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Can Stress Turn Your Hair White?

A close friend of mine in college had gorgeous dark brown hair, and he always had a few stray white hairs. He said it was because of stress, but can that really affect your hair?

Hair is a protein that gets its color from a pigment known as melanin - the same pigment that gives your skin its color. Over time, the amount of melanin in your hair decreases. Gray hair is simply hair with low levels of melanin and white hair has no melanin at all.

So can fear or stress change your hair color? It sounds believable to think that your emotional state can have a significant impact on the hormones that affect the amount of melanin deposited in each strand of hair, but there is NO scientific proof that this is true.

Most men start to turn gray in their early 30s, and for most women, it starts to happen after 35. Genetics can also play a role - causing you to develop premature white hair in your 20s. There's no way to prevent the graying process from happening - it's just a wonderful part of growing old.

While we're on the subject - if you do find a gray or white hair, and you pluck it out, contrary to popular belief, two more gray hairs will NOT grow in its place, so feel free to pluck away!


Join The Conversation
sushibananas sushibananas 9 years
The photo of that baby is absolutely hilarious!
thoroughlymodern thoroughlymodern 9 years
Thanks for the info - I've definitely been wondering about that. I just turned 20 and I've had some stray white hairs for a few years now. No one else has ever noticed them, but they're there and they really bug me, so I pull them out.
mominator mominator 9 years
I don't believe stress contributes to gray hair. If that was the case then I would be nothing but gray. I do believe that if you pluck one two grow back though.
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 9 years
I'm not even 30 yet and I have a noticeable amount of grey but so did my mom starting at 15 I think its just genetics.
girlboy girlboy 9 years
cruella devil was only half stressed out i guess
designergirl designergirl 9 years
My hair does turn white when I am very stressed-and I'm only 23! If there's something big going on and I'm not getting enough sleep, some of my hair will turn completely white. Right now, stress will only turn a couple (and easy to pluck) hairs white, but I'm worried that it will just be downhill from here.
queencessjosie queencessjosie 9 years
Although there is no scientific proof, I still believe that white hair can be a result of psychosomatic stress. Everyone's body reacts differently to stress.
Masqueraded_Angel Masqueraded_Angel 9 years
I'm 24 and color my hair, but when my roots start growing back I see a little bit of lightness in there. (not blonde, either) Thank goodness for hair dye! :D
sparklemeetspop sparklemeetspop 9 years
I've had gray hairs since I was 19, although they have been pretty small. My dad was the same way (darn it!) and is now has a full white mane. I'm just happy that it's still there, and that I inherited a youthful spirit!
dcmurray1970 dcmurray1970 9 years
I am 37 and my hair is just getting more and more white. I think I am going to lighten my hair a little so it wont be as noticable.
rubialala rubialala 9 years
Fortunately I have blonde hair, so the gray/white hairs are pretty well hidden, although I have no problem finding them when I stare at the mirror and see all the things I don't like. :(
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I started getting white hair in my early 20s, just like my sister did. My dad says that it's genetics - his mother did the same thing. I'm 25 and I would swear that at least 1/8 of my hair is pure white! I hate it!
candy-apple candy-apple 9 years
definitly.. everyone in my dad's family had really lush dark hair way into their fourties and fifties, but when he was twenty five, my dad had to do two years of military service in the soviet army. when he came back- his hair was white. i don't remember him ever having black hair but i've seen pictures. it's really strange... i remember him fetching me at school when i was little and my teachers asking if the blond young man was my dad. that's how white his hair is. :)
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 9 years
I once dated a guy in high school that had 75% white hair that started coming in when his parents placed him in a gifted school. Up until the day we broke up he dyed his hair just like a girl.
Marci Marci 9 years
I went through a period of incredibly instense stress and my hair didn't turn white. But it DID get patches of frizz that I didn't know were directly caused by the stress. My hairdresser filled me in on that when he noticed it.
Brians-Girl Brians-Girl 9 years
can it really?? well i guess maybe if your totally stressed all the time!
aistea311 aistea311 9 years
Yes I believe so. I became a bit bald on the lower part of my head from severe stress. Your body always know how you feel and sometimes it shows it to the world through pimples or even the color of your nails.
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