Some people consider graying as something that makes them look distinguished; for others, it’s a reminder that they’re getting older. How ever you feel about it, gray or white is pretty much inevitable with age (if you’re fortunate enough to still have it in your later years).
Scientists have put a lot of effort into investigating the cause of graying, and they believe they’ve gotten to the root of the problem. It gets its color from a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocyte cells in the follicles. Researchers have discovered that melanocytes endure cumulative damage over the years, which eventually leaves them unable to produce melanin. Studies have cited DNA damage and a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the follicles as possible causes of this disruption in melanin production. Without melanin, the new hair that grows in has no pigment, which makes it appear gray, white, or silver.
Some people start to go gray young — as early as their teens. When graying begins usually is determined by genes, so if your mother or father became gray early, you may, too. If you are one of those people who don’t find gray hair distinguished, you can easily cover your gray with one of the many different dyes available.
Normally, it goes through a regular growth cycle. During the anagen phase, which lasts two to six years or longer, the hair grows. During the telogen phase, which lasts about three months, it rests. At the end of the telogen phase, it falls out and is replaced by new hair.
The average person loses about 100 strands each day. Hair loss also can have other causes, including drugs or disease.
As they age, men tend to lose it on top of their head, which eventually leaves a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides. This type of loss is called male-pattern baldness. It’s caused by genes (from both parents — the idea that men take after their mother’s father is a myth) and it’s fueled by the male hormone, testosterone. In female-pattern baldness, the loss is different — it thins throughout the top of the scalp, leaving the hair in front intact.
A number of disorders can cause the hair to fall out. People who have an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata lose hair on their scalp, as well as on other parts of their body. Other health conditions that can cause excess loss include:
Blow-drying, straightening, highlighting, and perming regularly can wreak havoc on hair, leaving it brittle, broken, and unmanageable. Split ends and dry hair are just two casualties of overstyling.
Excessive styling and heat can cause split ends, which occur when the protective outermost layers (the cuticle) is damaged and peels back. Some treatments for split ends include:
Hair needs moisture and a certain amount of oil to keep it looking healthy. A number of things can dry out hair, including:
To keep the moisture, try these tips:
The scalp contains a natural oil called sebum, which helps keep the skin lubricated. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. Sometimes these glands work overtime and produce too much oil, leading to a greasy scalp. Greasy hair can look dull, limp, and lifeless, and it may be more difficult to manage. To treat greasy hair, try washing with a gentle shampoo that is specially formulated to control sebum.