Grey hair is a natural part of ageing. In fact, half of the population has 50% grey hair by the age of 50. But what if you’re younger than 50? While genes are the biggest factor in premature grey hair, lifestyle and nutritional factors also can play a role. Keep reading to find out what causes grey hair and how to cope with it.
What Causes Grey Hair?
Hair gets its colour from a pigment called melanin, which is released by cells called melanocytes. Hair goes grey when these melanocytes wear out with age. As the melanocytes cease to produce melanin, hair loses its colour. This greying process starts with a few white hairs mixed in here and there, which creates salt and pepper hair. As more hairs lose their colour, hair turns silver. Eventually, all hair loses its colour and the head of hair appears white.
Causes of Premature Grey Hair
In 90% of cases, prematurely grey hair is caused by genetics. According to a study published in Nature Communications, variations in the IRF4 gene are responsible for premature greying. Thus, if your parents went grey prematurely, you’re more likely to have premature grey hair as well. Ethnicity can also play a role, as Caucasians tend to start going grey in their mid-30s. This generally is earlier than people of other backgrounds.
Low levels of certain minerals in the diet, like vitamin B12, vitamin D3, copper and iron, can cause loss of pigment in the hair. To prevent premature greying, eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of whole, protein-rich foods like eggs, fish and milk.
Smoking doesn’t just age your skin – it also ages your hair. Scientists hypothesise that smoking causes premature greying through oxidative stress on the hair follicles. Quitting smoking will help to prevent more of your hair from turning prematurely grey, but it can’t restore colour to the hair that’s already lost its pigment.
Emotional and physical stress can also produce free radicals that can contribute to prematurely grey hair. Some health problems like diabetes, anaemia and celiac disease can also contribute to going prematurely grey. Reduce the stress that induces grey hair through lifestyle changes like exercising, getting more sleep and meditation. Not only will reducing stress help prevent grey hair, but it will help minimise stress as a cause of thinning and hair loss.
How to Style Grey Hair
Of course, if you want, you can dye your hair. We recommend using DermMatch Scalp Concealer in your original natural hair shade to disguise roots in between at-home hair dyeing or trips to the hair dressers.
However, many men — and some women — choose to embrace the grey look. If that’s you, here are some tips for styling your grey hair.
Going grey is a natural part of the ageing process and is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re a man or woman with prematurely grey hair, we say embrace it!
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