Going gray

going grayAlthough some women gracefully accept the idea of going grey, other women dread the arrival of the days on which they will gradually lose the natural colour of their hair. This is an understandable position, after all, grey hair is a reminder that we are getting older. Unfortunately, going grey after a certain age is inevitable. Almost all people will have a significant amount of grey hair by the time they turn 50. But aging is not the only factor that can cause your hair to go silver, sometimes other factors such as medications and changes in lifestyle can cause your hair to grow out in a different colour.

After years and years of investigation and research, scientists have gotten to the root of the problem: we are going grey because the melanocyte cells in our hair follicles become unable to produce melanin, the pigment responsible for colouring your hair. The damage that these cells have withstood over the years rendered them unable to produce this pigment. In the absence of melanin, the hair that grows out is white, grey or silver. Melanin production can also be disrupted by a build-up of naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles.

Some people will go grey prematurely, sometimes as early as their teens. Scientists believe that this has to do with genes. If your parents became grey early in their lives, it’s likely that you will also go grey early. Ethnicity is also a factor, and Caucasians are the first ones to go grey (in their mind-30s), then Asians (in their late 30s), and then African-Americans (in their mid-40s). The exact cause of this difference is yet to be determined by scientists.

What else might cause going grey?

Stress itself has not been found to directly cause grey hair, but some stress related events such as illnesses that caused your hair to fall out and even after chemotherapy, your hair may grow out with a different colour. Certain elements of your lifestyle can stress your hair and skin or lead to vitamin B12 deficiencies, which is known to cause loss of hair pigment. Smoking is a factor that can stress your hair to this extent. Grey hairs caused by low levels of vitamin B12 or pituitary or thyroid gland problems are reversible if the problems are treated.

What are your options in the face of irreversible discolouring of your hair?

In order to conceal grey hairs, you can resort to permanent or semi-permanent hair dyes. If you only have a few grey hairs, there is no need to dye your hair with a permanent hair dye, as you can opt for highlights or hair colouring shampoos.

Alternatively, if you dislike the idea of using hair dyes, you can embrace your silver mane and stop worrying about it altogether. Think of it as a colour choice and sport it with a chic hairstyle. If you’re worried that your grey hair will have a yellowish cast, you can use shampoos with a blue base that can prevent this problem. Keep your hair well moisturised, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and understand that beauty and confidence are not determined by one’s hair colour.

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