I am often asked, what causes premature greying of hair? How to prevent further greying of hair? Are there any natural remedies for grey hair?
Hair turn gray as cells called melanocytes at the base of each hair follicle get damaged by some disease, environmental exposures or simply age. As a consequence thereof melanin, the pigment that infuses black or brown color to your hair decreases, and the mingling of pigmented and white hair imparts grey color hue to your tresses.
According to Dr. James Kirkland, director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo Clinic, everybody has some gray hairs during one’s life, but the balance tends to tip in the 40s or 50s, with the rate of change varying depending upon genetics, gender and ethnicity.
By and large, women’s hair turn gray later than men’s. The age you go gray depends mainly on genetics. Thus if one or both parents went gray at an early age, you would be more likely to go gray at a younger age as well.
Greying also has a pattern. Generally in men, greying begins at the beard, and then moustache, side locks and spreads to other parts of the head over time. Chest hair turns grey only a few years later. In case of women, grey hair begins from the temples, and then it spreads to the sides.
Read on here for causes that make hair to turn white or gray at an early age, how to prevent further greying of hair, natural remedies and treatments.
Why Does Hair Turn Gray Or White At A Young Age?
Read on here for a list of causes that make hair to turn white or gray at an early age. I have included in this list only those causes, which have some evidence in dermatological literature:
1. Hereditary: Premature graying can happen due to genetic disorder. If either of your parents, siblings or close relatives have the history of going grey at an early age, you too are likely to suffer from premature greying of hair. This happens as an independent trait and is not accompanied with any other abnormality.
2. Smoking and Substance Abuse: Both chronic smoking and drug abuse can also accelerate color change and have shown correlation with early greying of hair.
3. Environmental Damage:Harmful and detrimental reactive oxygen radicals forming due to pollution, UV light, inflammatory stress in localized scalp diseases, harsh chemicals, etc. can impair pigment that creates the cells of hair and thus, cause premature greying.
4. Autoimmune Disorders: early graying could be a sign of an autoimmune disease like autoimmune, thyroid or heart disease, pernicious anaemia, hyper- or hypothyroidism.
5. Premature Ageing Syndrome: A rare cause of hair greying early could be due to premature ageing syndrome like Progeria and Pangeria. You don’t need to worry because these are very rare syndromes in which other changes of early ageing such as wrinkling of the face, weak bones, diabetes, cataract, etc. are also obvious at a very early age.
6. Atopic Diathesis: Allergy in lungs (asthma), eye (allergic conjunctivitis) nose (allergic rhinitis) or skin (atopic dermatitis) might be coupled with the premature greying of hair.
7. Nutritional Causes: Unlike commonly believed, only acute lack or chronic loss of proteins, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamin B12 can be contributory factors for early hair greying. This happens mostly because of some malabsorption syndromes, nephrosis, kwashiorkor, etc. One study found considerably low levels of Calcium, Vitamin D3, Zinc and Ferritin in people with early greying of hair. Further one more study found low copper level in healthy kids of average age 15 with premature greying of hair (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21979243).
8. Undue Stress: It’s not clear whether chronic stress turns hair gray. Studies that have looked at stress and hair color have been inconclusive. To quote Dr. Kirkland: “The consensus is that stress possibly does it, but that’s a gut feeling rather than convincing evidence.” In my experience, daily stress has little if any implication in greying of hair, however, undue stress both physical and mental can cause reversible greying of hair.
9. Medical disorders: Premature graying can also happen in diseases like HIV infection, cystic fibrosis, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
10. Other Causes: Other causes are hormonal imbalance, using electric dryers and concentrated hair dyes, as well as, chemotherapy and radiation.
At times, a few gray hairs can develop in children as young as 8 years and then it is generally progressive with increasing age.”
How To Prevent Further Greying Of Hair?
Grey hair or white hair are generally coarser, stiffer and are more problematic to manage. Thus at times it can become difficult to style them your way. But, as a matter of fact, minimum styling is best for grey or white hair.
Read on here for hair care tips to prevent further greying of your hair. They are simple and easy to follow:
(i) Avoid using hot air blower to dry grey or white hair often. Best is to air dry your hair.
(ii) Avoid using hot iron for hair straightening often as heat turns grey or white hair frizzier.
(iii) Avoid getting hair permed.
(iv) Avoid getting them straightened often. Hair straightening products contain harsh chemicals, which can further damage grey hair particularly if the chemicals come into contact with the scalp and get absorbed into the hair roots where the pigment producing cells are situated.
(v) Do not use shampoos or spas that promise to blacken your hair, they in fact contain chemicals and are unlikely to help.
(vi) Avoid exposing your hair to the bright sun. As the gray or white hair lack melanin, they cannot protect themselves from damaging UV rays of the sun. So try to cover them up with a cap, scarf or bandana when you go outside in bright sunlight.
(vii) Color Hair Carefully: Many people like to color their grey or white hair. However, actually dye does not stick to them as easily as to normal hair. Grey or white hairs are more resistant to take on dye and get colored. Thus your multiple ineffective attempts may possibly expose them to hair dye chemicals to such an extent that they can begin falling.
Here are some tips that you should follow to color white or gray hair:
(i) Make sure to apply hair dye in such a manner so that the dye gets distributed evenly and does not touch the scalp.
(ii) Try to keep more gaps between coloring sessions. Less frequently use of dye would keep your hair healthy and strong.
(iii) If you can afford, go for coloring your hair in a saloon. This way you can achieve better and long lasting results. A single session of hair coloring done by a professional would ensure an evenly spread hair dye sparing the scalp roots, which will be in any case better than multiple ineffective attempts at home.
(iv) Always try to limit the exposure of hair colour to your normal hair.
Natural Remedies For Gray Hair
Read on for home remedies to either prevent or colour your grey hair:
1. Coconut Oil And Curry Leaves:Take 1/2 cup of coconut oil and then add handful of curry leaves. Keep this oil over the burner and let this boil. You have to boil this till the curry leaves turn black in color. Once this does, then stop boiling and let this oil cool down. Strain the oil and store this in a clean bottle and use to apply on the hair.
Massage this curry leaves coconut oil into your hair. Leave it on for 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing it out. Use a hair cap so that the oil will not be smudged on the pillow cover. Leave this overnight. In the morning while you bath, wash the hair with gentle shampoo and then use a hair conditioner. Follow this treatment 2 times a week for a couple of moths to see the results.
2. Black Tea: It’s a natural ingredient to treat gray hair. It works to darken your hair and make them soft and shiny. You can try this formula to get rid from premature graying. Mix 3-4 teaspoons of black tea into a glass of water and bring to boil. Boil it for five minutes and allow it to cool. Strain and apply this water on your hair or rinse your hair with this solution. Use this method twice or thrice a week to give a temporary black color to your hair.
Natural Beauty Tips:
(i) The key is to make the tea highly concentrated. Use 3-5 teabags (or about the same amount in loose-leaf tea) for two cups of water.
(ii) The longer you leave the tea on the hair, the more noticeable the color will be. You can also try repeated applications.
(iii) Leave on hair for at least an hour—more if you want more color. Some even put on a cap and wear the tea overnight, then rinse the following morning.
3. Coffee: It works great if you’re looking to go darker, cover gray hairs, or add dimension to dark tresses. Simply brew a strong organic coffee (organic espresso works well) and let it cool. Mix 1 cup (240 ml) of your brewed coffee, with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of conditioner, and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the organic coffee grounds. Use a spoon to mix all of these ingredients together.
Apply this mixture to your hair using your hands. Use a wide toothed comb to spread the mixture evenly through your hair. Once you have added all of the mixture to your hair, pin your hair up in a bun to keep your hair out of your face as you let the mixture soak in. Leave this mixture on your hair for at least an hour. After an hour, the conditioner may start to dry and harden.
Rinse the coffee and conditioner mixture out of your hair in the shower. Don’t add shampoo; simply let the water clean out the mixture from your hair. If you use apple cider vinegar to rinse, it will help the color last longer.
(i) You may need to repeat this dying process a couple times to see noticeable results.
(ii) Apply this coffee mixture to your hair in a bathroom with a mirror so you can contain any mess and see what you’re doing.
(iii) Make sure to have a junky towel (one you don’t mind getting messy) draped over your shoulders. This will prevent any of the coffee mixture from falling on your clothes and staining the fabric.
Gray Hair Treatment
If the above remedies and prevention tips do not work, consider consulting a dermatologist having specialization in hair treatments. He will generally first try to find out the cause of your hair turning gray at early age.
If needed, he might suggest you get examined for the levels of iron, folic acid, copper, vitamin B12, thyroid hormones, etc. In case the test reports indicate nutritional deficiency, then he might recommend you to take some supplements.
If the tests show your thyroid hormonal profile deranged, he might suggest further check up to rule out the autoimmune cause. In case the cause is treatable as in the case of medications, nutritional deficiency etc., there is good probability of recovery.
In case the premature occurring of gray hair is due to family history or precipitator chronic disease, the condition might respond partially, and the complete reversal is unlikely.
Though there is not much evidence of success with the multivitamin, but in cases deficiency of vitamin or mineral, the dermatologist generally prescribe a 3-month trial, considering the non-harmful nature of the treatment. Moreover, there are some studies that have found calcium pentathionate might help premature greying of hair independently.
Read here for Gray Hair Prevention Tips
However, before taking any treatment or supplements we strongly recommend that you consult your doctor first to find the cause of your early gray hair and ask for his advise about taking effective hair supplements available at the chemist shop or a drug store.