Gray Hair: Top 10 Myths and Facts Explained

Gray Hair: Top 10 Myths and Facts Explained

Gray hair is one of the surest signs that your age is finally catching up on you but it is nothing to be scared about. Some people actually start getting gray hair in their teens so having gray hair doesn’t mean the end of the world for anyone. The hair you see as gray may actually not be gray at all. It all comes down to your skin’s ability to keep producing melanin in specific hair follicles. Being a largely feared stage of life, lots of myths have developed around these beautiful but delicate strands of hair and this list will debunk 10 of the most common and ridiculous ones.

Dyeing causes your hair to gray faster

Parents use this myth to scare their teenage kids from dyeing their hair blue, green, purple and other colours that make them look like rockstars. Some people with gray hair are actually afraid of covering their graying with dye because they believe it will make their graying worse. The only thing that dyes do is change the colour of the hair you already have though and when gray hair comes after you dye, the colour had nothing to do with it.

If you pluck one gray hair, seven grow in its place

Some people say two, others say three while many more say seven extra strands of gray hair will grow in place of the one you plucked. You need to remember that hair is not that superstitious and it has nothing against you that would make it take revenge by popping seven gray strands in revenge of one plucked hair. Plucking your hair doesn’t remove gray hair either because the hair grows out of the follicle and plucking doesn’t affect the hair that grows in the place of the one you removed.

Stressing will give you gray hair

People say Marie Antoinette turned gray overnight after being imprisoned while awaiting her execution. This led to the myth of the Marie Antoinette syndrome which involved the so-called overnight graying caused by sudden stress. There is no scientific proof that stress will cause your hair to gray any faster though. Stress does cause your skin to age faster and also reduces its ability to produce melanin. Stress does cause premature hair loss though, so you can be sure to stress yourself to baldness but not to gray hair.

The 50% at 50 rule

They say life starts at 40, but some dermatologists will also tell you that 50% of your hair will be gray by the time you turn 50. This myth causes many people to be afraid of turning 50 and having to struggle with a head half bleached by gray hair and a mid-life crisis at the same time. A global study in 2021 disproved this theory though as it discovered that less than 25% of people have that much gray hair by the time they turn 50.

Gray Hair: Top 10 Myths and Facts Explained

Staying in the sun too long causes graying

Sunlight is essential for your skin as it helps you increase your concentration of Vitamin D, improve your mood in general and also help your skin shine. Sunlight doesn’t just give you the glow though, it also causes your skin to age faster. That doesn’t mean it is a sole cause of graying of hair though. The main cause of graying is the inability of your body to break down hydrogen peroxide produced by your hair follicles as your age and the peroxide in turn bleaches your hair. It is fair to say that sunlight causes graying but not on its own. It is more of a chain reaction.

Does hair turn gray or does gray hair grow?

When you dye your gray hair, especially with permanent colouring, it will stay that way until the gray strands from the scalp become long enough and the dyed hair falls off. Every strand of hair on your head falls off every seven years and that means a whole new hair grows in its place. Once hair grows while coloured, it can’t change colour until it falls off. Gray hair, therefore, grows out of your scalp and graying doesn’t involve the bleaching of your existing hair.

Your lifestyle affects gray hair

It is normal to wonder whether how soon gray hair grows has more to do with genes or lifestyle. Graying is all about your skin cells losing the ability to provide melanin for your hair and that is down to how well your nourish your cells as a whole. As we have discussed, excessive stress and exposure to excessive sunlight causes cells to age faster which in turn causes premature graying. Anemia, lack of a balanced diet, smoking and alcohol abuse also causes your skin to lose its ability to produce melanin prematurely.

Gray hair is actually white

One of the most misinterpreted facts about gray hair is its colour in the first place. When you pick up a string of white hair, you will notice that is white. It is actually bleached hair, so it doesn’t have any colour which is why when you still have some black hair, bleached hair appears gray. When all of your hair is bleached, the colour changes to all white.

Gray Hair: Top 10 Myths and Facts Explained

Is it what your mama gave ya?

Rumours over the years have associated early graying with race and it is true, your genetics have a lot to do with the age at which you develop gray hair. Asian origins have been linked with the earliest onset of graying followed by Caucasian and finally African origins. It also comes down to the family and if your parents or grandparents had early or rapid graying, you are likely to encounter the same at a similar age in your life.

You can laser-remove gray hair

Laser hair removal has become popular over the years, especially with people dealing with facial hair and body hair in other places that they don’t want any. Laser removal is effective in removing hair to its root but it is not permanent. There have been cases observed of less hair regrowing after laser removal which is great if you wish to remove hair from a certain part of your body. However, laser hair removal for gray hair on your head only works if you are planning to replace your gray here with temporary baldness of sorts.

Do you have gray hair? Was it something you worried about at first? Do let us know in the comments below! 

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