Stress can cause hair to gray?


True, scientists from Harvard University (Bing Zhang, Ya-Chieh Hsu) recently found out that stress can cause gray! For a long time there were already assumptions that stress could be one of the reasons. But with this new discovery these assumptions can finally be confirmed.

The scientists noticed that acute stress by a mice leads to hair greying through the fast depletion of melanocyte stem cells. (melanocyte: a melanin pigment producer responsible for the color of human hair)  When experiencing stress the body causes the sympathetic nerve to release the chemical: norepinephrine.

This chemical will then be stored at your closest hair follicles causing your stem cells niche to over-activate and proliferate. A stem cell niche is a location within the body in which cells can be found. In order to make new pigment cells some are being activated while others remain in the niche.

However when the body is continuously dealing with stress your stem cells will start to migrate from their niche. Some remain in the hair follicle and become pigment cells others move into the skin. But there will be NO replacement for the stem cells that left. So the next time a new hair is created there will be no pigment cells to give the hair a color other than gray.


Don’t panic❗: You will have to experience a long period of stress to change the effect on your DNA.

But the most common reason that your hair turns gray has still to do with your genetics. You can simply take a look at your own family tree to see how gray hairs started to develop during their lifecycle.

Other reasons for hair graying that are often mentioned are:
– Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Smoking
– Diseases

Disclaimer: Yes, there has unfortunately been done some animal testing to obtain this information about hair graying. We would like to make it clear that Diffry does not advocate animal testing’s.

-Sources that we used –

Harvard Edu –
Harvard Edu 2 –
Nature –
Ncbi –
Sciencenews –
Samantha Pollack –