I’m 24 and I have gray hair! What’s going on?

- asks Kat from London

October 8, 2007
Gray hair can happen at any age--even in your teens or early twenties. [Credit:]
Gray hair can happen at any age--even in your teens or early twenties. [Credit:]

I was only 18 when I spotted my first gray hairs, interlopers among my chestnut-colored tresses. As a freshman in college, I chalked these gray hairs up to stress from calculus class and a bad boyfriend. But by the time I aced calculus and dumped the boyfriend, those silver wisps were still there—and now, at the age of 25, a few gray strands have multiplied to what seems like nearly a hundred, silently taunting me when I look in the mirror as if to say, “You’re getting old. You’re getting old. You’re getting old.

To explain the mystery of graying hair, you must get to the root of the problem, err, I mean the root of your hair. Under the scalp, a tube of tissue called the hair follicle surrounds the root of every hair strand. Each follicle contains a number of pigment cells that produce melanin, the polymer that gives the growing shaft of hair its color. Usually these pigment cells continuously produce melanin, but if your body stops generating it, the strand of hair will have very little pigment to paint over it’s normally transparent hue; this base-transparency will then present itself as gray, white, or silver.

Melanin production is brought to a halt for a variety of reasons–some natural, some indicators of greater health issues. As people continue to get older, the number of pigment cells around to produce melanin will actually be reduced. Eventually, these cells will be so depleted, the hair will look completely gray. Incidentally, melanin also provides moisture to the hair strand, so when less is produced, hair tends to grow brittle, losing its bounce. This is why as your hair leans towards the color of the snowy peaks of the Alps, its texture becomes dryer and coarser, making it more curly or wiry.

My gray hair started when I was still in my teens—a far cry from the usual graying age range of 30 to 50. But it turns out that people can get gray hair at any age, depending on genetics. This means that most of us will start having gray hairs around the same age that our parents or grandparents first did. I called my mother to find out our family’s graying hairstory. She told me it wasn’t any surprise that I had started to gray at a young age—her uncle’s hair was completely white by the time he was 25. Aha! I thought. Now this mystery is starting to make sense.

Researchers have shown that gender plays a role in graying. The average male starts to gray around age 30, while women typically began to notice lighter strands around age 35. In some families, many members develop white hair in their 20s. “It obviously clusters in families in one sense. Whether that is a single gene or common gene we don’t know,” writes Dr. Meyer in the magazine Scientific American. “Generally speaking, among Caucasians, 50% are 50% gray by age 50. There is, however, wide variation. This number differs for other ethnic groups, again demonstrating the effect of genetics.” But this biological fact of life varies greatly from person to person, which made dermatologists and geneticists conclude that age is not the the only indicator of when gray hair will appear.

For starters, smoking is known to decrease melanin production. Sometimes, the arrival of gray hair can be a sign of an underlying health problem. Werner’s syndrome, a disease that mirrors the symptoms of aging in people as young as 20, can spur the premature growth of gray hair. Pernicious anemia, a disease marked by a vitamin B12 deficiency, is also associated with decreased melanin production.

Although there are people who think that a big shock or trauma can turn a person’s hair white overnight, only a rare disease has been known to cause this phenomenon. Called alopecia areata, the condition causes the thicker, darker hairs to stop growing before it affects the growth of gray hairs—meaning people with the disease seem to “go gray” overnight as the darker strands are diminished and the gray ones keep on growing strong.

Overnight graying myth aside, what about that pesky old wive’s tale that says pulling out a gray will result in five more springing in it’s place? That’s also wrong! So yank away. I, however, don’t have that kind of patience, so it’s back to the salon for me, for a little color to cover those stubborn grays.

About the Author



butterfly says:

the best way to treat white hair is to stay away from the sun alot or to much hair ironing or salon chemicals damage the hair rooth use natural organic remedies like Aloe vera plant and Avocado or cactus pulp from plants they have good vitamins and helps your hair scalp and then rinse with not to much hot water daily it gives a nice smooth looking

star says:

I’m fifteen, and almost 16 and my hair got lighter in the summer, but I’m always inside so my brown hair should be coming back, so I suspected brown roots, only to find out that its grey, my roots are pure grey……so all you people complaining they found one grey hair in their teens, my hair is growing grey, every strand is either white or grey…. This is great fml

Sydney says:

My boyfriend is 22, and while eating lunch outside yesterday, I saw and pulled a gray hair from the top of his head. He hates, (HATES.) the thought of getting old and didn’t want to admit what I knew it was and swore it was sun bleach. (On one hair??? LOL) Basically the truth is that gray hair is hereditary. His grampa has a full head of white hair, and from what I hear started quite young. His mom who’s 43 has gray hair, but it sounds like it’s nothing new and has been around a while. And his dad has more gray hair than his other grampa, but since he’s a pastor, he blames that on the ministry. ;) But you should have seen the look on his face…. Besides denying it, he looked absolutely mortified. Maybe I should have not laughed as much…. Sorry, man. Love you. (: <3

oviya says:

hey guys,i’am glad to join the team of gray beauties.I noticed my first gray strand when i was 14.Now i’am 17 and i have nearly 10 or more grays on my head.I believe it is all because of the heredity as both of my parents went gray early.
if you eat gooseberries daily you can control the rate of upcoming gray advice is that stop dying your hair because it increases the gray hairs.

Kate says:

I could not help but to comment this… I am 20 years old and I would say about 50% of my hair is gray! Noticed my first gray at 16. I’m considering going to someone for this, perhaps a medical opinion. If there’s any advice I’d love to retain it. Thank you.

Muhammad faryad says:

Hello sir,

I am Muhammad faryad from Lahore Pakistan now working in dubai…my problem is white hair.My hair black to changing into white clour on head and shavning place.Now iam 22 years old..i think white hair coming from my age 15..almost 7 year.Now 15% is white hair on Head and 10 Hair on shavning place.Please tell me for good medicine or other suggestion me
Your Faithfully,
M Faryad..

Anushka says:

I was in my 13s when I first noticed my grey strands. Really it was terrible. THe people around me just don’t understand that what you feel! they just keep on teasing. Can anyone suggest me effective steps? please help!

kelly p says:

i was 14 when i fist got my grey hair i`ve got this big grey patch in the middle of my head i dont know wat to do i`m 15 now its irritating can any one suggest anything please help
(D) please

David Kanu says:

Genetics has serves the main predisposing factor for grey hair. I started having gray hair when I was 16 years but it was never a problem and concern to me. When I was in college I developed more gray hair which was attributed to excessive reading. I never believed that fact because there were people reading more than me in college. Now I am 40 I have more gray hairs on my head. I wanted to fill shy for that condition at my age.But after reading this script I had to reflect the status of my father’s hair when he was alive and in his middle age. I also reflected my elder brother he too has gray hair. And after reading the previous experience of other people around the world I fill comforted because I am not alone. At the same time I will follow some of the recommendations to cure my hair. If it works it is Good if it fails it is good for that shows my father gave birth to me and not an illegitimate child.

Miranda says:

The first time I noticed having a gray hair was probably when I was around 14 give or take a year. It wasn’t exactly surprising because I had been told my day started developing gray hairs around that age and by the time he was 17 he was almost gray headed. I guess it’s genetics then? I’m 18 now&I have silver strands everywhere. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I dye my hair because they never seem to go away, and the dye doesn’t get rid of them!

Kyle says:

So glad I found this website. I’m 26 and I have been super nervous about my hair turning grey for awhile now. I can remember plucking out greys in high school when I was 17. Now it seems I have grey/white hairs popping up all the time. It’s awkward to go to work and have so many more grey hairs than my boss and all my older coworkers. The genetics thing makes sense though, my Mom she got her first grey hair at 16. Thanks Mom.

sharmin says:

hey…i am 18 and i have more than 100 grey strands… it started at the age of 16 and whenever i look at the mirror i get depressed to see it…please give me a solution… i dont want to dye my hair so soon!!

Kenny from Norway says:

I`m 24,and i have began to get trey hair too :( My father was almost all grey at 28 :(((

Lisa says:

I’m 25 and my hair is starting to turn white. I noticed my first one around 21. My mom’s hair also started turning white around 21 and she was completely white by 30. Same thing with her dad. I’m glad that mine is turning slower than her’s did (still only a few stray white strands here and there, not even noticeable unless you’re looking for them), but still hate the fact that I inherited this gene, especially since my brother didn’t. So not fair.

Jeanne says:

I guess I consider myself lucky as I’m 47 and no greys yet. However, my younger sister started getting grey at the age of 18. Hmmm….she got the grey hair gene….I got the fat gene. LOL

Kelly says:

Everyone on here who is stressed about their white/silver hairs ruining their look, don’t be! My husband and I are both 24, and while I have yet to find a white strand, he has hundreds of them and I think it makes him look even more sexy. And just to prove that women find grey hairs sexy; George Clooney, Patrick Dampsey and Anderson Cooper all started to grey at a young age and the ladies still screamed for them. Embrace your new strong and sophisticated look with confidence and you will look just as good if not better then when you had your boring one tone color

Joe says:

Most people probably won’t believe me but I started getting gray hair when I was about 7 or 8 I have quite a few but not enough that people notice as soon as they look at me, they have to be looking directly at my hair.

Rahul Kumar says:

i had noticed grey hair when I was 15-16yrs of age(my dad’s also at about the same age).now I am 27 and almost 90% of my hair is grey.I dye it black.

ashle b. says:

I s am 13 now and my hair has been grey
Since I was 8! Is that bad? No one else in my family has that!

carol says:

I got my first grey when I was around six,am now 25 and am 50%
Grey. Guess its growing slower than it should! Amazingly
In my country(somewhere in east africa) grey hair is
Associated with wisdom. Explaining why the older people
Are wise. So for a young person to have grey hair only means
Natural wisdom and your highly respected. Guys be proud
And look around,you will notice your much wiser than
Your age mates. Cheers

Phoebe says:

I’ve had silver hair since i was 10 and a half and i’m 12 now!!!
:-( o_O

Rhiannon says:

I first started getting a few at 18, I’m 22 now and every so often I find a new one. Very annoying! (I blame my mum) At the moment I only have a few so I’m fighting (what I suspect may be a loosing) battle and plucking grey hairs out whenever I come across one – hopefully I can keep this up for a few more years…

Andreas says:

OK, to 29-year old Kelly who is calling people “old fogies” and being all around obnoxious because you haven’t gotten any gray hairs, your time will come, and the fact that it hasn’t happened (YET) doesn’t make you special. Since growing old is inevitable for everyone, just be grateful you’re still young rather than acquiring the arrogant attitude that you somehow accomplished something to make it happen. (that’s what your comment suggests, anyway). Chances are good you’ll have them within ten years and when you experience that despairing feeling that comes with getting your first grays, you’ll despise people who make the kind of comments that you yourself are making now.

phillip says:

am 25 years old and i have some grey hair which i got at the age of 20.I smoke though and i have smoked since 10years ago which means by 14years i was already smoking but only as a social smoker never a chain smoker,but what is now worrying is that last month i developed a small patch in my hair like a ring worm or fungal infection but have no idea what it could be.I must confess that i have also used marijuana before if this could help in your assessment and intervention plan for my dilemma.Thank you Doctor.

Sunil says:

Hi i am 28 now and i got some grey hair started growing since 1 year and i never had this problem before and not able to understand why all of a sudden and its too much.

Hi i’m a first timer here. I discovered this site and I find it truly helpful.
I hope to provide something back as well as help others
much like you helped me.

Bren says:

My mom spotted my first gray hair today, well an an inch of my root was gray/white and I’m so freaked out because I’m only 19… Does abybody know if more will come out??

Martin says:

Sorry for my poor English. I have 31 and i started graying two-six months ago. But it goes so much fast. I had already many gray hairs in 20-30% of head (boht sides above ears). Is it normal so much fast? I had lot of stress recently. Breakup with girlfriend two months ago, terrible work, financial problems, stroke of my mother. So isn´t it possible that this is only temporary? Because i don´t see any other signs of aging on me (in fact, my face look same young as in my teens age)

Bilguissa says:

I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in this issue. I’ll be 38 soon. I started going grey when I was in high school. 1 dye my hair black to hide the greys. But then I have to do it often as the dyes I use wear off quickly. But the chemicals in the dyes cause my hair to break.

Nick says:

Going grey is concerning at most but hardly stressful or depressing like going bald.

Michal says:

well most of the time when people grow grey hair when there young it normaly means that you straighten your hair alot maybe you should dye your hair a brown number 4 and buy a heating spray for when you straighten your hair

Martin says:

Well two week later from post 278 and i see many new gray hairs on top of my head and also my beard go gray pretty fast. So i hope it isn´t some kind of illness, coz i never heard of anybody going gray in few weeks/months.

Raquel says:

I started graying when I was like.. 12/13 or so, but it was only 1. It was the most humiliating day of my life when I found it at school. I felt like crying. I’ve been dying my hair since 15. I looked at it as “Hey, I have a funky style anyway, I can make my hair different colors.” So I’ve been all sorts of colors. I’m 27 now and I’ll keep dying though, I’ll admit I’m a little vain and I embrace my youth while I still have it. I already decided to possibly stop dying when I reach the beginning of my 50’s.

Bryan says:

I’m 25 and about 50% grey. Lawd Jesus! I gotta take my Irish butt to get it colored.

Bruce says:

I started getting white hairs on my beard when i was 34 and now I am 37 years old and I have 35% white hairs on my beard.Its hereditary on my fathers side,my uncle beard was completely white by the age of 39 he is 46 now and he has white hair on his head also and I am headed in that direction lol.What I do is color it in with black mascara.I know a person that is a 34 years old black male he has all white hair on his head and a little on his chin hair he was born with salt and pepper hair,and my cousin was born with salt and pepper hair also.Its not uncommon to gray early,it is usally hereditary like in my case.

Josie says:

Found my first grey hair at 21, so depressing I wanted to cry. A couple of months later I found two. Two years later I found almost 10 the other day. I’m hoping that its slow enough that I can just pluck for awhile but not optimistic that I won’t be completely grey by 30 :( I may be paranoid but I feel like I’m starting to see new greys everyday. My doctor told me to take B12 supplements so hopefully that’ll slow down the greying process.

tarun says:

my daughter is only 9 years old. she have 10 to 20 grey hairs. I am very much worry about that. Is it possible to avoid it? What are the remedies can be taken?
Please give some sugession.

Amit Kumar says:

helo sir/Madam
i need to ask u is there any herbal n easy treatment for young-age white hairs?
i m only 25yrs old, my hairs r getting white day by was started since couples of yrs ago,i m so much worried for the same,i m feeling like my life is finished now.
pl help me

with regards
amit kumar

Adrian Echevarria says:

So i am 22 years old, and ever since i was 17 i have begun to notice grey strands in my hair. I saw a doctor not to long ago (about s diffrent problem) and she noticed my greying, and she proceded to ask me “Is premature greying of the hair a genetic thing in my familiy?” and i told her that is not.
I am the only one in my familiy that started having grey hair at a super young age.
So i was hopping that someone can help me by giving me a small idea of why i am getting grey hair at such young age when it is not something genetic, and my stress level is no were near what it was a couple months ago.
hope to hear a response- Adrian E. aka shi-town

SarahW says:

When I was 31 years old I had my daughter. A month after giving birth the hair in the front begin to fall out and when it finally grew back in it all grew in white

SarahW says:

For those of you being all dramatic about getting gray hair quit freaking out it’s just hair duh. And if for some reason you feel like your life is over because of your hair color you should probably start seeing a therapist

emily says:

im 11 and I have grey hair ahhh


Ochena Bikel says:

You haven’t pointed out that, vitamin B deficiency (specially vitamin B6 & B12), thyroid disorder and chemical explosion as they can also cause premature gray hair. One thing, I want to point out that, there is no evidence that shock and stress cause early white hair. Scientists have began to collect clues that stress can hasten the graying process, but there isn’t any scientific proof demonstrating a cause and effect relationship.

jesus says:

I started gray when I was 9 which suck my life is mostly a living hell

Bruce says:

Well…I get my first grey hair when i was about 16,and my hair color is dark black, so everybody can noticed that,normally people would care about it, it just doesn’t look good, I prefer it all grey…….

gary says:

im 23 and i now hav my first grey woohoo cant wait to hav a full set on my head ;) saves buying hair dye

billy joel says:

I’m in my 40s, white male with no gray hairs… is that good?

willie says:

I had a gray hair when I was 6, my mom told me it was because i was adopted… I don’t have a mom anymore…. hahahaha

Joan Marie says:

I’m 34. I quit dying my hair 3 years ago. I’m 90% (if not more) silver white. I love it now, but it took years of dying and hating it for me to give up, grow it out, and fall in love with it.

I started turning when I was 11-12. There is some genetic causes but the rate that I turned, and the age I started, in my family, is unheard of. I had severe stress issues as a teenager and traumatic events. After my second child was born, the rate my hair turned white was mind blowing. Again, I’m 34 and have very little original color left.

To all the young women who are turning early. Don’t disappear. Rock your white! Rock your gray! Don’t let your friends or family (or hair dresser) tell you “it makes you look older” Embrace the change, and check with your Physician to make sure it’s not from a medical condition or deficiency.

Lizzy Marie S says:

I just noticed a few days ago that I’m getting white and silver strands in my hair. It started off as one and now there are around 5-10. I’m a little scared because I was told I did have a vitamin B12 deficiency but I am taking vitamins now for it. I hope I don’t turn grey early I love my black hair. I’m only 20 and I’ve had a single strand of silver for about 5 years. D: I am not happy about this!

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