why does hair turn gray with age
Have you ever watched someone try to cover up gray hair by dyeing it? Or maybe you wonder why your granddad has a full head of silver hair when in old pictures it's dark brown. Getting gray, silver, or white hair is a natural part of growing older, and here's why. Each a shaft a root the bottom part, which keeps the hair anchored under the scalp
The root of every strand of hair is surrounded by a tube of tissue under the that is called the hair follicle (say: FAHL-ih-kul). Each hair follicle contains a certain number of pigment cells. These pigment cells constantly make a chemical called melanin (say: MEL-uh-nin) that gives the growing shaft of hair its color of brown, blonde, black, red, and anything in between. Melanin is the same stuff that makes our skin's color fair or darker. It also helps determine whether a person will burn or tan in the. The dark or light color of someone's hair depends on how much melanin each hair has. As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent color like gray, silver, or white as it grows. As people continue to get older, fewer pigment cells will be around to produce melanin. Eventually, the hair will look completely gray. People can get gray hair at any age. Some people go gray at a young age as early as when they are in high school or college whereas others may be in their 30s or 40s before they see that first gray hair.
How early we get gray hair is determined by our. This means that most of us will start having gray hairs around the same age that our parents or grandparents first did. Gray hair is more noticeable in people with darker hair because it stands out, but people with naturally lighter hair are just as likely to go gray. From the time a person notices a few gray hairs, it may take more than 10 years for all of that person's hair to turn gray. Some people think that a big shock or trauma can turn a person's hair white or gray overnight, but scientists don't really believe that this happens. Just in case, try not to freak out your parents too much. You don't want to be blamed for any of their gray hairs! While some women, many others face the arrival of new gray hairs with dread. The good news: Scientists are hard at work on how to prevent them. So what do researchers know that you don't? 1. Normal aging is the biggest culprit. Okay, no surprise here. Dermatologists call this the 50-50-50 rule. "Fifty percent of the population has about 50% gray hair at age 50," says Dr. Anthony Oro, professor of dermatology at Stanford University. And like skin, hair changes its texture with age, says Dr. Heather Woolery Lloyd, director of ethnic skin care at the University of Miami School of Medicine. 2. Your ethnicity makes a difference. Caucasians tend to go gray earlier and earliest of all.
Then Asians. Then African-Americans. Scientists haven't figured out why yet. 3. Stress seems to play a role. "Stress won't cause you to go gray directly," says Dr. Roopal Kundu, associate professor in dermatology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "But stress is implicated in a lot of skin and hair issues. " During an illness, for example, people can shed hair rapidly. And hair you lose after a stressful event like getting chemotherapy may grow back a different color. 4. Your lifestyle makes a difference. Smoking, for example, stresses your skin and hair. "Low vitamin B12 levels are notorious for causing loss of hair pigment," says Dr. Karthik Krishnamurthy, director of the Dermatology Center's Cosmetic Clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. Try eating foods such as liver and carrots, recommends Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, a senior dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Foods packed with certain vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants may help protect cells against toxins and help prevent heart disease, cancer, and other ailments (and perhaps gray hair! ). 5. Hair and its color are separate things. Hair stem cells make hair, and pigment-forming stem cells make pigment. Typically they work together, but either can wear out, sometimes prematurely. Researchers are trying to figure out if a medicine, or something you could put in your scalp, could slow the graying process. (Hair dye simply coats your hair in color but doesn't alter its structure. ) 6.
Your hair basically bleaches itself. You may be familiar with hydrogen peroxide as a, but it's also the way we go gray. According to a 2009 study published by the, hydrogen peroxide naturally occurs in our hair follicles, and as we get older, it builds up. This build-up blocks the production of melanin, a. k. a. our hair's pigment. 7. Your hair doesn't turn gray it grows that way. A single hair grows for one to three years, then you shed it and grow a new one. As you age, your new hairs are more likely to be white. "Every time the hair regenerates, you have to re-form these pigment-forming cells, and they wear out," says Oro. 8. Gray hair isn't more coarse than colored hair. Gray hair is actually finer than colored hair, but it may seem drier because our scalps produce less oil as we get older. Another reason it could seem more rough? "Your hair may also 'feel' coarser if you pull out your first few grey hairs," says Glenn Lyons. "This is because constant pulling-out of hair can distort your follicles, resulting in more crinkly hair. " 9. Gray hair can be resistant to color. If you opt to color your hair, your may find that it's more stubborn about taking color than before you started going gray. "Some gray can be resistant to hair color," say the experts at. "If this is true for you, consider dropping down a color level or using something darker on your roots to deliver even more coverage. "
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