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You Found a Gray Hair, Now What

2014-04-22 17:12:36

You Found a Gray Hair, Now What

Why does hair gray, and what can you do about it?

Unfortunately, hair is not exempt from the physical changes that happen as you age -- it becomes drier, less lustrous, and for most of the population, gradual loss of pigment progresses from an occasional gray strand to a scattering of gray hairs throughout the scalp, culminating at some point into completely gray or white hair.

Usually, in a person’s thirties (or earlier, depending upon genetics or health factors), their melanocytes begin to slow down in their production of melanin. This typically occurs just in a few follicles and then gradually spreads throughout the scalp. Random hairs may become lighter and may not even be noticed, but eventually some begin to show as gray or white. This is much more noticeable in darker hair, so the perception is often that people with black hair go gray earlier, but that is probably not the case. As melanin particles disappear from the cortex, certain changes to the structure and properties of the hair can be expected. While people do experience their gray hair as being very similar to their pigmented hair, this is definitely not universally true. It is possible that those who had more highly pigmented hair to begin with (brunette, as opposed to blonde) will experience greater changes in the physical properties of their hair once those pigments are gone.

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Tonya McKay

Tonya McKay

Tonya McKay Becker is a curly-haired polymer scientist and cosmetic chemist whose academic and industrial research experience have provided her with expertise in the fundamentals and applications of polymer science and colloid chemistry. She has long had a fascination with the structure-property relationships of the complex solutions used in hair and skin care products, and how they interact with and impact these remarkable biological substrates. Ever curious, Tonya has dedicated herself for more than a decade to honing her expertise on the science of curly hair, how it differs from straight hair, and how product ingredients used on curly hair affect its health and beauty. Her passion for sharing this knowledge with others has led to her current career of educating people from all backgrounds who share an interest in this exciting field.

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