Like wrinkles, grey hairs are a visible sign of ageing – and let’s be clear, there is zero, zilch, nada, nothing wrong with that. It’s a part of life – and a beautiful part at that. But if you’ve ever wondered just what causes hair to change colour over time, you’re not alone…
It is well known that grey hair results from a reduction of pigment, while white hair has no pigment, but why this happens remains somewhat of a mystery. Scientists continue to investigate why hair turns grey. In time, everyone’s hair turns grey. Your chance of going grey increases 10-20% every decade after 30 years.
Initially, hair is white. It gets its natural colour from a type of pigment called melanin. The formation of melanin begins before birth. The natural colour of our hair depends upon the distribution, type and amount of melanin in the middle layer of the hair shaft or cortex. Hair has only two types of pigments: dark (eumelanin) and light (phaeomelanin). They blend to make up a wide range of hair colours.
Anagen: This is the active growth stage of the hair fibre and can last from 2- 7 years. At any given moment, 80-85% of our hair is in the anagen phase.
Catagen: Sometimes referred to as the transitional phase, when hair growth begins to “shut down” and stop the activity. It generally lasts 10- 20 days.
Telogen: This occurs when hair growth is entirely at rest, and the hair fibre falls out. At any given time, 10-15 % of our hair is in the telogen phase, which generally lasts 100 days for scalp hair. After the telogen phase, the hair growth process starts over again to the anagen phase.
As the hair is being formed, melanocytes inject pigment (melanin) into cells containing keratin. Keratin is the protein that makes up our hair, skin, and nails. Melanocytes continue to inject pigment into the hair’s keratin throughout the years, giving it a colourful hue.
With age comes a reduction of melanin. The hair turns grey and eventually white.
HAIR RAISING FACTS
- An average scalp has 100,000-150,000 hairs.
- Hair is so strong that each hair can withstand the strain of 100 grams (3.5 ounces). An average head of hair could hold 10-15 tons if only the scalp was strong enough!
- Human hair grows autonomously, that is each hair is on its own individual cycle. If all our hair were on the same cycle, we would molt!
- Hair has the highest rate of mitosis (cell division). An average hair grows 0.3 mm a day and 1 cm per month.
Hair has the highest rate of mitosis (cell division). An average hair grows 0.3 mm a day and 1 cm per month.
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Consider stress one of those outside factors. While there is conflicting research on whether stress can cause gray hair, studies have concluded that hair cells that produce pigment may degenerate when a person is stressed. In addition, stress can trigger a common condition called telogen effluvium. This causes hair to shed about three times faster than normal. When a person is middle-aged, the hair that can grow back may be grey rather than coloured. Lastly, oxidative stress in the body has been linked to grey hair. Oxidative stress causes imbalances in the body when free radicals damage cells. When there aren’t enough antioxidants to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, it can lead to ageing. Apart from this, excessive use of tobacco and smoking can lead to grey hair.
Some foods are known to have help in battling grey hair. These are Amla (Indian gooseberry), Coconut oil and lemon juice, Curry leaves, Tea or coffee, Onion paste, Amaranth, Shikakai.
Certain other products are known to reduce greying and turn grey to black. Arcolys is a natural active ingredient derived from the molecule picroside II, which restores natural hair colour. Additionally, it increases antioxidant properties. According to the sources, this active limits greying hair by reactivating hair pigment, thereby increasing the user’s self-esteem and pleasant emotions.
SKYNOPTIK has come out with a product, ‘SLAY GREY’, whisch uses this ingredient and other beneficial ingredients such as biotin and saw palmetto. The product is no overnight miracle but will take some time to show results as per the company.