Gray hair looks good on everyone else but not yourself. It is not a very pleasant sight to look at in the mirror, and it also conflicts with your confidence and adjustment in the society. Graying of hair is also known as canities, and it is one of the many effects under aging of the body. Graying of hair occurs for all human beings at some point of time, and it doesn’t spare people of any gender, caste, or religion. The only difference is that it will affect different people at different ages and at different degrees. Graying of hair, when happens after the age of 35-40, is considered to be normal, but before that it is known as premature graying, which can be an upsetting factor in one’s youth. The main reasons why it hits different people at different ages are heredity and the quality of lifestyle pursued by the person. Canities may also be caused by an autosomal condition related to different autoimmune or premature aging syndromes (1). Below are listed some common causes of gray hair:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Tuber sclerosis
- Nutrient deficiency
- Excessive smoking
- Sedentary Lifestyle
You must be wondering what exactly happens to your hair when they become gray. Well, the scientific reason behind this is a little complicated, but we will try to explain it. There is a pigment in your hair which is known as melanocyte, the loss of which from the hair follicles causes your hair to lose its black color. The production of this pigment happens in the root, which can be hindered by the factors mentioned above. This gray color is because of the partially pigmented hair follicles receiving less amount of melanocyte that is usually required by the hair to appear black in color (2).
Some studies have also suggested that among the reasons for gray hair can be osteopenia and cardiovascular diseases, but these studies have been unable to support the claims with a rigid explanation. Re-pigmentation of gray hair has been seen in some cases when the extract of some herbs was used. These methods were mentioned in traditional Iranian and Chinese medicines and have been used for years (3).
We have brought these methods to you so that you can also benefit from them and get your natural hair color back. We have also listed some natural hair coloring mixtures that you can make at home and color your hair easily, without any risk of any harmful chemicals.
How To Get Rid Of Gray Hair (Herbal Methods)
1) Tuber Fleeceflower
This herb is also known as Chinese knotweed or heshouwu. It is a flower from the species of the buckwheat family. It is found spread around the world, native to southern China. The extract of this flower has been used by the Chinese in their traditional medicines as a gray hair treatment. It is also used as a very strong anti-oxidant to treat different illnesses. A study was conducted to find out its effects on gray hair and it was found that there was a significant decrease in the graying of hair because of improvement in melanin production. It was also seen that the cell toxicity, after using this herb, was very less so it can be said that it is safe to use (4).
You can either order a naturally synthesized tonic of this herb online, or you can buy it at a nearby store in the herbs section. Apply this directly to your hair, or mix it in coconut oil before applying it. Using it with oil will be a better option as you will get the advantages of both fleeceflower and the oil. Keep it for about an hour before washing it off with light shampoo to prevent harshness. Repeat this once in 2-3 days to get the best results.
2) False Daisy
This plant is from the sunflower family and is also known as yerba de tago or bhringraj in India. You can find it in most parts of the world but it is native to India, especially southern India. It is a cylinder-shaped plant with a relatively bigger flower head with white colored petals. It grows mostly in warm-temperate to tropical climates, and can be found in India, Nepal, China, Thailand, and Brazil. It doesn’t only reverse gray hair naturally, but also helps fight dandruff, itching, and alopecia (5).
To use this plant, you need to extract its juice by pressing it and blending it with some water. Strain this juice and add it to hair oil like coconut oil, and cook this mixture for about an hour. Apply it on the scalp and hair, and let it sit for another hour before washing off with shampoo. The effects will be multiplied if you add Avala (Amla) juice and Chebulic myrobalan (Harada) juice in this mixture while cooking it.
3) Japanese Arrowroot
This herb is also known as kudzu and is found in parts of Eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, and a few Pacific Islands. It is from the pea Fabaceae family and the sub-family of Faboideae. These plants are noxious weeds, and people found out that they can be helpful in various ways, centuries ago. That’s when they discovered that this herb can be used to stop gray hair. The consumption of this plant is considered safe, but it is advised to check how much herbicide has been used where it was growing because it is a weed plant. There was a study conducted where subjects with newly developed gray hair were tested with the extract of kudzu, against a group of subjects who were not given anything apart from their normal diet. This test found out that there a noticeable difference in both the groups, as the group which had the extract of this herb added in their diet showed less development of new gray hair. But it was also observed that there was no effect on already-grayed hair. There were no side effects in any of the subjects that deem the use of Japanese arrowroot as a safe treatment to prevent the gray hair (6).
To incorporate kudzu in your diet, you can do various tweaks in your daily-cooking by including kudzu leaves with any other green leafy vegetable. The consumption is totally safe, so you don’t have to worry about how much you are consuming. Just think of it as a substitute for spinach, and add it to salads or boil it to make sandwiches and wraps with other ingredients like cheese and corn. Below is the recipe for kudzu corn and cheese sandwich, which you can quickly prepare at home to slow down the graying of hair.
i. 1 cup kudzu leaves
ii. ½ cup sweet corn
iii. 2 cloves of garlic
iv. 1 tablespoon butter
v. 5 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese
vi. A pinch of salt, white pepper, and oregano each
vii. Brown bread slices (minimum 2)
(1) Blanch the kudzu leaves in hot water for 30 seconds, after cleaning them thoroughly in running water to remove any herbicides that may be present on it.
(2) If you are using the canned sweetcorn, you don’t have to boil them, but if you are using the fresh ones, boil them until they are tender in salty water.
(3) Grate mozzarella cheese and chop the garlic finely to make the mixture for the sandwich.
(4) In a pan, melt the butter and fry the garlic till it turns golden in color, then add the leaves and corn in the pan. Fry for 5 minutes till the flavor of garlic is extracted completely, and then turn off the flame.
(5) Remove this mixture in a bowl, add salt and the cheese. Mix thoroughly to make a spread for the sandwich. You can also add some oregano and/or white pepper powder in the mixture at this stage if you like.
(6) Now, spread the mixture on a bread slice and cover it with another slice. You can grill this sandwich in a griller or have it as it is.
Coloring Gray Hair
4) Soft Dark Soap And Quicklime
You can use soft dark soap, quicklime, and yellow litharge to hide the gray color of your hair and make them look less gray with the help of the compounds present these ingredients. You can easily find this soap at any store near you. For quicklime and yellow litharge, you may have to look a little bit more. Your best bid is the internet because it can bring you things from across the world right to your doorstep the next day. Quick lime is also known as burnt lime or calcium oxide, and is a very cheap chemical compound. It can be found in crystalline form or the form of a white colored powder. A version of this chemical is used in the construction process and is known as free lime. Litharge, on the other hand, is also known as lead mono-oxide, which is a yellow-colored, odorless, earthy and heavy compound. It doesn’t dissolve in water and is widely used in the pottery industry and glass production. Apart from these, it has various other uses like making lead soaps, refining of petrol, PVC and rubber, etc.
For using these ingredients to cover your gray hair, you will have to make a mixture with them. If you have the quicklime in a crystalline form, you need to make a powder of it. You also have to crush the soap into a powder form. Mix all the ingredients to make a compound that you need to rub on your hair, especially the part that has more graying. You will have to leave it on your hair for an hour before washing it off with mild shampoo. You can repeat this process several times until you see the desired results, and use it as often as you want if the effects wear off. You have to understand that this process will only darken your gray hair rather than completely turning them black and the effects are not permanent. As you are using chemicals on your hair and they might also touch your skin, so you must consult your dermatologist and your trichologist about any allergies that you might have (7).
5) Multi-herbal Hair Color
In a study conducted with the extracts of different herbal ingredients to find out their coloring effect on hair, it was found out that the mixture of hibiscus, jatamansi (muskroot), kuth (costus), kattha (catechu), amla (Indian gooseberry), coffee, and henna (mignonette) was the most successful one in terms of the depth of color, lasting effects, and non-toxic effects. All these herbs are native to Indian sub-continent and can be easily found in your nearest store, given the rise in use of ayurvedic treatments for different issues because of their herbal nature. This also means that this is one of the safest methods to color your gray hair without the use of any ammonia or other chemicals that might be present in the hair coloring solutions available in the market. Out of this combination of herbs, henna alone is used everywhere in India traditionally to cover gray hair. If used alone, the color is close to burgundy, which is why other herbs are added to make the perfect hair color. The study also stated that jatamansi was the main ingredient in this mixture, because it was the most effective when it came to blackening effect on gray/white hair.
To prepare this coloring fix for your gray hair, you will need powder extract of coffee and henna with liquid extracts of other ingredients. Mix all the ingredients to make a paste that can be applied on the hair like a hair color. Ask for help when applying this mixture on your hair so that you don’t miss any part. Once the application is complete, allow this mixture to dry completely. Make sure that you don’t sit in a cold room with this mixture on your head as it is chilling for the head already, and you may catch a fever if it gets any colder. You can wash your hair after it has dried completely because once dried, the mixture can not work anymore on the gray hair. Use mild shampoo for removing this mixture; you may have to shampoo 2-3 times to make it come off. The effects of this coloring will last for about a month depending on how frequently you wash your hair. You can repeat the process if you see gray hair again but make sure that there is at least a couple weeks of gap in between (8, 9).
6) Red Wine Hair Dye
Using red wine for any other purpose than sipping may not sound like the best idea, but because of the tannins present in it, you can combine it with some other ingredients and make your own effective hair dye that you can use to hide those nasty gray hair. This method is present in the traditional Iranian medicine and is very helpful. Iranian traditional medicine is used by a lot of people around the world for home remedies. Try using a heavy-bodied red wine Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot because it will have more tannins than a light bodied wine like Rose or Zinfandel.
You will need a pint of this wine with 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sulphate of iron and 1 teaspoon of copper oxide. Boil the wine in a container with a heavy copper-bottom, with salt and sulphate of iron for a couple of minutes. Remove the container from flame, and wait for a few minutes before adding the copper oxide in it. Place the container on fire again and boil for 2 minutes. Remove this mixture from flame and let it cool before straining it. To apply this to your hair, you will have to wash your hair first to remove any dust from them. While using this dye to wash the hair, try to have maximum contact with the gray hair for best results. Once you have washed the hair with the dye, wipe dry with a towel. You can repeat this once you see the effects wearing off, but make sure it is not too frequently (10).
7) Nutgall And Olive Oil Hair Dye
Nutgall, also known as cecidia, is an unwanted growth on the outer tissue of a plant which is basically just swollen up tissues. It has the same characteristics as a tumor or wart, which grow in humans and other animals. The reasons why they grow on plants can be parasites, fungi, bacteria, etc.
You will require the use of olive oil, charcoal of willow wood, common salt, orange peel, and lemon peel, along with Nutgall, for the preparation of this dye. The charcoal, which is particularly made with the wood obtained from willow tree, is preferred for this method because of its high-staining properties. This contains carbon for the most part, and some remaining impurities that will make up the ash when charcoal is burnt. These impurities are made up of water, animal and plant substances, etc. Heating of this wood without any oxygen produces charcoal, which is later used to produce electricity, cook food, or as a fuel anywhere else. Here we will use the dyeing properties of this charcoal.
To prepare this solution, you will have to first boil one pound of nutgalls in olive oil until they turn soft, and then dry them to turn them into a fine powder. Mix this powder with a pound of willow charcoal powder and common salt. Mix some dried orange and lemon peel in this paste. Now, in a container, boil 750 ml of water and add this mixture in the water. Simmer this mixture for an hour, and let it cool before using it. Apply this to your hair, comb your hair so that it covers all the parts, and let it dry. Once it is completely dry, wash the mixture off and shampoo only when it is absolutely necessary. You can use this method once a week or as soon as you see the growth of hair in its natural color (11).
8) Sage Tea
Sage tea has numerous uses, and one of the very common uses of it is dyeing hair naturally, or hiding the gray hair. This method is widely used by people of all ages to color their hair, as today gray hair is not a problem faced just by people of only a certain age group. Using sage tea will not only cover your hair and give them a black color, but it will also make them glossy, and will help fight dandruff and dry scalp. So, if you use this method, you will have most of the common problems in the hair-care area covered. To pull-off this method correctly, you will have to brew a very strong sage tea to rinse your hair (12).
Sage has a lot of tannins, which are very useful for when coloring hair and restoring your natural color. Do not be fooled by its appearance, as inspite of its light color, sage tea can work wonders to help you make your hair look better. You can use this method multiple times as it is a very safe method and uses just sage and water in its preparation. Multiple use is recommended until you reach the desired shade of the color that you need. You can even repeat the use if and when you see the effects wearing off after a week or so. You will also find commercial hair dyes in the market that contain sage, but you should steer clear of such products as they may also contain harmful chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers, etc. You can also use sage tea as a spray for your hair as it is a very efficient and a proven method that can save a lot of your time. You may choose the spray method to directly spray the sage tea on newly grown hair, which has its natural color. The addition of rosemary or black tea is also suggested by some people as it has shown better effects in terms of glossiness and richness. Just rinse your hair with this tea or spray on your hair, keep it for a while and then wash it off. Below is the recipe for sage tea, which you can use to dye your hair:
½ cup of dry or fresh sage leaves
½ cup rosemary leaves (optional)
2 cups of water
A bowl/ spray bottle
Kettle or pot
First of all, you need to boil the water in a pot or a kettle, and as soon as it comes to a boil, add the sage and/or rosemary leaves in the pot. Turn off the flame and steep the leaves in it for at least an hour. The mixture will be at room temperature now. You need to strain it using a fine strainer because you wouldn’t want any particles from the tea leaves in your hair. After this, you need to rinse your hair with this tea; you can do it by using a bowl or a spray bottle. Both methods are mentioned below:
1. Spray: Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray the solution on your hair. Make sure you reach from the roots to the tip when spraying to give a uniform color to your hair. Once you have sprayed every part, wait for 10-15 minutes for the tea to do its job. Rinse with water and pat dry before repeating the process. You can repeat the process till you achieve the desired color.
2. Bowl: Pour this mixture into a bowl. Size of the bowl should be so big that at least half the bowl is empty when you fill it. Hold your head over the bowl and dip your hair in it. Let the remaining mixture fall off back in the bowl so you can reuse it. Once all the remaining solution has dripped off, wait for a while before rinsing with water. Repeat this process until you get the color that you want.
Preventing Gray Hair
You can use the above herbal remedies to hide gray hair, but won’t it be better if your hair didn’t turn gray in the first place? Well, there are some measures that will delay the graying of your hair as mush as possible. One of the measures is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You must give up on that sedentary lifestyle and pick up a healthier one. Some of the measures, which you can opt to make your lifestyle healthy, are mentioned below:
- Eat: Some people just do not eat enough according to their body’s requirements, while others eat too much that makes them gain weight. Both of these practices are wrong and must be discouraged. Eat as many calories as required by your body. You can consult a nutritionist to know how much you should eat according to your age, gender, physical work, etc (13).
- Stay Hydrated: Your body needs water as it is one of the most basic necessities for your body. Having at least 3 liters of water is not just enough. There are some practices you should avoid or reduce to prevent dehydration, like the consumption of alcohol and caffeine. That morning shot of coffee is actually making you dehydrated and tired in the long run. Try to have de-caffeinated and non-alcoholic drinks to remain hydrated and energetic all day long (14).
- Sleep Enough: Everyone sleeps during the night, or at least want to. Body is like a machine. It functions all day long and needs rest like any other machine. Not sleeping enough will make you lethargic the next day, and will also reduce your brain’s ability to comprehend things. Staying sleepless or lack of proper sleep may also decrease your concentration. Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest cause of obesity in young people. When you don’t sleep enough, it makes you feel more hungry the next day, and you eat more than you should. As a result, your weight is increased, which also affects your hair (15).
- Regular Exercise: For an adult with minimum physical activities in the day, it is suggested that he/she should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, to keep the body healthy and burn the extra intake of calories. One should actively exercise at least 3 times in a week for best results. It not only burns the extra calories, but also works better than coffee to give that boost of energy to your body in the morning. You can start with some stretching and running, along with some cooling-down exercises in the end (16).
- Eat Healthy: The most important measure you can take to turn your life around and adapt a healthy lifestyle is eating healthy. Following are the eating habits you can follow:
Balance: Eating healthy doesn’t just mean eating more vegetables or more protein; it means achieving the right balance. You should eat healthy carbohydrates, good fats and proteins in every meal to achieve this balance. Healthy carbs are brown rice, millets, quinoa, and food products made with multi-grain flour. Healthy fats are the ones achieved from peanuts, cashew nuts, rice bran oil, etc. Your plate should have half vegetables (including some green vegetables), one-quarter proteins, and one-quarter healthy carbohydrates. This should be accompanied with some healthy fats and some fruits (17).
3 Meal Rule: You should consume at least eat three meals in a day to constantly provide your body with essential nutrients and calories as required for the long day of work. Including some snacks between meals will refill your metabolism, and it will give you enough nutrition to keep you energetic for the whole day. Just make sure that the snacks are healthy like granola bars or roasted peanuts. This will also reduce your consumption during a meal, avoiding over-eating (18).
Now that you are aware of what eating pattern you should follow, it is time that you know what you should eat to keep your lifestyle healthy, and will help in preventing, or at least delaying, the graying of hair. Below is the list of some food items that you must incorporate in your diet to delay graying of hair and promote an overall healthy lifestyle:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Food items like avocado, fish oil, walnuts, etc, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are required for a healthy and fit body. The advantages of omega-s are not just limited to hair; they also promote a healthier and glowing skin. You can incorporate these items into your daily diet to get all the benefits related to them. Fish oil can be obtained from fishes with more fat content, like mackerel, sardine, herring, tuna, salmon, etc. Fish oil can also be obtained from fish oil capsules which are available in the market. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet to avoid overdosing. Also, consult your doctor regarding any allergies. These food items will also help you manage your heart health and reduce the risk of any heart-related diseases by keeping blood pressure under check (19).
- Carotene: Carotene is a substance, which is present in yellow-orange colored food items like mangoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupes, pumpkins, etc. This helps in nourishing your scalp and provides nutrition to your hair to stop graying and hairfall. One of the most beneficial effects of carotene, apart from better hair, is that it protects your hair and skin against the harmful effects of smoke from pollution and UV rays (20).
- Protein: Proteins are recommended by doctors for a lot of different reasons. They are helpful in building muscles, and heal any tearing in muscle tissues as muscles are mainly made up of protein, and so are your hair. The hair follicles are made up of a protein known as keratin, which can be obtained from protein-rich foods like eggs, broccoli, lean white meat (turkey and chicken), lentils, Greek yogurt, etc. These food products can easily be incorporated into your daily diet as they are mostly loved by all, and there are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources. Red meat also provides some protein, but it comes with its fair share of fat and cholesterol, which you can live without (21).
- Fruits: Your body consists of a lot of chemicals, and there are a lot of chemical reactions, which happen in the body that are necessary for the body to function properly. But, there are some reactions which are harmful to your body and need to be prevented. This is where anti-oxidants come in. These substances are necessary for proper bodily function, by preventing harmful and unnecessary chemical reactions. The reasons for these chemical reactions are usually pollution, consumption of alcohol, smoking habit, external UV rays, and even X-rays. Plums, oranges, raisins, red grapes, cherries, kale, spinach, raspberries, strawberries, and all other berries contain anti-oxidants (22).
As we all know, there has been a very little proof of any technique to prevent your hair from turning gray, but these remedies have helped a lot of people as they have been tried and tested. It is not clear as to how much it will work on who, because people of different race, color, hair quality, genes, etc. react to these methods differently. The best option is not to let your hair turn gray because once they do, there is hardly any going back. The best methods to prevent graying are mentioned in this article, but the key to prevention is care of your hair and a healthy lifestyle. People with a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to canities. If you are too late, are already suffering from gray hair and are skeptical about using the commercial hair coloring products, then using one of the herbal products mentioned above will help you hide the grayness and help you look young, or at least your age.