from Viviana Persiani
While anti-aging research continues to make progress, nature takes its course and, inevitably, white hair comes along. Can anything be done to prevent them or delay their appearance? We asked the doctor Anna Trinkdermatologist of the San Luca Polyclinic in Udine.
Doctor, why does hair turn white?
«Hair is colored thanks to a pigment, called melanin, which is produced by melanocytes; in case of big oxidative stresslinked, for example, to aging or to one intense and prolonged psychological stress, the activity of melanocytes is compromised, the production of melanin is reduced and the hair becomes less pigmented, appearing gray, and then becomes white, when the pigmentation process ceases. The onset of graying is a result of genetic and environmental factors: it is true, DNA can predispose to the appearance of white hair, but anything that determines an important increase in oxidative stress in the scalp, therefore pollution, psychophysical stress, inflammatory states, incongruous sun exposure, can accelerate the damage to melanocytes and anticipate the appearance of white hair “.
Is it possible to prevent and slow down the graying process by following a healthy lifestyle?
Certainly. It is useful to reduce the possible exogenous causes of oxidative stress: it is good to relax and take care of the diet, so that it includes the introduction of many natural antioxidants (so yes to bring to the table vegetables, fruit, whole grains, oily fish, seeds of flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, bean sprouts, rhubarb, white and red onion). It is also important to pay attention to the quality and quantity of sleep, give up smoking, limit alcohol and coffee and excess sun exposure.
And on a cosmetic level, are there any products useful for prevention?
There vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid has always been considered the anti-hair loss vitamin And anti-graying and any lotion includes it among its components, also for its strong moisturizing and emollient power. Pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of fatty acids, proteins and sugars. The very recent discoveries on graying have turned the spotlight on a plant, the Pueraria Lobata (known as Kudzu). According to some studies, this would be very important to prevent the oxidation of melanocytes by H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide), thus removing the depigmentation of the hair. Hence, it can be considered as a possible treatment for the prevention of gray hair.
At what point is the research?
Scientific research is working for the definition of the causes graying, so you can fine-tune targeted therapies. In recent years, for example, a new gene (Irf4) has been highlighted as the main cause of white hair and even more recently an American study has highlighted the relationship between stress and the onset of white hair. The interest of research on this topic does not stop, but certainly the follicle is a very complex biological system to study, it takes time.
White hair, especially if it occurs early, can create some social discomfort …
In my experience, most women are “prepared” for graying, so they don’t experience the event dramatically. This is also thanks to the presence of corrective cosmetic treatments. White hair is sometimes seen as a sign of advancing age, but it is certainly a lesser problem, both in men and women, than hair thinning, which instead creates real states of non-acceptance.
Are modern colors safe?
Dye is the easiest way to cover gray hair. Cosmetic research has made it possible to achieve very high quality levelswhich led to the formulation of hypoallergenic products which use, for example, methoxy-methyl-paraphenylenediamine instead of paraphenylenediamine, a very powerful sensitizer that is still present in most dyes. Furthermore, the most modern colors are enriched of add-ons that they nourish and repair the hair shaft, which appears not only repigmented, but also soft and shiny. Of course you have to rely on competent hairdressers, who choose safe products or get the same in pharmacies.