Hair Skin Care Gray Hair

When people think of gray hair, they often think of the elderly. However, some people start going gray in their early twenties. In some cases, gray hairs start showing up on the heads of teenagers.

When young people start going gray, they are said to be experiencing premature graying. Though premature graying can cause frustration, it usually isn’t a cause for concern.

Premature Graying Defined

A person is considered to be prematurely gray when more than half of his hair is gray before the age of 40.

How Hair Gets its Color

In order to understand how graying of the hair occurs, it’s first important to examine how hair gets its color.

Hair strands are comprised of two parts:

  • The Hair Root: the base of the hair, which is anchored in the scalp
  • The Hair Shaft: the hair strands that are visible on our heads

The root of each hair on our heads is housed in a hair follicle, a tube-like opening in the outer layer of the scalp. Within the follicle are a certain number of pigment cells, which produce melanin. Melanin is what gives our hair its color. It’s also responsible for our skin coloring.

As we age, the pigment cells in our hair follicles slowly die. When hair follicles don’t contain a sufficient amount of pigment cells, melanin production slows. This causes a person’s hair to become more transparent and turn gray, silver or white.

Once a person first spots a gray hair on his head, it will often take more than 10 years for his hair to be completely gray.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory. It is attained by a life of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31

Causes of Premature Graying

For the most part, premature graying is inherited. Therefore, if many people in your family have gone gray prematurely, you’re likely to suffer the same fate. In most cases, people start going gray around the same age that their parents or grandparents went gray.

Though genetics cause most premature graying, the condition can also be caused by other factors, including:

  • anemia (when the blood is lacking healthy red blood cells)
  • thyroid disorders
  • vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • vitiligo (an autoimmune condition in which the pigment-making cells found in the hair and skin are destroyed).

Premature Graying: What You Can Do

Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for prematurely gray hair. As premature graying is overwhelmingly genetic, there really is no way to prevent it and no way to avoid it.

There are, however, some options for people who want to hide their gray hairs. Hair dyes can be used to mask the gray. While most people associate hair dying with women, today there are hair dyes made especially for men. You can find hair dyes for men at your local drug store or beauty supply store. Men who have never dyed their hair should consider first trying a semi-permanent dye that is one shade lighter than their natural color.

Of course, some people choose to embrace their gray. Gray hair works well on many people, making them looking distinguished, stylish and even sexy!


Gavin, Mary L. (August 2007). Why Does Hair Turn Gray? Retrieved November 7, 2007, from the KidsHealth Web site:

Lawrence, Star (n.d.). The ABCs of Premature Graying. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from the WebMD Web site: