Going Gray in Our 20s: Why It Happens and How to Stop It

It's not *totally* out of your control.

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Considering that we live in a culture where 33-year-old Kate Middleton is splashed on the cover of magazines simply for letting her silvery roots show, it's fair to say going gray can be a sensitive subject—particularly in our youth-obsessed culture. For most, the first signs of gray don't come until you're in your thirties or forties, but for others, it's much earlier than that. While there's no denying a silver 'do seems to have more trend appeal than ever—Lady Gaga and Kat Moss have both rocked the hue—we'd rather not have silvery strands too early on. Here's what you need to know:

The Science Behind the Grays

Hair goes gray when pigment-producing cells stop releasing melanin, which gives it color. Unfortunately, going gray prematurely is in large part genetic or could be the result of an autoimmune condition. An inconveinent rule of thumb: If your parents went gray at a younger age, chances are you will too. According to a recent study, ethnicity also plays are role. Caucasians tend to go gray sooner than other races, including African Americans and Asians.

How to Keep the Grays at Bay

The good news is that going gray isn't completely out of your control—your lifestyle can play a significant role. For one, there's stress, which is something that millennials know all too well. A 2013 study found that melanin-producing cells can disappear when exposed to stress hormones. While it's not going to cause you to go gray all at once, it does seem to contribute to the problem, so find opportunities to de-stress as much as possible.

Your diet, too, can play a consequential role in graying hair. Low vitamin B12 and B-9 levels (more likely for vegans), as well as copper and iron deficiencies, have been known to cause a loss of hair pigment. To amp up your nutrition, and potentially prevent premature grays in the process, look to a balanced diet rich in antioxidants with foods like salmon, green leafy vegetables, and nuts. Bonus: They'll also give you glowing skin.

Lastly, a 2013 study found a link between smoking and going grey in your twenties. As if you needed another reason to quit...

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.