Does stress turn your hair gray? (Thinkstock)
Does stress turn your hair gray?
Lexile

You asked us, does stress turn your hair gray?

Hair gets its color when two types of pigment combine. The pigment is called melanin. Different proportions create a variety of shades. We don't yet understand the mechanics behind it. But hair follicles the 100,000 or so pits on our heads that sprout our hairs produce less melanin as we age. The result is gray hair.

While we could probably point a finger at stress, the timing of this color change is mostly a function of the genes. You inherit them from your parents. Stress can definitely trigger a higher rate of hair loss, though. So, if you're no spring chicken, and your hair follicles are producing less pigment, chances are the new strands that grow in will be gray. And you could be sporting a salt-and-pepper look. It could happen before you know it.

OK. So to summarize on gray hair, one, blame your parents. And two, try not to stress out.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: Why does it take 100,000 hair follicles to cover our heads?

Filed Under:  
Assigned 10 times


COMMENTS (3)
  • John0724-YYCA
    5/06/2015 - 08:14 p.m.

    Well I am just glad that I am not to old and get stress because I do not want my hair to look like that because the hair color that she has is Dumbledore style and I am thankful that it is not going to happen right now because if it is my friends are going to tease me all day which will hurt my feelings. Well I can't blame my parents because it as to happen and all I need is not to have stress later on but I know that later on in the future I am going to have a lot of gray hair.

  • 3ShawnB-May
    5/17/2015 - 11:45 p.m.

    I do not believe that stress directly causes hair to turn gray based on reading this article. This paragraph outlines my thinking on the subject. Hair gets its color from pigment called melanin. With age, hair follicles make less melanin, causing gray hair. Stress does not directly cause gray hair as the article points out that gray hair is a function of genetics or what what we inherit from our parents. Stress does indirectly cause gray hair by causing hair loss. In older individuals whose hair follicles are producing less melanin, the hair that replaces the lost hair will be gray.

  • ben13-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    So if stress makes your hair gray then is it possible that other things for example confusion. could that make your hair or other parts of you body different colors too.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT