By: Sravanthi P. & Sheetal R.
As each day passes by we all turn a day older. But why do some people show signs of aging earlier than others? Why do some teenagers deal with gray hair while a 40-year-old has never experienced a single strand of gray hair?
What safe and natural ingredients can slow down the pace at which my hair is greying?
Is it true that the Ayurvedic oil amla can reverse existing grey hair? Read on to find out...
What Causes Our Hair to Turn Gray?
1. Termination of Production of the Pigments Which Give Hair its Natural Color
Our hair reflects no color when it gets no color. This means that the cells which are responsible for producing the color pigments for our hair stop producing the pigments. The absence of these pigments is the cause of the absence of color in our hair.
2. You Might Have Inherited Silver Hair From Your Parents
Although according to the 50-50-50 rule where 50% of the people cannot escape 50% of their hair turning gray before they turn 50, some get the signs of silver hair earlier than others. Genes may be the reason why some people get gray hair earlier than others. According to recent statistics and surveys, Caucasians, Asians, and Africans tend to get white hair in their early or mid-thirties, late thirties, and mid-forties respectively. Therefore if an average 30-year-old white woman has gray hair it is considered normal, however, if an average 30-year-old African woman gets gray hair it is considered early. Genes might matter more than we think; but let’s be clear, nurture plays a huge role as well. Our overall lifestyle matters a lot.
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3. Your Health May Affect Your Hair’s Condition
Some medical problems can lead to gray hair, however, this does not mean that everyone who gets
gray hair early has a medical issue. A common thought is that stress causes our hair to go gray earlier. While there may be no scientific study to back this up, one might wonder when stress becomes chronic our bodies may not find it necessary to produce hair pigment. The more important thing for the body might be to protect the vital functions that can take a hit due to the constant fight or flight mode we find ourselves in. This does not mean that stress has no effect on our skin and hair because stress can cause hair fall which is a big concern in itself.
4. The Way You Live Might Cause Your Hair to Gray Early
The way we choose to live and the unhealthy choices we make in our life might affect our body along with our looks. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating an unhealthy and imbalanced diet, using harsh and too many hair care products can all add up to increase the toxic load on our bodies. Per Ayurveda, harsh chemicals, in particular, can be responsible for early greying, too much hair fall and other scalp issues. How often we wash our hair is also a lifestyle choice. Frequent washing or swimming exposes our hair to the harsh additives (like chlorine) in the water and this could potentially lead to issues.
5. What’s on Your Plate?
“We are what we eat.” This famous saying not only applies to our body’s height and weight, but it also
applies to our skin and hair texture. A poor diet can cause graying earlier because it might not provide nutrients to the cells which are responsible for making hair pigment (hair color). Scientists have found a correlation between copper and gray hair. Research shows that people who have premature gray hair were also found to be having a low copper percentage in their body.
6. Harsh Chemicals in Hair Care Products
Although some fancy hair care products promise some instantaneous results, they might actually hurt your hair more than helping it in the long run. These harsh chemicals might have a strong effect on your hair follicles which make hair pigment. Once your follicles stop producing hair pigment, your hair starts graying earlier than you want it to.
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What Can We Do to Prevent Early Gray Hair and Sustain Our Natural Hair Color?
Although we cannot do anything about our genetic composition, we can focus on other aspects that are responsible for maintaining our hair color.
1. Copper Rich Foods
Since scientists have found a correlation between our hair color and copper, we can provide nutrients to our hair color producing cells by eating copper rich food such as:
Dark leafy vegetables
Dark chocolate (now you have an excuse to eat chocolate!)
2. Healthy Lifestyle
Since we are the only ones who have the power to choose our lifestyle, we should choose in a way to benefit us, not hurt us. Leaving unhealthy habits behind such as smoking and establishing healthy food habits such as incorporating copper rich food into our diet will not only help our body but also will help sustain the color of our hair longer.
3. Amla Oil: Can It Reverse Grey Hair?
A hair oil rich in high-quality amla can do wonders. This is no secret. In Ayurveda, alma oil has been highly esteemed for thousands of years to promote hair vitality and strength. Regular usage has been linked to keeping your hair from greying before time and perhaps well beyond that point as well.
Amla has withstood the tests of time and it would be awesome to see large-scale scientific studies done with this ingredient. It is highly nourishing to the hair and a great source of antioxidants.
Perhaps for this reason, amla has been used in countries like India for thousands of years to darken hair in general. There is very strong empirical evidence that regular use of amla paired with going gentle with your hair care products, can reverse existing greys. How does amla do this? Well, the mechanism of action is unknown at the scientific level. But I can say with my personal experience that the regular usage of amla oil over the last few years has left my own hair shiny and darker.
When the hair follicles are kept nourished and protected, there is no reason for them to turn against us so to speak. Paired with other Ayurvedic oils like bhringraj, shikakai, rosemary etc, amla’s fabulous effects only get greatly enhanced.
4. Water! Water! Water!
This colorless fluid can bring back color to your hair. When enough nutrients do not reach the hair follicles, they tend to lose their capacity to produce pigment which makes hair look gray. Water hydrates our body and helps us regain the lost moisture which helps transport nutrient like copper to the hair follicles.
5. Vitamins and Trace Elements
Lack of enough vitamins especially B12 can cause hair fall and can affect the production of hair pigment. Vegetarians and vegans need to pay extra attention to their diets and be sure to eat vital and nutrient-rich foods to avoid any deficiencies. Nature abounds in highly nutritious foods, which provide proteins, vitamins and trace elements in abundance. Green and colored vegetables, root vegetables, and plenty of nuts can make a complete diet that supports a healthy head of hair that does not turn grey before time. Other health-promoting rituals like mindful relaxation keep the entire body calm and stress-free. This can be a huge key to unlocking the secrets behind healthy hair and flawless skin.
6. Hair Care Products
This is last not because it is least important. it is last because I want you all to think especially hard about this one. As a collective, we have been experimenting with harsh chemicals for a very long time now. Common harsh chemicals in hair care products include SLSs, fragrance, alcohol, phthalates, artificial colorants etc. The list is disturbingly long. These are very commonly found in shampoos and
conditioners. However, when it comes to the styling products, this list becomes even more disturbing. We are now finding out about the alarming side effects of these products and this makes our resolve to go natural even stronger. It should in cases where it is not already. Thankfully we have inherited natural systems that have not ever gone out of fashion so to speak. They might have taken a back seat for a bit, but the movement to go back to the roots (no pun intended) is now stronger than ever. Ingredients like amla, almond oil, rosemary, neem, bhringraj etc are indeed our best friends in our desire for healthy hair that does not turn color on us far too soon. So I invite you to take a good look at the ingredient profile of your hair care products and make a resolve to go natural. A good old-fashioned hair oil massage twice a week with a high-quality hair oil is marvelous and based in solid wisdom. A gentle shampoo that does not challenge your scalp and a conditioner made with natural ingredients might all that you need to keep your hair healthy, strong and free of problems.
Watch this video for further information on hair care and what we can do to end bad hair days for good.
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Go natural. It is good karma!