Grey Hair: Any Hope To Avoid?

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Many people dread the onset of grey hair. In cultures all across the world, colored hair is associated with youth, health, and virility, while greying is linked with aging. Millions of people use hair dye in an attempt to preserve their youthful looks. But what causes one’s hair to lose its natural color? Is there any hope of a cure? Until recently, the answer was no, but recent discoveries have shed light on the actual biological causes of greying hair and potential methods for reversing it.


Hair Color Explained

First, let’s break down what exactly gives our hair its color. Hair color is developed by natural pigments called melanin. You probably know that melanin levels determine the color of your skin. In human hair, there are two different kinds of melanin: eumelanin (dark colored) and pheomelanin (light colored). These two different forms of melanin are blended together, and the ratio of one to the other will determine what a person’s hair color is. (As you might have guessed, natural blondes and redheads have more pheomelanin, while those with brunette and black hair have higher levels of eumelanin.)

Pigment cells called melanocytes actually “inject” the two different melanin types into the keratin which makes up the individual hairs on your head. However, this is where the significance of age comes into play. As a person gets older, their body produces less melanin. Over time the melanin begins to run out, and their hairs, deprived of pigment, begin to turn grey.

Greying hair also manifests itself differently depending on one’s racial background. It has been established that people of Caucasian ancestry typically start to go grey the earliest, often in the mid-thirties, while people of East Asian and African ancestry can begin greying in their late thirties or mid-forties, respectively.

But even within these different groups, every individual is unique. Some people will go grey in their twenties, and for others it won’t happen till their fifties. Some people never go grey at all.

What is really going on here?

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