Dye Another Day

Oh no! Is that . . . a new gray hair?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Was it stress from traffic? Or hosting that interminable Thanksgiving dinner? More importantly, can I reverse it? 

Enter Ayelet Rosenberg from Columbia University and team.

They tracked down fifteen people with hairs that had changed color. The tips were dark but the roots were gray, or vice versa. The researchers asked two of the subjects to sketch out their stress levels over the previous year. Then they took high-resolution pictures of participants’ hairs, measuring the microscopic changes in color. Finally, they matched up the timing of the color changes with the stress diaries.

Results? They found that stress COULD lead to graying. BUT surprise! The graying process was halted — and REVERSED — when participants chilled out! Luscious, colorful locks returned when their owners emerged from a messy divorce. Or after they spent a couple of weeks beachside.

So if you’re feeling gray, book a vacay! A couple mango margaritas wouldn’t hurt, either. Your stylist will thank you.

Reference: Rosenberg, A. M., Rausser, S., Ren, J., Mosharov, E. V., Sturm, G., Ogden, R. T., Patel, P., Kumar Soni, R., Lacefield, C., Tobin, D. J., Paus, R., & Picard, M. (2021). Quantitative mapping of human hair greying and reversal in relation to life stress. ELife, 10. https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.67437