Your hair color is determined by the amount of melanin it has. It regulates the redness or darkness of your hair strands. Over time, the melanin levels in your hair can vary and change the hair color. You may see your hair develop brownish, reddish, or gray hues.
While graying occurs naturally with age, if you see your hair color fading before your 30s, it is natural to panic. Other than aging, UV exposure and multiple factors may affect the melanin content in your hair. Is there any way to prevent it? Is it possible to increase melanin content in your hair? This article explores the scope of such a possibility and explains what you can do about it.
In This Article
What Is Melanin?
Melanin is the pigment produced by melanocytes and responsible for your natural hair color. Over time, melanocytes become less active and stop producing melanin, leading to gray hair. However, several other factors (discussed later in the article) may also affect the melanin content in your hair and affect its natural color. Melanin is of three types (1):
- Eumelanin (divided into black and brown forms)
Out of the three, eumelanin and pheomelanin occur in the epidermis and are responsible for your natural skin and hair color. In the next section, we explore the roles played by these two types of melanin.
Decoding The Two Types Of Melanin
Your genes decide which type of melanin you will be born with. You may have either of the two melanin types or a mix of both.
|It is the brown-black pigment responsible for dark black or brown hair (2).||It is the yellow-reddish pigment responsible for the reddish, orange, or yellow (blonde) hair color(2).|
|It is photostable and does not get damaged easily when exposed to UV rays.||It is less photostable compared to eumelanin.|
Other than genetics, a lot of factors can affect the melanin content in your hair.
Factors Affecting Melanin Content In Hair
- Hydrogen peroxide buildup in the hair shafts can affect the melanin content and cause graying (3).
- Thyroid hormones play a role in hair maintenance and may affect the hair cycle and hair pigmentation (4).
- Oxidative stress caused by excessive UV exposure, pollution, inflammatory reasons, and psychological stress can affect the hair pigment and cause premature graying (5). Stress affects the stem cells responsible for regenerating hair pigment.
- Nutritional deficiencies can also affect the hair pigments. The deficiency of nutrients like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D3 can influence melanogenesis (5).
- Exposure to harsh chemicals, excessive heat styling, and bleaching may also affect the hair pigments.
Any of the factors can be responsible for the decreased melanin levels in your hair. Is there any way to reverse it? Letâs find out.
Increasing Melanin Levels: Is It Possible?
There is no scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of natural remedies and supplements in increasing melanin levels in the hair. However, if an underlying condition or nutritional deficiency is causing your hair depigmentation, treating it may help re-pigment your hair. You may try the following ways:
1. Follow A Proper Diet
We have already discussed that nutritional deficiency could affect the hair pigments. Following a balanced diet high in copper, iron, vitamins B12 and D3, calcium, and zinc may help.
Consume foods like nuts, berries, beans, citrus fruits, leafy greens, seafood, dairy, meat, and organ meat. These are loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants. Also, get yourself tested for any deficiencies. Consult a doctor and take vitamin supplements to balance any deficiency.
2. Check For Hormonal Imbalances
Imbalance in thyroid hormones can affect the overall hair health and pigment levels. Get yourself tested, consult a doctor, and take the prescribed medication.
3. Avoid Stress
Psychological stress can be one factor behind the loss of pigments and premature graying. If you have been through a stressful situation, try to relax. Seek help and reach out to therapists if you cannot cope with stress. Spend time with your family and friends and indulge in activities like traveling, music, yoga, meditation, exercising, or any hobbies to relax your mind.
4. Excessive UV Exposure
UV exposure causes oxidative stress, affecting the hair pigments. Avoid excessive UV exposure. When going out, try to be in the shade as much as possible. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or scarf or carry an umbrella to protect your hair.
5. Chemical Exposure
A lot of hair care products contain drying ingredients like SLS and alcohol. Excessive use of such harsh chemicals can dry out the hair and fade the pigments. This can further increase if you often color and bleach your hair, causing hydrogen peroxide accumulation in hair shafts. Also, avoid excessive heat styling.
6. Take Melanin Supplements
The efficacy of melanin supplements is not proven. However, people often consume the supplements to boost melanin content. Consult your doctor before taking supplements as unregulated intake of melanin supplements may cause side effects.
Side Effects Of Melanin Supplements
Excess intake of any supplement is not recommended. There is always a possibility of health hazards and drug interaction. Excess intake of melanin supplements may cause:
- Allergic reactions
Moreover, there are possibilities of drug interaction, especially if you take medicines like:
- Diabetes medicines
- Anti-platelet drugs
Due to lack of proper information, the overall safety of such supplements is yet unclear. It is better to avoid melanin supplements for:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Older people
Your hair color depends on its melanin levels. Graying happens when the melanocytes stop producing melanin. While graying is a natural process, the melanin content may deplete due to numerous health-related and external factors. There is no proven way to increase melanin content in hair. However, you can control the factors that may have caused it. Consult a doctor to find the underlying causes and follow the prescribed treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can melanin supplements aid in restoring hair color and vitality?
There is no scientific evidence that proves that melanin supplements can restore hair color.
Are vitamins B6 and B12 useful in boosting melanin production?
Does white hair have melanin?
No. The hair turns white when the melanocytes stop producing melanin.
- 10 Causes Of White Hair And 12 Ways To Prevent It Naturally
- Premature Graying: Causes And Ways To Deal With It
- Can Vitamins Reverse Gray Hair?
- Olive Oil As Grey Hair Remedy: Fact Or A Myth?
Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.
- Biochemistry, Melanin
- The physical and chemical properties of eumelanin
- Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair
- Repigmentation of gray hair after thyroid hormone treatment
- Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency Induces Imbalance in Melanocytes HomeostasisâA Cellular Basis of Hypocobalaminemia Pigmentary Manifestations
- The effects of vitamin B6 compounds on cell proliferation and melanogenesis in B16F10 melanoma cells https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840755/