Sometimes life hands you nice surprises. Like when you pull out an old purse and find $40 inside. And sometimes, life surprises you in not-so-exciting ways. Like when you’ve just finished brushing your teeth and as you’re turning to leave the bathroom, you catch a glimpse of something in the mirror. An unfamiliar shimmer in your hair. You turn the lights up and lean in closely… you mess with the dimmer, thinking there must just be some sort of weird reflection situation happening. But no…
Ok let me stop making this seem hypothetical. I’m telling you a story about something that happened to me not long ago. What I had seen shimmering in the light was fucking gray hair. At first I thought it was just like 1 or 2. But once I began staring deeply into the mirror at my hair and shuffling it around, thoroughly and frantically examining, I was basically appalled to see that there was a whole colony of these things settling in. I marched right out of there and sat down to begin my research. Why do we go gray and what can we do to slow the process down? I mean I’m not hating on people with gray hair. I actually think it’s really quite beautiful to see women age naturally, and I love a silver fox. But I’m 31 man. Now is not the time.
When I started reading some of the causes of graying, I thought to myself… Oh, ya. Ok the gray hairs make sense. Let me shed some light on this by covering some of the causes of gray hair:
- Stress (if your stress level causes hair loss)
- Vitamin Deficiency (especially B12)
- Improper care of hair
- A lack of care for your scalp
- Alcohol use
- Too much caffeine
- Poor diet
- Thyroid problems
- Aging (obviously)
Booze? Smoking? Shitty food? Ahhh, so my teens and early 20’s are responsible for this.
There is bad news for some people – and that is that you can absolutely be genetically prone to early graying. But for most, there are things that we can do to slow this process down.
Hair color is the pigmentation of hair follicles due to two types of melanin: eumelanin & pheomelanin. More eumelanin = darker hair. Less eumelanin = lighter hair. The levels of melanin can vary over time, causing changes in people’s hair color. And as we age, our melanin production reduces, causing our hair to grow in without any pigmentation, thus giving it a “gray” appearance. Aging isn’t the only thing that can slow our melanin production, though. If we want to keep our hair color vibrant for as long as possible, we need to be conscious of a few key things.
Existing hair doesn’t turn gray. Our hair sheds, and eventually begins growing in gray. A few of the main guidelines we need to follow to slow this process down are for making sure our hair sheds as little/infrequently as possible. You know how people are always telling you that you should never brush your hair while it’s wet? That’s because it causes not only breakage, but hair loss. The same goes for using a hair dryer and/hair straightener/hot styling tools, dyeing your hair, and using extensions. Beyond these preventative actions, we need to be proactive with nurturing our hair, scalp, and follicles.
So, let’s look at the things we can do to keep our hair healthy & colorful!
- Given the contributors I listed above, we obviously need to take care of ourselves in a general sense. Sleep well. Don’t stress. Watch your caffeine. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink too much. And eat well.
- Never brush your hair while wet. Use a wide tooth comb. And only blow dry & use styling tools when you really need to. If you can air dry, do it. Drying your hair off with a soft t-shirt as opposed to a towel is good, too. Towels can be rough.
- If you know that you’re probably not getting all of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs from your diet, get yourself on a good supplement. Only supplement what you need. B12 and Zinc are two of the big ones you want to make sure you’re getting when it comes to hair & skin health. You can grab some Hair, Skin, Nail vitamins to cover this. Just do your research and make sure they are good quality and definitely include B vitamins, Zinc and Biotin.
Here are awesome ideas for nurturing our scalp and hair naturally, to assure we hold onto our locks as long as possible. (And just make our hair look sexy.) ⇓
- Aloe Treatment: Aloe is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. It can reduce itchiness of scalp & dandruff, and provide deep conditioning to hair by reducing excessive oil from your scalp and hair strands. It promotes hair growth & luster and improves the pH balance of your scalp. (ding ding ding) You can apply it right to your scalp, or mix it with shampoo. For a nice, nourishing treatment – collect the aloe gel from aloe leaves and mix it up. Massage it into your washed hair and scalp. Leave it on for 1 hour and rinse out with a mild shampoo. For a quicker treatment, mix a Tbs. of aloe vera gel and a Tbs. of lemon juice to a cup of your shampoo and wash your hair with some of it. The rest can be stored in a sealed container and last you a week or so.
- ACV Rinse: Another good one for balancing the pH of your scalp and hair. Mix 1 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and cover your scalp and hair thoroughly with it, after shampooing. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse with water. This can be done weekly. Even a few times weekly if you like the results.
- Corn Flour Massage: Who knew? Corn flour is an awesome natural absorbent that soaks up excess oil and grease from your scalp. It’s a rich source of fatty acids and vitamin E and helps nourish your hair from the root and reduces hair loss and breakage. Sprinkle a generous amount of corn flour onto your dry hair and scalp. Massage for 5 minutes and let it sit for 30 minutes. Comb excess powder out, then wash with a mild shampoo. Also can be done a couple of times weekly.
- Orange Peel Treatment: Orange peel is a rich source of calcium, vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Great for your hair and your skin. It will remove excess greasiness from our hair and scalp, keeping those hair follicles in good shape. Grind up a few orange peels with 2 tsp. of honey and apply to your scalp and hair. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and wash with mild shampoo.
- Tea Tree Oil Wash: Tea tree oil is a potent natural remedy for hair problems. You may already know that this oil has anti-fungal & antiseptic properties, which help fight bacteria & fungus. (Great for acne, disinfecting.) These properties make it effective at treating problems with dandruff, scalp irritation, itching and rash. It will remove excess oil, sebum (oily, waxy stuff that comes from glands) and dirt that blocks our hair follicles. Take a few drops of tea tree oil on your hand (a few – tea tree oil is potent and if you go overboard you will feel the burn like no other). Massage your scalp and hair with the oil for 5 to 8 minutes and wash with mild, herbal shampoo. Or, just find a good shampoo with tea tree oil as an active ingredient.
- Banana Treatment: Bananas are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are unbelievably beneficial for your skin and hair. Using banana will deeply nourish and condition your hair, reduce excess oil & sebum from scalp & hair, and supply nourishment to your hair follicles – keeping them hydrated & healthy. Mash a ripe banana with 1 tsp. of honey. Mix well and apply on scalp and hair evenly from root to tip. Let it sit for 20 minutes and wash with mild shampoo.
- Coconut Oil Treatment: Coconut oil can do tons of great things for our hair and scalp. Besides the great nutrients and anti-oxidants it possesses – when massaged into the scalp, it will improve the blood circulation to your scalp & hair follicles, helping your follicles to absorb the valuable nutrients. Liquify your oil (if it’s solidified) by placing the jar in hot water. Dampen your hair with warm (not hot) water and wake the pores of your scalp up by rubbing it vigorously with your fingertips. (Not too hard, though.) Pour some coconut oil into your hands and apply directly to your roots. Be sure to cover your whole scalp. Gently massage the oil into your scalp for at least 3 minutes. Throw a shower cap on and let it set. The ideal situation is to leave this on overnight. Keep it on for 30 minutes at the very least. Wash out with a gentle shampoo. Repeat once or twice a week.
Now, pardon me while I dash to the store to get all of this and obsessively try to avoid being a cotton-top by 40.