Premature Gray: Unveiling the Mysteries Behind Silver Strands in Your 20s
A pigment called melanin determines the color of your hair. However, as you age, your body produces less melanin, resulting in gray hair. Gray hair is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, it is a natural part of aging. However, you may be curious as to why some people's hair turns gray sooner than others.
Possible Causes of Gray Hair in Your 20s
Some contributing factors, such as stress or certain health conditions, can cause many people to see gray hair in their 20s. 1 Genetics is one of the most important factors in causing premature graying of hair.
There may be a link between stress and premature gray hair. In a study published in 2021 in eLife, researchers compared hair samples with journals in which people reported stressful events. Researchers found that people with gray hair were more likely to report stressful events than others.2
Certain health conditions can cause gray hair or noticeable gray hair.
For example, alopecia areata is a condition that causes patches of hair loss. People with alopecia areata may have gray hairs in areas of hair loss. 5 Also, vitiligo, which causes patches of skin to lose pigment, can result in white or gray hair.6
Vitamin or mineral deficiency
Low levels of vitamins and minerals can cause premature graying of hair. For example, some evidence suggests that a lack of the following nutrients can cause your 20-year-old's hair to turn gray:
Is premature gray hair hereditary?
Genetics play a major role in whether your hair turns gray in your 20s. Some evidence suggests that certain genes and traits are responsible for premature graying of hair.
For example, a study published in 2022 in the Journal of Kerman University of Medical Sciences reported that people are three to five times more likely to have premature gray hair if their parents did so before the age of 30.10.
Who gets premature gray hair?
Some people are more likely than others to see gray hair in their 20s. For example, hair texture varies by race and ethnicity. 11 Research has shown that premature graying occurs before the age of 20 in whites and 25 in Asians. In contrast, blacks experience premature graying before the age of 30. 12
Some factors do not directly cause premature graying of hair but can speed up the process by damaging your hair follicles.
Research has found a link between cigarette smoking and the onset of gray hair before the age of 30. In particular, smoking can cause a build-up of nicotine in hair follicles, which affects hair pigmentation.
The sun's UV rays are a common source of oxidative stress, free radicals, and antioxidant imbalances. Free radicals are harmful substances that damage your cells.
chemicals and heat
Chemicals and heat damage can increase the risk of premature gray hair. For example, chemicals in hair dyes can damage your hair structure. Heat from hair tools like blow dryers and hair straighteners can also cause damage. 11