No matter how well you take care of yourself, there are a few telltale signs of aging that affect a majority of the population. Aside from wrinkles, sagging skin, and weight gain, gray hair is a natural part of getting older.
Many people start to see their first gray hairs in their 20s and 30s, but this can vary based on a person’s genetics and ethnicity. Regardless, pretty much everyone is sporting a good number of grays by the age of 50. Although developing gray hair is totally natural, it can be seriously troubling for both men and women. But before you begin slathering a bunch of chemical products on your hair to treat gray strands, let’s take a closer look at what causes hair to gray and natural approaches to preventing and remedying it.
Causes of Gray Hair
Hair starts to appear gray in color when it stops producing pigment. This often happens in the mid-30s for Caucasians, the late-30s for Asians, and the 40s for African Americans. When gray hair appears well before these ranges, an underlying medical problem may be to blame.
Studies have been inconclusive as to whether stress really causes gray hair. But even if this is nothing more than a myth, stress sure doesn’t do the body any good. A deficiency of vitamin B12 could be to blame for premature graying, as well as issues with one’s thyroid or pituitary gland. However, premature graying often has a genetic component, and there’s little you can do to change your genetics.
Gray Hair Prevention
One of the best ways to keep your hair looking good well into your golden years is to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs on a daily basis. Zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and folic acid are some of the nutrients linked to healthy hair and that may keep hair its natural color for as long as possible.
These nutrients can be obtained through food, but supplementation can help pick up the slack if you aren’t getting enough of certain ones. Some of the best foods for hair health are walnuts, fish, broccoli, and chicken. Vitamin D from the sun can also help keep hair gray-free; however, refined sugars should be avoided as much as possible.
Natural Remedies for Gray Hair
Many people are quick to grab the closest bottle of hair dye to cover up grays, but many commercially produced hair dyes are packed with hundreds of chemicals that have been linked to various health issues. Some of the most popular natural gray cover-up strategies involve ingredients like Indian gooseberry, henna, coconut oil, lemon juice, rosemary, sage, and blackstrap molasses. Coconut oil is excellent for graying hair because it is moisture-rich and packed with vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates to condition and tone hair. Other people have used tea and coffee to help darken hair that has turned gray.
It is also a smart idea to stop smoking if you currently smoke because tobacco is a known cause of graying hair. If experimenting with herbal remedies sounds like too much maintenance, you could also simply embrace the graying process and let your years of wisdom and experience shine through.
But since gray hair tends to be dryer and duller than the strands you previously had, it is still very important to condition your hair on a regular basis and use a deep leave-in conditioner a couple times per month. Also, shampoos that have a bluish base may prevent gray hair from getting yellow overtones. Finally, it’s important to continue getting enough daily nutrients in your diet to keep hair moisturized and beautiful for years to come.