Causes of Grey Hair

Grey hair is a part of the natural aging process and is something many of us go through as we age. But why does hair turn grey in the first place? While there is no simple answer, the underlying cause of grey hair is the same: a decrease in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives your hair its colour.

Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of grey hair:


It is widely thought that genetics is the primary cause of grey hair. Those whose parents experienced premature greying are more likely to also experience premature greying themselves. It has been estimated that approximately 30% of people will have some grey hair by age 30 and 50% by age 50.

Genetics can give clues as to how chromosomes, hormones, and other chemical factors may contribute to grey hair. When we are born, the genetic code contains information about how much melanin (the pigment responsible for hair color) our bodies will produce. The combination of genes from both parents creates melanin production in various amounts which then determines our hair coloration.

The genetic expression for melanin production deteriorates over time, leading to decreased melanin production and increasing chances of having grey or white hair. This process is greatly affected by extrinsic factors like:

  • Nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Environmental pollution
  • Chemical exposure

which can accelerate the greying process even earlier than what is determined genetically.


Hormones are an important factor in the causes of grey hair. As we age, our bodies produce less and less melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair its color. When we reach certain levels of low melanin production, our hair starts to go grey.

In addition to age, some medical conditions can also reduce melanin production, such as autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies and thyroid disease. Stress and genetics can also affect hormone levels, leading to premature greying of hair.


Stress has been shown to be a major factor in hair graying. The effects of stress on the body can cause more melanin to be broken down and that causes the hair to become grey over time. Scientists believe that the sudden release of cortisol and other hormones caused by stress can inhibit melanocyte stem cells from producing the dark pigment, melanin, which gives hair its color.

It is not just emotional or psychological stress that can cause gray hairs but also physical stress such as surgery, infection or simply overexertion due to lack of sleep or poor nutrition.

How Hair Turns Grey

It’s often said that hair turns grey as we age, but the science behind this isn’t so straightforward. In actuality, the hair follicles of humans produce less melanin as we age, leading to a decrease in the colour intensity of our hair. This results in a gradual change from the darker hair colour we have as youth to the lighter colour of grey hairs we may have as elders.

In this section, we will discuss the various ways in which hair can turn grey as we age:

Melanin production slows

As we age, the production of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color, slowly decreases. This process begins as early as when a person is in their 20s but is typically identified by the mid-30s. Hair follicles may produce random white or gray hairs during this time, and eventually the majority of strands may take on a similar appearance.

As we get older, melanin production slows at an even greater rate until it stops all together. The cells that provide pigment to our strands of hair can no longer be maintained and becomes dormant or dies off entirely. When this happens, the hair grows without pigment and turns grey or even white in some cases.

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The rate at which hair turns grey varies from person to person depending on several factors including genetics and lifestyle choices such as smoking and sun exposure can speed up the process. However, there are treatments available that can help to slow down the development of graying hair for those who are looking for ways to counteract this natural aging process.

Hair follicles shrink

As we get older, the melanin production in our hair follicles decreases and hair turns grey, silver, or white. The process of this happens gradually over time. As the body ages, the hair follicles shrink and produce less melanin which leads to discoloration.

Graying of the hair occurs due to a combination age-related changes within the pigment cells (melanocytes) that regulate melanin production. As the amount of pigment decreases within a single strand of hair cuticle, the strand begins to reflect more light and appear lighter in color compared to other strands. Over time this lightening occurs in all hairs but is often more noticeable at age 40 and beyond due to decreased melanocyte activity with aging. This graying of the hair is irreversible once it has occurred due to unchangeable factors such as genetics, hormones and environmental factorssmoking, pollution and sun exposure.

Hair shaft becomes thinner

As we age, the gland that produces pigment in the hair follicle (melanocyte) decreases in its production of melanin. The hair shaft starts to thin as it loses its primary source of color. This diminished pigmentation is often perceptible first at the temples and crown of the head, gradually spreading until much or all of our head hair has turned to a white or grey color. Hair also tends to lose its luster and become dry and brittle because it’s no longer receiving vital nutrients produced in healthy follicles. Shrunken, sparse growth might also start to appear – although excessive hereditary loss (androgenic alopecia) shouldn’t be confused with premature greying caused by aging.[1]

Preventing Grey Hair

Grey hair is a growing concern for many people and is often a sign of aging. Understanding the causes of grey hair can help people make better decisions to try to prevent it. Does hair turn grey or grow grey? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the causes of grey hair and some preventive measures that can help reduce the chances of grey hair in the future.

Eating a balanced diet

One of the best ways to keep your hair healthy and ensure that it doesn’t start turning grey prematurely is through eating a balanced diet. Eating healthy foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals will help keep your hair looking its best. Eating a variety of colored fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins can provide your body with all the nutrients it needs for a healthy head of hair.

This includes vitamins such as B12, C, D & E as well as minerals such as copper, selenium & zinc – all of which are important for the health of your hair follicles. Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to reduced grey hairs and improved scalp circulation. Including foods like salmon or other fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet can be beneficial for keeping premature greying at bay.

Minimizing stress

Stress has been implicated as one of the causes of premature hair greying. Although it has yet to be medically proven, some evidence points to stress-related hormones damaging the pigment cells responsible for colouring your hair. Minimizing stress can certainly not hurt when trying to fight grey hair.

Get enough rest and try to reduce pressures or discomforts in both work and life by finding constructive ways to handle challenging situations. Meditation, yoga, exercise, listening to music and spending time with friends are good ways of de-stressing. Some also find activities like gardening or painting provide emotional comfort that help minimize stress levels.

Eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods is also important for fighting off the signs of stress that can ultimately damage the colour cells in your scalp. Eating less processed foods such as lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables will help relax the body’s overall system by supplying it with nutritional intake which will lead to a calmer frame of mind and better sleep quality.

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Using hair care products with natural ingredients

Using hair care products with natural ingredients such as jojoba oil, avocado oil and carrot seed oil can help to keep your hair healthy and prevent it from turning grey. These oils contain antioxidants that nourish the cells in your scalp, stimulating blood circulation and promoting healthy hair growth. Jojoba oil is especially beneficial as it has a similarity to the natural oils that are found in scalp, helping to fortify the cuticle and guard against further damage.

In addition to using protective ingredients on your hair, ensuring that you eat a balanced diet plentiful in vitamins A, B-complex and C is important for healthy hair growth. You should also aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day as well as exercising regularly to ensure good circulation. Finally, avoid exposing yourself to too much stress or extreme temperatures as these can prematurely age your hair follicles – both of which can contribute towards greying of the hair.

Treating Grey Hair

Grey hair is a natural part of the aging process. While it can start as early as your twenties, gray hair usually becomes more visible as you age. Although there is no real way to stop or reverse this process, there are certain treatments that you can use to reduce the look of gray hair.

In this section, we’ll look at some of the treatments available to treat grey hair:

Hair dyes

Hair dyes are one of the most common ways to cover grey hair. While many people opt for those that are available in stores, hair colouring at a salon may be a better option as you can get a more natural-looking colour and have an expert colourist apply permanent or semi-permanent dye using specific techniques. Salon products typically offer more vibrant colors and last longer compared to those available over the counter.

When it comes to hair dyes, there’s a range of options to choose from – from

  • permanent colours that can last up to several months,
  • to semi-permanent ones that tend to last 6–8 washes.

You should always do an allergy test 48 hours before applying permanent dye or any other type of hair colouring despite not having previously experienced an allergic reaction. For temporary colour solutions, it is advisable not to leave these on for too long as the chemicals contained in these products may damage your scalp or any manual application could lead to skin damage in case of contact with eyes and lips.

Hair highlights

Hair highlights are a popular way to liven up grey hair. Highlights come in all shades, from pale blonde to deep red. Hair highlights can brighten up a hairstyle and make it look more youthful. They can also camouflage the look of infrequent hair coloring by adding subtle pops of color throughout the mane.

Highlighting techniques can vary based on the size of the desired streaks, whether or not you want added volume, and your hair’s natural texture. Common highlighting techniques include:

  • Foil highlights
  • Balayage-style highlights, where lightening chemicals are painted onto sections of hair.

Depending on your desired effect and natural texture, you may want to opt for one technique over another. For example, if you want larger sections of color or wide swaths of lightness throughout your mane, foil highlighting may be best suited to get those dramatic effects. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a sun-kissed appearance that won’t appear too dramatically different from your natural color palette then balayage is likely a better option for lighter overall effects on grey locks.

No matter which method you choose for treating grey hair with highlights, be sure to visit an experienced stylist who can assess the condition of your strands before proceeding with any chemical treatments!

Hair extensions

Hair extensions are a viable option if your hair has prematurely turned white or grey. Hair extensions can be used to create a seamless blend between the lighter or darker shades of your natural hair and give the appearance of an even color. Attached with clips, bonds, tape or weave, extensions can be found in human, synthetic or a combination of both types and come in a variety of colors allowing you to achieve exactly the desired look.

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However, some caution should be taken when using hair extensions to disguise grey hair. When using blonde hair extensions on darker hair, the result can often appear multi-tonal and unnatural so it is important to assess each individual’s needs before making any decisions. Professional hairdressers will typically recommend a great deal of research before committing and opting for such an option. Even then it is always recommended to seek advice from an experienced stylist for assistance in bringing out yours best look possible because improperly applied extensions can tug at the scalp leading to pain and potential damage if not properly adjusted into place and styled correctly.

Natural Remedies

Understanding why hair turns grey is the first step to finding natural remedies. Grey hair starts to appear when the body produces less melanin, the pigment that gives our hair its colour. Although genetics and age often play a role on when our hair turns grey, there are natural remedies anyone can do to reduce or stop the greying process.

Let’s look at some of these remedies:

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural remedy that has been proven to combat the premature graying of hair. Coconut oil contains lauric acid along with an array of other beneficial components such as Vitamin E, antioxidants, and proteins that are helpful in maintaining healthy hair follicles and preventing the onset of grey hairs. When applied in combination with other natural oils or herbs such as amla, neem, shikakai, or hibiscus, coconut oil can even reverse graying hair.

To use it effectively on your hair:

  1. Warm some coconut oil in a pan until it’s warm to the touch without burning.
  2. Massage it into your scalp and cover all the strands of your hair – using just enough to make sure everything has a light coating.
  3. Leave on for at least 20 minutes before washing off with warm water followed by shampooing as usual.
  4. Repeat up to 2 times per week for best results.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is known for its many uses in home remedies, and it is often thought to help in preventing premature greying of hair. While it is true that extreme stress can cause greying as a result of inadequate nutrition or disease, lemon juice has not been scientifically proven to slow or reverse the process of hair greying. Nevertheless, its acidic quality may promote better scalp circulation and make it easier for the body’s natural oils to penetrate and nourish the hair follicles.

To give it a try:

  1. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water.
  2. Massage the mixture into your scalp gently but thoroughly.
  3. Leave the mixture on your head for 10 minutes then rinse with cold water.
  4. Repeat this process once weekly for best results.

If you find that you have an allergy to citrus fruits, use caution when using lemon juice on your scalp. Always do a patch test on a small area before using any product containing citrus fruits on your scalp.

Amla powder

Amla powder, also known as Indian gooseberry, is one of the most effective natural remedies when it comes to reversing grey hair. Amla powder is a popular ingredient in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and has been used for centuries in India to reduce greying of hair.

It contains high levels of Vitamin C which helps strengthen the hair follicles and gives them better resistance against damage from free radicals and other environmental factors. Additionally, amla powder helps improve circulation in the scalp which can help promote healthier hair follicles and improve melanin production, thus resulting in darker strands.

Applying a paste made from amla powder mixed with water or oil (e.g., coconut or olive oil) to your scalp can help condition hair strands, nourish the scalp, and prevent greying of your hair.

By Reiki

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