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Scientists Explain the Reasons for Graying Hair and Ways to Slow the Process Down

British dermatologists held a set of experiments and found out that by the age of 50, 50% of the world's population has at least 50% gray hair. Additionally, fair-skinned people's hair starts to turn gray after 30, Asian people's hair - at approximately 40, and the hair of people with dark skin - after 40. It's a natural process called depigmentation; however, sometimes gray hair might start to appear at 20 or 30. Why does this happen?

Bright Side is going to tell you why hair starts to turn gray, what problem it might signal, and how to slow this process down.

What gives color to hair?

Hair growth and color depend on the structure and proper work of hair follicles, or to be exact melanocyte cells that produce melanin. Melanin consists of eumelanin and pheomelanin and, depending on the amount and proportion of these pigments, the whole spectrum of hair colors known to us are formed.

The activity of melanin decreases with age or under the influence of processes happening inside the body. It literally stops cooperating with hair proteins and that's how gray hairs start to appear at the roots. The process of turning completely gray may last for up to 10 years - hair can't turn gray instantly even if severe stress took place in a person's life. Those stresses can only speed up the process of worsening hair structure.

Reasons that can cause the appearance of gray hair

  • Genetic reasons - if the hair of many members of your family turned gray at an early age, then you are likely to have the same destiny.
  • Thyroid problems
  • Deficiency of vitamins B and iron in the blood
  • Taking certain medicine
  • Malnutrition, as well as regular consumption of products high in sugar, flour, sodium glutamate, salt, dyes
  • Smoking that prevents oxygen supply to cells

Myths about gray hair

  • If you pluck one gray hair, you'll get 6 new gray hairs in its place instead. The number of your gray hair will not increase but instead could decrease because the hair won't grow back. That happens because the follicle gets damaged after constant plucking and after some time it will eventually stop the process of this hair's growth. If you want to get rid of a gray hair that bad, you can cut it off at the root with the help of scissors.
  • Does the structure of gray hair change? Your hair may get thinner. However, the bulk of complaints are related to increased dryness and stiffness of hair. These are a consequence of a decrease in the activity of the sebaceous glands of the scalp.
  • Gray hair has a gray color. That's a myth. In fact, completely gray hair is transparent. As the activity of melanin decreases, it can even acquire a yellowish tinge. It seems gray only because of an optical illusion.

How to fight graying hair and prevent its appearance?

  • Change your diet and include vegetables, fruits, and foods rich in vitamin B12 (fish and other seafood, milk, curd, eggs, chicken), B9 (rice, kidney beans, lentils), copper and iron (cashew nuts, liver, almonds). Not only will a large amount of protein and vitamins help your hair, but it will help your body stay in good shape too.
  • Visit a doctor and get a medical checkup - of your thyroid, in particular. They can detect problems that you didn't even notice.
  • Have a head massage regularly - it will increase blood flow to hair follicles and improve their nourishment.
  • Get a trendy hairstyle. Short hair always looks great, it's easier to take care of, and it maintains the required volume longer. Another win-win option is to get a shag haircut. It enhances almost all face types and can be styled in several different ways.
  • Do regular hair masks. They will nourish your hair roots and activate the exchange processes. Recipe #1: Mix 2 tbsp of coconut oil and the juice of half a lemon. Leave the mixture on for 10 minutes and apply to your hair with the help of a cotton pad, paying attention to the roots. Massage your head. Rinse after 10-15 minutes. You can also try other recipes like this or this.
  • Don't hide your graying hair. You can follow brave and famous actors like Richard Gere, George Clooney, and Jamie Lee Curtis who prefer to not hide their gray hair. Also, you can create trendy gray hair with the help of dyes. Actually, gray tinges are currently pretty popular which caused Instagram users to post their photos with the hashtag #grannyhair. Celebrities also didn't pass this trend by and bravely dyed some strands of their hair gray like Cara Delevingne.

Are you aware of other remedies that help to fight gray hair? Please tell us about them in the comments!

Preview photo credit eastnews, curtisleejamie / instagram