Myths And Facts Of Gray Hair

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Many factors may affect the speed at which hair becomes gray. The main factor is: simply, genes. Everyone ages according to the genetic code stored in their DNA. Sometimes, this means that some people may keep the color of youth till the age of 80, whereas others may have completely white hair at the age of 25. Of course, these are extreme cases and the majority of people are rather between these two extreme examples, at different points.

Not all causes of graying are scientifically proven. Factors like stress, poor diet or malnutrition, medical problems as well as drug interactions and their side effects may all play a role in the speed and spread of graying in a person.

In some cases, hair color can return to normal when the factors causing graying are remedied. However, in most cases, gray hair is just part of the natural body process.

We all know our bodies are composed of millions and millions of cells. These cells live, age, reproduce and die in cycle and constantly regenerate according to their genetic model and the function they have to carry out in the body.

For the skin, some cells are responsible for the creation of hair pigmentation. These cells are called melanocytes and their primary role is to produce melanin. The type and quantity of melanin they produce gives its color to your skin and determines its sensitivity to the sun’s UV rays. Melanocytes are also found within the cells that form hair follicles. The latter allow your body and head hair to grow.

The melanin produced by these melanocytes determines the color of our hair. There are two types of melanin: red/blonde pheomelanin and brown/black eumelanin. It’s the quantity and the balance between these two that create all the natural colors of hair that we see on earth.

Of course, when we start growing older, our body cells begin to deteriorate. Some scientists have explained this deterioration comparing it to the quality of documents we get when we photocopy photocopies many times. At the end, the last photocopies’ quality starts to deteriorate. The reproduction of cells is similar to this situation that after a number of reproductions, the cells deteriorate and progressively cease to function over time or function less efficiently.
When the hair follicles’ melanocytes are faced with this phenomenon, hair growing from these follicles starts to lose its pigmentation and consequently becomes clearer. Should these melanocytes completely cease to function, hair becomes all gray. It should be underlined that hair follicles, and even stem cells, function independently of each other. That’s why gray hair is generally found in individual hairs. Even when gray hair appears to be in clusters, it’s actually separated by some other follicles.

 One of the hypotheses underlines that some graying-related factors hinder the melanocytes of the hair follicle from functioning or affect them in a way that they deteriorate the follicle’s functioning. This increases the quantity of gray hair. In some cases, these factors might be the cause behind the damage or the death of the cells (like in the case of malnutrition or chemotherapy for cancer patients.

In other cases, eliminating the factors affecting the production of melanin of the melanocytes (or the introduction of new factors supporting the growth and the reproduction of cells) might allow melanocytes to restart a normal reproduction of melanin. However, research on this topic is incomplete and, before finding a real medical remedy for gray hair, we have to wait for many years for the research to finish.
Now you understand the basics of graying. We hope this process has now become less mysterious for you. Even if the article will not make you love your gray hair, you understand now the leading causes of graying and the process that makes your hair gray.

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