Hair graying is a natural process. With time, the body ages and the signs of ageing manifest themselves…..graying is one of them. But, sometimes the hair begins to grey prematurely and that causes despair and also presents a problem. The exact cause of graying is difficult to fathom. Doctors feel that the cause may lie in our genes, or in our immune system. It is a pigment or colouring matter that gives the hair its colour. For reasons not yet known, the pigment does not form and the particular hair remains white. The white hair mixes with the dark hair and gives the impression of grey hair. It is also thought that deficiency of Vitamin B12, Vitamins C and E, as well as the shortage of the minerals zinc and copper in the body can affect hair colour. Many believe that lifestyle habits like smoking may be responsible for onset of early graying.
However, recent research shows that stress may also be a cause of graying. In other words, shock or trauma caused by the death of a close one, or critical illness of somebody close, can cause enough stress to interfere with the transfer of pigment and lead to grey hair. In fact, there have been instances of people turning totally grey in a short time. It is said that the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan was so overcome by grief on the death of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that he led a totally secluded life for a few weeks. At the end of the period, when he appeared, his hair had become totally grey.
Scientists have found that when the body is under stress, a defence mechanism is awakened within the cells of the body, which actually interferes with the production of melanin, the colouring matter. The result is that melanin does not reach the follicles and the hair remains white.
To begin with, the hair that have turned white cannot become dark again, except by dyeing or colouring. Today, dyeing and colouring of the hair have become common. However, the structure of the hair can be affected by using chemical dyes and colourants. Repeated use of permanent dyes makes the hair more vulnerable to breakage and loss. The hair also loses its shine and becomes dull, rough and discoloured. It can also trigger hair loss. Semi permanent methods, like hair rinses and creams also work by penetrating the cuticle, but do not cause as much damage as the permanent dyes. Semi-permanent methods are used for disguising grey hair, or for lending a richer colour to dull hair.
One can also prevent premature graying with home remedies. Amla is said to check graying. Have the juice of one amla in a glass of water daily. It is said to build up the immune system and prevent degeneration. Dry amla roasted in an iron “karhai and powdered, can be added to henna paste to help check greying.
Those who use chemical dyes and colourants should take extra care of their hair, with regular hot oil therapy, in order to counteract the damage. Twice a week, mix together one tablespoon pure coconut oil and one teaspoon castor oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better.
Including curry leaves in the diet is said to strengthen the hair roots and follicles. They are rich sources of beta-carotene and protein, which actually helps to control hair loss and encourage healthy hair growth. They also contain calcium, phosphorous, iron and folic acid and also Vitamins C, B, A, E. Or, apply a paste of curry leaves on the hair. They contain antioxidants and prevent early degeneration. Wash it off after 20 to 30 minutes. They help to moisturise the scalp and prevent dryness.
Include citrus fruits, like oranges, lemon and grapefruit, tomato, sprouted grains and green leafy vegetables in your diet. Fruits should be a part of the daily diet, as many of them are rich in Vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system.
One of the most important aspects of beauty is to be aware of the damage caused by chemical ingredients. Avoid treatments that mar the natural beauty of the skin and hair. The choice is yours.