It is a natural part of aging and affects everyone, everywhere in the world: at some point your hair will turn grey. This annoys most of us because gray hair is a clear indication that we’re just not quite as young as we feel. Pity!
For most people it starts when they are in their early/mid 30’s. Then you discover the first light hairs, mostly on the temples or on the nape of the neck. A little earlier for men, often on the beard, and a little later for women on average. And hardly anyone can take it easy and just turn gray like that, especially not at that age. So people get tinted and dyed, women get highlights done, men sometimes react by going bald and shaving their heads.
What hardly anyone knows: the hair is not gray at all, but white or colorless. But because this light hair mixes with the natural hair color, it looks like we have gray hair. In fact, however, they are colorless – which is particularly evident in pensioners, who then appear to have snow-white hair.
How is the hair color created?
“Just like with the skin, the pigment that gives the color, melanin, comes from the melanocytes contained in the upper layer of the skin, or in the hair follicle, as in the case of hair,” says Dr. Max Tischler from onlinedoctor.de. “The melanocytes are constantly producing this pigment that gives our skin and hair color.”
There are two different types of melanin. On the one hand eumelanin, which makes brown and dark hair, and on the other hand pheomelanin, which gives it a yellowish to light color. “The ratio of these two pigments to each other determines our actual hair color,” says the dermatologist. “The individual relationship is anchored in our genome.”
Our hair color is ultimately created by a fixed program that always follows the same pattern. “The follicle cell, i.e. the hair root, produces the melanin, which is transferred to the horny layer and stored in the hair shaft. This then grows out and, to put it simply, simply takes the embedded pigments with it,” summarizes Dr. Max Tischler together.
Where does gray hair come from?
Unfortunately, the hair cells – like all our body cells – are also subject to the aging process. The older we get, the slower our organism becomes when it comes to replacement cells. Young people, especially children, have fast metabolisms. Dead cells are immediately replaced. In adults, this is no longer as quick and effective, which means that over the years we have to be content with fewer and fewer functional cells. “And that’s why the pigment production also decreases,” says the dermatologist. “Fewer melanocytes also mean less melanin.”
And there’s another factor that influences when we turn gray: It’s the amino acid tyrosine. The melanocytes need them in order to be able to produce melanin at all; they are an elementary building block. “If the body lacks tyrosine, it can produce less melanin, which is then also noticeable in increasingly colorless hair,” says Dr. Max Carpenter.
Unfortunately, the graying cannot be stopped by administering tyrosine, as the doctor knows: “There have been studies in which attempts have been made to stimulate hair pigment production again by giving people tyrosine through food. However, that did not work and nobody currently knows why this is the case, whether absorption in the gastrointestinal tract did not work or whether, for example, a special tyrosine modification is necessary.”
Should you go to the doctor with gray hair?
If you’re under 30, you should see a dermatologist to find out why you’re turning gray at such a young age. It can be hereditary, triggered by medication, a severe stress reaction, but it can also be caused by a thyroid malfunction or cancer. That should be clarified.
It’s also possible that you have vitiligo, which is a disease in which the skin has lost melanocytes in various areas and therefore remains pale white. If such a focus occurs on the scalp, tufts or strands of colorless hair appear. Vitiligo does not otherwise cause any symptoms, but it can be an optical problem for those affected.
How do you get rid of gray hair?
As a rule, it stays with coloring. At the moment, science has not found a way to stimulate the melanocytes and thus restart color production in the hair follicles. “You can also use color sprays, hair fibers or dry shampoo for the roots,” says the dermatologist.
An alternative for dyeing are so-called renaturation products, which are said to bring back the natural hair color if you use them regularly and permanently. So far, this has mainly worked for darker hair colors. There are countless positive reviews and purchase recommendations on the Internet.
The best-known product is Re-Nature from Schwarzkopf. When asked, the manufacturer explains how it works: “The production of melanocytes is not stimulated by Re-Nature as a cosmetic product. The main active ingredient (…) can also be found as a fragment in natural melanin. If this active substance is oxidized, it forms a nature-identical color, so to speak.”
And further: “The oxidation (…) does not take place by mixing it with a developer containing hydrogen peroxide, as is the case with classic oxidative hair colors, but by gradual oxidation of the active substance with the oxygen from the air. This process takes place deep inside the hair gradually over a few days. If the resulting color is not dark or opaque enough, it is applied again! This means that consumers can decide for themselves when they are satisfied with the result. The coloring is permanent, so a root treatment can be carried out after 4-6 weeks.”
The manufacturer does not say which substance this active substance is. dermatologist dr Max Tischler is not skeptical about how Re-Nature works, but still advises caution: “You can use the product, but first of all you shouldn’t expect the hair color to be exactly the same as before, and secondly make sure that the scalp is not irritated. Other products with oxidative substances can lead to an itchy scalp, which is why you should watch this carefully when using it.”
#Dermatologist #gray #hair #rid