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  5. White Hair: What, Why & How To Reverse Premature Greying?

Premature white hair giving you nightmares? If you’re one of those youngsters who is dealing with unwanted grey hair and trying to reverse it through various tricks, this article is a must-read for you.

Greying hair is a part of your natural ageing process. Your skin has millions of hair follicles that contain a pigment called melanin. As you age, hair follicles lose this pigment turning your hair into grey. Scroll down to find out what causes premature greying and how you can deal with it.

  Highlights:

What Causes White Hair?

1. Genetics

According to studies, premature greying is related to genetics [1]. It is likely that you will have grey hair at an early age if your mother or father had premature grey hair. It is also related to geography and race according to a study performed in 2013. People in a certain country can have grey hair much earlier than people in other countries. White people can get white hair even in their 20s, while Asian people most likely start getting white hair in their mid 20s. For African-Americans, the age of greying hair starts at 30.

2. Stress

Stress can lead to a flood of problems like anxiety, high blood pressure, sleeping issues, skin disorders and so on. Adding to this list is premature greying of hair. Yes, stress can turn your hair grey [2]. A study done in 2013 observed a link between stress and depletion of stem cells in the hair follicles of mice.

3. Diet

An imbalanced diet can speed up greying of hair. Processed foods, cold drinks, excess intake of salt and sugar increase the risk of free radical generation in the body that can cause grey hair.

4. Vitamin Deficiency

Yes, lack of vitamins like vitamin B, D, E, biotin can lead to premature greying of hair [3]. Vitamin deficiencies can affect pigmentation, but can be reversed using vitamin supplements. Talk to your doctor if you want to incorporate supplements in your diet.

5. Pollution/Weather Conditions

Pollutants in the air generate free radicals and oxidative stress. This can in turn cause damage to the melanin cells, speeding up hair greying[4].

6. Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress [5] can be a reason behind your premature white hair. It happens when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. When your antioxidants are not adequate to retaliate the effects of free radicals, it leads to many health issues, including ageing. Excessive oxidate causes a condition called vitiligo. It kills your melanin cells, leading to premature grey hair.

7. Chemical Hair Products

Hair care products like shampoos and conditioners can lead to premature greying of hair, due to the presence of chemicals which decrease your melanin content. Hair dyes containing hydrogen peroxide and bleaching agents can leave the hair white when used for prolonged periods.

7. Smoking

Smoking not only increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, but also puts your hair at risk. Smoking constricts blood vessels, reduces blood flow to hair follicles and leads to hair loss. The toxins in cigarette smoke can affect hair follicles causing grey hair earlier than expected [6].

9. Medical Conditions

When you talk about the causes of premature white hair, you have to consider few medical conditions as contributing factors. Autoimmune disease and thyroid disorder can trigger grey hair. In autoimmune disease, your own immune system destroys your cells instead of protecting, which can affect your hair pigmentation too. 

Your thyroid gland also influences your hair colour. In the case of a thyroid disorder, it causes hormonal imbalance and reduces melanin production in your body. Naturally, your hair turns grey.

How To Stop White Hair?

1. Medicated/Doctor Prescribed Products

Treatments start with the determination of the type of greying (natural or premature) and the underlying causes. Your doctor may give shampoos, conditioners, oils, serums and hair masks suited to your hair type. You may also be given nutrition supplements.

2. Cosmetic Shampoos

Cosmetic shampoos contain certain ingredients that can impart a color to your grey locks. Besides offering color, these shampoos can reform the texture of your hair.

3. Essential Oils

Essentials oil helps produce and maintain melanin to the maximum levels. Rosemary, sandalwood, chamomile, lavender, fenugreek, argan and amla essential oils are some of the many available in the market.

4. Food Sources

Antioxidant rich foods can address oxidative stress and grey hair. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are atoms or molecules that have unpaired electrons. While they are hunting for an electron, they cause damage to your body.

Free radicals form in the body due to factors like sunlight, smoking, pollution and aging. Load up on antioxidant foods like berries, green tea, broccoli, olive oil and fish to reverse premature greying of hair [7]. Vitamin rich foods and vitamin supplements should also be your go to.

Home Remedies For Grey Hair

 Natural ingredients can be used to slow down greying of hair, without causing any side effects. Following is the list of such safe and natural remedies:

1. Curry Leaves

Curry leaves have a centuries-old history of medical use. An international journal of pharm tech research reported about the effect of curry leaves on curing white hair as well as preventing premature greying.

How to use?

Take a couple of curry leaves and mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil. Heat the mixture until the oil turns slightly black in colour. Let it cool down for a while and apply the oil gently on your scalp. Keep it overnight for the best results.

2. Gooseberry or Amla

Amla is a herbal remedy for a lot of hair issues and one of them is definitely premature grey hair. It is extremely rich in antioxidants and also has anti-ageing properties. You can get gooseberry fruit or the powder mix easily from the market.

How to use?

Extract the juice from one Amla and mix it with the juice of one fresh lemon. Apply it directly on your scalp and leave it for 30 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your hair dry with a soft towel.

If you are using powder, combine the powder with coconut or olive oil. Heat the mixture until the oil changes colour. Gently apply the warm oil on your hair and scalp.

3. Black Tea

Black tea has tannic acid, which makes your hair darker and shinier.

How to use?

Take 2-3 tea bags or 2 spoons of tea leaves. Make tea without using any sugar. Cool it down before applying. Always use it on clean and wet hair. Keep it for at least 30 minutes and then wash it off properly. You can also use the tea mix with your regular conditioner. 

4. Bhringaraj

Bhringaraj has been popular since ancient times for its hair care benefits. Many old Ayurveda scriptures have mentioned Bhringaraj's usage in medicines. Massaging Bhringraj hair oil provides you with a calming effect on your scalp and fights issues like hair fall, grey hair, headache, etc.

How to use?

Readymade Bhringaraj oil is available in the market. In case you want to make it at home, take some Bhringaraj leaves or powder and mix it with coconut oil. Heat the mixture properly. Apply it on your scalp once the mixture cools down.

    How To Prevent White Hair?

    1. Quit Smoking

    Smokers can have a greater chance of pigment loss when compared to non-smokers.

    2. Turn To Antioxidants

    Incorporate a lot of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. These prevent oxidative stress [8] and grey hair.

    3. Protect Your Hair From The Sun

    The harmful UV rays from the sun can cause oxidative stress in the body and premature greying of hair. Protect your hair with a hat or scarf while you are outdoors.

    4. Avoid Stress

    Practise meditation and yoga to keep your mind free of the daily stress.

    Why Plucking Grey Hair Is A Bad Idea?

    It is widely believed that if you pluck a strand of grey hair, more will grow back. This is untrue. Only one strand of hair can grow from one single hair follicle.

    Nevertheless, don't be tempted to pluck your grey hair. You are going to make the hair follicles weak and there are chances that regular plucking will eventually dismiss hair growth at a certain hair follicle. You don't want your hair volume to go down, do you?

    Can White Hair Turn Black Again?

    Genetic or age related greying of hair cannot be reversed. However, greying related to diet, pollution, bleaching and stress can be slowed down with a balanced diet and a good hair care regimen. Know your hair to figure out hair care that suits your hair.

    Can Yellowing From Sun Damage of White Hair Be Reversed Or Grown Out?

    Your white hair is always at higher risk of damage than your natural black or brown hair. When exposed to UVA or UVB rays, white hair loses mechanical strength. It faces excessive cuticle damage and the hair turns yellow. This mostly happens with the people who spend a lot of time under the sun. Specifically in western countries, people spend long hours sunbathing.

    However, yellowing caused by sun damage can be reversed if you protect your hair from further damage. To prevent yellowing of your white hair, use a shampoo that is made for grey hair. Also, protect your hair from sun damage by wearing a cap or covering your hair with a scarf.

    How To Determine If Your Greying Is Premature Or Natural?

    Greying of hair starts when you are in your late 40s and early 50s. Premature greying of hair can start as early as in 20s. According to research, premature greying of hair is related to ethnicity too, besides genetics [9].

    Wrapping Up

    Religious hair care and a balanced diet can slow down and possibly reverse grey hair. Talk to your doctor about treatments, cosmetic shampoos and other products if you want to ban grey hair without a dye.

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