A new study suggests gray hair may be reversible

The answer to graying hair could be as simple as reducing stress

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(Image credit: Johner Images)

Gray hair is a natural part of the aging process, but for those not ready to embrace this change so soon, a new study is offering a glimmer of hope.

Celebrities like Jane Fonda have made transitioning to gray hair look elegant, but there’s still time to mitigate the effects. Researchers from eLife Sciences, a scientific research group, may have found the root of the problem: stress. 

According to their research from last month, stress can cause hair to gray, and reducing stress could potentially reverse the process. 

That’s not to say it’s a forever fix. Getting centered with meditation or doing yoga for beginners still isn’t the panacea you’re hoping for though. Cutting back on stress can reduce the graying effect temporarily, but genetics and time will eventually take their toll. During a certain age window, the elimination of stress may return a few hair follicles back to your natural hair color. 

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(Image credit: Marcus Valance / EyeEm)

The study analyzed 397 hairs from 14 healthy people ranging from 9-years-old to 65-years-old. All participants noted that they hadn’t dyed, chemically treated, or bleached their hair, and had some gray hair or at least two pieces of colored hair. To conduct the study, researchers plucked hairs from each participant, and incubated the various strands in a solution at room temperature while the participants worked to ease stresses in their lives, before repeating the process with regrown hair to show if the former color had been restores. 

Before getting excited that you can go from a silver fox to that jet black hair of your youth, be warned that the results were promising, but have a long way to go. What the researchers discovered was that “reversal of greying” or “repigmenting” occurred among 14 participants. Over 2.5 years of active recruitment and scrutiny though, the process has a long way to go in development before the effects can be replicated.

Most were able to recall a period of time in the past year when they were going through major periods of stress, which contributed to the appearance of gray hair. Once participants either went on a relaxing getaway or resolved the cause of their stress, the hair was able to repigment back to its original color (once the original strand of gray hair grew out of the root). 

While there’s nothing wrong with embracing your gray hair, if you’re looking to put it off a little longer consider taking a mini vacation. It may be the quick solution to decreasing your stress and getting your natural color back.

Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.