But eventually you’ll notice it – the first gray hair.
And you’ll realize it’s happening to you: your hair is turning white.
But why does hair turn white? And what, if anything, can you do about it?
In this article, we’ll look at what causes people to go gray, dispel some myths, and look at some options.
The Science Behind Gray Hair
Just like your skin, your hair has pigments called melanin. In hair, the two types of melanin are eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin is dark brown to black. Pheomelanin is reddish yellow. All hair color is created from a blend of these two types of melanin.
Your hair is turning white because your body has stopped creating these pigments in the same amount it once did.
Charcoal or silver hair is hair that still has some melanin, where white hair is hair that has no melanin left at all.
The good news is that your hair turning white is a matter of genetics and DNA, not diet, not overall health, not lifestyle choices, or stress.
So you didn’t do anything wrong just because you’re going gray.
The bad news is that white hair is a matter of genetics, and DNA, not diet, overall health, and stress…
Which means that there’s really nothing you can do to stop it or slow it down once you start noticing it happening.
But I Heard Gray Hair Is Caused By…
There are a lot of rumors out there about why hair turns white. Some people believe stress can cause gray hair.
Some people think plucking your first grays will cause more to grow in faster. Or even over-coloring your hair is another rumor.
In some animal studies, exercise seemed to keep hair from going gray, and stress made them go gray faster.
But that same result couldn’t be repeated in human trials. So far, there’s no scientific indication that stress causes hair to turn white.
Also, since each hair has its own melanin, plucking or even coloring an individual hair won’t affect the other hairs. So you can’t speed up or slow down the graying process by plucking or coloring.
One study, however, has indicated hydrogen peroxide buildup may play a part in your hair turning white. Your hair naturally produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
Over time, it can build up and that build up may contribute to a loss of hair color.
But again, it takes time and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, so even this reason for your hair turning white ends up having the same impact as simple aging.
Looking Your Best with White Hair
Men have it a little easier when they go gray than women do. It’s still not easy, mind you, but easier.
Men who go gray have a better chance of being considered “distinguished” “mature” or “responsible”.
Women who go gray aren’t always as lucky. Whether you’re male or female though, deciding to embrace your gray can be a major decision.
Here are some ways to not just accept your gray locks, but look fabulous while doing it.
Pick Your Protection. White hair has a different texture than pigmented hair. So, it’s prone to a whole different kind of environmental damage. Once you decide to embrace your white hair, protect it. Pick products specially designed to offer UV and environmental protection specifically for gray hair.
Moisturize – Wisely. Because white hair has a different texture, the same hair products you’ve been using to keep your hair conditioned and styled may not work as well any longer. Make sure you’re using light-weight products that won’t weigh your hair down or make it look dusty.
Keep Your New Color. You still have hair color. Now, it’s just white…or silver…or charcoal. Keep it from going dull or turning yellow by using a shampoo with a silver or even blue undertone. Just be sure you only use it a time or two per month to avoid the dreaded “blue hair” syndrome.
Ditch Your Old Color. If you’ve been coloring your hair, making the transition to all white could be a challenge as it grows out. Talk to your hair dresser about what options he or she recommends. There are ways to make the transition from dye job to all natural look better. And while you’re in their chair, ask about a new cut or style that will highlight your white, rather than make you look old.
Change Your Colors. This one’s for women, mostly, but men might want to consider it when choosing their clothes, too. The colors you wore as a blonde, a brunette, or a redhead probably won’t work any longer. From makeup to the clothes closest to your face, the colors you choose can help your white hair shine – or drag you down. So play with palettes and try jewel tones or even metallic silver. If you can’t get the hang of a new look, don’t be afraid to ask for help from department store professionals.
Honestly, why you’re going gray doesn’t really matter all that much. It’s natural and almost out of your control.
But what does matter is that you realize you’re still beautiful, still handsome, and still relevant.
Embrace your gray. Your hair may be white, but only you can decide if it makes you old.