Premature Gray Hair

Man brushing his graying hair
Photo: Julija Sapic/Shutterstock
Q: I often hear people talk about premature gray hair. How do you know if your gray hair is premature and how can you avoid it?
A: The term “premature gray” typically means hair that has turned gray sooner than expected. A lot of different people consider themselves to be “prematurely gray” at various ages, but the standard used in the medical profession states that an individual whose hair is 50% or more gray by age 40 is considered prematurely gray.
Avoiding prematurely gray hair is not really a realistic proposal. Going gray is pretty much a genetically determined fact. There is evidence to suggest that stress and some medications (such as certain chemotherapy drugs for cancer) can sometimes cause gray hair to develop (or can cause it to happen faster) but there’s been no evidence that there’s anything that will prevent gray hair from developing when your body says it’s time.
To make the most of your genetics, it’s best to try and avoid stress (or to at least learn good stress-management techniques) and talk to your doctor about any medications you take that might have an effect on your hair.
Aside from that, decide whether you can “live with the gray” or not, and make a game plan for dealing with it. By making a plan and consulting with a salon professional, you can help yourself get a natural-looking coverage and keep your hair healthy.
See also:
Going gray
Why and how hair turns gray
Teenagers and gray hair
What is the average age for going gray?