Seeing silver strands in your hair in your 20s and early 30s can be a distressing experience. You may feel confused and wonder about your health. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide on premature greying.
What causes premature grey hair, is grey hair anything to worry about, and is dyeing or plucking your hair a long term solution?
How do we get our hair colour?
Have you ever wondered why your hair has its unique colour? From luscious black to fiery red, the shades that grace our crowning glory are influenced by a pigment called melanin. The pigment is produced by cells called melanocytes, located at the base of each hair follicle.
Melanin comes in two main types: eumelanin, which gives shades of brown and black, and pheomelanin, which contributes to red and yellow tones. The proportions of these two types determine your hair colour.
Your hair goes through three phases: the anagen phase (growth), the catagen phase (transitional), and the telogen phase (resting). During the anagen phase, melanocytes deposit melanin into the hair shaft, giving it colour.
What causes premature greying?
As time passes, your body sees a gradual decrease in melanocyte activity. This reduction in melanin can cause hair to lose its colour, resulting in the emergence of grey or white hair.
While age plays a significant role in the greying process, other factors can contribute to and accelerate this.
Genetic makeup is a blueprint that influences many aspects of your physical traits, including hair colour. If your parents or close relatives experienced premature greying, there’s a higher likelihood that you are also prone to this condition.
In a 2016 study, the IRF4 gene was identified as being associated with premature greying. Led by Professor Andreas Ruiz-Linares of University College London, the study analysed the genomes of 6,357 people who lived across five countries in Latin America – Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.
Chronic stress can disrupt the normal functioning of the body and impact various physiological processes, including hair pigmentation. Stress triggers the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which causes permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles, as evidenced by a 2020 research.
Prolonged periods of stress ultimately speed up the ageing process of your hair follicles. This can lead to a reduction in melanin production, causing hair to turn grey prematurely.
3. Medical conditions
Premature greying can also occur due to certain medical conditions.
This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin and hair follicles. As a result, the affected hair loses its natural colour and turns grey or white. While vitiligo primarily affects the skin, it can also impact hair pigmentation, leading to premature greying.
- Thyroid disorders
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including hair growth and pigmentation. Both an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can disrupt the normal functioning of hair follicles, leading to changes in hair colour.
- Werner syndrome
This is a rare genetic disorder characterised by premature ageing. People with Werner syndrome often exhibit signs of accelerated ageing, including premature greying of their hair. .
4. Poor lifestyle choices
While greying hair is inevitable as you age, some lifestyle choices can fasten your hair going grey, such as smoking, lack of sleep, and excessive use of hair chemicals and styling tools.
Smoking not only poses numerous health risks, but it can also impact the quality and appearance of your hair. Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage hair follicles and reduce blood flow to the scalp. The toxins in smoke can also weaken the pigmentation cells responsible for producing hair colour, leading to premature greying.
- Lack of sleep
Melatonin, a hormone regulating our sleep-wake cycle, also influences hair pigmentation. When sleep deprivation hampers melatonin levels, it can accelerate the loss of melanin, resulting in premature greying.
Insufficient sleep can also lead to chronic stress and hormonal imbalances in your body. As mentioned earlier, stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can interfere with melanin production.
- Excessive use of chemicals and styling
Frequent use of hair dyes, bleaching agents, and chemical-based hair products can cause damage to the hair shaft, making it weak and prone to greying. Additionally, heat styling tools like curling irons, straighteners, and blow dryers can contribute to hair damage and hasten the greying process.
For a safer colouring option, you can opt for organic colour treatments. Organic dyes are formulated with natural ingredients that are less likely to cause hair breakage and shedding.
5. Nutrition deficiencies
Lacking the following vitamins and nutrients can result in premature ageing.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy hair growth and pigmentation. A deficiency in this vitamin can hinder the production of melanin and cause hair to lose its colour. Sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, dairy and fortified foods.
- Vitamin E and antioxidants
Vitamin E and antioxidants play crucial roles in preventing oxidative stress, which can damage the cells responsible for hair colour. Insufficient intake of these nutrients can contribute to premature greying.
Incorporating foods rich in vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens and vegetable oils, as well as antioxidant-rich foods, like berries, citrus fruits and dark chocolate, can support hair health and delay the onset of grey hair.
- Copper and zinc
Copper and zinc are essential minerals involved in melanin synthesis. A deficiency in these minerals can disrupt melanin production, leading to premature greying. Including copper-rich foods like seeds and nuts and zinc-rich foods such as oysters, lean meats, and whole grains can help maintain the proper functioning of melanocytes and delay the greying process.
Proteins are the building blocks of hair, and insufficient protein intake can impact hair health and colour. Hair strands are primarily composed of a protein called keratin. A lack of protein can weaken hair strands and lead to premature greying. Protein-rich foods include fish, eggs and dairy.
6. Environmental exposure
When you’re out and about, you expose your hair to various environmental stresses that can potentially quicken hair greying.
- Ultraviolet radiation
Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can damage your hair shaft and affect your hair’s natural pigmentation. UV radiation generates free radicals that cause oxidative stress, which depletes t melanin and causes greying.
Air pollutants and toxins also generate free radicals that induce oxidative stress and cause premature greying.
- Extreme weather conditions
Extreme weather conditions, high humidity, and temperature changes can disrupt the normal functioning of the hair follicles, affecting the production of melanin and leading to premature greying.
Wearing hats or scarves can minimise the chances of your hair prematurely going grey because of these stressors.
The impacts of premature grey hair
Individuals with premature greying may experience decreased self-confidence, lowered self-esteem, and dissatisfaction with their body image.
Premature greying may also affect a person’s social interactions and career opportunities because of misplaced assumptions about their age..
A 2020 study by Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre found that close to 50% respondents aged 8 to 25 felt embarrassed by their appearance and had to tolerate frequent comments from peers and seniors alike.
How TrichoLab can help
While dying one’s hair remains a popular option when dealing with premature greying, visiting a scalp specialist may be a better long-term solution.
Our Anti-Grey Hair Treatment is designed to delay hair greying and promote hair regeneration. Let’s dive into the key benefits and procedure of this treatment.
The key benefits
1. Promotes melanin production
The treatment stimulates melanin production in your hair follicles, effectively restoring your natural hair colour and reducing the appearance of grey hair.
2. Prevents free radical damage
Protecting your hair follicles from free radical damage is crucial in maintaining healthy, lustrous locks. Our treatment incorporates potent antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and shield your follicles, ensuring your hair’s long-term health and vitality.
3. Strengthens hair follicles
Strong and resilient hair follicles are essential for optimal hair growth. Our specialised formula includes ingredients that nourish and strengthen your follicles, reducing hair breakage and promoting overall hair strength.
4. Stimulates hair growth
This treatment not only addresses grey hair but also stimulates hair growth. By providing vital nutrients and boosting blood circulation to the scalp, this treatment encourages the growth of new, healthy hair strands.
1. Scalp analysis
We begin the treatment with a thorough analysis of your scalp. Our expert specialists examine your scalp condition to tailor the treatment to your needs, identifying any underlying issues that may contribute to hair greying.
2. Welcome head massage
We believe relaxation is key to achieving the best results. As you embark on your journey towards vibrant hair, we provide a soothing head massage that helps relieve stress and tension, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
3. Scalp nourishing mask and steam
We apply a nourishing mask to your scalp, enriched with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and natural extracts carefully selected for their beneficial properties. This deeply nourishes your scalp. Steam is also used to optimise the absorption of these nourishing ingredients.
4. Sensitive shampoo
Our specialised and gentle shampoo cleans your hair and scalp, eliminating any impurities and residues that may hinder the treatment process.
5. Hair conditioning
After shampooing, we apply a high-quality hair conditioner that moisturises and improves the texture of your hair. This step restores the softness of your locks.
6. Grey hair ampoule with jet spray and O3 steaming
The next step involves the application of our grey hair ampoule using a jet spray technique. This advanced formulation targets grey hair follicles, stimulating melanin production and reviving your hair’s natural colour.
To enhance the absorption of the ampoule, we employ O3 steaming, which maximises its effectiveness and ensures optimal results.
7. Scalp massage
Our skilled scalp specialists provide a relaxing massage after applying the grey hair ampoule. This therapeutic massage stimulates blood circulation, ensuring the delivery of essential nutrients to your hair follicles and promoting overall scalp health.
8. Post-treatment analysis
Once the treatment is complete, we conduct a comprehensive post-treatment analysis. This assessment allows us to evaluate the results and proceed accordingly.
While going grey is a normal part of getting older, developing it at a young age may be signs that your hair health needs help. A hair and scalp professional can help you with this. As a scalp specialist in Singapore, our doctors are ready to assist you with a personalised and comprehensive scalp treatment.