woman meditating to reduce grey hair caused by stress

Can You Reverse Grey Hair Caused by Stress? Here’s What the Science Says

Yes, Your Hair Color and Health Are Affected by Stress

Feeling tired, overwhelmed or under pressure? I know how you feel. We all get stressed out sometimes, but when does stress start to affect your hair health? According to recent studies, some kinds of stress can turn your hair grey.1 Too much stress can also cause thinning and hair loss. The good news – you can reduce hair damage, and reverse grey hair caused by stress. 

Over my 20-year career as a stylist and as a Trichologist (haircare expert), I know that your hair health is a reflection of your overall wellbeing – and that includes when your hair turns grey. Trichology tells us that you need a whole-body, holistic approach to haircare that includes taking care of your mental health.

Here’s what I found out about the link between stress and your hair health:

Can Stress Really Turn Your Hair Grey?

What is stress? It’s how you respond mentally or physically to an external cause. There are three main types of stress11 that you may experience:

  1. Acute: a brief event like an argument or a disrupted commute that quickly resolves.

  2. Acute episodic: frequent acute events like demanding job deadlines. 

  3. Chronic stress: long-term issues that you can’t see a way through like unemployment, addiction or family conflict. 

What these three types of stress have in common is that your sympathetic nervous system reacts to them in the same way by going into a “fight-or-flight” response. This releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that raise your heart rate and alert level. They also directly affect your hair color and health and can even trigger hair loss.

In a recent Columbia University study of 14 closely monitored participants, researchers developed a mathematical model that they hope will help scientists understand the relationship between stress and grey hair.1 Dr. Picard, one of the scientists, found that stress hormones affect the mitochondria (where cells generate energy) in your cells. “We often hear that the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, but that’s not the only role they play,” Picard says. “Mitochondria are actually like little antennas inside the cell that respond to a number of different signals, including psychological stress.”


woman looks at grey hair in mirror

Lower Stress Could Mean Fewer Greys and Thicker, Longer Hair

No one can avoid stress totally, but there’s a lot you can do to stop your life challenges from damaging your hair. Good haircare habits and healthy stress management can boost the condition, length, and pigmentation of your hair. In other words, less stresses mean better tresses.

Here are some science-backed ways to reduce the effects of stress on your hair:

Yes, You Can Reverse Grey Hair Caused by Stress

According to the Columbia University study, it is possible to restore your natural hair color by lowering your stress levels.3 When participants' hair color was compared with their stress diaries, Dr. Picard observed an actual reversal of greying when stress levels were reduced. “There was one individual who went on vacation, and five hairs on that person’s head reverted back to dark during the vacation.” 

That’s right, reducing stress makes life easier for your locks. Here are some of the best ways to reduce and reverse grey hair from stress: 

Meditation: regular meditation is shown to reduce stress hormones in your hair by around 25%.4

Exercise: cycling, walking, yoga and swimming all increase oxygen in your blood that your hair needs for healthy growth.5

Diet: a diet rich in antioxidants can boost melanin (pigment) production for fewer greys.6

Stress attacks your hair's ability to produce melanin, so we wanted to support your locks with melanin-boosting nutrients. That’s why Arey’s first haircare product was Not Today, Grey, an antioxidant-rich nutritional supplement that fuels melanin production.

Also, How Boosting Melanin Production Can Slow and Reverse Grey Hair


Better Sleep Means Better Hair

Feeling guilty about hitting the snooze button on your alarm? Please don’t. According to the American Psychological Association7 (APA), getting enough sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores your body, improves your concentration, regulates your mood, and sharpens your decision-making. It also helps you grow your best hair.

woman sleeps peacefully in bed

The less you sleep, the harder it is for your mind and body to process stressful events. When your stress levels peak it can lead to hair loss conditions8 such as:

    • Telogen effluvium: this occurs when stress pushes large numbers of your hair follicles into a resting phase and you experience sudden, dramatic hair loss when brushing or washing your hair.  

    • Trichotillomania: anxiety, tension and frustration are all symptoms of stress and can cause some people to have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair. 

    • Alopecia areata: this hair loss condition is associated with high stress levels and occurs when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. 

Don’t panic, most hair loss issues caused by stress resolve themselves in about 9 months. And, you can help your body’s natural repair processes by getting more sleep. 
Here’s a few sleep habits that can easily help you get better rest:

Create calming habits: try something relaxing like a bath, meditation, deep breathing, or listening to calming music before bed.

Get a sleep routine: try going to bed around the same time every night and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep.

Cut your screen time: turn off all your screens for an hour before you go to bed and banish your phone from the bedroom. 

Research sleep supplements: L-tryptophan (yes, the stuff in turkey) or magnesium can help aid your sleep naturally.

Bottom line is that treating yourself to good quality sleep makes you better able to deal with stress. That nap you are craving is good for your overall wellness and your hair health.

De-stress Your Hair With a Relaxing Scalp Massage

Feeling stressed? You can easily boost your mood and lower your anxiety with a relaxing scalp massage. According to a 2016 medical study,9  a head massage is the best way to release tension from the thin, highly sensitive muscle layers that cover your skull. 


Here are some of the hair health benefits you can expect from massaging your scalp:

Thicker, fuller hair: a Japanese study found that regular scalp massages can lead to thicker hair strands.10

Improved hair growth: head massages encourage blood flow to your hair follicles (roots) which is believed to encourage healthy hair growth.

If you’re a multi-tasker like me, you’ll love turning a shampoo session into a relaxing scalp detox massage. Here’s how to use our Scrub scalp exfoliant to give yourself a salon-style scalp treatment massage:  

  1. Start along your hairline and then work Scrub gently over your scalp with your fingertips. 

  2. Massage your head with circular motions to encourage healthy blood flow. 

You can use Scrub in between washes or before shampooing with our balanced treatment shampoo Wash. If you choose to massage as part of your regular shampoo routine, we recommend spending around five minutes to allow Wash’s clinically efficacious peptide to absorb into your scalp. 

Learn more about giving yourself a detox scalp massage


Arey – Balanced Care for Your Healthiest Hair

Stress is just one of the reasons that your hair goes grey, and reducing stress won’t reverse a full head of grey hair overnight. It’s easier to prevent grey hair than it is to reverse it which is why I always recommend a proactive approach to going grey. The sooner you make changes to your lifestyle and haircare routine, the faster you will see results.

Our studies show that it’s important to be consistent when you are using our grey hair solutions. That’s why we offer a 25% discount on all subscriptions. 

We are Arey.

Questions? Email us at hey@areygrey.com or check out our FAQ page.

Jay Small with customer

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.


  1. https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/its-true-stress-does-turn-hair-gray-and-its-reversible  
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-1935-3
  3. https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com
  5. https://dermalife.co.in/blog/yoga-asanas-for-hair-growth/
  6. antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health 
  7. https://www.apa.org/news/
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939366/ 
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740347/ 
  11. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/stress-and-health/