As we age, our hair starts turning grey or white. This is, indeed, a natural phenomenon. But what if you spot white hair strands on your head even before reaching the age of 20? Well, developing prematurely white hair is not rare and you are not alone too. At least 1 in every 8 women is suffering from this issue worldwide. However, no woman wants to look older than she really is and hence, comes the need for most effective solutions. In this article, let us talk about 13 home remedies to treat white hair effectively. Also, learn everything you need to know about the problem of unwanted white hair.
What Causes White Hair?
Our hair gets its natural color from the pigment ‘melanin’, which is formed by the pigment cells or ‘melanocytes’ These cells are again present in our hair follicles, which are nothing but millions of tiny sacs lining our skin. If these hair follicles lose pigment, the hair turns gray or white. Generally, pigmentation is not continuous throughout the lifecycle of hair. While the follicles generate pigment actively during the first phase of hair growth (anagen), the process gets reduced in the second phase (catagen) and becomes totally absent in the third phase (telogen) (1). Also, the hair follicles produce less pigment as they age. But the reasons behind the early onset of white hair can be different. Here we go:
According to a 2013 study report, our genes play a big role in how we look in terms of skin and hair (2). They work as the predominant factor in determining at what age your hair follicles are going to replace the last dead strands with white ones. If your parents or grandparents had prematurely gray hair, you are likely to have it too.
High levels of stress have long been linked to the development of white hair at an early age. While dealing with real-life stressors from time to time is quite normal for each person, chronic stress can lead to unwanted consequences including white hair by depleting the melanocytes in the hair follicles (3). In fact, psychological stress causes an oxidative load on the body, which also triggers premature graying.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Without having enough vitamins and minerals to supplement the production of melanin in the follicles, the hair may turn white even in your teens. If your body lacks vitamins like B6, biotin or B7, folic acid or B9, B12, D, E, etc., your hair cells will turn weaker (4). Deficiency in minerals like iron (resulted from low levels of serum ferritin), copper, and selenium may also cause untimely graying (5). However, studies have found that hair pigmentation in younger people can be restored with supplementation of vitamins and minerals (6).
4. Medical Conditions
Your internal health may also influence the color of your hair significantly. Certain underlying medical conditions caused by hormonal imbalances may contribute to white hair earlier than expected (7). Thyroid dysfunction (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) is known to be the most common one among these (8). Autoimmune disorders, such as alopecia, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, thyroid diseases, and premature aging syndromes may also increase your risk of developing white hair (9).
6. Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is when the body produces too many oxidants due to multiple extrinsic factors including ultraviolet (UV) rays, environmental pollution, emotional factors, or inflammatory causes. If there are not sufficient antioxidants in the body to counteract the damaging effects, the process of depigmentation of hair happens prematurely (10).
Your habit of smoking may make you 2(1/2) times more vulnerable to premature white hair than non-smokers as it reduces blood flow to hair follicles and damages melanocytes. Research suggests that there is a strong link between the “onset of gray hair before the age of 30 and cigarette smoking.” (11) It has also been found to be more common in young men (12).
8. Chemical Products
Using hair dyes and other hair-coloring products is probably the quickest way to cover up those pesky white streaks on your head. It is inexpensive, easy to apply, and readily available. But this is just a temporary fix. Once you’re hair grows, the white strands are bound to show up again. Moreover, all these products are made of harsh chemicals that could damage your hair even more by causing allergic infections and/or turning your hair whiter. Hydrogen peroxide is one such chemical compound widely used in commercial hair dyes, which decreases melanin in hair follicles by bleaching them directly (13).
White hair is more prominent in people with naturally darker hair color. Sometimes a combination of the aforementioned reasons can be responsible for it.
13 Effective Home Remedies to Treat White Hair
The best way to fix premature hair aging is by using nature as a cure. If you opt for home remedies, you can easily stay away from chemicals that could whiten your hair or worsen the problem. So, go ahead and try the following natural remedies.
1. Amla Hair Wash
Amla or Indian gooseberry is the most admired home remedy that may bring the natural color of your hair back while adding a healthy shine to it. It is full of antioxidant vitamin C, which revitalizes hair follicles to restore their pigmentation (14). To make an amla hair wash, cut 8 to 10 fresh, raw amlas into small pieces, dry them in shade, and soak them in water for the whole night. The drained water can be used for washing hair in the morning.
2. Amla with Coconut Oil
The mixture of amla and coconut oil is useful for the treatment of premature gray hair and dry hair. Coconut oil, in this remedy, penetrates through hair follicles and nourishes hair shafts by reducing the loss of protein and moisture from them (15). Begin by cutting amlas into small pieces and dry them completely in shade. Put these dried amlas in 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and let them boil together. Once the mixture cools down, massage your hair with it. Leave it on for an hour before rinsing. It is not advisable to leave coconut oil hair treatments overnight as it feels too oily.
3. Amla Powder with Lemon Juice
Lemon is a natural source of antioxidant vitamin C, which makes hair healthy by neutralizing free radicals and preventing hair damage (16). To make this mixture, squeeze out the juice of a fresh lemon and blend 1 teaspoon of dried amla powder with it. Massage your scalp with this mixture every day.
4. Onion Paste
Onion juice is widely used to treat hair fall and dandruff with its potent antibacterial properties. Besides, the catalase present in it also helps darken hair color and reverse graying by decreasing the build-ups of hydrogen peroxide on the scalp and hair (17). Peel 2 medium-sized onions off and place them in a blender to prepare a smooth paste. Add rose water to neutralize the odor. Rub it onto your scalp by applying gentle pressure. Then, wash off after half an hour. Practice it daily.
5. Coconut Oil and Lemon Juice Blend
Make an effective mixture by adding a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Massage your scalp as well as hair with it daily to see visible results.
6. Fresh Carrot Juice
Carrot is known to restore the vibrant color of hair. Grate a large, fresh carrot and extract its juice. Place it in a jar and add olive oil or coconut oil to it. You will know it’s ready once the oil turns orange. Use this oil once a week before shampooing. Consuming a glass full of carrot juice daily will also treat the problem from inside, thereby preventing graying and turning white hair black.
7. Almond Oil and Sesame Seed Paste
Both almond and sesame oil fixes hair damage and restores hair color by promoting melanocyte activity (18). Take a handful of sesame seeds and grind them well to form a paste of medium consistency. Add it to almond oil and apply the mixture to your scalp and hair. Rinse away after 20 minutes.
8. Buttermilk with Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are rich in B vitamins, selenium, and zinc, which help retain the natural melanin in hair while buttermilk helps nourish the hair intensively (19). Start by adding 1 teaspoon of fresh curry leaves to 1 cup of fresh buttermilk and blend them together to form a paste of medium consistency. Massage your scalp gently with it. Rinse away after half an hour.
9. Carrot Seed Oil and Sesame Oil Blend
This is another good combination to restore moisture and melanin to hair. Take 4 teaspoons of sesame oil and mix (1/2) teaspoon of carrot seed essential oil with it. Apply this blend onto your scalp carefully. After 20 to 30 minutes, wash with lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo.
10. Soaked Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds (methi) are rich in proteins and other chemical compounds that strengthen hair follicles and prevent breakage. At the same time, the ingredient is also effective in averting premature aging of hair by preserving its natural pigment (20). This is different from previous methods since it is an internal remedy rather than an external application. First, soak a handful of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water for the entire night. In the morning, drink the water along with the seeds on an empty stomach. Practice this for at least 6 months to see visible results.
11. Clarified Butter or Ghee
This is a nourishing hair mask that prevents further graying of hair while restoring its original color. Just take 2 tablespoons of pure ghee or clarified butter and massage the roots of your hair gently with it. Doing this at least thrice a week will show visible results.
12. Black Tea Wash
Being high in antioxidants, black tea puts a stop to all signs of premature aging including the occurrence of white hair. It also helps in reverse graying while adding a beautiful sheen to the hair (21). Prepare a black tea concoction by adding 2 teaspoons of pure black tea and 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of water and allow the mixture to boil properly. Let it cool down and wash your hair with it followed by a cold water rinse after 15 minutes.
13. Wheat Sprout Paste
This hair mask prevents further graying while restoring the melanin of hair naturally. Take a handful of wheat sprouts and make a smooth paste by blending them with a little water. Apply it to your hair. Wait for 20 to 25 minutes and then, rinse with lukewarm water.
How to Reverse White Hair?
White hair is not a sign of ‘maturity and wisdom’ to everyone. If you are fretting over your unwanted white hair rather than celebrating it, trying one or more effective home remedies is always a great choice. They will either slow down or prevent the process of premature graying to a large extent. But one important thing you need to remember is that home remedies never guarantee reverse graying. The restoration of hair pigmentation basically depends on the cause of depigmentation. Hence, consult a doctor to identify the exact reason behind your white hair issue and the chances to fix it. Also, keep the following points in mind:
- When the cause of white hair is genetics, you cannot reverse it in any way.
- If there is an underlying health problem, treating it the right way may result in repigmentation. In issues like thyroid disorders, hormone therapy treatment works great (22).
- White hair caused by poor lifestyle choices may also not return to its original color even after quitting the practices permanently.
As we grow up, our hair follicles lose its melanin pigment gradually making our hair gray or white. But sometimes, we develop white hair strands on our head earlier than expected. This premature aging of hair is caused by a number of reasons including genetics, high levels of stress, habit of smoking, certain medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and so on. However, you can prevent your hair from going white just by following a few simple and effective home remedies that will not take a toll on the health of your hair. But reversing the aging and restoring the natural vibrant color of your hair may not be possible if the aging is caused by genetics or poor lifestyle practices.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Gray Hair Be Reversed?
Gray hair cannot be reversed permanently if it has resulted from genetics and poor lifestyle habits. In case your health is the culprit, seek the right treatment to restore your hair color.
Should I Pluck White Hair?
Plucking of white hair may lead to scars, infections, and even bald patches by traumatizing the hair follicles badly. Hence, stay away from plucking it.
Why are White Hairs Wiry?
The sebaceous glands around the follicles of white hair strands produce less sebum. This makes them drier and wiry in texture.
Does Shaving Increase White Hair?
No, shaving does not increase the number of white hair. It also does not make the strands thicker. However, it can turn the tips of white hair strands sharper, coarser, and more noticeable.
- “Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Premature Graying of Hair“, IJDVL.com
- “Direct Migration of Follicular Melanocyte Stem Cells to the Epidermis after Wounding or UVB Irradiation is Dependent on Mc1r Signaling“, Nature.com
- “The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Factors Associated with Premature Hair Graying in a Young Indian Population“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “The Melanocyte Lineage in Development and Disease“, dev.biologists.org
- “Three Streams for the Mechanism of Hair Graying“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Thyroid Hormones Directly Alter Human Hair Follicle Functions: Anagen Prolongation and Stimulation of Both Hair Matrix Keratinocyte Proliferation and Hair Pigmentation“, Academic.oup.com
- “Epidemiological and Investigative Study of Premature Graying of Hair in Higher Secondary and Pre-University School Children“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Oxidative Stress in Ageing of Hair“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Smokers’ Hair: Does Smoking Cause Premature Hair Graying?“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Association of Premature Hair Graying with Family History, Smoking, and Obesity: a Cross-Sectional Study“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Senile Hair Graying: H2O2-Mediated Oxidative Stress Affects Human Hair Color by Blunting Methionine Sulfoxide Repair“, FASEBJ.org
- “Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Effect of Mineral Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Coconut Oil on Prevention of Hair Damage“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Vitamin C in Dermatology“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Onion Juice (Allium cepa L.), a New Topical Treatment for Alopecia Areata“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Ethnopharmacological Survey of Home Remedies Used for Treatment of Hair and Scalp and Their Methods of Preparation in the West Bank-Palestine“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Murraya koenigii (L.) (Curry Leaf): a Traditional Indian Plant“, RJPBCS.com
- “A Study of Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Actions of Trigonella foenum-graecum: A Review“, ResearchGate.net
- “Antioxidative Properties of Black Tea“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Repigmentation of Gray Hair After Thyroid Hormone Treatment“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov