Hair Whitening Causes and How to Deal With Them

Have you been seeing white or gray strands popping out? Here are the possible causes of premature hair whitening.

What causes white hair? Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just a sign of aging. You may get it even when you’re in your early 20s—it’s called premature hair whitening—but it’s nothing to panic about. Premature hair whitening is common. And the good news? It is preventable. 

But before we delve into the how, let’s get into the why first. If you think it’s because you slept with your hair still wet, it’s most likely not. In fact, we don’t need centuries-old superstition to explain this phenomenon because hair whitening causes are pretty straightforward. 

Read on as we list them down along with what you can do to prevent having white hair.

1. Genetics

White Hair Causes: Asian woman with hair down, wearing white tank top
Sometimes, it’s just all in the genes. Credit: Shutterstock

Genetics is a major contributor to premature hair whitening. If one or both of your parents started to have white hair in their 20s or 30s, chances are, you’ll experience the same, too. This is the simplest and most basic of all white hair causes. If this is the cause, it may be difficult for you to prevent white hair from popping up. You can, however, cover it with a lightweight, temporary hair color spray like TRESemmé Root Touch-Up Spray (Black Color). It conceals gray strands and roots in seconds. Just blend it lightly into your hair after spraying, let it dry for a minute, and you’re good to go! 

2. Vitamin Deficiency

White hair causes: Asian woman with long dark brown hair wearing a white dress and blue cardigan outdoors
Vitamins will help keep your hair’s color, along with its smoothness and softness.

Our hair and skin color come from melanocytes: cells that give tone to our skin. When these cells produce less pigment or melanin, your hair may turn gray or white. Vitamin B12, vitamin B5, vitamin D, and biotin are major contributors to healthy melanin production. Once the hair gets deprived of these nutrients, your melanin levels fall, diminishing your hair’s glow and pigmentation. It may be understated, but this is one of the top white hair causes. 

3. Stress

Asian woman using a laptop in an office
Stress is associated with premature hair graying. Credit: Shutterstock

Ever heard anybody say, “Don’t stress yourself too much—you’ll get gray hair”? Although more evidence is needed, stress is associated with hair graying, as explained in a 2020 study in the journal Nature. Here, the researchers found that under stressful situations, signals from the sympathetic nervous system—which is responsible for one’s “fight or flight” response—in mice led to a depletion in melanocyte stem cells in the hair follicle. Hence, the premature hair graying. 

4. Lifestyle Factors

People clinking wine glasses at a party
Drinking moderately is not just for your body but also for your hair. Credit: Shutterstock

In a study published in the Journal of Kerman University of Medical Sciences, it was found that those who drink alcohol a lot are more prone to premature hair graying. Although more research is needed to prove this, you might want to go easy on those rounds of drinks the next time you’re out with your friends. Smoking is also correlated with premature hair graying, so it’s better to quit this habit, too.

5. Health Issues and Hormones

White hair causes: Asian woman with long brown braided hair wearing a gray headband and gray workout top outdoors
Working out will help you keep in shape and stay in good health. Credit: Shutterstock

White hair could be a sign of an underlying health concern—a symptom of an autoimmune disease, thyroid levels, allergies, or a side effect of medical treatment. It can also be a sign of hormonal imbalance.

1. Stock up on multivitamins!

Asian woman eating a healthy meal
A healthy diet is key to having healthy-looking hair. Credit: Shutterstock

Make sure your body gets enough vitamins by taking multivitamins and keeping a healthy diet. Foods that are rich in vitamins B5 and B12 include beef, chicken, mushrooms, and potatoes. Meanwhile, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in vitamin D, as well as egg yolks. For biotin, you can get it from nuts, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, and salmon as well. 

Editor’s tip: Did you know that biotin can also help treat hair loss? Get this vitamin from Sunsilk Strong & Long Shampoo, which has the new Activ-Infusion that consists of oils, vitamins, and proteins that protect hair from factors that can make it rough, weak, and less manageable. Aside from biotin, this shampoo has castor oil which is known to promote hair growth, and aloe vera for added hair nourishment. 

2. Destress.

Asian woman doing a downward-facing dog yoga pose
Taking time to relax is also good for your hair. Credit: Shutterstock

Try meditating or doing yoga to help you relax. Who knows? Yoga might even help you with hair growth! Also, get a good night’s sleep so your body can recover from a tiring and stressful day. 

3. Protect your hair from the sun.

Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage.
Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage. Credit: Jernej Graj from Unsplash

White hair strands are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. When going out in the daytime, wear a hat or a bandana to shield your hair from the sun’s rays. You can also use an umbrella. 

4. Consult a doctor.

Asian woman consulting a doctor in a clinic
Pay your doc a visit to get professional advice. Credit: Shutterstock

If your premature hair whitening comes with other troubling symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your health care provider. He or she can give you the best advice on how to deal with your symptoms. 

Now that you know the common hair whitening causes, you can check if one of these is the reason behind your gray hair. You now know the possible solutions. However, if you’re pretty comfortable rocking your grays, you don’t need to cover them up with dyes. You can transition to stylish gray hair looks and embrace your new ‘do! 


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