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Why does hair go Grey? : Hairdressing Articles
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Why does hair go Grey?

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Why does hair go Grey?

Postby Paolo » 07 Oct 2010 03:20 pm

Grey hair is caused by a reduction of pigmentation, whereas white hair has no pigment all. Why this happens at all remains somewhat of a mystery.

In time, everyone’s hair turns grey eventually and your chances of going grey increases by 10-20% every decade after 30 years.

Fundamentally, hair is white. It then gets its natural colour from a pigment called melanin. The formation of melanin begins before birth and is also responsible for your skin colour and tanning in the sun. The natural colour of your hair depends upon the distribution, type and amount of melanin in the middle layer of the hair shaft or cortex.

Hair has only two types of pigments: dark (eumelanin) and light (phaeomelanin). They blend together to make up the wide range of hair colours.

Melanin is made up of specialized pigment cells called melanocytes. They position themselves at the openings on the skin’s surface through which hair grows (follicles). Each hair grows from a single follicle.

The process of hair growth has three phases:

* Anagenic phase: This is the active growth stage of the hair fibre and can last from 2- 7 years. At any given moment 80-85% of our hair is in the anagen phase.

* Catagenic phase: Sometimes referred to as the transitional phase, which is when hair growth begins to “shut down” and stop activity. It generally lasts 10- 20 days.

* Telogenic phase: This occurs when hair growth is completely at rest and the hair falls out. At any given time, 10-15 % of our hair is in the telogen phase, which generally lasts 100 days for scalp hair. After the telogen phase, the hair growth process starts over again to the anagenic phase. The extension of the telogenic phase has also been quoted as a cause of hair loss,

As the hair is being formed, melanocytes inject pigment (melanin) into cells containing keratin. (Keratin is the protein that makes up our hair, skin, and nails). Throughout the years, melanocyctes continue to inject pigment into the hair’s keratin, giving it colour.

With age comes a reduction of melanin. There is less melanin so the hair turns grey and eventually white.

So why does hair turn grey or white?

Dr. Desmond Tobin, professor of cell biology from the University of Bradford(UK), suggests that the hair follicle has a “melanogentic clock” which slows down or stops melanocyte activity, thus decreasing the pigment our hair receives. This also occurs just before the hair is preparing to fall out or shed, so the roots always look pale.

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Tobin suggests that hair turns grey because of age and genetics, and genes regulate the exhaustion of the pigmenting potential of each individual hair follicle. This occurs at different rates in different hair follicles. For some people it occurs rapidly, while in others it occurs slowly over several decades.

Harvard scientists proposed that a failure of melanocyte stem cells to maintain the production of melanocytes could cause the greying of hair. This failure of melanocyte stem cell maintenance may result in the breakdown of signals that produce hair color.

In 2009, European scientists described how hair follicles produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. This bleaching chemical builds on the hair shafts, which can lead to a gradual loss of hair colour.

In summary therefore it appears that hair goes grey via two mechanisms both related to age, the first being a reduction in the pigment (melanin) which gives the hair its colour and also an increase in hydrogen peroxide which actually has a bleaching effect upon the hair follicle.
Paolo works with Pro Hair Biosystems Limited
The UK distributor for ProFusion shampoo and conditioner, formulated to prevent hair loss in adults.
http://www.prohairbiosystems.com
Paolo
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Re: Why does hair go Grey?

Postby chris the limey » 07 Oct 2010 04:45 pm

Paolo wrote:In 2009, European scientists described how hair follicles produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. This bleaching chemical builds on the hair shafts, which can lead to a gradual loss of hair colour.



:o ;-D

I never knew that!!! That's a new one on me, but it does explain something.

I'm 33, and my father (in his late 50's) is around 80% grey, so I know what's to come.

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed it beginning in my eyebrows, although thankfully not in my hair.

The strange thing is though, my eyebrows aren't turning grey (or white if we're going to be correct in our terminology)...they're turning blonde!

I've noticed individual hairs that are more wiry/course than the rest. They are medium brown on the mid-shaft and ends, yet blonde (level 9) at the root! I actually commented to my better half that it is as if someone had applied peroxide to the roots of the hair and left it overnight!

I think the 2009 theory might have some substance.

Thanks for posting Paolo. ;-D
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Re: Why does hair go Grey?

Postby Cathy Duncan » 20 Dec 2010 07:44 am

Thanks for this soothing information, but what about the hair that turn white from black. Why it happens?
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Re: Why does hair go Grey?

Postby MrSimba » 26 Dec 2010 07:00 pm

Cathy Duncan wrote:Thanks for this soothing information, but what about the hair that turn white from black. Why it happens?


Ok to simplify this a little... (and without the use of cut & paste!)

The natural colour of hair is the pigment Melanin, Melanin is formed in Melanocytes.

Inside a Melaoncyte are two amino acids, Tyrosinase (an enzyme) and Tyronsine (an amino acid)

When Tyrosinase & Tyronsine are mixed together in the melanocyte an oxidisation process occurs and melanin is formed.

When hair goes white / gray this is because the Tyrosinase & Tyronsine have stopped production within the Melanocyte, and to answer your question as to why hair turns white from black...

Suppose your hair is naturally mid brown and then starts turning white, look and you'll notice black hairs present in your hair now for the first time also, this is because just before the Melanocyte stops production it almost goes into overdrive and produces waaaaaaay to much melanin before shutting down production hence the 'salt & pepper' look people get, you can tell your clients that any black hairs they see are about to be grey! :)

Hope this help!

Cheers

Simon
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Re: Why does hair go Grey?

Postby littlehairfairy89 » 30 Aug 2011 11:00 am

This is great info but just wondering if anyone can tell me why the actual texture and porosity of hair tends to change with the loss of melanin?? :?
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Re: Why does hair go Grey?

Postby MrSimba » 30 Aug 2011 12:33 pm

White hair has up to 15 layers of cuticle surrounding the hair shaft and it is this that make it more resistant and feel brittle.
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