Let's Talk About: White Hair - En Route

Let’s Talk About: White Hair

what causes it and why?

You’re in your 20’s, found a strand of white hair and are now feeling panicky thinking – “Am I getting old?” There is absolutely nothing wrong with having white or grey hair, in fact, we’re seeing “grey blending” as a new-gen technique aka Grombe being embraced by women of all ages.

But if the unwelcomed appearance of said scalp intruder is making you want to point the blame at something, then allow us. As we navigate our way around what it really means to find white hair and why we get them, we enlisted Dr Dominc Burg, Chief Scientist at Evolis Professional for the low down.

What exactly are white hairs?


As it turns out, hair without any pigment is naturally clear and transparent but when light reflects off the hair it will appear white when looking from afar.

Melanocytes – the same molecules that produce melanin in the skin are responsible for making two combinations of pigments in the root (aka hair follicle) “Eumelanin (dark brown/black) and pheomelanin (red)… Blonde hair results from lower levels of pigment rather than its own colour,” Dr Burg explains.

Age is certainly the biggest factor

S0, why do we get it?


You guessed it! Dr Burg confirms that “Stress can contribute, but stress-related greying can be reversible, with some studies showing that hair can go from grey to coloured and back again over both short and long periods of time.” Hallelujah!

The science-y bit: “White hairs appear when the hair follicle loses its ability to make pigment.”

Dr Burg continues to tell us that on the rare occasion “Autoimmune conditions can cause patches of hair to lose their ability to produce colour, resulting in an unpigmented section of hair.  This can sometimes be reversible too.”

Are you genetically prone to white hair?


While it’s not completely certain as to why our hair follicles lose their ability to produce pigment – “Age is certainly the biggest factor.”

As we age the number of melanocytes in our hair, and their ability to produce pigment naturally declines over time. Dr Burg explains that there is another genetic component where there are some who tend to go grey or white earlier than others which runs in our family gene.

Could our haircare contribute to white hair?


“Haircare shouldn’t contribute to hair greying unless you are damaging the follicles themselves. To do this you would need to be using quite harsh chemicals on the scalp or damaging the scalp environment with heat!”


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