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 (176)
  • jesusbustos-Goo
    5/06/2015 - 10:21 a.m.

    Does stress make your hair turn gray? The text states, "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." The evidence from the text explains why stress could make your hair turn gray.

  • keighanat-Goo
    5/06/2015 - 10:25 a.m.

    Why does your hair turn gray? I believe stress is a big part of why it does. The text states, " the 100,000 or so pits on our heads that sprout our hairs produce less melanin as we age. The result is gray hair." The text also states that, "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." The evidence from the text illustrates that parents could cause a lot of the stress, work, school, etc.

  • nittayah-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:08 a.m.

    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.

  • da'johna-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:10 a.m.

    I think it depends on you. It might depend on how big your head is and on if you have a daises or things of that sort.

  • kimj-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:19 a.m.

    It takes 100,000 hair follicles to cover our because hair follicles are very small. People with thick hair probably have lots of more hair follicles.

  • gabriellej-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    It takes 100,000 hair follicles to cover our heads because these "pits" are little and there needs to be a lot so that we aren't bald.

  • gabriellej-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    It takes 100,000 hair follicles to cover our heads because these "pits" are little and there needs to be a lot so that we aren't bald.

  • serenas-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    It takes 100,000 hair follicles to turn a piece of hair gray because hair follicles are so small. Therefore it takes a lot of them to cover strands of hair.

  • faithd-Che
    5/06/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    Why does it take 100,000 hair follicles to cover our heads?

    the follicles produce less melanin as we age. The result is gray hair. Different proportions create a variety of shades.

  • tameiraollie-boo
    5/06/2015 - 11:41 a.m.

    The estimated hair follicles 100,000 produce less mellian which is the result of gray hair.Hair gets its color when two types of pigment called melanin combine proportions create a variety of color
    .

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