Can your hair turn grey from stress?

College is a stressful time. The other day, I swore that I discovered a grey hair on my head. Although my roommate insisted it was blonde, I got to wondering anyway. It’s common knowledge that as we grow older, our hair either turns white or grey, but we also link that hair color to feelings of immense stress. So can stress actually cause a change in your hair?

Greying is a normal effect of aging. As we grow older, the melanocytes in our hair die off continually until our hair is no longer colored. In the case of extreme stress, science is just beginning to explain why our hair turns grey. One researcher, Tyler Cymet, conducted a retrospective observational study and found that his stressed patients, on average, went grey 2 or 3 full years before their less stressed counterparts. However, as with all observational studies and especially with studies involving self-report, there is the possibility of many confounding variables.  The reason as to why stress could effect the cells of hair is still very much disputed. One dermatologist believes that stress hormones mediate some signals that pigment one’s hair. Another believes that stress hormones act to cause inflammation that creates damaged hair cells.

However, although the jury is still out on why, it is clear that stress does play a role in our hair. Depending on your genetics, your stress level could cause you to grey prematurely as early as 10 years. So take a deep breath and relax, or start saving up for dye.

11 thoughts on “Can your hair turn grey from stress?

  1. Meaghan Elizabeth Simone

    Cool topic – I’m always franticly checking to make sure my hair isn’t turning gray or just falling off at this point. I like how you were straight and to the point, although I feel like there is something missing detail wise. I also might have included some stuff we learned in class, to get an even better understanding

  2. Francis John Bassani
    Sorry I can’t figure out how to hyperlink in comments. This sight says that stress can grey your hair and even damage your skin to look bad. Stress can make your skin greasy and acne filled which can damage skin permanently. People should take more time in their days to relax and take a few minutes for themselves, even just one moment can make a difference. Stress is very powerful and we have to battle it everyday, and even that is stressful.

  3. Michael Kevin Curran

    Whenever I thought about graying hair, my first thought is always age; my second one is hair dye. Although it was not proven definitively whether or not gray hair is caused by stress in his personal life, stress has been seen damaging other parts of our bodies as well, such as skin, for example. Strangely enough, a lot of it does all come down to genetics or dye in the end than naturally new one.

  4. Nathan Andrew Morningstar

    At this point in life, I can say that I have probably had enough stress to have made my hair go grey/gray, and plus givenmy age that may be a feactor as well. However, there is the chance that it may be caused by gentics. With my dad , he was completely grey by the time he was 27 years old, and Im already almost 25. Here is some info on other things that cause our hair to go grey.

  5. Raegan S Pechar

    Not going to lie, reading this title stressed me out a little bit, especially with finals right around the corner. Like you said, the problem faced when coming to an actual conclusion is the confounding variables. For instance, my good guy friend has had little grey hairs his entire life – stressed or not, they’re just there because of genes. Whereas some of my family members have been blessed with delayed greying of hair. I think it really comes down to genes, quite frankly. Here’s an article explaining why scientists believe it’s extremely unlikely that stress is correlated with greying of hair:

  6. Marvin Barnhill

    I am one of those people who have had gray hairs since I can remember, however I never thought of myself as particularly stressed. As a result i went looking for other solutions to the issue and linked below is a US news article that links premature gray hair to things like genetics, race, and nutrition. I think these are much more relatable for my situation. This also gives me a reality check, I can probably no longer say my gray hairs are just because “i’m wise.”

  7. Darcy Pacheco

    I have always thought that people received grey hair from either stress or old age and that it was scientifically proven. While it is proven that grey hair comes with old age, you mentioned in your post that stress could give you grey hair and that there was a correlation between the two. An article published by The Telegraph displays that grey hair can be due to a loss of stem cells. In this case, stress can exhibit very similar results as aging does when it comes to grey hair. To find more information about this topic, feel free to click on the link:

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