Since ancient times, premature greying of hair has been prevalent, but only now has it increased to a large rate. Greying of hair is caused when the hair follicles fail to synthesize the pigment melanin in the hair. This is the pigment responsible for black or brown colour. When this cannot be synthesized, hair turns grey, white or silver. This phenomenon can usually be controlled and delayed by a change in lifestyle and habits. When white hair starts appearing in large amounts before the age of 20 in Caucasians and 30 in African-Americans, it is considered premature. This issue can hamper the development of hair and decrease self-esteem among teenagers. It is a matter of concern and is usually difficult to resolve.
Causes of prematurely white hair
- Heredity: The main reason of premature greying of hair is the genetic composition of a person. If premature greying has been prevalent in previous generations of your family, you will have increased charges of the same. This cannot be controlled as genetic composition cannot be altered.
- Vitamin and Mineral deficiency: Some vitamins help in keeping hair healthy and safe. The deficiency of vitamins like these can cause many hair problems, including greying of hair. Deficiency of Vitamin C also causes greying.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption: Studies have shown that a person who smokes has a 4 percent higher chance of developing premature white hair. The free radicals due to smoking combine with the pigment producing radicals to create oxidative stress, thus causing white hair.
- Stress: Stress is known to cause a lot of hair problems as it causes damage to the scalp. It reduces production and synthesisation of melanin, causing premature white hair. Today, the younger age groups are put under a lot of stress, related to academics, peer pressure etc. This is another cause for this problem.
- Hair products: Some hair products like shampoos and conditioners are not healthy for the hair and cause various issues. This includes greying. Some chemicals used in the constituents cause immense damage and reduce functioning and production of melanin.
- Constant exposure to sunlight: Sunlight is known as a natural bleaching agent. When you’re out in the sun for long periods of time, the melanin in your hair gradually gets lifted to bleach your hair further. Excessive bleaching makes hair turn grey and then white.
- Improper styling techniques: When you style your hair with a flat iron or colour your hair with various chemical dyes, it causes more damage to your hair than visible. If heat is used frequently, hair gets damaged and turns white. IF you dye your hair too often, the melanin gets damaged along with hair cells, causing greying of hair.
- Thyroid problems: People who suffer from thyroid problems tend to develop grey hair faster, because a lot of hormonal imbalance occurs in their body. This destroys melanin and damages hair causing greying.
- Health issues: Health problems and defects like malnutrition, anorexia nervosa etc cause excess hormonal imbalance and deficiency of nutrients in the body. This reduces production of melanin and hair problems start showing too. It also results in premature greying and hair fall.
20 Home Remedies: How to reduce white hair
Henna powder can be used to decrease the appearance of white hair and increase melanin content in hair strands. This keeps them dark for longer, thus preventing premature greying.
To make this henna paste:
- Mix about 4 cups of henna powder with 3 cups of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons honey and mix well.
- Apply this to your hair for a few hours and wash off.
- Use about twice a week to eliminate white hair in time.
Curry leaves have been known as a healthy and effective remedy since ancient times.
- Boil a few curry leaves in coconut oil and apply to your hair and scalp.
- Leave overnight and wash the next day. This helps restore melanin along with protecting it.
Ginger is very well known to cure sour throats and internal diseases, but only a few know how to use it for beauty benefits.
- Grind some ginger and mix with some honey, cinnamon and olive oil.
- Apply this mixture to your hair strands that have lost colour and leave for 20-30 minutes.
- Wash off.
- Use at least once a week for better results.
Salt + Black Tea
To use this unusual remedy:
- Mix one tablespoon iodized salt with strongly concocted black tea.
- Apply this to your whitened hair and rest for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Use once or twice a week for effective results.
Indian Gooseberry (amla)
Amla contains hair strengthening vitamins and minerals which protect hair from premature greying.
- Apply amla oil or amla juice mixed with coconut oil, to your hair concentrating on the white hair.
- Leave on for a few hours or overnight before washing.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known as an essential oil that helps heal many ailments and gives beauty benefits.
To avail of these benefits:
- Concoct some green tea and add a few drops of essential oils.
- Apply this to your hair, concentrating more on the white hair.
- Use this at least twice a week for better results.
Sesame Oil + Carrot Seed Oil
These oils are also essential natural oils that help to restore the health of your hair. They can also help restore the colour of white hair.
- Take 4 tablespoons of sesame oil and mix with half a tablespoon carrot seed oil.
- Apply this all over your hair and scalp focusing on the discoloured hair.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo and conditioner after 30 minutes.
Fenugreek seeds are very healthy and packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
- Take 2 tablespoons of fenugreek powder and mix with 2 tablespoons of henna and 2 tablespoons curd.
- Mix this well and add some honey and lemon juice to it.
- Make this into a fine paste and apply this all over, concentrating on the white hair.
- Wash off in 30-40 minutes.
Lemon juice + almond oil
Lemon juice is very well known for its repairing properties on hair. It also helps in activating melanin along with almond oil.
- Take half a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of almond oil.
- Mix well, heat a little and apply to your hair.
- Wash off in one or two hours.
- Use regularly for quicker results.
Cow Milk Butter
Cow milk butter is an excellent nourishing ingredient and it helps protect hair from damage.
- You must apply natural butter and always apply it directly to achieve better results.
- After applying, leave it on for 20 minutes before washing.
Vitamin E capsules
Vitamin E is an important constituent and enricher of hair strands.
- Buy Vitamin E capsules and squeeze out the liquid.
- Mix this liquid with one tablespoon of honey.
- Apply this to your hair and wash off after 20-30 minutes.
- Concentrate this liquid on the white hair strands and roots to ensure a better effect on those strands.
Yoga and exercise
Yoga and exercise have been well known to everyone as the best healing techniques. They increase blood flow and circulation to the scalp, ensuring improvement in melanin functioning. This restores colour of hair and protects other hair strands from losing colour. Exercise or engage in yoga every day for at least 30 minutes.
Aloe vera is known to be one of the healthiest plants and the gel is used for many medicinal and beauty purposes. It can be used to reduce white hair too.
- Mix 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel with half a tablespoon lemon juice and half a tablespoon honey.
- Apply this to your hair, concentrating on the whites and wash off after 20 minutes.
- Use this twice a week.
Black walnuts are a lesser-known remedy for darkening hair colour.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil while adding half a cup of black walnuts to it.
- Let this liquid rest for a few hours and then strain it.
- Use this as a final rinse for your hair.
Coffee acts as a natural antioxidant for hair and also adds brown or reddish tones to your hair.
- The first way to use it is by mixing the coffee powder with a conditioner.
- Apply this to your hair, concentrating on the white strands and wash off after 20 minutes.
Another way to use it is by
- Boiling coffee powder with water.
- Cool this liquid and spray it into your hair.
- Wash off after 25-30 minutes.
- Use this about twice a week.
Vitamin C tablets
Vitamin C is very useful to keep hair healthy and strong. To reduce the appearance of white hair:
- Crush a few tablets and mix with conditioner.
- Apply this to your hair and wash it after 30 minutes.
- Use this twice a week.
Sage leaves are natural colour protectants even though the leaves are light coloured. To use:
- Boil a few sage leaves in water and let cool.
- Strain this and sprinkle it onto your hair.
- Wash after 20-30 minutes.
Ridge gourd works wonders in restoring natural hair colour and prevent premature greying of hair.
- Add ½ a cup of dried and cut ridge gourd to coconut oil and let it rest for a few days.
- After a few days, boil this mixture until it turns black and apply it to your hair.
- Use this twice a week.
They act as natural moisturizers and keep hair healthy.
- Boil the skin of 6 potatoes in water, till it becomes a thick starchy solution.
- Cool, rinse and use as a final rinse after washing your hair.
Onion juice contains certain minerals and enzymes, which help in hair growth and keeping the hair safe. It helps keep hair full of colour for a longer period of time.
- Squeeze the juice from 3 fresh onions and mix with one tablespoon of honey.
- Apply this to your scalp and strands and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo and conditioner.
Protection from sunlight
Protecting your hair and scalp from exposure to sunlight and heat will reduce the damage caused to your hair. This will keep the melanin in your hair safe, thus preventing greying. You can protect your hair and scalp by using caps, hats, headbands, scarves etc.
One of the main causes of greying of hair is constant exposure to heat and use of modern styling techniques. Constant use of curing irons, flat irons etc damage the hair to a large extent. Thus, if you reduce the use of these products, greying of the hair will reduce by a major portion.
Following a proper diet
One’s diet plays a very important role in maintaining health and keeping skin and hair healthy. Thus, a diet rich in protein and nutrients is necessary to keep hair healthy and young for a long time.
Control smoking habits
Smoking accelerates the rate of greying of hair at an early age. If you reduce or stop smoking, you can prevent greying of hair strands, thus preventing white hair.
Use good quality products
Some strong and harsh shampoos and conditioners increase white hair after continued use. We must use mild shampoos which do not damage hair or cause greying. Many serums and oils can cause greying too. These harmful products must be avoided and replaced.
Do not dye or bleach regularly
Dyeing and bleaching your hair causes a lot of damage to hair structure and composition. It destroys melanin, thus creating more whitening of hair. If you reduce the amount of dye and bleach used on your hair, you can reduce greying by a very large amount.
Give head massages regularly
Regular head massages help circulation of blood to the hair and scalp. If these massages are received frequently, melanin will not be lost. This will in turn reduce greying of the hair.
Myths and facts
Myth- Stress is the only reason for white hair.
Fact- Stress isn’t the only reason for white hair, but it is one of the reasons that causes damage to hair, which can lead to greying.
Myth- Premature white hair is a very rare and serious disorder.
Fact- Premature greying of hair is not a rare or serious defect and it can be treated very easily.
Myth- Premature white hair can always be controlled and prevented.
Fact- Premature white hair cannot always be controlled as sometimes it is caused due to genetics. The genetic structure of a person cannot be changed.
Myth- Premature greying of hair is an irreversible and unstoppable reaction.
Fact- The lost colour of hair strands can be obtained again by activating the pigment melanin, using the home remedies listed above. Following the precautions, more greying of hair does not occur.
Myth- Uprooting the white hair strands will make them go away.
Fact- You should never pull out white hair. That increases the growth into double the amount or even more.
Tips for healthy hair
- Oil your hair regularly to ensure healthy and strong hair growth.
- Do not wash your hair everyday. Reduce the amount of hair washes to reduce damage done by shampoos and conditioners.
- Avoid using heat and styling products as much as possible.
- Use mild shampoos and conditioners. Home remedies like shikakai are useful too.
- Cover and protect your hair from heat, sunlight and pollution to keep them clean and healthy.
- Clean your scalp well too while washing your hair.
- Engage in head massages and hot oil massages regularly to keep blood circulation going.
- Keep your hair tied in loose styles or the pressure on the scalp increases.
- Consume foods high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise regularly and consume lots of water.
OTC products effective for hair
The drugs that are listed below are approved by the FDA according to their health standards. They help in hair issues and problems and are available at pharmacies.
- Minoxidil (rogaine)- available without a prescription for men and women.
- Finasteride (propecia)- pills, available by prescription.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age is growth of white hair considered premature?
Answer- If you notice white hair before the age of 20, it is considered premature. There should be a large number of white hair strands for it to be considered abnormal.
Can hair turn grey overnight due to stress or shock?
Answer- No, no disease or defect shows major effects overnight. However, if you have a condition called alopecia, this can happen very rarely.
Can white hair regain its colour again?
Answer- Yes, with proper remedies and a better lifestyle, the melanin can be restored in these hair strands.
Does the appearance of white hair in early ages, of blonde-haired people, result due to premature greying?
Answer- In most cases, the appearing white hair strands are actually not white, but just a very light blonde colour. This is completely normal and is not considered premature.
What is the Marie Antoinette syndrome?
Answer- In this defect, hair strands turn white in a short period of time or overnight, due to fear. It was first observed in Marie Antoinette and Thomas Moore on the night before their execution, thus it was given this name.