What causes grey hair and what you can do about it

Grey hair is inevitable and unreversable, but you can still delay it

what causes grey hair
Source: SOS Bomba

Grey hair is inevitable, but it comes earlier for some than others. Stress is often mistakenly pointed as one of its main causes but the truth is much more simple. What causes grey hair has nothing to do with external factors but rather with one’s genetics. However, there are factors that impact on when the first white hairs begin to appear.

What causes grey hair?

Each time a new hair is generated in the follicle it is infused with a pigment called melanin. This pigment is a finite resource as the body begins to decrease its production with age. Genetics plays a big role over when you start having grey hair because it interferes with when this reduction begins.

As the reserves of this pigment begin to falter each new hair will become lighter and lighter until the resources are exhausted. Not all the follicles become depleted at the same time and that’s why your hair becomes progressively grey instead of losing its color all at once.

What causes grey hair is then the approach of the end of your melanin in each hair follicle. Simple as that.

Can premature grey hair be reversed?

Since what causes grey hair is the exhaustion of melanin, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. Once the melanocyte cells in the hair follicle stop producing melanin they cannot be reactivated.

However, some factors can influence the lifespan of these cells. Although you can’t reverse grey hair, it might be possible for you to delay the exhaustion of your hair pigments.

Factors that influence when you begin having grey hair

what causes grey hair Factors that influence
Source: Flora Remedia

Genetics is the main factor determining when you’ll run out of hair melanin. If your parents and grandparents began having colorless hair strands early in life, you are more likely to do so too.

Race and ethnicity are also important factors. Caucasians typically begin showing signs of grey hair around the age of 35 while in African-Americans the change starts, on average, at the age of 40.

However mildly, some lifestyle factors can also impact on your resources of hair melanin.


What causes grey hair has nothing to do with stress, and yet, this is one of the most widespread myths about becoming a silver fox. As bad as stress is for the overall health, it does not affect directly the levels of melanin.

That being said, it does increase the hair turnover. When you’re stressed you tend to shed more hair, which means more will have to be created in a short period of time and you’ll be using more pigments then.

Think of it as a print cartridge if you want. The more you print, the faster you’ll run out of the cartridge. The ink on the paper will become progressively more and more faded with each use until it is finally over and the paper will come off the printer as white as it came in.

Poor nutrition

poor diet what causes grey hair

A poor diet is not what causes grey hair but it influences the production of melanin in the hair follicles and can prevent you from reaching your maximum potential of this pigment.

A diet lacking in protein, vitamin B12 and the amino acid phenylalanine is the most problematic. Not only do these nutrients influence the production of melanin, but they are also fundamental to have healthy hair.

A strong hair means a slower turnover and, consequently, less spending of your melanin resources.

Certain diseases

Vitiligo causes the destruction of melanin from the skin and the hair, thus resulting in early grey hair. Alopecia can also speed up the process since it causes patches of hair, normally colored, to fall down at once. When the hair regrows it can come much lighter.

Other health conditions such as a thyroid disorder, anemia and some rare tumors can also influence the hair growth and the production of melanin.

When grey hair is caused by an underlying condition, the change is much quicker since several follicles are affected at the same time. It is also usually accompanied by increased hair shedding.

Talk with your doctor as soon as possible if you believe there is something amiss with your change from colored into grey hair.

How can you prevent grey hair

How can you prevent grey hair what causes grey hair
Source: Mother Nature Network

If your grey hair is the result of age and genetics, there is nothing you can do to prevent or delay it, so don’t pay any mind to common hair myths or home remedies that claim to do so.

However, you might have a saying when it comes to the remaining influencing factors. Working on reducing your levels of stress and anxiety is an excellent first step to slow the hair turnover and the exhaustion of melanin.

Having a healthy diet and focusing on increasing the intake of nutrients necessary for the production of this pigment and to have a strong and healthy hair is also fundamental.

As for the diseases that cause premature grey hair, you should seek treatment as soon as possible to stop their evolution.

Why does grey hair become yellowish?

What causes grey hair to turn yellowish has nothing to do with the hair pigments. The reason lies in foreign materials. Since the hair is now colorless, it can absorb and pick up colors from other materials.

The most common causes for this yellowish tint is smoke, pollution and the water with which you wash your hair. To prevent these stains you should use purple or blue shampoos, specially designed to fulfill the needs of grey hair and whose color hues cancel the yellow ones.

Best hairstyles for grey hair

Although most people worry that grey hair will tell their age or even make them look older than they are, more often than not the problem is in the hairstyle. If the hair color was the main reason, then you wouldn’t see so many youngsters rocking the style and looking good doing so.

If you take good care of your hair to have it looking smooth and nourished, a modern and elegant haircut and hairstyle can do wonders to make you look younger and more sophisticated rather than with a granny look.

Long bob or classic shoulder length

what causes grey hair bob
Source: Southern Living / Latest Hairstyles Living

The main difference between these two hairstyles is the length of front, so it’s a matter of personal preference. Layering this style will give the hair more volume and texture and can give you more opportunities to change the way you wear it by adding soft beachy waves, for instance.

For a more classic look, ditch the layers and straighten your hair to put its softness in evidence.

Long and wavy or straight

what causes grey hair long wavy
Source: Apsip / Hair Photo / Pinterest

Long grey hair has become a symbol of elegance, be it if you wear it flat or with nice beach waves. The only issue with this hairstyle is that it requires a lot of maintenance and care.

Aging not only changes the hair color but it also means that less natural oils are produced by the scalp, making the hair coarser and more fragile.


what causes grey hair pixie
Source: Pinterest / Southern Living / Pinterest

This is a great style for those who want to embrace their grey hair but are not willing to let go of their rebellious side. In fact, this hairstyle is often synonym of strong personalities.


what causes grey hair fringe
Source: Schwarzkopf / Sixty and Me / Pinterest

Fringes are back in fashion and you can take advantage of that to give your old hairstyle a simple and effective makeover. The only thing you should be paying attention to is the volume of the fringe.

The modern ones fall flat in a curtain or side styles. Making them too round and voluminous will just denounce age.

Enjoy the hairdos

Regardless of the haircut your rocking right now, you can always give yourself a temporary makeover by changing your hairdo.

If you’re not sure how to do it or are afraid your hair has become too thin to try out new things, check out the video below to learn 3 simple and easy updos anyone can rock.