walks outdoors.
  3. Includefoods rich in vitamins D, B, C and the trace elements copper, selenium, zinc, manganese, folic acid (fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products, nuts, fish and seafood)in your diet. Take vitamin and mineral complexes twice a year.
  4. Getting regular health check-ups for hidden diseases.

A good health check-up should not only tell you whether you are sick but also whether you suffer from diseases Wearing a hat helps protect your hair from the sun in summer and the cold in winter and delays the onset of grey hair.

Greying remedies

Modern pharmacology offers products that will help slow down the graying of the entire hair when the first white strands appear:

  • “Antisedin ” – a lotion for restoring hair colour based on herbs and sulphur;
  • “Stopsedin ” – a spray that improves melanin production and restores the hair’s natural colour;
  • “Dimexid ” – a solution that stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles and enhances the regeneration of damaged follicles;
  • “Reparex ” – a solution to enhance melatonin production and replenish pigment in the hair structure.

Folk recipes for gray hair

The time-tested folk remedies are just as effective as the tried-and-true apothecary remedies:

  1. Burdock and dill mask: two tablespoons of burdock root boil in a litre of water until the volume is halved, pour two tablespoons of dill seeds, insist three hours, rub into the scalp daily for two months.
  2. Mask with essential oils: mix 3 drops of cinnamon oil with 10 drops of fir oil and lightly massage hair roots before washing.
  3. Red pepper mask: steep 6 pods of red pepper in half a litre of vodka for three weeks, rub in for an hour before washing your hair.
  4. Carrot juice and lemon juice mask: mix freshly squeezed carrot juice in equal proportions with lemon juice and massage the head for 10-15 minutes before washing.перцовая маска

Greying is not a verdict; grey hair is now on trend. A well-groomed grey hair is stylish and beautiful, but for those who want to maintain their natural hair colour, there are ways to delay the appearance of grey strands for a considerable period of time.

Why does grey hair appear at a young age?

Physiological greying is the result of the ageing of pigment-producing cells. On the other hand, greying at an early age is caused by melanocytes dying or becoming inactive. The result is porosity in the hair structure.

What vitamin is missing if my hair turns grey?

A lack of B vitamins affects the biochemical processes of melanin synthesis, resulting in reduced production by melanocyte cells and premature greying. In this case, however, the appearance of new grey hair can be stopped by restoring the vitamin balance in the body.

The author is an online hair magazine expert. I am passionate about beauty and fashion and am always up to date with the latest news from the world of beauty and fashion.

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