You’ve probably heard, if not said it yourself, the phrase “I’m going to end up grey because of you”. It’s something that’s often said in humour, but could stress actually cause your hair to go grey? Here you’ll discover the truth behind the claim.
Can too much stress cause your hair to go grey?
It’s often said if you want to prevent premature greying, you should keep your stress levels low. However, according to experts this is actually a load of rubbish!
What’s most likely the cause of greying hair is genetics. Stress has shown it has very little to do with the colour of your locks. It’s more hereditary and when exactly your hair starts to go grey is something that you can’t control.
So, if it’s not true, where exactly did the saying come from? Well, it’s apparently down to studies carried out on mice.
In numerous studies involving mice, it has shown that stress, particularly long-term stress, can actually alter the body’s DNA, which in turn can affect the genes responsible for the colour of the hair.
However, there’s been no such findings in humans and genetically we’re a lot different to mice. So, if you have noticed your hair is suddenly changing to grey, it’s highly unlikely it’s caused by stress.
What about hair loss?
While stress may not be responsible for the colour of your hair, it can certainly affect how much of it you have.
Hair loss can be triggered by high levels of stress. The key words there are “high levels”. It could be continuous levels of unusually high stress, or a one-off traumatic event that triggers a change in the hair growth cycle. In particular, it can lead to telogen effluvium, a temporary condition that can occur up to three months after a stressful event.
Overall, stress plays a significant role in our health and high levels can have a negative effect on the hair. However, it’s highly unlikely to cause your hair to change colour.