Have you noticed President Obama lately, or rather the fact that he now has gray hair? It’s as if the gray just came out now where. Admittedly, my first thought was that the job of being the POTUS has its perks…and obviously some quirks. And while I expected the stress to take its toll on him, I never thought I’d see it play out on his head. Hmmm- perhaps being the POTUS is not that glamorous after all.
As usual, I am forever curious about how things work, so I thought I’d do a little research to see if in fact, stress really does make your hair turn gray, and what I found out is- No it doesn’t. At least not directly-there is still more research to be done in that area.
Genes that Color your Hair Gray and Blue
And while, research has ruled out stress-it’s pointing a big ol’e menacing finger at genetics. Remember when you were a teenager and, without merit, you blamed your parents for everything that went wrong in your life? Well, this time you can honestly blame them for making your days gray-or atleast your hair.
Due to heredity, it’s not uncommon to know someone (young, old, and everything in between) with gray hair. Furthermore, although gray hair is common and hereditary, I was even more shocked to discover that ethnicity determines when the graying process will actually begin. It turns out that whites tend to gray first, generally as early as their mid-30s, followed by Asians who tend to gray in their late 30s and lastly Africans, who tend to gray in their late 40s.
I still have a full head of natural, dark brown hair, so I rarely give gray hair a thought. However, I’m sure some people with gray hair might obsess tirelessly about whether or not they should cover their gray with a hair colorant. Well, if you’re one of those fretting people, your days of despair just might be over.
If you’ve been spending countless dollars, time, and effort on expensive hair colorants to disguise the relentless gray hue that has taken your mane (the one on your head and not the alternate pronunciation for man)- Your bank account and your nerves might finally be getting a big break.
A Pill for this… a Pill for that! A Pill to get… my…. Color Back?
It turns out that there’s a little supplemental pill on the market that promises to make it all go away-the gray that is, and get your hair back to the vibrant hair color that you were born with. Whomever said you can’t fool Mother Nature, obviously has never met a woman who was determined to give gray hair a one way ticket down the shower drain.
Arise-N-Shine, a nutritional supplement company based in NJ, has developed an all-natural pill called Go Away Gray that promises to stop the formation of gray hair in its tracks without the use of hair colorants. In addition, the company has also formulated a shampoo and conditioner that claims to wash the gray right out of your hair within a few months.
If these products work, this is huge news for many people because the color of our hair, right or wrong, seems to communicate something about who we are. So the hype around this relatively new miracle pill is truly justified. However, before I delve into the science behind Go Away Gray, I need to first discuss how the beautiful hues that color our tresses are made and what causes them to eventually turn gray.
Melanin Doesn’t Just Color Our Skin
As you are aware, your hair grows from bulbs of pit like structures called follicles and it gets it distinctive color from melanin, which your body naturally produces. There are basically two kinds of melanin-eumelanin, which colors your hair brown to black, and pheomelanin, which turns it blond to red. The amount of each respective melanin determines the depth of the color in your hair follicle.
Needless to say, as with everything in your body, melanin is made up of cells called melanocytes. When we are young, our bodies produce lots of properly functioning melanocytes. But (like with most things in the human body), as we age, the melanocytes slowly stop creating an adequate amount of melanin and your hair loses its color -similar to the same synthesis that occurs with vitiligo.
Hydrogen Peroxide-Melanin’s Number one Enemy
In addition to melanin, your body also produces hydrogen peroxide, which is a natural bleach or whitening agent that counteracts with the melanin. As long as you have enough melanin, hydrogen peroxide is basically harmless to your hair. Conversely, if your body stops producing enough melanin, then hydrogen peroxide becomes enemy number one to your hair color.
Without enough melanin to counteract it, hydrogen peroxide will begin to slowly build up over time, and eventually bleach our hair from the inside out.
So the big question is what actually causes peroxide to build up in the hair follicle in the first place?
The Root of the Problem
Researches found that three critical enzymes contribute directly to the build up of peroxide in the hair follicles: Catalase, MSR A and B, and Tyrosinase. When these enzymes become diminished (generally due to aging) naturally occuring hydrogen peroxide begins to build up and wreak havoc on your hair’s natural pigmentation.
The Importance of Catalase, MSR A and B, and Tyosinase on Hair Follicles
Catalase: Our hair follicles need catalase to neutralize hydrogen peroxide by causing it to decompose into harmless water and oxygen, which is then excreted from the body. When we don’t produce enough catalase this metabolic process doesn’t occur and the peroxide goes unchecked and eventually builds up-tuning our hair gray.
MSR A and B: When one defense system doesn’t work in the body, another one kicks in, which is the case with the methionine sulfoxide reductase A and B protein (MSR A and B). The MSR A and B enzyme plays a critical role in repairing the damage gray hair follicle caused by hydrogen peroxide. However, if you don’t have an adequate amount, the hydrogen peroxide will continue to build up.
Tyosinase: Tyosinase is needed to produce melanin in our hair follicles. High levels of peroxide coupled with low levels of MSR A and B and catalase will ultimately inhibit the production of tyosinase-ulitmately leading to lower levels of melanin.
As you can see, these three enzymes can cause a domino effect that leads to peroxide build up and the graying of our hair. But again, thanks to this new break through pill, that might all be changing.
Is Go Away Gray the Fountain of Youth for Hair?
Arise-N-Shine’s founder, Cathy Beggan says that Go Away Gray contains catalase as the active ingredient in her Go Away Gray supplement, shampoo, and conditioner. And as you might have guessed, she suggests that simply replenishing the catalase that is lost during aging, will once again protect your hair follicles against the graying damage caused by hydrogen peroxide.
If you’re squeamish about actually popping the pill, then Cathy recommends her shampoo and conditioner as an alternate topical solution. The reviews are mixed for the shampoo and conditioner and the only information I found on the supplement, Go Away Gray, was that it had’t been approved by the FDA. But don’t be too alarmed about that because most supplements are not FDA approved.
If you do decide to use it, swing back this way and let us know how it worked out for you.