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Why Does Gray Hair Appear with Age?

When we think of getting older, many of us picture wrinkles, less energy, and retirement. A changing hair color typically isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Look around, even at your older family members, and you may see a lot of people with graying or white hair. Unfortunately, hair color isn’t something that stays the same throughout our lives. Why is that?

In short, and to paraphrase a 2014 article in Science Magazine, we can thank a pigment called melanin for our hair changing colors. Melanin is produced by hair follicles, and our bodies make less of it as we get older. This is what causes white hair, which can eventually lead to gray hair.

While decreased production of melanin is the main cause of hair changing colors, there are a couple other factors that may contribute to gray or white hair.

Why Does Gray Hair Appear with Age?

Gray hair appears with age because of a reduction in melanin production and pigmentation. The hair follicles stop producing melanin. So, the hair turns gray or white.

Other factors such as genetics, stress, hormonal changes etc also contribute when the gray hair will appear.

Why Does Hair Color Change With Age?


Reaons of Hair Color Change With Age - Stress

You know your friends joke that your gray hair is from stress? Yeah, well, they’re not kidding! Many doctors and health professionals will be the first to tell you that stress can lead to gray hair. 

A Harvard Health article says this is because, “Your hair follicles produce less color as they age, so when hair goes through its natural cycle of dying and being regenerated, it’s more likely to grow in as gray beginning after age 35.”

You’ve Colored Your Hair A Lot

Reaons of Hair Color Change With Age - Excessive Hair Dyeing

If you spend a lot of your life coloring your hair, all those chemicals are going to affect your hair color. While normally your hair would change to gray or white as you age, the amount of chemicals in your hair, like hydrogen peroxide, are going to alter that. Bleach and chlorine are two other chemicals that alter hair color.

Geneticist Trisha Chong says melanocytes (the cells that make melanin) wear out as we get older. This makes them less effective at passing pigment into the hair, and this is what ends up making the hair white or gray.

What Can You Do if You Don’t Like the Color Change?

Some people have a hard time accepting their getting older and all that comes with it. If you happen to be one of those people and are looking for some advice, there are a few things you can do.

Embrace It

Embracing Hair Color Change with Age

Instead of trying to cover those white hairs, let them grow! Some older women, and even younger women, have gone completely white to embrace their beautiful aging. There’s something mysterious and gorgeous about an older woman who flaunts a luscious white mane. You can grow it out long or style it up in a cute bob or pixie.

Flaunting white hair means you can also get playful and add bright streaks of color like pink or purple! Wear the color up close, near the face, or add the streak under the hair so it’s only your little secret.

Visit A Stylist to Cover Gray and White Hair

Some hair stylists specialize in covering gray and white hair. After looking up one in your area, book an appointment to see how they can work their magic in your mane. If you want to try covering them on your own, check into purchasing a hair dye like Revlon Colorsilk, Garnier Olia, and L’Oreal Paris Excellence Creme.

There are some shades of hair dye that are better at covering grays, such as medium browns, but you can decide for yourself which color you’d prefer!

Use Henna

Use Henna to Cover Grey Hair

Henna hair dye has a reputation for working really well on gray hair. You can either see a stylist to apply it or purchase the henna in your preferred color and use it on your own at home.

Play with Vibrant Hair Colors

Do neither of the above options work for you? Some older women and men with a lot of gray and white hair end up covering it up with vibrant colors. Use those grays and whites as an opportunity to truly embrace your fun side!

We’re in the 21st century, so there’s always some way to fix an aspect of your body. Just like how some people choose botox to get rid of and prevent more wrinkles, you can use hair dye to feel a little more comfortable with your changing hair color!