We’ve all been there, discovering that first rogue grey hair and yanking it out wondering how it got there in the first place.
Or perhaps you rock your greys like the silver fox you are.
Whichever camp you fall into, a major breakthrough has been discovered to suggest that going grey is not a permanent fixture and can be reversed by eliminating stress from life.
This means you could not only save a fortune at the hairdresser but also improve wellbeing.
During the experiment, it was discovered that one individual even went on holiday while they were greying and returned with hairs that had reverted back to their original colour as they relaxed.
The study, carried out by researchers in New York, is the first of its kind to offer evidence of how psychological stress has the power to impact the body and turn hair grey.
As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles that hold colour gradually die, meaning they will become more transparent like grey, silver, or white.
This means, someone who is already 60 or 70 and been greying for years is unlikely to rewind the clocks to tip back over the grey threshold back towards colour.
The study’s senior author, Martin Picard, explained that understanding the mechanisms that allow ‘old’ grey hairs to return to their ‘young’ pigmented states could provide new clues about the malleability of human ageing in general and how it is influenced by stress.
Picard said: “Our data add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that human ageing is not a linear, fixed biological process but may be halted or even temporarily reversed.”
He continued: “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.”
During the research, participants were asked to keep stress diaries which were later compared to their individual hairs to see if there was a parallel in anxiety and greying.
When the journals and hairs were analysed, correlation between stress and grey hair was revealed as well as a reversal of greying when the stress was lifted.
Picard said: “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.
“Based on our mathematical modelling, we think hair needs to reach a threshold before it turns grey. 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.”
If stress can influence hair, it’s worth considering what else it can do to our physical being.