” Periods of intense stress can cause the body to release norepinephrine. This hormone not only increases alertness and attention but also happens to push melanocytes out of the follicle altogether, causing a loss of pigment.“
- Elizabeth Zitvogel
Gray Hair. Love It or Hate It, It’s Here to Stay
…or is it?
Have you ever wondered how those gray hairs got on your head in the first place? Or whether it’s in your control to change or reverse? Let’s take a closer look at what is responsible for the hair’s pigment (or lack of it) in the first place…
Natural hair pigment is called melanin.
The type and amount of melanin are genetically determined for each person and are produced and maintained in cells called melanocytes (meh-LAN-oh-sites). These cells can be found in the base of each hair strand in the follicle. When melanocytes change or stop producing pigment, we begin to see gray, silver, or white hair.
The Root: Inside, Outside
There are both internal and external explanations for why a melanocyte might stop the production of melanin. Some external reasons may or may not be in our control and include smoking, air pollutants, UV rays, and, unsurprisingly, stress.
Periods of intense stress can cause the body to release norepinephrine. This hormone not only increases alertness and attention but also happens to push melanocytes out of the follicle altogether, causing a loss of pigment. Studies show this change may not be permanent; there is a chance the melanocyte can be recovered once the stress is reduced or removed.
Another surprisingly common reason hair could turn gray is a lack of certain nutrients. A balanced diet plays a significant role in maintaining pigmentation. Not getting enough protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B complex, and abnormal levels of iron, copper, and zinc could all accelerate premature aging and the eventual death of melanocytes.
The Gray Elephant in the Room
This brings us to quite possibly the most apparent reason: age. As we age, melanocytes gradually weaken and die, leaving the follicle without pigment production, thus turning gray. The age at which this change occurs is mostly predetermined, dependent on the genetic information passed to us from our parents. This can go a long way in explaining why some people go gray earlier while others maintain their pigment well into middle age.
Gray to Stay? Your Call!
So whether you’re embracing your silver strands or saying goodbye to your grays every four weeks, at Incentives Organic Salon, we’re here to support you in your hair goals and create a game plan to achieve them!
About the Author
Elizabeth Zitvogel is a Licensed Cosmetologist with extensive training in all aspects of hair styling and coloring. She specializes in regular and organic color and highlighting, as well as ombre application. Elizabeth also possesses creative techniques with blowouts and up-dos.