Hair Whitening Causes and How to Deal With Them

Growing some white hair? Learn the primary white hair causes and what you can do about them.

Contrary to popular belief, white hair isn’t a sign of aging. If you’re in your early 20s and you see some white strands, don’t fret and don’t start plucking your white hairs out–premature hair whitening is common. However, you can still prevent this from happening. We have to find out the causes of hair whitening 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 superstitions and hardcore science to explain this hair problem because hair whitening causes are pretty straightforward. 

We’ll say it again: it’s not aging. Hair and skin both come from melanocytes: cells that give tone to our skin. For some, these cells produce less pigment, causing gray and eventually, white hair. 

Read on as we list down hair whitening causes and what you can do to prevent having white hair.

1. 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.

Your hair’s health is really a make-or-break factor in keeping beautiful locks. We mentioned melanin earlier and vitamins like B-12, B-5, D, and Biotin are major contributors to healthy melanin production. Once the hair gets deprived of the nutrients it needs, 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. 

2. Genetics

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

Again, white hair is not a sign of aging and it’s common. Genetics is a major contributor to why you got them at a young age. 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 would be difficult to prevent white hair from popping up so you can either transition your hair to gray or color your hair. 

Editor’s Tip: White hair can turn brassy, too. The TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Blonde Brilliance Shampoo deposits purple pigments to help neutralize the brassiness of white or silver hair, whether natural or bleached. 

3. Stress

White hair causes: Asian woman with brown short hair smiling
Always keep a cool head. Credit: All Things Hair Studio

Ever heard anybody say, “Don’t stress yourself too much–you’ll get gray hair”? Although this isn’t entirely backed by science, we all know stress greatly affects one’s health. A study shows that people who are prone to stress have a higher chance of growing white hair even at a young age, as stress can shorten hair growth cycles. But hey, take note that stress isn’t limited to what’s going on with your body. Your environment and the strain your hair encounters also play a major role in this. Temperature and dirt could also be white hair causes.

4. Over-exposure to Chemicals

Filipina with shoulder-length dark brown hair smiling in a park
Take care of your colored hair to avoid damage and graying. Credit: Vincent Coscolluela.

Some chemicals from dyes and treatments can be really harmful to your hair. They strip off nutrients from your hair, resulting in whitening. The thing is, even your favorite shampoo could even have one or two of these harmful chemicals.

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. But don’t panic! It’s best to consult with your doctor if your white hair comes with other troubling symptoms.

6. Lifestyle Factors

Asian woman taking pictures
Find a new hobby to distract yourself. Credit: Marco Xu | Unsplash

Your lifestyle choices actually have effects not just on your health but also on your hair. Studies revealed that smoking has an effect on premature graying of hair as it damages your cells. 

7. Sun Damage

Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage.
Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage.

Yes, overexposure to the sun can turn hair brittle and white! The sun’s UVA and UVB rays affect the scalp that leads to hair whitening. So don’t forget the hat or umbrella to protect your scalp the next time you go out.

1. Stock up on multivitamins!

Make sure to get your daily dose of multivitamins (especially Vitamins B-12 and B-5) and keep a healthy diet! Food rich in antioxidants can prevent hair whitening. Aside from this, use hair products that are rich in vitamins and minerals to help nourish your hair. 

Editor’s tip: White hair is known to be brittle and wiry so it’s best to treat your hair to a weekly hair mask session. Keep your locks well-moisturized and smooth with TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Treatment Mask

2. Dye your hair.

If the cause of hair whitening is genetics, we believe you’ve got two choices: embrace the white hair life or turn it into an opportunity to try the hair color of your dreams! 

Editor’s tip: If you choose to color your hair, it’s best to keep it radiant with a color-safe product like the Love Beauty and Planet Murumuru Butter & Rose Blooming Color Shampoo. If you want to get shiny hair, then this is a great choice.

3. Destress!

Try to meditate to lessen your stress levels. Also, make an effort to protect your hair from stress caused by your environment and even by your styling tools. If it can’t be avoided, take time to give your locks a good hair therapy–it will help you relax, too! 

Editor’s Tip: Reward yourself with a DIY Spa Day to destress. Treat your hair with Cream Silk Triple Keratin Rescue Ultimate Repair & Shine Ultra Treatment Wrap that has an advanced formula to help replenish lost nutrients and restore beautiful hair. Do this while watching your favorite TV series!

4. Try to avoid exposing your hair to too many chemicals.

Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical used to bleach hair and also present in some hair products, builds up in your hair shaft and lightens your strands. Always check the label of the hair products you’re buying before paying for them or applying them to your hair. If the names of the ingredients throw you off, just grab your phone and ask Google.

Editor’s Tip: Relax! Hair damage can be fixed. Use Vitakeratin Deep Repair on the regular to restore damage caused by chemical treatments. It boasts a mixture of keratin and argan oil to give your hair the daily nourishment it needs. 

5. Consult a specialist.

If you feel or notice other things that are off aside from your white hair, consult with your doctor right away. There are also solutions like hormone therapy treatments to promote hair repigmentation.

Editor’s tip: If you’re allergic to certain chemicals, try natural remedies. Coconut oil is known to reduce protein loss and promote healthy hair. Mix it with different ingredients like lemon juice, castor oil, or sesame seed oil and massage it to the scalp. Alternatively, use Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang Hope and Repair Shampoo to give your scalp and hair much-needed TLC. 

6. Stop smoking.

If you notice a few strands of white hair and want to prevent having them, stop lighting up that cigarette. It’s good for your overall health, too.

7. Protect your hair from the sun.

White hair strands are more vulnerable to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. There are hair products with heat protectors that shield hair from further damage.

Editor’s tip: While you’re at it, protect your scalp with a refreshing shampoo like the CLEAR Ice Cool Menthol Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. It also activates the scalp’s protective barrier and clarifies your scalp — say goodbye to product build-up and flakes! 

Yes, you can! Now that you know the different white hair causes, you can use this knowledge in taking better care of your hair. Whether you want to transition into gray or dye your hair, it’s totally up to you! If you have patience and once you find out the real cause of your premature hair whitening, you can slow the whitening process and reverse your hair back to its natural color. 

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