What Causes Gray Hair and How to Reverse Gray Hair?

It is alarming for most of us to see our hair turning gray. What is most disheartening for anyone is the premature graying of tresses.

On the other hand, many women and men like to sport silver hair in style.

The easiest way to tuck the gray hairs is to cover them with hair colors. But regular coloring of hairs will possibly increase hair fall and can cause other side effects as well.

Have you ever thought about the possibilities of reversing gray hair through natural solutions? Is it possible to stop or slow the process of graying hairs?

In this article, let us see in detail what causes gray hair and the possibilities of gray hair reversal.

What Causes Gray Hair?

There are several varied reasons for gray hair locks. Some people get silver strands in their twenties themselves. Some people have normal hair even at an old age.

The color of the hair is maintained and controlled by a pigment called melanin. It is the very same pigment that creates a tanning effect on the skin when exposed to direct sunlight.

The melanocyte is the cell in the skin and hair that produces and maintains the pigment melanin. There are three basic types of melanin: eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin. Eumelanin normally has a dark or dark brown color that becomes the color of the hair. Pheomelanin has a reddish-yellow color, and it helps in the production of keratin (protein) in keratinocyte cells of the hair.

Changes in the color of the hair occur when Melanocyte and Keratinocytes cells in the hair die or their density is reduced. As the melanocyte cells become fewer numbers, melanin scarcity occurs, and the new hairs that grow turn gray or lighter-dark in color.

Several reasons lead to the scarcity and death of melanocyte cells.

The production of hydrogen peroxide in hair cells does play a very important role in the graying of hair. This chemical is naturally produced in the hair cells of every person, young or old.

As a person grows older, the hair cells lose the capacity to break down this chemical due to a lack of enzymes that do this work.

Excess hydrogen peroxide in the hair cells produces bleaching effects on the hairs. As the hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair inside out, the hairs turn gray, and this process becomes rampant as more and more hydrogen peroxide is produced and stays without being broken down in each strand of the hair.

Let us examine various other reasons and conditions that influence the nourishment and decay of this cell and the eventual discoloration of hair.

Graying Due to Old Age

It is natural and nothing surprising. In dermatological terminology, it is represented in a 50=50=50 equation. “Fifty percent of the population has about 50% gray hair at age 50,” says Dr. Anthony Oro, professor of dermatology at Stanford University.

As the skin, muscles, and bones in the body change as a person grows in age, so too the hair. Precisely, melanocyte cells in the hair become dead or scarce as a person grows old, and it affects the color of the hair.

However, the percentage of hairs turning gray varies from person to person, even in old age. In most cases, you will have a similar pattern of tresses turning gray like your parents and grandparents.

Today with better knowledge of hair care and protection, you can significantly delay the graying process to a great extent.

Genealogical and Racial Factors

It is a fact that people of a certain racial lineage of birth have slower and rare instances of gray hair. The African-Americans have rare cases of premature graying, and even in old age, most of them retain the dark hair color.

People of Caucasian origin are the earliest to lose dark hair color, and Asians and Mongoloids have slower graying progress.

The various studies conducted on this genetic difference have not given any conclusive reason for this variation.

‘Mental Stress’ Effects on Hair

It is common for people to attribute mental stress as one of the reasons for premature graying. However, this is not a medically proven reason. Dr.Roopal Kundu at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine thinks that stress is more directly associated with hair fall than graying of the hair. The new hair strands that grow after the hair fall may become gray due to changes in hormonal activities arising out of over-stress.

Some of the medical treatments, like chemotherapy, may make you lose the hair, and the strands that grow newly could turn out to be gray or brownish.

Besides the mental stress, other physical stresses could also cause faster graying of hair.

Lifestyles and Habits

Smoking is one main reason for aggravating the issue of hair turning gray prematurely.

The nicotine in the smoke has a direct impact on the cells in the hair and skin. It is possible to detect the amount of nicotine or drugs present in the body by forensically testing the hairs.

People working and living in a polluted atmosphere and bathing in contaminated water have a direct impact on the graying and loss of hair.

Lack of Vitamins and Nutrients

Several medical studies have clearly shown the direct impact of poor nutrition and vitamin intake on the health of skin and hair.

People who suffer from anemia, an ill healthy physical condition arising out of poor nutrition and lack of Vitamin Bs, expedite the gyring of hair. Lack of Vitamin B5 affects the production of melanin pigment.

Most cases of premature graying are the result of anemia or thyroid conditions. It is good to eat plenty of foods that contain folic acid to fight anemia.

Toxic contents in food and drinks also cause damage to cells in hair and skin. It has also been found that oxidants and toxic elements in the body increase hair fall and graying of hairs. It is important to have foods and natural supplements with antioxidants to mitigate the toxicants in the body.

Dead or Inactive Melanocyte and Keratinocyte cells

Any severe damage or progressive destruction that occurs to Melanocyte and Keratinocytes cells in the hair has a profound effect on melanin pigment production and maintenance.

Premature graying occurs when these cells are damaged or not regenerated. As a person becomes older, these cells gradually become dead in progression; graying and loss of hairs, too occur accordingly.

It is the absence or lack of melanin production that is responsible for graying.

The life span of a single hair strand is one to three years, and it keeps on growing until it sheds.

The newly growing hairs are likely to be gray as the cells in the hair become weaker due to the non-availability of pigmentation elements.

The cells in the hair might lose the capacity to align and re-form the functioning of pigment-forming cells with the regenerating hair strands.

How to Reverse Gray Hair?

Can you reverse gray hair?

I am sure you might have come across several advertisements for treatments and diet solutions that promise to prevent the graying of hair and reverse those strands that are already gray.

There is no medically proven and guaranteed medication or method to stop the process of graying or reversing gray hair.

There are a few natural remedies that have proved to work for the growth and natural coloration of hair. However, these solutions do not necessarily produce the desired results in every person as reasons for hair fall and graying of hair vary from person to person.

Let us have a look at some of the popular natural remedies that can help you to have healthy and natural hair.

Onion Juice

As we have mentioned before, one of the reasons for the graying of hair is the presence of hydrogen peroxide in hair cells. Normally, an enzyme called Catalase breaks down this chemical, but the lack of this enzyme causes the bleaching of hair by hydrogen peroxide, which turns the hair into a gray color.

Onion juice extract has natural properties that can produce the catalase enzyme in hair cells, which will break down the hydrogen peroxide and stop the graying of hair.

This solution may not entirely reverse the hairs that are already gray, but it will prevent future graying of hairs; at least the new strand of hairs that grow would have the normal color.

Thistle Oil and Coconut Oil

Another most common remedy for reversing gray hair is the daily application of thistle and coconut oil mixture on the scalp and hairs.

Usually, about 2 tbsp of thistle oil should be mixed with 5 tbsp of coconut oil. Slightly heating can perfectly blend this mixture and then stir it for a couple of minutes.

Take a sufficient amount of this oil mixture into your palms and gently massage it into your scalp and hair for 2 minutes and leave it on the hair follicles to absorb the oil. The oil should be washed off from hair with normal water after 30 minutes; while rinsing the hair, you may use any mild organic shampoo if required.

Both these oils have a very long shelf life so that the leftover oil can be used on the following days.

The daily repetition of this process will help in lustrous hair growth and the prevention of hair turning gray.

Mustard Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, and Castor Oil

Jojoba oil is traditionally known for its benefits in hair growth.

Indian Ayurvedic medical stream has shown that a mixture of jojoba oil, mustard seed oil, and castor oil can reverse gray hair and promote the growth of healthy hair.

The best proportion of this mixture should contain 2 tbsp jojoba oil, 1 tbsp mustard seed oil, and 2 tbsp castor oil. This mixture could be heated at a low temperature and stirred for a few minutes for the perfect blending.

As usual, massage this oil mixture onto the scalp and hair for a few minutes, and after 30 minutes it could be washed off with cold or warm water.

The best results and continual benefit is achieved when this treatment is done once a day.

Alternative to Natural Remedies

Above, we have discussed a few natural remedies that can promote hair growth and prevent the grain of hair.

Besides natural remedies, there are a few popular allopathic solutions that have shown a certain amount of positive effects in reversing gray hair. These solutions mostly include vitamin complexes that have a direct impact on the normal health and growth of hair.

Pantothenic acid

It is also known as Vitamin B5, which is very important for the healthy functioning of pigmentation cells. It is mostly the lack of Pantothenic acid that reduces the production of melanin pigment that gives natural color to the hair.

It is found that a daily supplementary intake of 300mg of Vitamin B5 would help in the balanced production of melanin pigment to protect the hair from graying. The best natural source of Vitamin B5 is carrot, egg yolks, and whole grains.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is necessary for the growth and healthy functioning of Melanocyte cells that produce melanin. It is good to have a vitamin B complex supplement if your diet does not supply it naturally. The best natural source of Vitamin B6 is bananas, cereals, poultry products, and potatoes.

Biotin (Vitamin H)

Biotin is another important nutrient that will prevent hair from turning gray due to a lack of melanin. You could have a 300mg Biotin supplement for the maintenance of natural hair pigment. Biotin is also amply present in milk, liver, egg yolks, and brown rice; good to include these items in your diet plan.

There are a few complex vitamins and nutrient supplements readily available at pharmacy stores exclusively meant for the growth of healthy hair with natural colors. It is always good to consult a specialized physician before you opt for such supplements.

Final Thoughts

Natural graying of hair will occur to all with advancing age. Many factors, including malnutrition, stress level, environmental influences, diseases, genetic factors, and lifestyle, cause graying of hair.

Little progress can be made in reversing gray hair. However, with the help of natural remedies and vitamin supplements, the graying of hair can be delayed and reduced to a great extent. After all, if you have crossed 50 in age, it could be an excellent fashion statement to have some silver locks.