It all starts with the awful discovery of one grey. A horrible discovery. It usually gets pulled out as soon as it is found and has the potential to ruin our day. Then, after we realise that it is 100% normal, that strand of hair is not so special anymore and you may find more. The first overreaction that goes through your head is that you are old. Sometimes, premature greying surprises us, but it is a natural process as hair growth is! Restoring the original features in grey hair may feel challenging. However, there are some steps you can take to learn to control and slow down premature greying.
What is premature greying?
Greying is a biological process that occurs in “mid to mature” age (generally 40+). Our strands contain hair pigment – melanin, which determines our hair colour. After the cells stop creating pigment, silver strands turn to white gold. While most of us discover our first greys in our late-20s, people under 20 can also experience such changes.
There are many reasons why hair may be greying prematurely. And while stopping greying at a mature age is impossible, eliminating the causes of melanin loss and protecting your hair from harmful influences can stop in case of premature greying. By learning how to care for your silver hair, you’ll be able to accept and embrace the many possibilities mature hair has!
It’s natural that your first instinct is to cut off grey strands or even colour your hair after noticing premature greying. But, before undertaking such big steps, explore less invasive options first!
Reasons for hair turning grey before time
Usually, it’s genetic. One or more of your ancestors was unlucky enough to randomly develop a gene that causes this particular hair feature and it’s likely to have been in your family for hundreds of years! It could have been recessive (non-dominant) or totally dormant until you… and, to offer the most useless but accurate quote ever… who said life was fair? While premature greying is often hereditary, a consequence of autoimmune illnesses, nutritional deficiency or oxidative stress, other personal causes such as stress, poor habits, environmental factors, hair cosmetics, and daily maintenance can speed up the process, damage, and age the hair faster. We can’t always blame our genes, unfortunately!
Check your hormonal glands
While many external factors such as exposure to the sun, UV, pollution, chlorine, and sea salt can speed up premature greying, some causes can come from within. Thyroid gland dysfunction is associated with alopecia, hair dryness, dullness, and brittle shafts. However, autoimmune thyroid disease can lead to early greying, especially in women, as some studies have shown.
Hormonal disbalance is a common problem developed at a young age when the signs of premature greying occur for the first time. Progesterone and estrogen level changes are to be expected in mature age, resulting in hair growth stagnation and hair shaft thinning. The same hormonal fluctuation can happen in puberty, which can confuse our system and result in premature greying.
If the cause for premature greying is not genetics, your health might be the reason for the changes in hair colour and texture.
Can premature greying be reversed?
Once your hair loses pigment, it cannot naturally be restored to its original state. However, if you solve health issues that cause greying, avoid harmful external factors, and protect hair from things that could damage it, you can prevent further loss of pigmentation.
Of course, hiding greying with colouring is everybody’s first solution. But, hair and medical experts advise focusing on health improvement and altering some daily habits that lead to greying, such as:
You already know what we’re going to say here so it doesn’t really need to be said, especially when it is MUCH easier said than done. Our lifestyles dictate the amount of stress we’re facing and nobody actively chooses stress, it is just a negative by-product of things we do, like work or family. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to kickstart this change in our lives. But, once you do it, it will be very rewarding and life-transforming, not just for your hair! Less stress = healthy hair… there… we said it.
Feed your hair
Amazing hair requires more than just quality products and a well-thought-out routine. Shampoos, conditioners, masques, sprays and other hair treatments might nourish it, but you need to feed it from the inside too. Hair is just a tiny part of our system. To keep it healthy, you need to be healthy as well. Whether your hair is greying prematurely or you’re of mature age when the first silver strands appear, you need to keep the grey hair alive with a proper routine. Diets rich in amino acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins are essential for the well-being of your blood system, skin, scalp, and hair.
Use “sunscreen” on your hair
When hair starts aging before time, it becomes much more susceptible to environmental damage. Besides sun heat that affects the scalp and strands, your hair needs UV protection, even more than healthy hair does. One of the roles of hair pigment melanin is to protect the strands from free radicals, such as UV rays. Without it, UV can melt the cortex and damage the hair.
Covering your head with a cap, a scarf, or a hat would provide enough shields, but that doesn’t always match our style. We highly recommend using products that have scientifically proven UV protection to preserve the moisture your hair desperately craves this summer!
Enrich your haircare regimen with antioxidants
Hair studies have shown that oxidative stress can turn our hair grey early. Enriching your hair care and diet with antioxidants will help you fight unexpected changes. Luckily, there are many ways to boost your hair with antioxidants, whether it comes to nutrition, hair products with antioxidant properties, or customized in-salon anti-ageing treatment.
Wash and brush with care!
It’s not only about what you feed your hair with, but how you treat it. There are millions of small, seemingly meaningless things we do daily that damage the strands and follicles. Greying is usually followed by other hair issues, such as lacklustre hair, dryness, and breakage.
To restore shine and smoothness to your rapidly aging hair, it’s vital to put some thought into your daily hair routine:
- Use lukewarm and colder water when rinsing,
- Gently wipe the strands with a towel after washing,
- Wait for the hair to dry before brushing it with a brush designed for delicate hair.
Adjust the rest of your routine in the same manner because mechanical damage is one of the major culprits for split-ends and breakage.
Re-evaluate your daily habits
Everything we do affects our health and the surrounding environment. It’s no wonder that health risk choices like smoking and obesity affect our hair health.
According to a hair-related study from 2013, cigarette smokers under 30 are 25 times more prone to experience premature greying than non-smokers.
Remember, you always have a choice when it comes to hair care, so make healthy choices! Image source: color_me_todd
Take your vitamins…
You might have heard this phrase as a kid many times, and there is a reason for that. Vitamin deficiency causes many health issues that weaken our hair. You probably didn’t know that one of the main culprits for premature greying is vitamin B12 deficiency.
Besides boosting the nervous system, heart and brain function, vitamin B12 participates in blood cell creation. Blood red cells feed and stimulate hair cuticles, promoting growth and strength. To restore balance to your organism and boost the health of your hair, take plenty of food and supplements to compensate for vitamin deficiency. You can also speed up rejuvenation by adding products with vitamin B12 that stimulate the scalp and strengthen hair follicles to your haircare.
Play with new possibilities!
Facing unexpected premature greying can be overwhelming, but remember, grey is just another hair tone! Who you are and how the world sees you will not change with different hair colours. And if you ever considered dyeing, look at greying as an advantage. After restoring health to your hair, you’ll have a perfect canvas for any hair colour.
If dyeing was never an option – even better! While hair dyes can transform your look, nothing accents your natural beauty more than what Mother Nature gave you. Learn to embrace your uniqueness and think of it as an opportunity to kickstart healthy routines and transform your life for the better!