The description "grey hair" is actually a colloquial term. The impression of grey hair is the optical effect of a mixture of non-pigmented white hair mixed with hair that is pigmented to a greater or lesser extent. To be precise, one should actually refer to it as white hair. Along with hair loss, greying hair is another typical side effect of the natural aging process.
When does grey hair set in?
As with hair growth, our natural hair colour is also controlled by a genetic clock. From a certain age, which varies greatly between individuals, the cells (melanocytes) stop producing the natural pigment (melanin) that is responsible for hair colour. Production of the hair colour gradually decreases. With time, the melanocytes die off and new hair growth lacks colour. It is replaced by air bubbles, which make the hair appear white. More and more white hair is distributed through the existing natural hair colour, giving the impression of grey hair – until the hair is completely white, and no more hair of the original colour exists. Exactly when this process sets in depends on genetic and ethnic factors. In some cases, men can get their first grey hairs at 20, while others live very much longer without getting any grey strands.
Causes of grey hair
There are various causes of prematurely greying hair:
- Stress causes an increased production of adrenaline, and over an extended period of time, this can result in changes to the DNA, which in turn can encourage greying of the hair. 1 Stress also causes an insufficient supply of energy to the pigment-producing cells in the hair.
- Hydrogen peroxide is permanently produced during metabolism, and it is known for its bleaching effect. As we age, our bodies are less and less able to break the hydrogen peroxide down into its basic components, water and oxygen. It attacks the amino acids that are required for the formation of melanin. The result is the loss of hair pigments, and eventually, grey hair.
- An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to a nutrient or vitamin deficiency. This can result in an inadequate supply of energy to the melanocytes, which are responsible for the production of melanin.
- Smoking or the side effects of medicines can also influence the production of melanin.
- Changes to the hormone balance can also encourage the development of grey hair.
What can be done to fight grey hair?
As described above, a nutrient or vitamin deficiency can encourage the development of grey hair; a healthy diet is therefore important to supply the hair and the melanocytes with adequate energy.
Concealing grey hair
Seven out of ten men find that grey hair makes them look old. Therefore, it is an effect that many prefer to avoid, especially since one man out of three has a problem with further greying of the hair2.
- Dyes or colouration can cover grey hair completely for an extended period, but it can appear unnatural. According to a GfK survey, 76.9% of men find this to be true.3
- Shampoos and conditioners that contain pigments can cover grey hair with every wash ‒ without colouring it. They contribute to preserving the natural hair colour.
Alpecin products to counteract grey hairAlpecin Tuning Shampoo has been specially developed for covering first grey hairs or strands. It contains dark pigments that are deposited on the surface of the hair with every wash, keeping dark hair dark for longer. The effect intensifies gradually with each wash, so there is no sudden striking difference in colour. The more regularly and often the hair is washed with Alpecin Tuning Shampoo, the more intensive the colour effect becomes. It is suitable only for dark blonde to black hair. Due to the caffeine complex the shampoo helps hair feel stronger.
² appinio, March 2017, n = 600 men
³ GfK Mafo 2015, n = 944 men, on behalf of Apotheken-Umschau magazine