Going Grey: 10 Facts About Why, How, Genetics, and Hair Care
Everything you need to know about Hair Care while aging.
The strands of greys on your head are often not a very welcoming sight. It’s a sign that we're getting older, whether they hit us out of nowhere in our 20s or creep up on in our late 30s. No matter what Hair Care Products you use, going grey just seems like one of those unavoidable things in life among others like, death, taxes, wrinkles, etc. And there comes a time for everyone when those greys are simply unavoidable, whether you're seeing a few strays or you're well on your way to a full head of silver strand. While some people proudly sport a silver mane, many others face the arrival of new grey hairs with dread. Regardless of which category you fall under, it's important you know some facts, and more importantly some hair care for the silver strands. So, to understand this mysterious yet inevitable phenomenon here is a list of 14 facts you might want to know about grey hair topped up with some hair care tips:
Aging Leads to Greying
No surprise here
Did you ever hear about the 50-50-50 rule? Dermatologists say fifty percent of the population has about 50% grey hair at age 50. And like skin, hair changes its texture with age, says Dr. Heather Woolery Lloyd, director of ethnic skin care at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
As we age, the melanin produced by our body decreases. Since melanin is what gives our hair colour, with the decrease in melanin production our hair colour starts turning grey.
Researchers on the field have come to know that the greying of our mane might be affected by what ethnic group we belong to. Researchers claim that Caucasians and redheads tend to go grey the earliest from the ethnic groups. Followed by Asians, then African-Americans. But as exciting as the discovery sounds, the science behind the phenomenon is yet to be understood.
Turn that frown upside down
I’m sure you’ve heard the legend about Marie Antoinette, whose hair turned grey overnight as she awaited her execution.
Chemicals released during the stress response (specifically norepinephrine) causes pigment producing stem cells to activate prematurely. This depletes the hair’s reserve of pigments, resulting in the growth of strands with no colour.
I bet everybody knows that smoking cigarettes increases the risk for lung cancer and heart disease. But in the long term, smoking can go beyond the heart and lungs and affect hair. You heard right. Smoking constricts blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to hair follicles and cause hair loss. On top of that, toxins in cigarettes can damage parts of your body including your hair follicles, causing early white hair.
It’s in our DNA
Chances are If your parents or grandparents went grey at an early age, you will, too. But in a relatively new twist, a study on human hair found the exact gene responsible for grey hair. This is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans. “As hair greys something happens that causes this gene to produce even lower levels of melanin. Now we can ask more specific functional questions,” Adhikari told Newsweek. .
In short, if it’s in your DNA, you don’t have a choice but to sport the salt and pepper look.
Thought your immune system was the good guy?
Autoimmune diseases can cause premature white hair. Autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. In cases like that of alopecia and vitiligo, the immune system can attack hair and cause loss of pigment, or in simpler terms, grey hair.
Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may also be responsible for premature white hair. The thyroid helps control many bodily functions such as metabolism. The health of your thyroid influences the colour of your hair. How? An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause your body to produce less melanin.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Greying of the hair at an early age can indicate a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 plays a vital role in your body. It provides energy and it contributes to healthy hair growth and hair colour.
A deficiency in vitamin B-12 is associated with a condition where your body can’t absorb enough of this vitamin. Vitamin B-12 is essential for healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your hair cells. And a deficiency can weaken hair cells and affect melanin production.
Your Hair Doesn't Turn Grey
A strand of hair grows for one to three years before it sheds and grows a new strand. But as you grow older, the new strands are more likely to be white. Every time your hair regrows, your body has to re-generate pigment-forming cells (which gives your hair it’s colour), and eventually they wear out. This causes greying.
So, to clear your confusion, your hair doesn’t turn grey, it grows grey.
Exposure to Sun
The big Yellow
When you expose your skin to UV rays, your skin gets damaged. And the cells responsible for repairing damaged skin cells are called stem cells. These stem cells are sometimes diverted away from hair follicles as the body uses them to repair damage done to the skin. You also have to know that melanocytes stem cells produce the hair colour, and other stem cells produce the hair follicle. So, when the stem cells are busy repairing skin cells, there is a failure of melanocyte stem cells to maintain production of melanocytes, causing greying of hair.
Hair Care Tips
Hair Care is Self-Care
If you have already transitioned or have decided to let your greys grow, then you need to know how to take care of it. It does not mean you can skip on hair care just because it's a little grey now. Grey hairs are a little different from regular hairs, in a sense that you may have to invest a little more time and maybe sacrifice a little bit of currency for hair care. But I assure you that there will be a high return on your investment.
Brush Your Hair Nightly
One of the oldest and the simplest hair care out there. Brushing your greys every day will help distribute natural oils from the scalp to the ends. Using a boar bristle brush is heartily recommended. Brushing your hair daily with a boar's hair bristle will help massage your scalp, which will encourage blood flow to your hair follicles and boar’s hair bristle distributes your natural hair oils better than plastic combs. If you keep brushing your hair nightly, your hair will become smoother, softer, and glossier. That sounds like it’s worth trying.
Conditioners are friends
Deep conditioning with a good quality conditioner on a regular basis is a must do for people who have gone grey. The best conditioners to use would be conditioners with silicone and no paraben and made with all-natural oils and extracts. Deep condition for 20 to 30 minutes at least once a week, and conditioning as normal after each shampoo. Also, remember to allow time for your hair to really soak up the moisture.
Consistent deep conditioning will work magic for your dry silver tuft.
For those who worship salons, a professional glossing treatment two months or so will have you looking like you are wearing a unicorn mane wig, well worth the money. These treatments smooth out your coarse grey hair and bring out your natural colour.
Sunlight and wind will make your hair look dull and dried out, and even yellow in some cases. So, if you’re going to be chilling in very sunny or windy conditions for lengthy periods of time, you best cover them up. Take a hat or a scarf with you, or just pick one from all the fashionable options out there. But of course, if you love looking laid back, a boater hat will work just as well.
old wives' tale
This one isn’t much of a hair care than a debunk. Some people believe that if they pluck grey hair out from the root, three more grey hairs will grow back in their place. That old wives' tale is not true, but it is still a good idea not to pluck. If you pluck out too many grey hairs, you may have bald patches! And more grey hair will just grow back in its place. If you pluck too much, this may damage hair follicles so much so that hair no longer grows back. This may cause your hair to appear a lot thinner over time. Dyeing grey hairs is a better idea than plucking.
Everybody is bound to go through this inescapable phenomenon of greying. The best we can do is try and understand the whole game and integrate good old hair care. Well that was about everything you need to know about the hows, whys and whats of grey hair. And remember, at the end of the day Self care is Hair care. Do you agree with the list of facts about grey hairs and the hair care tips? or do you know any other hair care tips and facts about grey hairs ?