It is a common belief that stress somehow causes our hair to turn grey. However there is no scientific evidence linking stress to hair color changes. What we do know is that as we age, the activity of hair pigment cells, known as melanocytes, gradually declines until they stop making melanin (hair and skin pigment) altogether. Each of us has a genetically determined time when this process starts. Recently, researchers in Germany and the U.K. have discovered the exact mechanism by which melanocytes lose their activity, and it looks like the culprit is a free radical known as hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural byproduct of the body’s metabolism. It is readily broken down into water and oxygen by an enzyme called catalase. In aging hair cells, the amount of catalase is significant lower, thus allowing hydrogen peroxide to accumulate, which then attack important enzymes. One of the enzymes it attacks is tyrosinase, a key enzyme that starts the production of melanin in the hair cells. As tyrosinase levels decrease, less pigment is produced causing our hair to turn grey.
So how do we prevent early greying of hair? Even though we’ve figured out the mechanism, there are no good treatment options at the moment. However I do have some general recommendations: