Graying hair is usually associated with advancing age. The older a person gets, the more prominent their gray hair is. Some people cover their gray or white hair with dye while others don’t bother and just allow their hair as it is.
The hair turns gray when the pigment cells in the hair follicles that produce melanin start to die. Melanin, the chemical that gives our skin its color, is also the same stuff that gives hair its natural color such as black, red, brown, blonde, and others. As the hair’s pigment becomes fewer, the hair becomes transparent until it turns gray altogether.
While aging is a process we all go through, there is what others call as premature aging. Emerging scientific evidence suggests that our hair can age prematurely when it’s exposed to factors that cut its life short. Some of these factors include genetics, hormones, lifestyle, and environmental pollutants.
Your hair can age prematurely when the process starts as early as in your twenties, which science says can happen rarely. The hair follicles naturally start producing less melanin as you hit the thirties. And it’s when you hit the forties that your hair’s gray color becomes more prominent.
If you or someone you know is already dyeing their hair before hitting their forties, chances are they might have been exposed to the following factors that trigger their hair to slowly lose its natural color prematurely.
Factors that Speed Up the Hair to Turn Gray
Daily stresses of life
Research says, under stressful conditions, the body can produce hormones that can deplete the hair of melanocytes, which are the stem cells that determine hair color.
Your genes are one of the determining factors whether your hair will turn gray earlier or a bit later in life.
Lack of sun exposure
Hair follicles need vitamin D for nourishment. A lack thereof can lead the hair to lose pigmentation. However, the hair’s direct exposure to the sun is not what enables it to absorb vitamin D. Vitamin D can only be absorbed through the skin.
Any problems in the thyroid can also affect hair follicles leading to grayish hair.
A lack of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 also plays a crucial role in the health of your hair follicles. A deficiency in this vitamin can speed up your hair’s aging process.
The nicotine in cigarettes is also linked to your hair’s premature graying.
The food you eat can affect your hair follicles whether to delay graying hair or hasten the process a bit more. Hydrogen peroxide is a waste product that occurs naturally in the body’s metabolic process. A buildup of this waste in the hair follicles can bleach it from the inside out. But this can be prevented by eating foods that contain antioxidant enzyme catalase, which has the power to break down hydrogen peroxide.
Some factors that affect your hair follicles and trigger the onset of gray hair include pollutants, chemical exposure, climate, and pollution.
Effective Ways to Delay the Aging Process of your Hair
While no one hundred percent guarantee reversing the color of your hair from gray to black or brown is possible, there are, however, things you can do to delay the graying process of your hair. Experts suggest the following ways are effective:
1. Eat foods that are high in catalase
As we’ve mentioned earlier, catalase helps break down the chemicals that bleach the hair follicles from the inside out. Eating foods rich in catalase is an advantage. These foods include cauliflower, onions, garlic, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and potatoes. They enable your hair to return its youthful glow more naturally.
2. Include zinc in your diet
In addition to catalase, eating foods that are high in zinc is another natural way to maintain your hair’s health. Experts say zinc can help the hair retain its natural color. The foods that are rich in zinc are prawns and shrimps. Pumpkin seeds and cheese are also high in zinc content.
3. Increase your Vitamin B12 intake
Since a deficiency in this vitamin leads hair to turn gray, you can reverse or prevent the process by increasing your intake of Vitamin B12. The best sources are animal products like poultry, fish, meat, eggs, milk, and milk products. For vegetarians, fortified breakfast cereals can be the best alternative.
4. Gorge on antioxidants
Oxidative stress is a lifestyle factor that’s hard to avoid or prevent. And one of its harmful effects is the premature aging of hair, making it white. Loading up on antioxidants is the best way to fight against oxidative stress. You can naturally get your antioxidants from chocolates, pecans, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, raspberries, kale, beans, red cabbage, and beets.
5. Give up your smoking habits
Studies confirmed that smoking can have ill effects on your hair follicles and deplete it of pigmentation. You can help your hair maintain its color by giving up on your smoking habits. This is not only helpful to your hair health but your skin health as well.
6. Have a health professional test your thyroid
If you don’t follow an unhealthy lifestyle and eat nutritious food, the cause of your hair’s premature gray color might be thyroid issues. When you have an untreated thyroid issue, the symptoms can include the weakening and graying of hair.
7. Manage your stress levels
Though there’s no scientific evidence that can back this one up, still some experts suspect that there’s a link somewhere between stress and premature graying of hair. Reduce your stress levels by doing activities that can boost your mood and ease yourself up a bit. Taking mini vacations, exercising, practicing meditation and mindfulness, and giving time to your hobbies are some of the things that can refresh you. These activities help you take breaks from inevitable stressful situations.
8. Natural hair treatments
Some people say natural treatments are also effective in covering white hair. An example is the use of natural henna powder and coffee mixture. All you have to do is brew one tablespoon of instant coffee in a cup of water. Once done, pour the brewed coffee into a container with five tablespoons of Henna powder. Stir while pouring to avoid lumps. After the mixture has cooled down, you can apply it directly on your scalp and hair and leave it on for about three to four hours. Rinse with warm water and use sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates can strip the natural oils on your scalp and hair as well as hair color.
This process doesn’t reverse white hairs, but it can help cover up the appearance of white hair by giving your hair a reddish tone. You can try it and see if this one works for you. If it doesn’t, walking towards the nearest hair salon to have a more natural hair color effect might suit you well.