Some of us have been there. We’ve stood in the mirror and tugged at those “invaders”. Those strands of hair that have betrayed our original color. We pluck them or cover them in denial. But no matter what we do, they’re just going to keep coming back.
The appearance of gray hair is a natural and biological process of our body. It symbolizes the passage of time. it is a sign of aging and a sign that our bodies experience vital changes. While many people accept it—gray hair symbolizes experience, wisdom, and respectability— others fight it.
But why does the hair turn gray over time? To understand why those “dreaded” gray hairs appear, you must first understand where the color comes from.
Every hair on our head consists of two parts:
– A stem – the region provided with a color that we see growing on our heads
– A root – the lower part of the hair strand, which anchors the hair to the scalp
The root is surrounded by a small tube of tissue under the skin called the hair follicle. Each follicle contains a certain amount of pigmented cells. These cells constantly produce a chemical called melanin, which gives each strand of hair its color, be it brown, blond, reddish or any other intermediate shade.
Melanin is also the substance that gives color to our skin, making it lighter or darker. It also helps determine if the person burns or tans when exposed to the sun. The clarity or darkness of a person’s hair color depends on the amount of melanin in their hair.
As we get older, the pigmented cells in our hair follicles die progressively. When there is a smaller amount of pigmented cells inside a hair follicle, the hair shaft loses the amount of melanin that it contained and acquires a transparent tone (be it gray, silver or white). As people get older, they will have fewer pigmented cells to produce melanin and, eventually, their hair will become completely gray.
People can get gray hair at any age. The age at which you get your first gray hair depends upon several things. One significant influence is genetics. If your parents’ hair turned gray at an early age, yours probably will too. Some people get gray hair very early, like during their teenage or college years. Others get them in their 30s, 40s or later.
Another thing that can cause your hair to turn gray early is your diet. If you eat a proper diet, it might be possible for you to stall the appearance of gray hair. The cells in your hair follicles that produce melanin need the proper nutrients to stay healthy and produce the required melanin for dark hair coloring. This includes nutrients like iron and Vitamin B. Therefore, if your diet is filled with low nutrient foods like junk foods, you may go gray much earlier than you need to.
So those are the basics about gray hair. Since it’s not going away, try to find a way to accept it and know that it doesn’t mean your life is over. Again, people can go gray at any age. As long as you’re healthy and happy, the color of your hair shouldn’t hold you back.
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