Questions about grey hair.

10th June 2021

WHAT ACTUALLY CAUSES OUR HAIR TO GO GREY?

At Avalon we pride ourselves on the knowledge we hold on all aspects of colour. Working with various techniques and holding a huge amount of shade choices from various colour specialists such as Wella, L'oreal, Elgon, etc. 

We’ve been told many times that we have the best hair colourist in North London. So you can imagine how many times we get asked “What causes hair to go grey?” 

So let’s start with science. Your hair basically turns grey when the pigment cells that make melanin, a chemical that gives your hair its colour, start to die off. Once a follicle stops making melanin, it won’t make coloured strands again. 

The pigment is actually produced along the hair shaft, and there are two main forms of hair pigment. There's eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is what we see in brunettes and darker-haired people, and pheomelanin is what we see in blondes and redheads. The cells in our hair bulb produce a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which is a metabolic byproduct, and typically there's an enzyme called catalase that breaks this down to water and oxygen. But as we age, there's declining levels of catalase, and this allows the build-up of hydrogen peroxide in the hair bulb, which damages and destroys the melanocytes, or the pigment-producing cells, of our hair. Wow! Who would have thought we naturally produced hydrogen peroxide! 

So there it is, it’s all part of our ageing process but I think we all knew that. There are however some health conditions that may cause premature greying, such as diabetes, pernicious anemia or thyroid problems. 

A cause also can be if you have a deficiency in vitamin B-6,B-12 biotin, vitamin D or E. Smoking is a factor too. A study was taken out in 2013 in Italian Dermatology Online Journal showing smokers are 2 ½ times more likely to start greying early. 

However let me finish with the most common reason for greying. Genetics. 90 percent of all greying is down to our genetics so no matter what we do, it’s all written in stone even before we are born. 

 

DOES STRESS CAUSE YOUR HAIR TO GO GREY?

So one of the most popular questions that we get asked at our hairsalon in Crouch End is “are grey hairs caused by stress?”

Well let's look at what we know:-

The human body has millions of hair follicles which generate hair and pigment cells which contain melanin. - FACT

As we age the follicles lose pigment cells which result in the hair turning grey. -FACT 

What we don’t know yet is whether stress can make this greying process happen quicker. 

There have been many studies on this subject. One of which mice were injected with a stimulant which increased the production of adrenaline (poor mice) and the mice turned grey within a few days!

So does this mean if our adrenaline is heightened then we would go grey quicker?!!! - MAYBE   

I'll pass the next time I get asked to go on that roller coaster ride!!

Well let’s just consider a few things here:-

Mice and humans are very different.

Being pumped with adrenaline, (poor, poor mice) is not something we would do to a human.

This would be classed as acute stress. 

The stress we are talking about is more family, work, money related, chronic stress. 

None of which a mouse has to think about so not the best comparison.

So I’m not entirely convinced this study proves much. You could however relate this back to  that rumour where Marie Antoinette’s hair was said to have turned completely grey the night before she was beheaded so maybe they are actually on to something here! Not sure if this is an actual fact or rumour though so the jury is still out?

 

IS IT BAD TO PULL YOUR GREY HAIRS OUT?

So another popular question I get asked at Avalon Hair Salon Crouch End is “Is it bad to pull my grey hairs out?”

One of the things you need to know is if you pull your hair out it will grow back and it will still be grey, well generally it will grow back. If you pull the hair and it has a white bulb at the end, this is normal. If it’s red then there’s a chance you have damaged the root  and it won’t ever grow back. Usually grey hairs grow in the same area so if you keep pulling and damaging the root you could end up with a permanent bald patch! I think I'd prefer the grey!

People say that “if you pull your grey's out they grow back thicker or they double.” This is a complete myth. All that will happen is that if you continually keep pulling, then the area will either become thin or bald. If you really want to get rid of the greys, cutting them is an option or pop into Avalon and we’ll give you some advice on how to colour the specific grey areas. This can be done either by placing some low-lights/hi-lights in these areas or maybe a semi-permanent to disguise those persty beggars!

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