The emergence of white hair is a natural and inevitable phenomenon, sometimes a source of insecurity and questioning. Among the most frequent inquiries, we find the possibility of reversing this whitening. Is this really the case? Let's discover together if white hair can regain its natural color.
Can white hair regain its natural color?
The origins of the appearance of white hair.
The appearance of white hair, or canities, is often associated with a lack of melanin production by melanocytes and a gradual decrease in their number. This process is natural and usually occurs around the age of 35 or later. However, the early onset of white hair can be linked to other internal or external factors. Stress is notably among the main causes of white hair appearance. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to stress can disrupt the functioning of melanocytes, thus leading to a decrease in hair pigmentation.
Beyond stress, deficiencies in vitamins B9, B12, D, selenium, iron, or copper can impact hair color and cause premature graying. The mechanisms involved are diverse and depend on the nutrient in question. For instance, copper promotes the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme that allows the conversion of tyrosine into melanin. Moreover, the early onset of white hair may also be a genetic phenomenon or due to an autoimmune disease like vitiligo.
Can white hair naturally regain its color?
Many people with silver hair would love to naturally regain their original color. But is this possible? Yes and no. In fact, it depends on the cause of the graying. If your white hair is due to aging, and therefore a decrease in melanocyte activity, this is an irreversible phenomenon and your hair cannot naturally regain its original color. Similarly, if the cause is a chronic disease, the graying cannot be reversed.
However, if it's stress that's causing your hair to turn white, a recent study has shown that it may be possible for it to naturally regain its color. Indeed, scientists observed in 14 individuals a depigmentation of their hair fibers due to a period of intense stress followed by repigmentation. This occurred quite rapidly, with a recoloration rate of about 28% per day. One possible mechanism to explain this repigmentation involves the activation of immature melanocytes or melanoblasts, the precursor cells of melanocytes, outside the hair follicle. These cells would migrate into the hair follicle and produce melanin, thus recoloring the hair.
Therefore, it is possible in some cases for hair to regain its color. A healthy lifestyle notably allows for a better response to stress: regular practice of a sport, pleasant surroundings, avoidance of addictive products, regular sleep... Yoga or relaxation can also help to feel more at ease, which limits the risks of early onset of white hair.
How to regain your original skin color?
Gray hair is natural and doesn't necessarily need to be hidden. However, some people prefer to maintain their original hair color, which is completely understandable. If your hair has irreversibly lost its color, you can regain your natural shade with hair dyes. We advise you to seek professional help from a hairdresser for this and not to attempt home coloring unless you are confident in what you're doing. Indeed, it's common for hairdressers to have clients who have tried to color their hair themselves but ended up with less than satisfactory results.
We can also mention certain topical products enriched with specific peptides and proteins that claim to be able to repigment white hair. However, the results obtained by those who have tested them are uneven. Some say they have indeed observed a repigmentation of their white hair, while others have seen no change.
RAWNSLEY J. & al. Hair biology: Growth and pigmentation. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America (2018).
PHILPOTT M. Watching hair turn grey. eLife (2021).