We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Why Does Our Hair Turn Gray as We Age?

Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

It's something that many people dread as they get older: those first gray hairs. And they often come sooner than we'd like, leading many people to try and hide this tell-tale sign of aging. But have you ever wondered what actually causes our hair to gray as we age? NYU researchers have discovered that during aging, an increasing number of stem cells in hair follicles fail to develop into pigment-making melanocytes. These melanocytes don't mature fully, resulting in a lack of pigmentation. As a result, our hair turns gray.

Growing and shedding hair is a natural process. New hair growth comes from our hair follicles, where melanocytes can be found. When these melanocytes develop into mature cells, pigmentation is released and we get our hair color. As we get older, these melanocytes get “jammed” more frequently. So while the hair will keep growing, it may not grow with its usual pigment.

Other factors can contribute to the development of gray hairs, such as poor nutrition, stress, and genetics. Melanocytes can also be damaged by sun exposure, hormones, and certain health conditions.

What's going on when we go gray?

  • Experts advise against plucking out gray hairs, as this won't prevent others from developing and growing out of the same follicle. And plucking out those gray hairs could cause hair follicle damage, potentially resulting in bald patches.

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, 74 percent of all people between the ages of 45 and 65 have a least a few gray hairs.

  • Studying the causes of gray hair may be helpful for professionals in the medical field, potentially providing a better understanding of the nature of melanoma, alopecia areata, and vitiligo.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.