Vacations or happy periods show evidence of repigmentation among some, especially those under 40, says Nigel Pereira.

If you’ve been looking in the mirror and noticing more and more grey hairs of late, welcome to the club. According to a study by L’oreal, only 1 in 10 people survive the greying process into their 60s. The rest of us, however, are subjected daily to a stark reminder of just how old we actually are.

Now while there’s nothing wrong with grey hair, and a lot of people have and continue to make that look work for them, it is something that is generally associated with old age, and a lot of people would rather not be bothered by it. Hence the $17.5 billion global hair color market that’s expected to reach $33 billion by 2030!

Image Credit: Flickr

If you check online on Google or Wikipedia, you’re going to find a lot of websites that flat-out state that grey hair is permanent and irreversible, and to an extent, that is pretty much the case, especially if it’s a genetic trait and your parents also have a lot of grey hair. Premature greying has also become increasingly common, and if you have prematurely grey hair that’s been passed down from your parents, the chances are pretty high that your kids will too.

That being said, we’re going to look at two recent studies. The first one is by researchers at Columbia University and is about how our environment affects our hair color and how we can prevent and even reverse grey hair.

Image Credit: Pexels


According to a post on, this is the first study to show evidence of reversing grey hair, or re-pigmentation as they call it. The study was published on and involves a new method to digitize and measure the changes in hair color along a single strand. These measurements are then collected and matched against the life events of the people to whom they belong in order to judge how stress affects the greying process.

Hair grows at the rate of about a centimeter a month, so if you digitally map a strand of your hair, you can actually go back in time to a stressful event and see how it affected the color of your hair.

While we have always had historical and cultural anecdotes that suggest stress causes grey hair, a lot of people considered these to be myths until now. The Equipment used to map the hair strands includes a Panasonic DC-FZ80 Digital Camera, an Olympus BX61 upright microscope, and an Epson Perfection V800 Photo Scanner. Hair from 14 participants was taken and mapped against stressful and happy events in their lives, and while the first half of the results that showed grey hair corresponds to stressful events was unsurprising, the second half was. This is the part that showed vacation times or happy periods showed evidence of repigmentation among some individuals, especially those below the age of 40, proving that happy events can recolor grey hair.

Image Credit: Pexels

Melanocyte stem cells

This next study was published in the Journal Nature and shows that the cells that actually produce hair color, called melanocyte stem cells, can be re-activated to produce color. This re-activation, however, has only been tried on mice so far, albeit successfully, since mice possess the same kind of melanocyte stem cells as we do. The study explains in detail how the process of greying is caused by a hair follicle bulge that prevents the melanocyte stem cells from doing their job.

The study then goes on to show how the melanocyte stem cells can be coaxed back into activity by sending them signals and how this directly causes repigmentation. The researchers believe humans have the same “fixed positioning” of melanocyte stem cells as mice, which, if proven, would mean the same procedure would work for us too.

While both studies mentioned above are in the early stages, the good news is that grey hair is reversible, and scientists and researchers around the world are working towards being able to reverse the process at will. The very fact that we have zeroed in on the exact causes is a giant leap forward, along with the reactivation of melanocyte stem cells in mice.

Stem cell therapy is already working miracles for people all over the world, including world-class athletes who swear by stem-cell therapy with regard to recovering from injuries and such. There are definitely a lot bigger problems, or more critical applications that stem cells need to sort out or cross off their list before they reach grey hair, but hey, we’re getting there.

In case you missed:

With a background in Linux system administration, Nigel Pereira began his career with Symantec Antivirus Tech Support. He has now been a technology journalist for over 6 years and his interests lie in Cloud Computing, DevOps, AI, and enterprise technologies.

1 Comment

  1. New research shows that silver strands may actually be preventable, and reversible. A study published in Nature focused on cells in the skin of mice that are also found in humans, called melanocyte stem cells (the main mechanism that produces melanin, the substance that produces hair, skin, and eye pigmentation).

Leave A Reply

© Copyright Sify Technologies Ltd, 1998-2022. All rights reserved