Some say it is a symbol of wisdom and experience, others that it is terrible because it proves the passing of time. The truth is that many things are thought and said about gray hair. In the following article, we will talk about several myths and truths about gray hair.
Gray hair: fantasy and reality
What is true in this theory that says when we pluck a gray hair seven will pop up? What is the reason hair starts turning gray? Why some people have gray hair sooner than others? All these questions are answered and they are not the only ones:
The graying process happens with the passing of time
True (almost true). It is true that the gray hairs, in most cases appear at a certain age, and that it has to do with the aging process of the skin. Gray hair is the result of the lack of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color. Each person has their own pace and ability to produce it, which is why you see some people who at the age of 25 are already “painted gray” and others who are over 50 and still retain their natural color.
When we pluck a gray hair, seven will appear
False. There is still no scientific basis to support this theory or rumor. There is no possibility to evaluate what would happen if we plucked that first gray hair, which most people do. It can not be determined whether this is the reason why new gray hairs pop up or it is simply the action of Mother Nature.
Gray hair grows faster
50% true. There is research which indicates that gray hair grows faster than when it maintains its pigment. However, other studies report that the growth is the same or even less significant than in other stages of life.
Stress encourages the appearance of gray hairs
False (to be tested). It is a little difficult to determine if a “peak stress” today will result in gray hair tomorrow. The pressure we experience in out society does not forgive anyone, but this is not why there are more gray-haired in the streets than about fifty years ago. There are family groups more likely to have gray hair than others, due the genes related to the loss of hair color.
Gray hair is stronger than hair that hasn’t lost its color
Half true. It is unknown whether it is true or not that the diameter of a gray hair is larger or smaller than when it had color. However, it is true that the refraction of light can make it look thicker. Depending on every person, gray hair may grow with more force or have a more “robust” structure.
Gray hair is gray
False. The mixture of dark hair with gray hair gives a visual effect that makes us see it as if it were gray. But in reality, the color of gray hair is yellow, not white or gray. This is because only the hue that arises without keratin or corresponding melanin remains. Depending on the inner part of the hair, it can be more yellowish or more whitish.
Lack of vitamin B accelerates gray hair growth
True. If you are still young (under 35 years) and you have a lot of gray hairs, this is probably due to a lack of vitamin B, especially B5 complex and pantothenic acid. You can use a vitamin complex or start eating foods that contain it.
Cigarettes help gray hair pop up
Half true. It is the same thing as with the theory of stress. Smoking is bad and does not bring any good, only problems. There is some research that indicates that people who have the habit of smoking have more chances to have gray hair earlier, but this is also related to genetic factors.
Gray hair can only be dyed with permanent color
False. There are many remedies to cover the gray hair, and you should not get carried away by the myth that the permanent dye is the only technique that works. There are natural coloration solutions, herbal remedies or henna dye that are less harmful to your hair.
You can reverse gray hair
False. There are no studies that indicate a person can regain their natural hair color by consuming a food or drug or without resorting to dye. Once the gray hair appears, it is permanent and there is no way to recover the lost tone.
Gray hair can appear because of a trauma
False. You have probably heard this idea in your grandparents’ house. Just like with stress, it is virtually impossible for a person to have the hair completely gray the next day because of an argument. There is a relationship between a traumatic event and gray hair, but it is a long term one.
Gray hair will appear if you stay long in the sun
False. Sunlight can lighten a bit the brown or red hair, but there is no scientific evidence that increased exposure to UV rays can result in gray hair or hair whitening.
Genes are responsible for gray hair
Absolutely true. Genetics determines the average age at which a person begins to have gray hair. Test it analyzing your family and you will find out for yourself. What is written in your DNA nobody can erase.
Images courtesy of Kat N.L.M, Conor Lawless, Eric McGregor, Homini.