There is something ubiquitous with age! It is gray hair. Gray hair is the apparent sign that you are aging and your aging pace is faster! However, aging is not the only factor that leads to graying of hair. So, what causes gray hair? Just like some other health conditions, there are many causes that make your hair turn gray.
What causes Gray Hair?
Some of the causes of gray hair include,
- Too much stress
- Poor diet and Nutritional deficiencies
- Health conditions
- Hormonal imbalances / hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc.
- Lifestyle problems (like coloring hair too often, not protecting hair from harsh sun rays etc.)
- Hair products (chemical laden shampoos and other hair styling products)
Understanding the Science behind Gray Hair
Why your hair strands turn gray? There are two elements that affect hair color.
Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for skin color. People with darker skin tone have more melanin and those with whiter or fair or pale skin tone have lesser melanin in their body. The same melanin is responsible for giving color to the hair.
Melanocytes are the tiny pigment producing cells located at the base of hair root. Each hair strand has this pigment cell. It absorbs the pigment from melanin. So, the color of your hair is influenced by melanin produced in your body and the ability of the melanocytes to absorb the pigment. Melanin secretion is in turn, determined by genetics, diet, hormones, environment, lifestyle, health, and your age. The major element that attributes to your natural hair color is the genetics and how much melanin you produce.
Hair color turns gray when the melanocytes fail to provide sufficient pigment to the hair. If you have noticed, hair strands turn gray from the root and it gradually moves to the length of the hair.
In addition, when your body fails to produce melanin, when melanin or melanocytes die, graying of hair becomes inevitable.
Other than melanocytes, several studies and researchers revealed the fact that hydrogen peroxide is also responsible for graying of hair.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the powerful bleaching agents. It is naturally produced in the hair follicles. However, it remains inactive due to enzymes produced in the body. The enzymes break down hydrogen peroxide and protect your hair color. However, when enzymes dwindle, hydrogen peroxide becomes active. It bleaches the hair from the root to the tip.
Hormones also play a major role in determining hair color. When the younger ones reach the age of puberty, the red or blonde hair often turns brunette. Of course, this scenario doesn’t apply to black hair.
Is it possible to reverse gray hair?
It is said that it’s not possible to reverse gray hair. To some extent it is true. Gray hair doesn’t turn black. You need to darken the hair color using some techniques and therapies. Traditionally, hair dyes have been used to hide naturally gray hair. Some people use other home remedies to color their hair naturally.
While you cannot actually prevent or reverse graying of hair, steps can be taken to avoid premature graying. But wait! According to one research report, abnormal accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out, can be treated with topical, ultraviolet B-activated – sunlight – compound PC-KUS, a modified pseudocatalase. This is the same treatment which is effective for the skin condition called vitiligo
When it comes to natural remedies for gray hair, reversing gray hair is about controlling the pace at which your hair turns white. This involves applying topical remedies, focusing on a healthy diet and leading a healthy lifestyle. You can reverse gray hair and delay the further graying by changing your food habits, lifestyle and using some special hair care products.
The change should come from within you, internally, which reflects externally.
Herbs to Prevent, Cure and Reverse Gray Hair
Mother Nature has provided us many ingredients with miraculous healing properties. It is quite possible to control graying hair as well reverse the gray strands. Following are the four major ingredients that can be used to create your own hair oil to reverse graying of hair.
Henna for Gray Hair
Henna needs no introduction at all! It is quite a popular herb and also a popular holy ingredient used during many auspicious occasions. Henna is not just used as a natural coloring agent. Using henna has many benefits.
- It is one of the coolest herbs native to India.
- It has a strange strong aroma that rejuvenates the senses, although the aroma of henna isn’t really sweet for all.
- It removes off the heat from body and keeps your core cool. (Excessive heat is a major reason for poor hair and skin health.)
- Henna is a good hair conditioner.
- It makes your hair grow and glow.
Henna has been used for ages as a natural therapy for lustrous hair. Again, using henna only once doesn’t completely reverse gray hair. A single application remains intact for a maximum of 4 months. It is just like coloring your hair, but with no side effects.
When you repeat the procedure once a month for a few months, you can retain the natural color for years.
Henna can be used in many ways. It can be mixed with hair oil and used daily or before shampooing. Alternatively, to get quick coverage of gray hair, you can just go for henna packs.
How Henna Works?
Henna works great on everyone. Literally, there are no side effects in using henna. However, there is a risk that your gray hair color may turn red or brownish red with a tint of blonde shade permanently.
- If you apply henna on black hair, it adds more intensity and glossiness to the black shade.
- If you apply henna on gray hair (a few strands of gray hair popping here and there), it reverses the gray shade and turns the color into blackish brown.
- If you apply henna on gray hair (where you could see only a few strands of black hair) just like a salt and pepper look, your hair will turn golden red! If you love that new trend, just go for it.
Verdict: If you have only a few strands of gray hair, you can go for henna to change the gray hair into brown and black.
Tips to apply henna pack on hair:
- Always do a patch test before applying henna pack.
- Apply the henna pack on a bunch of hair locks and see how the color changes.
- If you are happy, proceed with the same.
Henna Hair Oil Recipe
When you are using henna for hair oil, always go for the fresh leaves. Don’t use the powder available in stores. Instead, you can make the henna powder at your home.
Things you need:
- Fresh Henna Leaves – 3 to 4 cups
- Coconut Oil – 200 ml
- Fenugreek Seeds – 2 teaspoons
Henna Leaves Paste
- Rinse the henna leaves and grind it into soft paste.
Henna Leaves Dried Balls
- If you don’t want to use fresh paste, make the paste into small flat balls (just like a round flat cookie)
- Place the balls in natural sunlight to dry them (you may need a day or two to get it dried completely)
Henna Leaves Powder
- Rinse and clean the henna leaves.
- Spread the leaves on a clean cloth and let it dry under natural sunlight until the color turns brownish green.
- Powder the dried leaves and store in an air tight container. (you can use this henna powder for 6 months)
How to make henna hair oil
- Heat the coconut oil over a low flame. (You can use double boiler too)
- Add fenugreek seeds
- Add dried henna balls / henna paste / henna powder to the oil.
- Heat it for no more than 15 minutes.
- Let the henna stay in the coconut for a few hours (or overnight)
- Filter the oil and store in a bottle.
- Apply the oil on your scalp from root to the tip every alternate day.
- After applying the oil, comb your hair to enhance the absorption.
You can alter the quantity of the henna and oil as you wish. Fenugreek is optional.
The color of the oil varies from dark brown to maroon or red, which is influenced by the quantity of henna you use.
Also called Ratanjot, it is one of the rare spices used in India for natural deep red color in dishes. Alkanet has a woody flavor and appears dark red to brown in color. It is more commonly used in popular meat recipes in Kashmir. Except Kashmir, uses and benefits of Alkanet are not very popular. However, roots of Alkanets are used as natural red dye in Europe.
Usage of alkanet has been described in naturopathy as well ayurvedic texts. In ancient days, this specific spice was used as a major ingredient to nourish hair. It has been very commonly used in certain regions of Tamil Nadu, especially in villages.
Alkanet is available in local shops that sell ayurvedic and natural medicines. It looks like cinnamon barks but in reddish brown shade. You can infuse alkanet and make a DIY hair oil to reverse gray hair. Alkanet hair oil is very good for conditioning of hair and it helps prevent premature graying of hair.
Alkanet Oil for Gray Hair
Things you need:
- Alkanet root ( one cup)
- Coconut oil (two cups)
How to make it:
The consistency of the alkanet root varies. You can get soft as well hard barks like cinnamon.
If your alkanet root is soft:
- If your alkanet is very soft, crush the root with your hands and make a crumble
- Don’t crush it too hard otherwise it will become a powder. You cannot filter the oil when it is in powdered form.
- Dry roast the crumbled alkanet for a minute (Just make it slightly warm for a minute. Don’t heat it too much)
If your alkanet root is hard:
- If it appears like cinnamon, break it into small pieces and dry roast it until you get a smoky flavor from the root.
- Just roast the alkanet pieces on a high flame for a minute. (Within a minute a two you can get a smoky smell)
This DIY hair oil is somewhat easy to prepare. However, you cannot do it anytime you wish. You need sunlight to make this oil. Heating the alkanet root in oil is not recommended as it may not be very effective. You can make this oil only during hot summers. Alkanet root disperse the nutrients and the coloring agent very slowly. So, heating won’t be helpful.
- Put the roasted alkanet in a bowl
- Pour coconut oil over the alkanet
- Place the bowl / container in the sun for a day or two
- Keep the container open
- Color of the oil will change
- You can extract the oil once the color of oil appears similar to beetroot
- Extract the oil and store in airtight container
You can use this oil regularly. Don’t worry. Your hair color won’t turn red.
When it comes to intense black, lustrous and long hair, Bhringraj herb can’t be beaten. It is an ayurvedic herb. However, it is not merely an ayurvedic herb. Just like mint leaves and spinach, Bhringraj is an edible green! In most of the organic hair oils that promise hair growth, you can find Bhringraj as a major ingredient.
Use of Bhringraj has been very popular and prevalent in South India. In ancient days, fresh leaves of Bhringraj were used to make Kajal (kohl) to apply to the eyes of newborns! Isn’t it interesting? It grows enormously on damp area yet remains unnoticed.
While buying Bhringraj oil available in stores can help in hair growth, you can make your hair oil with Bhringraj to reverse gray hair. Additionally, you can cook the leaves like any other greens and eat twice or thrice a week. It tastes good. Your body gets nourished from internally in addition to all the benefits you derive from this herb by topical application.
Bhringraj Hair Oil Recipe
Things you need:
- Handful of fresh Bhringraj leaves – About 50 grams (you can also use the tiny flowers of the plant to make the hair oil)
- Coconut Oil – 300 ml
- Fenugreek Seeds (optional) – 2 teaspoons
How to make it:
- Wash the leaves and dry it for a few minutes.
- Grind the leaves in a mixer.
- Don’t make it a paste. The paste will absorb the oil quickly and you will find it difficult to extract the oil.
- Grind it coarsely, just for a minute.
- Heat oil in a pan over a low flame.
- Add fenugreek seeds
- Add the coarsely grinded mixture into the oil
- Heat the oil for about 10 minutes
- You will find bubbles in the oil
- In 10 to 15 minutes you will find bubbles evading. Remove it from over the flame
- It indicates that the oil is free from water.
- Close the container and let the oil absorb the nutrients from Bhringraj.
- Extract the oil the next day and you will get clear green color hair oil.
- Make sure that you don’t ever drop water accidentally into the oil.
Amla – The Nectar of Youth, Beauty and Health
Amla is the elixir of health. Known as Indian Gooseberry, the tiny fruit holds most powerful nutrients. According to ayurvedic principles and texts, eating amla continuously for 48 days brings back your health and beauty.
- Amla has three times more nutrients than an apple.
- It is the richest source of vitamin C, almost double than a medium sized lemon.
- It is very high in anti-oxidants.
You can eat amla in any form to reverse your gray hair naturally. Besides, it controls further graying of hair.
How to eat amla?
- Eat one raw amla every morning.
- Cut amla into small pieces and soak in honey. Eat a spoonful of honey soaked amla.
- Cut amla into small pieces and dry it under the sun. Soak in honey and eat daily.
- Powder the sun dried amla and store in a container. Add one teaspoon of amla powder in warm water and drink in the morning.
- Boil one or two amla, mash it and use in gravies.
Amla hair oil recipe is given below.
Homemade Amla Hair Oil
Things you need:
- Raw Amla – 50 grams
- Coconut oil – 200 ml
How to make it:
- Shred amla using a shredder and dry it naturally.
- Alternatively, you can cut amla into small pieces and dry it.
- Add the dried amla to coconut oil, dry it under natural sunlight.
- Let the oil absorb the nutrients from amla.
- Extract the oil after 2 or 3 days.
- Use it regularly.
Color of this oil will be brown!
- Cut raw amla into pieces and remove the seeds
- Grind the raw amla (add water)
- (If you have a juicer extract the juice from amla)
- Strain the juice and extract the clear juice
- Add the amla juice to coconut oil
- (One part amla juice = two part coconut oil)
- Heat it over a low flame for 5 minutes or use double boiler (a safer option).
- Store in an airtight container and use it regularly.
Tips for DIY Natural Hair Oil to Reverse Gray Hair
These are some questions whose answers you must read before you make Ayurvedic hair oils at home to reverse gray hair
Should I use henna if I catch cold easily?
Bhringraj gets absorbed quickly and more effectively than any other herb. So, if you have a tendency to catch cold easily, henna is not the right ingredient for your body. You can go for Alkanet oil or Bhringraj hair oil.
Why Coconut Oil is used as carrier oil?
Coconut oil is the best carrier oil for homemade hair oil. It is a neutral oil with no excessive cooling or heating properties. It gets absorbed more effectively than other oils.
- Always heat the oil on a low flame. If not, use double boiler.
- Don’t heat the oil for more than 15 minutes. (As mentioned above, once the bubbles subside, you can remove the oil from flame)
- Store the oil in an airtight bottle.
- Apply oil all over scalp, not just on the areas where you have gray hair.
- These oils smell good. Don’t wash your hair immediately after applying oil.
- Don’t re-heat the oil or don’t use this oil to get oil bath.
- You can simply apply the hair oil at night and wash your hair the next day.
- For best results, you can use the hair oil every alternative day.
Always try to make the hair oil in smaller quantity possible. If possible, try to prepare the hair oil (heat the oil) in an iron vessel or copper vessel (not copper bottom). Both iron and copper content prevents premature hair graying. So, it adds some natural nutrients to the hair oil.
Ayurevdic Remedies for Reversing Hair Graying
(These are quite effective in boosting your immunity and treating a majority of ailments, from digestive problems to chronic pain)
In ayurvedic context, graying hair is associated with disorders of health caused due to lack of balance in the body. Already we have seen about amla, one of the healthiest fruits in the planet. The following two remedies balance your body’s equilibrium and restore your youth!
Triphala refers to the combination of three fruits, Amla, Bibitaki and Haritaki. This ayurvedic herbal concentration contains equal amount of these three ingredients. It is an anti-aging therapy with potential healing properties for many health conditions. It is available in form of powder or churna. You can buy it form ayurvedic stores. Alternatively, you can buy the dried versions of these ingredients and make the powder at your home.
Take half teaspoon of triphala and add with warm water and drink at night before going to bed. If you wish, you can add a teaspoon of honey.
There is a popular saying, ‘eat ginger in the morning, dry ginger in the noon and haritaki in the evening and keep yourself young for years.’ Haritaki is already part of Triphala! The other three healthy ingredients that make Trikadugam is ginger, dry ginger and long pepper. Take one spoonful of Trikadugam and add in a glass of warm water and drink in the morning.
Within a few days upon regular consumption, you can find a lot of difference in your overall health. Remember, it doesn’t reverse the gray hair naturally. Neither it claims to reverse grey hair nor does it work directly on improving the grey hair. It completely transforms the health and body for better, which reverses the aging signs, beauty and health issues. So, it apparently covers your worries on gray hair!
Quick Ayurvedic tips to address gray hair
- Purify your blood by eating baby neem leaves once a week
- Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Focus on eating balanced food, containing all flavors
- Use Shikakai to wash your hair
- Take oil bath at least twice a month
10 Dos and Don’ts to Reverse Gray Hair Naturally
Beyond using the natural oils and ingredients as topical application to reverse gray hair, you need to focus on few other things.
Stop using shampoo
Shampoos contain chemicals. It is hard to find a fully organic shampoo! So, stop using shampoos and conditioners. Resort to Shikakai powder.
Literally, reduce consumption of coffee! Although it is hard to stop drinking coffee, try to reduce number of cups you drink. Caffeine aggravates growth of gray hair. Switch to herbal tea or green tea over coffee.
Check if you have any hormone problems
Regulate Your Hormones! As mentioned above, hormones play a vital role in changing the color of your hair strands. So, you should keep your hormonal balance intact to prevent acceleration of gray hair. Estrogen imbalance, thyroid disorders, etc. impact the hair color as they counter enzymes produced in the body. So, check for any hormone imbalance and fix it.
Count on these Nutrients
There are few nutrients that give color to the hair. Although a diet rich in lot of fruits and vegetables are good for health, you need to go for some specific foods rich in the following nutrients.
Called Vitamin B 9, it is responsible for colorful hair. Folic acid is more associated with brain development of a fetus during pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency leads to premature graying of hair too. Foods rich in folic acid include,
- Dark green vegetables
Not many are aware about the fact that copper is a very important nutrient to bind certain enzymes that enables production of melanin. We have seen that melanin sends pigment to melanocytes to color the hair. Without copper, melanin doesn’t function effectively. Biological Trace Element Research was a study conducted in the year 2012. Based on this study copper is essential for black or dark hair color.
Copper rich foods include
- Dried fruits
Store water in copper vessel / bottle (not copper bottom) and drink it to get daily dose of copper.
Most of you are aware about the importance of iron. Low iron levels lead to hair graying. Most women develop gray hair during mid 30s and 40s as they are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency. Eat iron rich foods like,
- Kidney beans
- Beetroot etc
Cook in iron vessel to get daily dose of iron.
Stress is so stressful to your hair too. Whatever you try, your stress ruins it all. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which is like a slow poison. In fact, stress is one of the major reasons for graying of hair.
Don’t use hair dyes
When you wish to reverse gray hair naturally, you should stay away from using any hair dyes or coloring solutions.
Don’t panic, give time
It is repeated again that it might take some time to see promising results with natural remedies. In around a month or two you can see the results. So, don’t rush and suppress your urge for permanent hair coloring solution.
Avoid hair conditioning treatments to reverse gray hair
You will be enticed to spend a lot on reversing gray hair. There are a lot of claims made recently that salons use natural ingredients to give hair conditioning treatments. Don’t fall for the hype and become a spendthrift.
Don’t pluck gray hair
Plucking gray hair doesn’t grow more gray hair strands in the surrounding area. Rather, it weakens the hair root and leads to hair fall. So, don’t pluck hair. If you had been doing so and are suffering from hair loss, try these home remedies for hair growth
Embrace gray hair
Salt and pepper appearance, looks great on many! In fact, a few strands of gray hair almost transform appearance and make you look more attractive! Why don’t you try it once?
Most of these home remedies and herbal remedies to reverse gray hair naturally work at their best. Yet it takes some time to see the results. If you are still younger comparatively but suffering from premature graying of hair, you can notice the gray hair strands turning dark in three to four weeks when you use these home remedies. Others may find the results in two to three months. Remember to use any of the home remedies for gray hair regularly to get rid of gray hair.