Woman looks in mirror and sees her hair turning grey

Why Is Your Hair Turning Grey? Here’s What the Science Says

Seeing Your First Grey Hair? Don’t Panic

As a stylist for over 20 years, I’ve noticed a pattern as people start greying – your hairline goes grey first. Believe me, if your temples are turning silver and you’re freaked out, you’re not alone. Your hair turning grey is the first sign of aging for most of my clients. Your hair is an important part of your identity so it's not surprising if those silvery visitors bring up a lot of emotions. 

I’ve spent about 36,000 hours talking about grey hair worries with my clients. Whether you choose to slow, delay, or cover up your greys, it’s a very personal decision. The good news is, thanks to advances in science, there are a lot of different options out there. 

When my co-founder Allison Conrad and I started Arey we dug deep into the science of why your hair is turning grey and how to prevent grey hair. Here’s what we found.

 

Why Do Your Temples Go Grey First?

In a 2011 study by Seoul National University, scientists1 found that men do indeed go grey around our temples first. For women, you tend to see your first silver strands on the top of your head, along your part. 

Some people see their first grey hairs in their 20s, while the majority of people from all ethnicities start to turn grey in their mid-40s. The good news is that early onset grey hairs don’t mean you’re turning grey faster. Your greying process may have started early, but it will most likely remain as a few silvery visitors until you approach your 5th decade.1

 

Why Does Your Hair Turn Grey?

As a Trichologist (hair health expert) this is a really exciting time to be involved in research about why your hair is turning grey. It was only in 2016 that scientists at University College, London2 discovered the gene that turns hair grey. That gene – IRF4 – helps regulate your production and storage of melanin (the pigment that determines your hair color) and also influences when you go grey. 

Before you blame your parents for your first grey hairs, you might be happy to learn that only 30% of the reason you go grey is genetic. The other 70% is down to lifestyle, diet, and your environment – specifically a process known as oxidative stress.3

 

 

Oxidative stress is the result of your body’s response to chemicals, smoking, and UV rays. It causes an overproduction of free radicals (highly reactive molecules) around the growth bulb of your hair strands.4  

Here’s what too many free radicals can do to your hair:

    • Free radicals damage your hair at the roots and can cause hair thinning and loss (alopecia).

    • Free radicals attack the cells that create your hair pigment (melanocytes) which results in your hair losing color, turning grey, and then white.

Reducing oxidative stress means reducing potential damage to your hair at a cellular level.

 

 

It’s not just exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays, and harsh chemicals that cause oxidative stress. Some of the culprits could be lurking in your medicine cabinet – hair color, shampoo, face wash, sunscreen, and makeup can all add to your oxidative stress payload.

 

 

Your hairline is frequently exposed to both hair and facial care products. That’s a lot of different active ingredients on hairs that are finer than the rest of your hair. That multi-step skincare routine may not be your hair’s best friend. Try reducing the number of products you are using – it could reduce oxidative stress and help prevent grey hair. 

 

Can You Prevent Grey Hair?

At Arey, we wanted to find science-backed, proactive treatments for aging and greying hair. That’s why our first product was a nutritional supplement Not Today, Grey – because we want to stop grey hairs before they start appearing.

According to our research, vitamins and minerals play a major role in preventing greys. Not Today, Grey is a carefully curated cocktail of ingredients that can slow, delay and even repigment your grey hair. 

 

 

Not Today, Grey is your secret weapon in the battle against oxidative stress turning your hair grey because it’s packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that act like an off-switch to free radicals.  

Here are some of the active ingredients in Not Today, Grey: 

    • Selenium: this antioxidant boosts your immune system and combats oxidative stress. Selenium also controls fungal imbalances that can cause dandruff.

    • Black sesame: this seed is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamins E, A, and B. These support your hair’s pigment-producing cells.

    • Copper: this mineral supports your immune system, helps your body absorb iron – an important hair-healthy vitamin – and boosts collagen production. Copper is believed to also have antioxidant properties that help protect your hair, cells, and DNA from free-radical damage. 

    • Fo-Ti: this Asian herb is believed to restore melanin (hair pigment) in your hair shaft.5

    • B Vitamins: Biotin,6 Vitamin B5,7  B6, B10 (PABA), and folate.8 These powerhouse vitamins boost your hair growth, thickness, and pigmentation. Studies have found that 200mg to 24 grams daily of PABA can help darken existing grey hairs.9

It can take around 3 months to see the results from taking Not Today, Grey, with optimal results starting at month 6. We found our customers got the best results from combining Not Today, Grey with our lightweight topical serum To The Root. This powerhouse duo treats the causes of your hair turning grey from the inside-out and the outside-in. We like to call it The System.

 

The Best Haircare for Slowing Grey Hair

Maybe you’re happy having a few greys? I was excited to get some wisdom hairs. But, like many of my clients, I wasn’t ready to go full silver fox.

Read more about how I reversed my grey hair growth.

The good news is that the sooner you get proactive about slowing new grey hair growth, the better your results will be.

 

Our proactive haircare products benefit from our antioxidant-rich Mela-9™ ComplexMela-9™ Complex is found in our Wash shampoo, Wait A Sec dry shampoo, and detox scalp exfoliant Scrub

 

Slow Your Silvers With UV Protection For Your Hair

The sun’s rays (UV) can cause oxidative stress and cellular damage to your hair. According to Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, oxidative stress from UV exposure can harm, and even shut down your pigment-producing melanocytes.10 Less pigment means faded strands. No pigment means grey hair. If your hair turns completely white, there is likely no possibility of repigmentation.

The good news is that you’re used to wearing sunscreen to protect your face, and it’s the same for your hair. Don’t worry, you don’t have to slather your locks in greasy SPF. UV Protection for your hair like Live In Mist is lightweight and actually improves the condition of your hair. It's the next best thing to wearing a hat when you’re spending time in the sun.

 

Arey – The Best Haircare for Grey Hair

Grey hair can be your best hair with the right care. Whatever your stage in your greying journey we are here to help you with your hair health goals. Our studies show that it’s important to be consistent when you are using our Mela-9™ Complex products. 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 in Los Angeles with over 20 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.



REFERENCES:

  1. Hair Graying Pattern Depends on Gender, Onset Age and Smoking Habits
  2. first-gene-grey-hair-found
  3. Oxidative Stress in Ageing of Hair - PMC 
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ics.12736  
  5. Fo-Ti Benefits | Natural Health Guide 
  6. Bistas KG, Tadi P. Biotin. [Updated 2022 Jul 
  7. Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Benefits for Hair | City Doctor 
  8. folic acid deficiency might be the cause | Vogue India 
  9. Medication-Induced Repigmentation of Gray Hair: A Systematic Review
  10. Summer sun can lead to gray hair — here's how to prevent it