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Amrit Gotame

Environmentalist, Academic as well as scientific content creator for EdTech company, enthusiast towards collecting different information and share with the world.

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hair gray

Why does hair turn gray?

Keratin, a colorless protein, is the main component of our hair. As a result, our hair is virtually white before it emerges from the skin.

How is this even possible?

Hair follicles are where our hair grows. Melanocytes, which create melanin, are found in hair follicles. Melanin is introduced into the keratin cells when our hair grows. Our hair gets its color from melanin. The sort of melanin injected now determines the color of our hair. Pheomelanin turns our hair red or blond, while eumelanin makes it black or brown. Melanocytes, on the other hand, produce less melanin as we become older. As a result, less melanin is pumped into hair, leading it to turn white over time.


gray hair
Aging process
Aging process; Image credits: Atlas biomed

Have you ever seen someone try to colour their gray hair to hide it?

Perhaps you’re perplexed as to why your grandfather has a full head of silver hair but old photographs show him with dark brown hair. Here’s why gray, silver, or white hair is a natural aspect of becoming older.
There are two sections to each hair on our heads:

  • a shaft — the pigmented part of our skulls that grows out
  • a root – the bottom section of the hair that anchors it to the scalp

The hair follicle is a tube of tissue beneath the skin that surrounds the root of each strand of hair. A particular amount of pigment cells are found in each hair follicle. These pigment cells produce a substance called melanin on a regular basis, which gives the growing shaft of hair its color, which ranges from brown to blonde to black to red and everything in between.

Melanin is the pigment that determines whether our skin is pale or dark in color. It can also tell you if you’ll burn or tan in the sun. The amount of melanin in each hair determines whether it is dark or light in color. The pigment cells in our hair follicles eventually die as we age. As a strand of hair develops, it will have less melanin due to fewer pigment cells in the follicle, and will become a more translucent color — such as gray, silver, or white. As people age, there will be fewer pigment cells available to create melanin. The hair will eventually become entirely gray.
Gray hair can appear at any age. Some people grow gray at a young age, as early as high school or college, while others may not notice their first gray hair until they are in their 30s or 40s. Our genes determine how soon we develop gray hair. This indicates that the majority of us will develop gray hairs about the same time as our parents or grandparents.  Gray hair stands out more in darker hair, although people with naturally lighter hair are just as likely to grow gray. It might take more than ten years for a person’s hair to turn gray from the moment they discover a few gray hairs.
Some people believe that a major shock or stress can cause a person’s hair to turn white or gray overnight, however scientists disagree. Try not to frighten your parents too much just in case. You certainly don’t want to be held responsible for any of their gray hairs!
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