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What causes gray hair?

What causes gray hair?

SEEN was created with all types of hair (and skin) in mind, including straight, wavy, curly, colored, keratin-treated—you name it. It’s been a minute since we talked about gray hair, and we’ve come across some exciting recent research that’s worth sharing.

There have always been a lot of theories about what actually causes gray hair. On the evidence-based side, there’s the natural aging process that slows down the production of pigment. Free-radical damage that accumulates over the course of a lifetime can play a role in gray hair as well. Among the unproven causes of gray hair that have circulated over the years without any reliable scientific data to support them include long-term coloring and that plucking one gray hair makes more grow back.

Stress has long been associated with gray hair, and recent research has confirmed this connection. Stress can indeed lead to gray hair by affecting the stem cells that create pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. This study found that the chemical norepinephrine, produced when the body experiences stress, can convert stem cells to pigment cells that then move out of the follicle. Without these stem cells present to create new pigment-producing cells within the follicle, the hair turns gray or white.

In addition, a recent fascinating study showed that gray hair may be due to those aforementioned stem cells getting “stuck” in a certain part of the hair follicle as we age. Even more, helping these cells move to the proper location may be a potential way to prevent gray hair. (It’s important to note that both of these stem-cell studies were performed in mice that have different hair-follicle biology than people.)

Another study out of Columbia University confirms the connection between stress and gray hair, but found a different culprit at the cellular level. In this case, researchers uncovered evidence that stress-induced changes in the cells’ mitochondria led to the development of gray hair. Perhaps the most interesting takeaway is that this study included several cases of people who saw a reversal of graying when stress was decreased.

Regardless of the cause (or causes), gray hair tends to be more dry, coarse, and wiry—and it is believed that a lack of pigment-producing cells may have an effect on the production of the actual hair and its resulting texture.[1] Hair that has lost its pigment can also have a thinner protective outer layer (called the cuticle) that can make it more vulnerable to heat and UV damage, and more prone to develop a brassy or yellow appearance.

SEEN believes that gray hair deserves just as much attention and care as all other types of hair, and our products are formulated to meet its unique needs. For starters, our clean haircare products are sulfate-free, and won’t dry out gray hair. Our formulas also provide anti-frizz and anti-breakage benefits as well.

Among the gray-hair-friendly ingredients you’ll find in our non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and safe-for-sensitive-skin products are plant-derived squalane (to seal in moisture, provide heat protection, and enhance shine), hemisqualane (to reduce frizz and protect against heat damage), and moringa oleifera (found in our styling creams to shield hair from UV rays and pollution that can contribute to the yellowing of gray hair).

Most of all, we think gray hair is gorgeous! Check out these reviews from real customers who have experienced SEEN’s benefits for gray hair first-hand.

Blow-Out Creme + Restore Scalp Serum
“I have partial grey/silver coarse, but fine hair and this is amazing at taming the frizzes and flyaways! I have loved many hair serums and oils over the years, but they eventually leave me with awful product buildup, a bumpy scalp, or just plain old greasy flat hair! This serum is different. I bought the unscented version, and I'm still learning the amount of product that I need and how often I can reapply. I blew dried my hair with the blowout creme yesterday and added a drop when done. Another drop to touch up my hair before leaving the house on a windy, foggy afternoon for a job interview. I was able to run a comb through my hair when I arrived and it stayed tamed. After the interview my scalp serum arrived in the mail and I immediately applied. I was surprised to wake up with bouncy full hair this morning! It's a bit more relaxed now, but definitely not greasy! Really love this wonderful serum so far! I hope this keeps up!” - Denise F.

Magic Serum
“This is a definite WOW product from SEEN. It only takes a small amount. I have fine long hair and enough grey hair to be delighted by the shine factor of this product. Just remember it only takes a few drops for fine hair.” - Teya J.

Deeper Conditioner
“The Deeper Conditioner has made my white, curly hair softer, less frizzy, healthier, and more manageable! Also a little goes a long way even for my shoulder-length hair. I’m on my second liter and it will last me a long, long time!” - Vickie S.