Let us begin this conversation with some facts. For starters, our hair's initial color is white. It gets the natural color from a type of pigment called melanin. Hair has only two types of pigments: dark (eumelanin) and light (phaeomelanin). The marriage of the two pigments make up the wide range of our hair colors. To put things into better perspective, the process of hair growth is separated into three phases: Anagen, Catagen and Telogen:
· Anagen is the active growth stage of the hair fiber and can last from 2-7 years. At any given moment 80- 85% of our hair is in Anagen phase.
· Catagen is the transitional phase, in which hair growth begins to shut down or slow down. This phase usually lasts 10-20 days.
· Telogen is the final stage of the hair process, in which hair growth completely stops and the hair fiber falls out. At any given time, 10-15% of our hair is in this phase, which lasts about 100 days. Once we pass through Telogen, the entire cycle starts all over again, beginning with Anagen. (Read More)
Mind blowing. In my case, a very common one, genetics plays a huge role. Both my younger brother and I are in our early to mid-twenties. However, about 40% of my brother's hair is covered in white. My hair on the other hand seems to have fallen victim to stress or lack of sleep, as the grays have started popping up here and there. The chemicals in our surrounding environment and the hair products we use also alter and affect the reactions of our hair pigments. As we age the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die, of natural causes, leaving the strands without melanin in them -- thus exposing the natural white color of the hair.
I think most importantly, one's attitude has the biggest "effect" (on the gray hair).... I was in the elevator with 3 other middle-aged men. One of them, while running his hands through his full dark hair, tells his friend (who doesn’t have much hair) that he needs to dye his hair because it’s starting to turn gray. The friend takes that comment as an offensive joke, and turns and tells the guy to go f&%k himself. Ouch.... Must have been a sensitive subject. Most people (young and old) take the white/gray hair situation way too seriously, especially as it pertains to one’s individual social identity. If you fall into the sensitive category, feel free to explore the vast array of hair dye products and/or other options. But as for me, I think I grew out of that phase. I’m still getting stylish haircuts and sporting crazy hairdos, but I’ve come to reduce my usage of hair dyes. Instead of spending countless hours in front of a mirror, applying layer after layer of chemicals, only to have to repeat the process again in 2 months, I’ve started embracing my hair’s natural look. Sure, I find myself occasionally in front of a mirror maneuvering through the thick layers of hair just to pluck out that one visible white hair, but that to me is more of a fun activity than it is an annoying chore. Remember? Guys are like wine as we age.... So perhaps I'll dye my hair "grape!"