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Can You Get Grey Hair from Stress? It’s in the genes (but it’s more complicated than that)

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women flipping her short grey hair

Like the initial signs of wrinkles, the discovery of the first one or two grey hairs come as a shock for most people. While granny grey was a hair colour trend for the briefest of moments – and there are women who rightly and wholly embrace it – a grey mane is still closely associated with age for the most part – which explains why the trend never really caught on. Given that greying happens to pretty much everyone, it’s surprising how little is known about it.

With the positive identification of the gene that causes greying, however, science has leapt forward in providing a cure for the condition. Before we get to that, it’s necessary to understand the causes of greying in order to treat and prevent it.

Does Stress Really Give You Grey Hair?

platinum grey hair in a half bun

Genetics is the main factor that determines whether you get greys earlier or later in life. If either parent had a silver mop by their 30s, chances are higher that the same would happen for you. That said, factors like health, lifestyle and nutrition can affect natural hair colour too. Stress is not a direct cause of greying, but it can accelerate the condition, resulting in prematurely grey locks.

Why Does Hair Turn Grey In The First Place?

The colour of our hair comes from melanin, which are made by pigment cells in the hair follicle. As we get older, the pigment cells die and less melanin is produced, resulting in grey and eventually white hair. So, really, hair doesn’t “turn” grey, it simply starts growing that way due to a lack of melanin.

At What Age Is Greying Considered Premature?

On average, Asians start to spot greys in the late 30s while Caucasians experience it around the mid-30s. Anything before these benchmarks is considered premature.

What Causes Premature Greying Then?

old man with grey hair sitting on a bench

• A deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B12, can lead to the loss of hair pigment. A well-balanced diet rich in proteins and essential nutrients improves overall wellbeing and by association, the proper functioning of hair cells, including melanin-producing cells.

• Smoking is a big no-no for both skin and hair – one study indicated that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to grey before age 30 as compared to non-smokers. White hair may also look yellowish as a result.

• Medical conditions such as thyroid dysfunction and certain diseases can also have an impact on the immune system, cause deficiencies and lead to early greying. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out in patches, particularly non-grey hairs. It can feel like overnight greying when all the hair that is left is grey or white. Hair that grows back could also be grey or white if there is a melanin deficiency.

• Stressful events, such as injury, illnesses or medical treatments like chemotherapy may deplete pigment-forming cells, resulting in premature greying. As mentioned, while stress is not a direct cause of greying before your time, chronic or extreme stress can have a negative impact on the body and contribute to the condition.

If I Pluck A Strand Of Grey, Will More Grow Back In Its Place?

If you pluck one grey hair, three will grow back in its place. That’s just an old wives’ tale. But still, don’t do it. Once a hair follicle has lost its melanin-making ability, the hair will always grow out grey or white. More importantly, yanking hair out can deform the follicle, causing new hair growth to be crinkly or wiry. Even worse, the follicle can be so damaged that it no longer grows hair, and your mane gradually becomes thinner.

How Do I Care For Or Prevent Greying Hair?

hair follicles

Hair is naturally protected by a cuticle layer from environmental elements, UV rays, chemicals and heat-styling. Grey hair has a thinner cuticle layer, which causes it to lose water more easily. That’s why greys can feel drier, coarser and more fragile.

Ageing is inevitable but it is possible to delay the process by taking proper care of the scalp as early as you can. An anti-ageing home care system like the AGE Defy Range is designed to tackle the first signs of ageing, such as premature greying or hair that has grown finer and more brittle from the roots. Moisture treatments and nourishing leave-in hair oils and serums can prevent dullness, dryness and frizz.

Are There Any Treatments To Reverse Greying?

Once a hair follicle has lost its melanin-making capabilities, new hair growth will always be grey or white. To boost melanin production requires intervention at a cellular level. That’s where the MIRACLE STEM CELL SOLUTION for reverse greying comes in. Backed by revolutionary stem cell research, the non-invasive treatment activates non-performing pigment-forming stem cells to kickstart the melanin factory and maintain its performance. Hair gradually regains the natural hue of its former, youthful self, and greying is delayed so you can kiss regular root touch-ups goodbye!