While some may see it as a sign of wisdom and maturity, many people view gray hair as an unwanted sign of an old age. Every hair on your head actually starts off as white and is then colored by a natural pigment called melanin. As your hair grows, melanocytes the cells that produce melanin transfers melanin to each individual hair follicle, which seamlessly colors each strand of hair. As we age, melanocyte activity slows down and eventually stops, leading to less pigment in the hair. Although genetics, hormones, and environmental pollutants can speed along the graying process, the sad fact remains that your chances of going gray increase 10% to 20% every decade after the age of 30.
Though, there are many dyes in the market formulated specifically to cover gray hair, the harsh chemicals in these products make them undesirable to those with an eye for maintaining optimal health. Fortunately, nature provides us with both internal and external remedies for slowing, halting, and sometimes even reversing the growth of gray hair, as well as masking it without hurting our bodies in the process.
Henna is a beautiful auburn dye prepared from the Lawsonia inermis tree which has been used for cosmetic purposes since ancient times. These days, henna comes in powder form and can be mixed with a variety of other natural substances such as lemon juice, vinegar, and cloves or fragrant oils before it is applied to hair. Henna can also be mixed with indigo for a darker color as per requirement. Henna should be used regularly to maintain its brilliant color and to effectively mask the gray anywhere from once per week to once a month depending on the depth of color desired.
In ancient times, or even today, there are many brands that make wonderful natural dyes out of flowers and herbs due to the fact that they are so gentle, you will likely need to use them regularly to maintain the color. There are many herbal options available in the market depending on your natural hair color, here are some examples:
Dark Hair – Rosemary, sage, nettle, cloves, cinnamon, black walnut hulls, and comfrey root
Blonde Hair – Chamomile, calendula, lemon peel, saffron, marigold, yarrow, sunflower petals, and mullein flowers
Red Hair – Hibiscus flowers, red clover, rose hips, red rose petals, beets, carrots, and marigold
When using fresh plants, be sure to dry them out completely and crush them into a fine powder. Feel free to mix and match different herbs to add more dimension to your color. Mix together ½ cup of dried herbs with water and simmer on the stove for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool before adding one tablespoon of a carrier oil like coconut oil. Apply to hair and let it sit for one to two hours before rinsing.
Amla- Indian Gooseberry
Phyllanthus emblica, commonly called Amla or Indian Gooseberry can be mixed with natural coconut oil or almond oil and massaged into the scalp to cover gray hair. Not only does this mixture act as a colorant, the oils will moisturize and enrich scalp and hair for a glossy healthier appearance all around. Amla juice can also be enjoyed as a beverage to improve overall health and slow or halt the growth of stubborn gray hair.
Beet, Carrot, and Lemon Juice
Juicing your hair with beet juice, carrot juice, lemon juice, or a combination of the three, will restore reddish hues or add some vibrant highlights to your existing color. Beets are better for darker reds, carrots for softer orange, and lemon for golden blonde.
Combine one cup of juice with hair conditioner or coconut oil and massage into hair. Since beet and carrot juice will color your skin too, be sure to protect your face by applying oil around your hairline, ears, and neck. Leave it in for an hour before rinsing. For lemon juice applications, sit out in the sun for extra lightening.
While some may choose to wear their lightened locks with pride, the battle against gray hair is on-going. Rest assured that fighting this sign of aging does not necessarily mean turning to harmful chemicals to recapture your youthful appearance. There are plenty of all-natural methods for reducing and even eliminating that unwanted gray.