Does Stress Turn Hair Gray?

This subject has been talked about a lot. I personally think when you turn gray is genetic. But like the Good Question stated, it can be stress AND genetic.

My dad was gray very early. By 30 he was almost all gray. I’ve been “highlighting” my hair since I was about 40. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what color my hair is anymore. I get it done every 3 months. It’s not all one color so when the gray starts to seep in, it’s not as noticeable. My dad dyed his hair for years. My mom didn’t turn gray until quite a bit later. My brother didn’t turn gray but he lost his hair.

The argument that men aren’t gray when they become president is that it’s “the age” they are when they take the job. That that’s when most of us start to turn gray anyway. Do you buy that? I think I do.

What about you? Did your parents gray early? Did you? Did they or you dye it? Does it bother you?

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23 Responses to Does Stress Turn Hair Gray?

  1. Jenny says:

    I say if gray hair bothers you that much color it! It takes a lot less time coloring than trying to pick out all the gray hairs. My mom gets her hair highlighted so I have no idea if she has any. I don’t think i’ve found any on my head yet. But it would be kinda hard since my hair is so light anyways.

  2. Laura says:

    Steve started going gray when we were in college. Of course, he blamed me… said I was so crazy it gave him gray hairs worrying about me.

    I refuse to admit if I’m going gray. I’ve found a few stray light colored strands that usually get stuck on the brush, but so far nothing big.

    If I lived closer to the Big City, I might do the highlight thing – not only to hide color, but to spice up the mousy-brown that my hair usually is. But I can’t be trusted to keep an appointment at a salon an hour away every three months, so I just go au naturale.

    I think for most people, it’s all in how your hair turns. I’ve seen some people who have gone gray evenly, and with black shot through, and it looks really cool. Others, mostly those with brown hair, when the gray comes in, it looks limp and unhealthy. I think if that was me, I’d be coloring it. Not because I’d want to hide the gray, but because I’d want it to look good.

    • Joy says:

      I also do it because I have the in between color of blond and brown. It just looks limp and the gray hairs don’t blend in with that wiry texture they have. I wouldn’t be able to keep an appt an hour away either. I’m so fortunate. My stylist is under 10 minutes from me and she’s a good friend so we sit and solve all the worlds problems too so all’s good.

  3. Laura says:

    I do think that stress does play a part in graying of the hair, though. I’ve seen three presidents now, that I’ve taken notice: Clinton, Bush the second, and now Obama. All three started going gray very early in their first terms. Whether it was covered over – as I suspect is happening with Obama (and I couldn’t care less, it’s just an observation) – or not seems to be a personal decision. But I have noticed it in people with higher-stress jobs.

  4. SKL says:

    Funny thing, a lot of women I know got their first whities when they first got married, LOL. For my mom, that was when she was 17, and she used to pull them out and make a ponytail out of them, until someone told her that 2 whities grow in every time you pull 1 out. She never has colored her hair, and she still has plenty of dark hair left – to be honest, I don’t notice any more how gray she is, but I know it’s not all white! My best friend got a white streak when she was 23 (again, just married). Getting married is stressful, I guess! I wouldn’t know first-hand.

    My first whitie appeared when I was studying for my law school exams after a particularly rough semester. I worked for the finance prof and I had to grade 100 several-page exams while preparing for my 5 law school exams and helping my friend with a couple of her term papers. Yeah, a little stressful! I have been getting whities little by little over the years, and now I think I look like I’ve had some really cool highlighting done, LOL. Actually my hair has always been multiple colors, from blonde to black, so now it’s just spread over a broader spectrum.

    I don’t mind my whities. I think they are cool. I think I would look weird with my hair all one color. I wouldn’t know myself when I looked in the mirror.

  5. LVISS says:

    I think it is mostly genetic. I began turning grey quite early . Nothing can stop this process. If you feel ashamed of it it is better to go bald . As Joy says the texture is what makes it unwelcome.

  6. SKL says:

    I do think that whities are caused by stress in some people, at least. I have also heard of people who stopped having whities after they got through the stressful event that caused them. I am also intrigued by people who are older than I am and have never had a gray hair. One who comes to mind swears it’s because she doesn’t stress. But her life looks pretty stressful to me. I can’t help secretly suspecting that she has simply pulled out the whities and hidden them.

    • Laura says:

      My dad is… (wait, doing some math)… 76. He’s just now starting to get some gray in his very, very black hair. So I don’t know if he’s just genetically blessed – he’s exceptionally fit, and competes in track events nearly every week during the summer – or if he has just led a very stress-free life. Somehow, I’m thinking it’s more the former and less the latter…or there really IS something to the idea that exercise negates stress. After all, he has three children, two of whom are boys. You can’t go stress-free when you have boys.

  7. shanef says:

    I beleive it has to do with genetics more than stress. People also say that wearing hats and/or stress makes people bald faster, I beleive both of them have to do more with genetics.

  8. Karen Joy says:

    I think grey hair is mostly genetic but I do believe some people grey faster from stress..even illness(and thats stress)will grey a person,and Ive seen it first hand being a hairstylist.I do color but not to cover the MANY grey hairs I have because them being grey doesn’t bother so much as the texture does.My natural color is mousy too so I color for that reason and its WAY more workable/manageable with color in.I think if i had to keep an appointment every 6 weeks at a salon I wouldn’t bother,I know thats awful coming from a stylist,I make a bad costumer.I just slap it on myself at home now.

    • Joy says:

      I go every six weeks for a cut but only get it “highlighted” every third visit. I have the same mousy brown color (I think) and it’s the texture of the gray that I hate too.

      • Karen Joy says:

        Yea,if you highlight you can get away with doing it every three month,you dont have such a distinct line of regrowth like I have with a solid color.Your doing the right thing, disguises the grey guys good too.

  9. Nikki says:

    I found my first white hair when I was 28 I think. I’m 30 now and it’s been a couple years. I went through a stage where I refused to color it anymore, it’s not very good for your hair. But right before my 30th birthday I freaked out a bit and colored it. NO WAY was I hitting my 30’s with all that white hair sticking straight up!

    My mom said she started going gray when she was just shy of turning 30 also. My dad, he had a full head of white hair by the time he was 30. FULL head, not kidding. It’s what he was known for. So I know I was doomed for the beginning. But at least I know, going by the fact they say you get your moms fathers hair, that Bailey will not go bald, just gray!

    I think it’s probably like 90% genetics and 10% stress.

    I just colored my hair last week and it’s way too dark, so I’ll be fixing that this weekend!

  10. Just a Mom says:

    I think it is mainly genetics but I don’t rule out the stress factor all together. My dad went grey around 50. My mom started getting grey hairs in her teens and she colored her hair all the time. She could not stand it. My brother who is 42 started getting grey when he was 16. He has black hair and he colors his every now and then. I have brown hair and I got my first grey hair at 16 and I would say I am about 25% grey now at 39. I have never colored my hair, not even once! Honestly it just does not bother me. To me, it’s just a part of life that and I am super cheap!

  11. starlaschat says:

    I use to color my hair occasionaly mainly in the Winter. Then I realzied I didn’t really like doing it and I didn’t like how it made my hair feel. I havn’t colored my hair in awhile. I actually don’t mind the small amount of silvery strands. I think others around me would rather I dye my hair. I figure when it really gets gray maybe I will reconsider. But, for now I like how it feels.
    I wonder about Presidents if they stop dying their hair to look a little older to fit the job? Just Wondering.

    • SKL says:

      I think presidents may play around with hair color to conform their overall look to what they think people want to see. Not sure that all of them would do that, but it wouldn’t shock me if some did. Like everything else, they might forget that people have pretty good memories (not to mention photos) so if they did switch to being more gray, hopefully they wouldn’t try to switch back! Because I don’t think Americans are quite on board yet with the idea of men coloring their hair!

      I had a boss once who colored his hair in preparation for a job interview. He made me swear not to tell a single soul, so the last thing I’d do is broadcast it on the internet, LOL!

  12. lucy says:

    My parents both started getting gray hair around their late 40’s or 50’s. I don;t really remember exactly. Now in their mid 60’s they are both completely gray. They never bothered dying their hair.
    I ve been dying my hair for fun for over 10 years now… but just recently decided that I’m going to stop… at least until I find gray hair!!! Then I might re-evaluate. It probably depends on my age….
    I definitely think that gray hair is both genetic and stress related. I’ve definitely seen many friends and family members get more grays during stressful times!

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