Most gray hairs are unavoidable, the result of aging and genetics. But doctors and hairdressers say there are steps you can try to fight premature loss of pigment:
• Stop smoking. Studies show cigarettes speed up the aging process throughout the body, including your hair.
• Work to lower stress. While evidence isn’t conclusive, many believe anxiety can help trigger graying. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, make time for enjoyable hobbies and try meditation or deep breathing exercises.
• Eat the right foods. Deficiencies of certain nutrients, including copper and B-vitamins, may contribute to early graying. Load up on dark green leafy vegetables, fruit, lean meats, nuts and seeds; take a multivitamin; avoid fatty, greasy and salty foods; and don’t skip meals.
• Don’t drink too much. Excess alcohol and caffeine may be bad news for your hair.
• Massage your scalp. Extra rubbing during a shampoo should help stimulate blood circulation in your scalp, which nourishes hair follicles.
• Be wary of products. The only item proven to “reverse” graying is hair dye. Numerous supplements and other products, often sold on the Internet, almost certainly are a waste of money and may pose health risks.
• Avoid too much heat. Shampooing with hot water and using a hairdryer on high heat may damage hair roots; the same goes for significant sun exposure (wear a hat).
• Don’t pluck. Pulling out gray hairs won’t solve your problem, but it will damage your hair root and possibly cause an infection.
• See a doctor. If you have significant graying before age 30 and no family history of that trait, you may have a health problem such as thyroid disease, anemia or a vitamin B-12 deficiency. However, the majority of people don’t.