How does our hair turn white

health : Why does hair turn white?

At some point the time will come. Everything is white overnight. Snow white. You look out the window: a winter fairy tale.

Some people fear that they might feel the same way in front of the mirror one morning. The hair is suddenly white. Snow white.

An old wives tale. Because hair doesn't lose its color that quickly. They cannot shake off their color pigments like clouds from snow, but fall out, strand by strand, before new hairs pave the way, which from a certain age on sprout increasingly unpigmented. Only these new hairs are white. When they mix with black or brown hair, their interaction results in the color impression gray.

It usually takes a number of years before someone really becomes white. Head hair renews itself after about four to six years, beard hair only lasts for a year, shorter downy hair or eyelash hairs have even shorter cycles. This explains why the beard or temples are more likely to turn gray.

The individual hair is not colored throughout. Finely distributed pigment granules carry the pigment melanin, a substance that our skin absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the sun well. This melanin is produced at the root of the hair, where the hair is anchored in the dermis.

"There are a lot of immature hair cells down there that grow up like hair like a tulip bulb," says Nathalie Mandt, specialist in hair diseases at the Berlin Charité. The hair dye is produced in neighboring cells, the melanocytes. “You have small arms. With these tentacles they grab the hair cell and transfer the dye. "

Pigment granules in the hair contain two types of melanin: the black-brown eumelanin and the yellow-red pigment phaeomelanin. Their proportions determine the color direction, the melanin content determines the depth of color.

In old age, the main actors withdraw: the number of melanocytes as well as their activity decreases. Then the new hair will remain unpigmented. Depending on their predisposition, some people discover their first gray hair at the age of 20, others only at 60.

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