Grey Hair – Why Men Go Grey and How to Deal With It

Grey hair in men - Taylor Kinney

Grey hair happens for all men. Here’s why.

Searching for information on men with grey hair? Have you noticed your head is turning shades of salt and pepper? Trying to understand why you are going grey?

If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. The hard to truth is most men will develop grey hair at some point in life. There are a number of reasons this happens, including your unique genetic makeup, lifestyle factors, and stress.

And let’s be honest – even though people say people say the “Silver Daddy” look is sexy, most of us prefer to stay with our natural hair color for as long as possible.

Now don’t get me wrong. Some men with a touch of silver look totally amazing. An example can be found in actor Taylor Kinney, one of the stars on Chicago Fire.

ryan reynolds grey hair
Ryan Reynolds has touches of grey in his hair

Given the focus of this post, I’m going to walk you through the specifics on why men get hair and more importantly, what to do about it.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The science of grey hair in men
  • Why men develop strands of silver
  • Factors that contribute to going grey
  • Men’s hair coloring options and dyes

Bear in mind that hair color (as in the hair on your head) is completely different from beard hair. If you are looking for insight on that topic, read this beard coloring review post.

Why Men Go Grey?

The clinical research tells us that by the age of 50, most men will develop grey hair (Genetics Home Reference, 2017). Your hair color is determined by a pigment called melanin; a substance that hair follicles produce.

Hair follicles are dynamic structures that reside in the dermal layer of your skin and made up of 20 unique cells. As you age, these follicles produce less melanin, thereby reducing color pigmentation.

FYI: Melanin is the same substance that is partially responsible for eye color (i.e. brown eyes, green eyes, and so forth).

Some men will start to notice grey hair atop their head in their 20’s. More will spot whitish patches in their 30’s. And by the time you are 40, you will likely see (some) salt and pepper set in.

charles bronson train death wish 1974
Charles Bronson had some grey going on

Genetics and Men Going Grey

So, you may be wondering what causes men to develop grey hair? More importantly, is there anything you can do about it? Well, sit tight because you are about to find out the answers.

The primary reason you are going grey relates to genetics. Think of this as your biological time clock; the apparatus that controls the aging process.

The engine of genetics is heredity; a ten-dollar term used to describe the physical characteristics passed on from one generation to the next.

Men who are caucasian tend to go greyer sooner, followed by Asians. African American men are next. Finally, guys with red hair start losing color before anyone else.

I’ll talk more about genetics but a great way to determine the way your hair will go is by looking at family photos. Focus on the men and women since both are needed for your genetic makeup.

men with grey hair coloring options
Stress, anxiety and grey hair

Anxiety and Stress

Believe it or not, you really can accelerate the aging process and by extension, the development of grey hair, due to stress. But instinctively, doesn’t this make sense?

We know that Telogen effluvium, the clinical condition that causes the onset of sudden hair loss, is largely influenced by the release of mass stress hormones. When this happens, hair can start to come out in clumps.

Molecular biologists believe that anxiety may have a negative impact on the secretion of stress hormones, which can send mixed signals to melanocytes – the substance that instructs your hair follicles to express color.

Ever notice you have strands of grey that crop up in patches? This could be a result of genetics or, perhaps, the byproduct of stress.

If you are looking for natural ways to cope with anxiety, it may help to explore healthy ways of coping. Be sure to read this post on how men make anxiety worse for pointers.

brad pitt grey hair
Brad Pitt has silver hair too – look closely

Lifestyle and Medical Factors

Some men develop grey hair because of certain lifestyle factors. These include but are not limited to:

  • Smoking
  • A vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • A thyroid problem
  • An autoimmune disorder
  • Vitiligo
  • Alcohol abuse and addiction

If you are a man who is under the age of 35 and worried about your hair turning hair loss, it’s best to consult with your doctor.

If there is a medical issue going on, there’s a good chance that treatment can reverse the problem. Should lifestyle changes need to take place, you may find a few adjustments could reap major rewards.

Sadly, genetic causes of greying can’t be changed. That said, men do appear to be slowing down the aging process naturally according to a recent scientific study.

Related: How to look more handsome and attractive

anderson cooper grey hair
Anderson Cooper went grey early

Can Premature Greying Be Prevented?

A question you and a lot of men what to know is how to halt premature greying. Here’s the truth – there’s no way to stop father time from marching on. Heredity is what it is and works on its own time frame.

That said, there is a lot you can do to live healthier, which directly impacts your quality of life. This is critical because the healthier you are, the more you can preserve what you’ve got on top (meaning the amount of hair you have and its color).

Make sense?

Anti-Aging Supplements for Grey Hair

You are probably wondering if there are any anti-aging supplements you can take to promote a more youthful look and slow down the aging process.

Related: 10 anti-aging hacks for men

As mentioned earlier, you really can’t stop heredity from doing its thing.

But you can take supplements that are thought to reduce the number of free-radicals in your body; unstable molecules that experts believe accelerates to the aging process.

Here are some suggestions.

Multi-Vitamin

If you are like most men, you probably aren’t getting all of the nutrition your body needs. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have time to prepare several meals a day and do so in a way that gives us the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals.

That’s why it’s important to take a supplement that makes up for the deficits. You will find plenty of products on the market. Personally, I like the Xtend-Life Total Balance Men’s Anti-Aging Vitamin (See Amazon).

What I like about this supplement is that it gives you everything you need nutritionally with a focus on cell health. Notice the high amount of biotin in the product; something your hair and nails need to grow.

It’s also made from natural sources and not the synthetic crap we see from mass manufactures.

Fish Oil

There is evidence to suggest fish oil is a powerful anti-aging supplement. The folks at Live Strong report that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help to support stronger follicular growth.

Translation: Stronger, more vibrant hair means healthier, more youthful hair.

You can get fish oil at almost any supermarket or pharmacy. If you decide to do this, opt for something natural like Nature Made (See Amazon).

Other Greying Factors

Your hair has vitamin D in it but that doesn’t mean you should hang out in the sun to get more. In fact, too much exposure to the sun can damage your hair cuticle and cause discoloration.

Over the course of time, solar UV rays from the sun can make your hair brittle and even cause hair loss, according to a report from the Cleveland Clinic.

Finally, smoking cigarettes is terrible for your hair. Yes, it is bad for your skin too (and the rest of your body) but specifically, the toxins in cigarettes have been scientifically shown to cause premature greying and hair loss.

If you are trying to stop smoking, work with your doctor to develop a plan. The current body of research suggests the process of quitting cigs requires a multi-prong approach.

hair loss men
Hair coloring options for men

Coloring Your Grey with Hair Dye

Are you thinking about coloring your hair with a dye? Well, you aren’t alone. In fact, most of the men you see on television in movies who are over 35 do.

If you are thinking about coloring, I’m going to give you some serious tips. To start off, you need to pull out a mirror and conduct a realistic review of your mane.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I have just a few greys scattered here and there?
  • Am I going grey in patches that are super noticeable?
  • Is my hair discolored in tone with uneven areas?

If you just have a few white strands, you may not need to dye your hair. Instead, it may be best to reach for something that camouflages the greys.

Just a few strands – Camouflage

Should this be the case, consider picking up a bottle of hair glaze made by John Frieda (See Amazon). What’s great about this product is that it doesn’t deposit permanent coloring.

Instead, the glaze infuses temporary color when you rinse. Don’t hold me to it but I’d say it lasts 48-hours or so (based on my own personal experience).

Lots of greys – Color It

If your hair is starting to turn white, it may be best to start coloring it. You can go to a professional stylist for this and have them do it for you.

But if you aren’t looking to spend a wad of cash, you can do it on your own. Yep, that’s right – you can color your hair yourself.

You are probably wondering what product to use? There are lots of choices on the market. Personally, I will not use any of the dyes made by Just for Men (I will use their beard coloring).

I can only speak for myself when I tell you that their dye causes my hair to get super brittle. It has also made my scalp itch like crazy.

Here is what I do use: Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Crème (see Amazon). Yes, this product is marketed to women but hair is hair and responds the same, regardless of gender.

I guess what you are hearing me is this: don’t be fooled by the marketing. Just because the box has a chick on it does not mean men can’t use it. And I am here to tell you that Garnier’s product works a heck of a lot better than that crappy stuff Just for Men makes (no offense JFM).

FYI: Before you ever apply hair coloring, always check to make sure you aren’t allergic. Do a simple skin patch test 24-hours in advance to see if you have a reaction.

I’m putting a video up so that you can see how you can do this on your own. Now I admit the guy coloring his hair is young but he does give sound advice.

Oh, by the way – notice he’s using a product with a lady on it. I mention only to prove my earlier point about the face on the box not mattering.

Haircuts Matter

Finally, how you style your hair, regardless of its color, really matters. A lot of guys go to stylists for their grooming needs.

Personally, I prefer an old-fashioned barber. That’s not a knock against hair stylists. Call me old school but I just like more traditional cuts. If you are looking for some ideas on how to shape your hair, check out these male celebrity hairstyles.

And Grey Beards?

If you are getting grey hairs on your head, there’s a good chance your whiskers are turning white, too. If you shave every day, it’s not a big deal.

But if you don’t – you may want to think about beard coloring.

Should this be the case, I will recommend Just for Men. They make an amazing product that does a great job. The trick is to match the right dye to your natural color.

More: Chris Hemsworth (Thor) Beard Style Guide

If you have never dyed your beard before and aren’t sure where to start, I’ve posted a video that walks you through the process. Guys, coloring your beard is a lot easier than you think. Trust me – I do it twice a week.

Staying on Top of the Greys

Finally, I’m going to share that once you start coloring your hair (on top of your head or beard) it’s a process you must commit to.

This means staying on top of maintenance and recognizing hair care isn’t a one-time deal. I know it probably sucks to hear this but I’m just being real with you.

Hopefully, the information shared in this post has helped you to understand why you are getting grey and what you can do about it.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Lifestyle factors really do matter when it comes to aging. Try to live as healthy as you can. Cut down on stress and make sure you are getting the supplements your hair and skin needs to look its best.

Thanks for stopping by.

References:

Genetics Home Reference. (2017). Is hair color determined by genetics? Retrieved from Genetics Home Reference: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/traits/haircolor

 

About Aaron McBride 27 Articles
Aaron McBride is a Seattle based freelance journalist. He enjoys writing on men's topics, outdoor activities, grooming, and wellness. He's also got a thing for penning pieces on spirituality and astrology. Look for posts that are off the wall and sometimes bizarre.