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 called melanin combine. 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 inherited 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 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?

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COMMENTS (37)
  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    5/06/2015 - 12:38 p.m.

    I have heard that gray hair is a result of stress, and this article just finalizes my belief on how gray hair is a result of stressing too much.

  • apalacio-Che
    5/06/2015 - 01:46 p.m.

    I've always herd that stress turns your hair grey but actually hair loss is due to stress. The color change of your hair is of the genes you inherited from your parents.

  • dianaz-Che
    5/06/2015 - 01:55 p.m.

    I always knew that turning old and stress turns your hair grey, but I didn't know exactly why. Now I know that it's because your hair follicles produce less melanin.

  • rositap-Che
    5/06/2015 - 01:57 p.m.

    I think If you stress then you would get gray hair. That's what my mom and dad would always tell me. Also I would see my parents hair change over the time and I would see the difference.

  • oliviaswmsteam1
    5/07/2015 - 10:50 a.m.

    Okay I found this interesting I really hope I don't get gray hair soon though. Genes makes sense, what is melanin combine though,stress makes sense but seriously you lose hair when you stress.

  • namelt-Che
    5/07/2015 - 01:50 p.m.

    I would say no, because some people in the world can be born with gray hair. Another thing is that old people can have gray hair because they are old. So this stuff comes naturally.

  • deondrei-Lam
    5/07/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    Because people have big heads.

  • coltons-Lam
    5/07/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    Because people have big heads.

  • joshh-Lam
    5/07/2015 - 03:58 p.m.

    my dream is to have grey hair. i have always loved the look and i wonder how i would look like n _n

  • CapeleyZ-1
    5/07/2015 - 05:42 p.m.

    This article was about whether on not stress turns your hair grey. Hair color is based on two types of pigments called melanin combine. Different amount of each create a variety of shades. We dont yet understand the mechanics behing it. Although stress is a factor, the color change is mostly because of your genetics. You therefore can be a stress free person and although you may not lose your hair, it will turn gray. I think this is cool.

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