Gray Hair: Lifestyle Triggers


While greying is a fact of life, some things we do can cause it to come on much earlier than it normally would. In this article we discuss some of the more common triggers.


The first strands of gray hair usually appear around age 35 for women and 30 for men, but the age of onset is by no means consistent. For some, gray hair can begin as early as the teenage years, while others don’t deal with a single grey strand until they’re well into their 40s or beyond. It may seem unfair—and the sad truth is that some people are simply dealt unlucky hands by their genes—but a growing body of research shows that greying is not beyond our control. In fact, there are a number of habits and lifestyle factors that can make gray hair happen earlier and accelerate the process. If you’re worried that your habits may be contributing to your greying hairs, here are some issues to be aware of.

Stress Causing Gray Hair?1. Stress
The conventional wisdom that stress leads to grey hair has been challenged extensively in the research community, but recent evidence has shown that the old ideas are not far from the truth. While it’s probably untrue that traumatic events can cause a sudden unset of gray hair throughout the scalp (as is purported to have happened to Marie Antoinette prior to her execution), evidence shows that persistent stress over a prolonged period can accelerate the formation of gray hair, sometimes severely.

Stress activates the body’s fight-or-flight response, which leads to the release of hormones that affect all of the body’s systems, including the circulatory system and the skin. Since it’s been proven that hormonal factors play a huge role in both hair loss and greying, it stands to reason that hormone imbalances caused by stress can wreak havoc on the scalp cells’ production of melanin, which is what gives our hair its color. So while you’re not likely to go grey overnight if you are having a rough week, a year or two of persistent stress can have pronounced effects on your hair coloring.

Stop smoking if you want to stop that graying hair momentum2. Environment
Gray hair has been attributed to prolonged free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules that bounce around inside of cells and cause deterioration, leading to poorly functioning and even dead cells. There are may sources of free radicals, including unhealthy food, but one of the major, often overlooked sources is environmental pollution. If you live in a smoggy city, near a busy street, or close to an industrial district, then the air your skin and hair comes in contact with is likely full of unseen toxins that introduce free radicals into your cells. This can lead to many ill effects, among which greying hair is one of the most visible.

Meanwhile, if you regularly pollute your surroundings by smoking tobacco, this can be even worse than living in a smoggy area. Tobacco smoke fills the cells with free radicals and leads to premature cell death, which in turn causes greying hair. Even second-hand smoke can have negative effects if you’re exposed to it regularly.

Eat well and exercise to slow graying hair3. Diet and exercise
Unhealthy food can likewise contribute free radicals to the cells, but you can at least partially counter these effects by getting all your recommended daily vitamins and nutrients. The cells that produce hair color can only survive so long without getting the nutrients they need, so make sure they are well fed by consuming a variety of healthy foods every day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential, and it’s also a good idea to get plenty of protein and healthy fatty acids.

Exercise, too, can have surprising benefits for the hair. The hair cells need plenty of blood and oxygen to do their jobs properly, and a sedentary lifestyle does not encourage this. By getting at least a half an hour of vigorous exercise every day, you strengthen your circulatory system and improve blood-flow. Meanwhile, working up a sweat can help flush out free radicals and other toxins. Over time, your hair cells will thank you by producing strongly colored and healthy-looking hair.

4. Sun exposure
Overexposure to the sun is another common source of cell damage. Unlike the skin, which gets damaged by the sun but has medium-term defense mechanisms, the cells that produce hair have trouble rebuilding themselves after sun damage, and prolonged sun exposure can completely destroy a cell’s melanin-production capability. So if your work or lifestyle requires you to be out in the sun on a regular basis, try to get into the habit of wearing a hat.


If you are reading this article because you have premature gray hair, please keep in mind that we produce the leading dietary supplement that reverses gray hair.


  1. Scientific American website: Fact or Fiction? Stress Causes Gray Hair
  2. New York Times Health Guides website: Folic Acid in Diet

IMPORTANT: There are millions of folks just like you suffering with premature greying who are looking for information to assist them to figure it all out. You were fortunate enough to find our website and our information. If this information was useful to you, please help others to find it also by sharing this page. You can do so simply by clicking on one of the social share buttons at the end of this post thereby liking or +1 this page.


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About Frederica Hegney

Frederica Hegney is Editor of the Grey Defence blog. Where she focuses on topic around greying and its causes.
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3 Responses to Gray Hair: Lifestyle Triggers

  1. Frederica Hegney says:

    The feed is in the right hand column under the heading RSS Feed. I think we will need to add the little icon to make it more obvious. In the meantime the link is here

  2. Where can i find your rss feed?


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