By Marli Naidoo
No, naughty children and difficult spouses are not the cause of grey hair. Grey hair is the result of diminishing pigment, where white hair contains no pigment.
When and how completely your hair turns grey is usually determined by the genes you inherited from your parents. Stress can play a role in the process, but it still makes much more sense to look at when the generations before you began to turn grey.
Before your hair comes out of your scalp, it is white. It gets a natural colour from a type of pigment called melanin. Melanin begins to form before birth. The natural colour of our hair depends on the distribution, type and amount of melanin in the middle layer of the hair shaft. Hair has only two types of pigment: dark (eumelanin) or light (pheomelanin). They mix to make various shades of hair colour. Every hair grows out of a single hair root. With time less melanin is released and out hair begins to come out grey.
Internal and external factors that can make your hair lighter or darker, are genetic deviations, hormones, age, climate, toxins, and exposure to chemicals and pollutants.
Sometimes grey hair can also be indicative of a disease, especially if it happens at a very young age. Health problems that could go with grey hair, are vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid diseases, heart diseases, low bone mass, and other more serious conditions. Smoking could make you turn grey earlier.
There are factors, therefore, that can make you turn grey earlier. The biggest determiner, however, is genetics and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. There is no cure, so make friends with your silver hairdo. If you can’t do this, you can always visit your hair salon and get a new hair colour.
Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hair-turn-gray-2017091812226
The Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/grayhair.html
IFL science: https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/why-does-hair-change-colour-and-turn-grey/