MOST people joke that being stressed gives you grey hair – but experts have now proven this theory, with the good news being that it can be reversed.
Experts said that hair colour can be restored once stress is eliminated from a person's life.
Researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons measured subtle variations of colour and pigmentation.
They took samples from 14 volunteers and looked at them through a high resolution scanner.
These samples were then compared to stress diaries, in which each participant was asked to review and rate their stress each week.
The study's senior author Martin Picard, associate professor of behavioural medicine said striking associations between stress and hair greying were revealed.
In some cases, there had been a reversal of greying with the lifting of stress, he said.
He added: "There was one individual who went on vacation, and five hairs on that person's head reverted back to dark during the vacation, synchronised in time."
Picard explained that human ageing can be reversed.
'GREYING IS REVERSIBLE'
"Just as the rings in a tree trunk hold information about past decades in the life of a tree, our hair contains information about our biological history.
"When hairs are still under the skin as follicles, they are subject to the influence of stress hormones and other things happening in our mind and body. Once hairs grow out of the scalp, they harden and permanently crystallise these exposures into a stable form."
To further understand how stress causes grey hair, the researchers looked at proteins in the hair and how they change in length.
They said it all comes down to Mitochondria, which is a little antenna inside the cells which responds to signals such as stress.
Co-author of the study published if ELife, Ralf Paus professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said: "Our data show that greying is reversible in people, which implicates a different mechanism."
Picard explained that hair needs to reach a certain threshold before it turns grey.
He added: "In middle age, when the hair is near that threshold because of biological age and other factors, stress will push it over the threshold and it transitions to grey.
"But we don't think that reducing stress in a 70-year-old who's been grey for years will darken their hair or increasing stress in a 10-year-old will be enough to tip their hair over the grey threshold."
Trichologist Stephanie Sey said while stress causes grey hair – it can also cause other issues for your scalp.
Stephanie, who works with Nizoral added: "When we are under a lot of pressure or have heightened anxiety, our bodies release high levels of a hormone called cortisol which can cause an increase in the production of sebum and change the scalp environment."
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