Gray Hair – Aesthetics and Maturity

Gray hair can be perceived differently depending on the times we live in and on the person that has it. It can be seen as a sign of having a personality or carelessness and neglect.
Gray Hair – Aesthetics and Maturity

Last update: 15 January, 2019

Gray hair is white or silver hair that appears as time goes by. Believe it or not, it has such an impact on people’s lives that there are songs and poems that refer to it as the arrival of maturity.

man with gray hair

What Gray Hair Really Is

Gray hairs are pieces of hair that look gray, white, or silver.

Hair gets its color thanks to a pigment called melaninIts role is to protect the skin against UV rays and any type of invisible light. Melanin is the same substance that gives eyes and skin its color.

It is produced by melanocytes, cells that make eumelanin, for brown and black tones, and pheomelanin, for yellow and red tones. These pigments, with their many variations and combinations, can generate an infinite amount of different tones.

The absence of melanin is what makes gray hair appear.

Why Gray Hair Appears

woman with gray hair

Many studies have determined that its origin is genetic. The other crucial factor is age since it begins to come out when cells age.

  • Hair strands have a life span of 3 to 6 years, after which time they fall.
  • If the cells have aged and can no longer produce melanin, then a new white hair will emerge.
  • When a gray hair falls out, the next one will inevitably be white.

There are many myths surrounding gray hair, like if you pluck one out, more will grow out. But that’s not true. If you pull out one, another will grow, not several.

When Gray Hair Appears

With time and as the body grows older, melanocytes lower the production of melanin.

It begins with the hair on the head and later spreads to the rest of the body. Of course, there are also exceptions where genetics are at play and they appear much earlier.


mature couple

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Gray hairs appear earlier and more abundantly in Caucasians. On the other hand, Asian and black people tend to gray later.
  • Men get more of them than women.
  • They come out in groups. Accordingly, this creates the illusion that, if you pluck one out, then more will grow.

Does Worrying Cause Gray Hair?

There has yet to be a conclusive study that shows stress as a factor in its appearance. Apparently, stress causes hair loss and the first to go are strands with color.

Gray Hair in Men and Women

For many people, accepting the fact that they are starting to go gray tends to be a complicated subject since its appearance is a sign of aging. In the West, there’s a cult of youth that pushes us to slow down this natural process. Consequently, nobody wants wrinkles, sagging skin, bifocals or gray hair.

It’s not the same for men and women. When a man goes gray, he tends to receive compliments like “interesting”, “mature” (in a good way) or “attractive”.

On the other hand, women aren’t so lucky. A graying woman is judged based on her appearance. People assume she’s sloppy, doesn’t take time for herself, or doesn’t care about her appearance.

Sometimes, gray hair is in style. However, in the West, it’s still not culturally seen as the best option, aesthetically speaking.

But not everything is rosy for men. If a man doesn’t like his gray hair, he usually puts up with it. This is because it’s not as socially acceptable for men to dye their hair as it is for womenFor this reason, most men that dye their hair hide the fact or do it discreetly.

checking for gray hairs

Myths Surrounding Gray Hair

Popular beliefs tend to prevail over science.Old wives’ tales are repeated over and over and end up convincing most people.

Below are some of the most common myths:

  • Gray hairs don’t fall. False; they fall out like any other hair.
  • Their color is gray. False; it’s an optical illusion. In reality, they are made up of many yellow tones. Their proximity to hairs of other colors makes them appear white, gray or silver.
  • Exposure to sunlight leads to gray hair. False; the sun lightens hair, which can make some strands lighter, giving the impression that they’re gray. Still, in no way does the sun cause them.
  • Plucking out them makes more come out. False; as previously mentioned, only a single gray hair grows in the place of an old gray hair.
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