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Finding Gray Hairs in My 20s – Am I Normal?

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Finding Gray Hairs in My 20s – Am I Normal?

Mar 04, 2021

It can be a shock to find your first gray hairs on your head, especially if you’re only in your 20s. But women’s expert Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones says a few gray hairs is perfectly normal, even for women in their late 20s and early 30s. However, stress, genetics and other factors can play a role. Find out what is normal, and what is not, when it comes to signs of "wisdom" in your hair.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: It is time for "Am I Normal?" We are talking with Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, as she is the expert on all things woman. Dr. Jones, here is the situation, "I'm in my mid-20s, I'm young, I'm happy, I'm emotionally healthy, I'm physically healthy, or at least I think I am, but I've noticed that I'm starting to grow some little gray hairs that are coming out. And they keep coming out and I feel like I pluck them, and then they come out even more. . .

Dr. Jones: Aww. Don't pluck on those little wisdom hairs.

Interviewer: . . . I feel like this is the problem. Am I normal?"

When Is It Normal for Hair to Turn Gray?

Dr. Jones: Okay, well, let's talk about graying. Now you had some, actually, buried in your question are some assumptions that being emotionally unhealthy might lead you to have gray hair.

Interviewer: Like stress.

Dr. Jones: Like stress. So we'll talk about that briefly, but first of all, so Caucasian people tend to start going gray in their early 30s. Asian people in their late 30s and African-Americans in their 40s. Now, what's too early? If someone's going gray before they're 20, or they're half-gray by the time they're 40, then that's early, that's premature. So you're 20, you have a few gray hairs. I'm afraid that's still normal.

Interviewer: That's still normal for me. Okay. Okay.

Dr. Jones: Now let's talk about . . . so it's partly genetics. We do know that an acute stress can cause hair to fall out, but it doesn't usually cause hair to turn gray. So people say, "I got such a shock, it made my hair turn gray," or Marie Antoinette's hair turned gray overnight before she was put on the chopping block. Well, that's not going to happen because her hair, I'm sure, was pretty long. It's not going to all turn gray in one day.

Interviewer: That's just a myth.

Dr. Jones: That's a myth. That's a myth. So I think that there are some conditions where people start turning gray or losing the color of their hair that are medical problems. So thyroid problems, too much or too little, for people who are prematurely gray, once again I said, probably a couple ones that you're pulling out in your mid-20 is probably normal if you're . . .

Interviewer: Make it worse.

Medical Conditions and Reversing Gray Hair

Dr. Jones: Right. If you're half-gray by the time you get to your mid-30, then that's a little early. So dietary things, you need to eat well to make color. So there are cells in the root of our hair follicle that make color, and if they don't get the right nutrients, B12, which comes in meats and proteins, and other kinds of chemicals, then they can't make color. This is one of the few reversible causes of graying.

People who have high or low thyroid and people with some autoimmune diseases that knock off the hair follicles may also go prematurely gray. But prematurely gray, gosh, I think Steve Martin and Anderson Cooper look pretty hot with their hair color. And there are women who can look really great either with some salt and pepper or when they let it grow gray completely.

Interviewer: Like platinum gray?

Dr. Jones: Platinum gray. Ooh, I want that. Well, maybe not, maybe not. But if you're growing gray before you're 20, then that's early. If you're half-gray before you're 40, then that's early. But a few that you pluck out, those are your wisdoms. I would keep them around.

updated: March 4, 2021
originally published: February 23, 2017