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How To Prevent Premature Greying In Natural Hair

by Shellie Reneé

May 2022

I remember the first time that I saw a grey hair on my head. While I can’t say that it was devastating or anything (I don’t fear aging), I will say that it caught me a bit off guard because…how do you actually prepare for the moment in your life when pigment cells in your hair follicles start to die? Goodness.

And here’s what’s really a trip — the reality is, a lot of us will start to get grey hair in our thirties with half of us ending up with a good amount of grey hair by the time we turn 50.

OK, but how do you know if what you are dealing with is some form of premature greyness? According to many medical professionals, white people can “check this box” if they start to see grey hair in their 20s while we are going through this if we’re grey in our early 30s (melanin has a lot to do with the difference). And just what do you do if, you’re not quite ready to surrender to this part of the ageing process.

The good news is there are some proven all-natural ways to prevent or slow down the premature greying process. If you commit to these, you should see some noticeable results after 3-4 months of time.

Consume Some Copper-Filled Foods

It’s not like the need for copper is something that we talk about on a daily basis; still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important mineral that our system needs.

Aside from the fact that it does things like help your body to produce healthy blood cells, strengthen your immunity and make it easier for your system to absorb iron (more on that in a bit), copper also plays a significant role in your skin and hair being able to properly produce the melanin that it needs. This is actually why some medical professionals believe that if someone is copper-deficient, it could lead to premature greying.

A great way to get more copper into your system is to consume foods that are rich in it. Some of those include liver, shiitake mushrooms, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds and even dark chocolate.

Oh, and since around 25 percent of people are low in copper, if you’re wondering what some other signs of a copper deficiency are, they include fatigue, memory problems and sensitivity to cold weather.

Take Some Zinc and Iron Supplements

Speaking of nutrients that your system needs, two others that help to keep premature grey at bay are zinc and iron.

Zinc is vital because, not only does it help to protect your cells and DNA from free radicals, it also helps you to produce protein.

Since your hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin), that’s important. Zinc is also attributed to hair health overall.

Word on the street is, if you have a good amount of it in your system, not only can it help to prevent premature greying, it can quite possibly reverse greying over time too.

As far as iron goes, it helps to reduce hair shedding and hair loss. Not only that but iron is able to boost blood circulation, so that your hair follicles can receive the nutrients that they need. And since iron decreases your chances of being anemic, and since anemia actually increases your chances of having premature grey hair, that’s why taking supplement that contains iron (and zinc) can be a really good idea.

Chill Out on the (Hair) Manipulation

No matter how many articles you read on hair health, something that you’re going to constantly see recommended is taking the “less is more” approach when it comes to styling your hair.

The reason why is because, when you’re constantly using chemicals (including relaxers and hair dye), when you’ve always got heat styling tools (like blow dryers and flat irons) in your curls and/or when you never give your hair a break by choosing not to constantly put it into a new style, that can make your hair strands weak which can make it vulnerable to premature greying.

That’s why putting your hair in a protective style from time to time or even wrapping it up in a really cute turban a couple of times a week can be a proactive step towards preventing grey hair before your (actual) time.

Protect Your Hair from Damaging UV Rays

Just like we need to use sunscreen to protect our skin despite how much melanin we have, our hair needs to be protected from UV rays because it can lead to things like brittle strands, split ends, thinning, frizzing and discolouration — including premature greying.

That’s why it’s important to keep your hair covered as much as possible during the summer season (or to be cognizant of how much time you spend out in the sun), to make sure that your hair is getting plenty of moisture, to be cautious about how much chlorine in you get into your hair (it can dry your hair out and make it more vulnerable to UV damage), to not “go light” when it comes to hair dye during the summer (it also can put your strands at sun damage risk) and to look for a hair product that has SPF in it.

A couple of years ago, Allure published an article entitled, “A Black Girl’s Guide to Protecting Your Hair and Skin From the Sun”. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Massage Your Scalp with Some Ghee Butter

If you’ve never heard of ghee butter before, it’s basically butter that’s been clarified (simmered and strained, so that all of the water is taken out of it). I’m a big fan of it for my skin because it’s a powerful moisturizer and it helps to fight off free radicals.

Hair-wise, ghee butter is great because it’s rich in vitamins A and E, it helps to reduce frizz, it increases blood circulation to your scalp, it fights dandruff…

Hair-wise, ghee butter is great because it’s rich in vitamins A and E, it helps to reduce frizz, it increases blood circulation to your scalp, it fights dandruff and, if you massage it onto your scalp a couple of times a month, it can help to prevent premature grey. It really is one of the best-kept beauty secrets around.

Use Some Amla Oil

An oil that you may not be particularly familiar with is amla oil. It’s a type of fruit that is also known as Indian gooseberry. Anyway, it’s great for your hair because it helps to strengthen your scalp and hair, soothe dry scalp, protect your scalp and, it’s pretty effective when it comes to hindering the loss of premature pigment in your hair follicles. Definitely an unsung hero as far as hair health and premature greying goes.

Take Care of Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is the gland in your body that helps your body to produce and properly regulate certain hormones.

When your thyroid is off, it can cause your weight to fluctuate, it can make you feel constantly tired, it can directly affect your heart rate, it can make you extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and it can alter your hair texture and even result in hair loss — and yes, it has been connected to premature greying.

That’s why taking care of your thyroid is so important. You can do this by drinking lots of water, increasing your iodine levels (foods with iodine include fish, eggs and dairy), reducing how much soy you consume (soy not only plays a role in blocking iodine in your system, it’s also a phytoestrogen that can wreak havoc when it comes to balancing your hormones), consuming more antioxidants (like citrus fruit, berries and artichokes) and getting consistent rest.

De-Stress

Back in the day, stress leading to grey hair was considered to be a myth; that is no longer the case, though.

[There are numerous studies](https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2020/04/how-stress-causes-gray-hair#:~:text=A new study shows that,pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.) to support the fact that the pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes can actually be affected by stress, thanks to the production of a chemical known as norepinephrine that can literally force melanocytes out so that there is no melanin in your follicles.

You know what that means, right? Whether it’s exercising more often, doing more of what calms you down and/or makes you laugh and/or getting more sound sleep at night, you absolutely must keep your stress levels down.

Otherwise, you could look up and have more grey hair than you should before you should — and the crazy thing is you could’ve invested in things that not only make you feel better but could’ve prevented it from happening in the first place! Amazing.