Why is my hair turning gray? I’m in my 20s! Dr. Rachel explains

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Most women dread that first gray hair.  And I bet most women will pluck that first gray hair away.  But perhaps not, because of the saying, 'if you pluck one gray hair, two will grow back?'  This is a myth and absolutely not true.  So why do we get gray hair and why do some people get it before others?

We get hair color from cells called melanocytes which produce melanin that has two types of pigments, dark and light. These pigments blend to make a wide variety of hair colors.

As the hair shaft is being formed in the hair follicle, the melanocytes inject the melanin/pigment into the hair.  Over the years, melanocytes continue to inject this pigment giving us our beautiful hair color.

As we age, production of melanin slows and the hair shaft stops absorbing it for reasons that are totally unknown. The hair follicle starts producing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide which leads to a gradual loss of hair color.  Hair turns gray and eventually white.

Our genes regulate the loss of melanin, so if your grandmother or mother started going gray in their 20s, you would probably start around the same time.

Some people like their gray hairs; others do not and color them. Some people are just happy that they have hair, no matter what the color.

There is nothing we can do to reverse the genetic graying process.  But are there factors that can accelerate it. For example, why do Presidents gray so much in office? Click here to find out.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.