If you have found a few gray, white, or silver strands of hair popping up, acting as if it belonged in a sea of color, you might have begun wondering this very thing. It is a common question with quite a fascinating answer.
Many people find this event undesirable and attempt to dye the colorless strands, but this will not stop your genes from doing what they are meant to do. Long story short, your hair follicles are starting to slow down the production of melanin. Melanin is the chemical created by many pigment cells that each follicle should carry. It gives your hair the color determined by your unique genes ranging from red to black. Melanin is also what causes various skin colors and decides if you will burn or tan more easily in the sunlight, fair skin has less melanin and dark skin has more. There are two prevailing reasons for the lack of melanin production in someone’s hair; stress and old age.
Even if you are in your early forties and lots of other people your age have as much color to their hair as they did twenty years ago, you have little reason to be concerned. White hair is a natural part of the aging process. Based on your genes, this may happen to you earlier or later in life than others. If both of your parents had lots of hair pigment well into their fifties, chances are you will too.
As we age, the pigment cells in our hair follicles will slowly die, leaving fewer to produce melanin over time. The hair that grows from these follicles will become more transparent and show up as gray or white. This usually happens gradually, as you will find a few strands here and there rather than your whole scalp all at once, but as you continue to grow older more of these pigment cells will die and leave you less color.
Many believe stress is a silent killer. It has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and several psychological issues. Among these effects, playing a role in causing hair to turn white has been acknowledged by the scientific community. While graying hair in the teenage years and early adulthood is possible and can be attributed to the person’s genetic coding in many cases, stress could also be a reason. If long-term ongoing stress is part of your life, certain hormones in your body can be produced as a response. These hormones can deplete the pigment cells in your follicles, essentially removing their ability to make melanin for your hair.
While a very gradual change like this is possible, one shocking experience in your life won’t make your entire scalp suddenly turn white. A story this myth likely comes from is one that claims Marie Antoinette’s full head of hair turned stark white the day before she was beheaded. The story is interesting, but it is not something supported by science.
If you’re ready for a new look, and are tired of the grays on your head, contact Cincinnati Hair Loss today and we can help!