Have you been worried about your hair turning grey? Yes, you can always colour, and re-colour it, but what if there was a way to prevent hair from turning white?

First off, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to remain grey-haired – in fact, there is an unquestionable comfort in staying natural. However, if you feel tempted to give into herbal recipes and other treatments that promise to prevent grey hair, we’d urge you to think twice.

Why does our hair become grey?

Every strand of your hair grows from a follicle containing pigment cells (a.k.a. melanocytes). These pigment cells produce melanin, which gives your hair its colour. But as you age, these melanocytes slowly die, so your hair loses melanin and becomes more transparent. Yes, you read that right – grey hair is actually transparent. It only looks white, grey, or silver, depending on your natural colour or how the light hits them. 

But of course, the most common cause of grey hair is genetics. There’s no way around it – you can’t change your genes, and it’s inevitable. If you notice greying at a young age, it’s likely that your parents or grandparents did as well. You can pinpoint this to a specific gene in your body: IRF4. The IRF4 gene regulates the activity of another gene called TYR, which codes for an enzyme required for melanin production. 

Read more: How to remove scalp build-up?

How can I prevent grey hair?

While there’s no way to prevent white hair yet(sorry!), you can certainly aid to slow its appearance.

Keep stress at bay. 

It is easier said than done, but stress affects your whole body, including your mane. Stress releases norepinephrine, a chemical that affects the melanocytes in your hair. It causes them to quickly transform into pigment cells and exit the hair follicles. Additionally, chronic stress can cause chronic inflammation, which can turn off melanin-producing cells and shorten the hair growth cycle. Take some time to breathe, meditate, do yoga, or basically anything that keeps your mind and body happy.

Get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D stimulates new hair follicles, which can help prevent greying. This is supported by several studies that show a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and premature grey hair. Eat more foods rich in this vitamin, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, tofu, and dairy.

And antioxidants, too!

Eating a diet rich in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables helps reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals are imbalanced in the body’s cells. This causes damage to your cells and DNA and can supercharge your ageing process. Your best bets are vitamin C (oranges, broccoli, bell peppers), vitamin E (avocado, leafy greens), and carotenoids (carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes).

Stop smoking.

Smoking activates a stress response, such as our fight-or-flight response, which can hasten ageing. This significantly decreases melanocytes in the hair follicle, causing the strands to grey much faster. And since smoking constricts blood vessels, it reduces blood flow to the follicles and results in hair loss and thinning.

Take vitamins.

Another cause of premature grey hair is vitamin and mineral deficiency. Take multivitamins that contain vitamin B12, calcium, and iron, as they help a lot!

Read more: Reasons for hair thinning and how to promote hair growth