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What Causes White Hair at Early Age? (And How to Avoid It)

Having white hair is expected as we grow older, but some people experience gray hair earlier than expected. If you’re one of those people, you might be asking, what causes white hair at an early age?

It’s common for people of all ages to have a few white strands, but having almost all of your hair strands turn from black to white when you’re still young can be devastating.

The good news is there are a few ways to restore or reverse it, but it would depend on the cause. So to determine what you can do to avoid or reverse it, you must identify the cause first. 

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some common causes and a few tips on how to reverse them in this article. So if you don’t want to leave any stones unturned, let’s get started!


Top 6 Causes of Premature White Hair

So, what causes hair to turn white at a young age? Here are some of the common reasons:


stress causing premature white hair

Yes, we all experience stress. However, some of us suffer from chronic stress, making us vulnerable to oxidative stress.

If your stress is coupled with sleep problems, high blood pressure, and changes in appetite, you’re most likely dealing with chronic stress. And as per one study, this type of stress can cause your hair to become white.



The most common cause of developing white hair at an early age would be genetics. Based on a study conducted by the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, prematurely white hair is closely linked to genetics.

Additionally, race and ethnicity play a significant role in premature graying too. For example, the same study discovered that white people can develop white hair as early as 20 years old while Asians can have it at 25.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse premature white hair if it’s due to your genetic makeup.


Nutritional Deficiencies

nutritional deficiencies causing premature white hair

Both vitamin deficiencies (vitamins B6, B12, D, and E) and mineral deficiencies (iron and copper) can cause premature graying of the hair. This is because these vitamins and minerals are vital in producing the dark pigment called melanin which gives hair its dark color.



One of your lifestyle habits is also linked to premature white hair, which is no other than smoking. This is because smoking causes blood vessels to constrict.

As a result, the blood flow to your hair follicles is reduced. Additionally, the toxins found in most cigarettes can also damage hair follicles.


Hair Dyes and Products

hair dyes causing premature white hair

If you regularly dye your hair, we’ve got bad news. All the chemical hair products, especially bleach, that you’re using can and will affect the health and color of your hair at some point.

Most of the mentioned hair products contain hydrogen peroxide, which can turn your hair white when used excessively. 


Certain Medical Conditions

Currently, two types of medical conditions are linked to premature white hair.

The first one is an autoimmune disease which is a condition that causes your immune system to attack your body’s cells. For example, in the cases of alopecia or vitiligo, the immune system attacks your hair, which may cause loss of melanin, causing your hair to whiten.

Another medical condition that usually causes white hair is a Thyroid disorder—may it be hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Having an underactive or overactive thyroid leads to hormonal changes, which may cause your body to produce less melanin than your hair or body needs.


Tips on How to Prevent Premature White Hair

Now that you know what causes white hair, let us talk about what you can do to reverse and restore it, hopefully. Here are some tips:

Incorporate Antioxidant-rich Food Items 

antioxidant rich foods to prevent premature white hair

The best way to reduce oxidative stress is to boost your body’s antioxidant levels. The best way to do that is to consume more antioxidant-rich food items, including green tea, olive oil, nuts, fish, vegetables, and fruits.


Address Nutritional Deficiencies

Again, the best way to fight off deficiencies lies in your diet. So the first thing you need to do is have your mineral and vitamin levels checked.

Once you’ve figured out which type of vitamins and minerals you lack, consume more foods rich in the type of vitamins and minerals you’re lacking. You can also take vitamins and supplements to correct the said deficiencies.


Get Your Thyroid Checked

checking thyroid to prevent premature white hair

If you exhibit any symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, you should consult your doctor immediately.

In this way, you can determine if you need to undergo hormone therapy treatments that will correct your thyroid hormone levels and promote repigmentation.


Quit Smoking

We know it’s easier said than done, but you need to do it if you want to bring back your hair health.  When you do, you’ll also reduce your risk of heart disease.


Taking Care of Your Hair

hair care to prevent white hair at early age

Yes, those highlights color look amazing on you, but is it worth destroying your hair health for? If you can, try to avoid dyeing your hair.

However, we’re fully aware that it’s not easy to do that, especially if you love experimenting with various hair colors.

As a compromise, here’s what we suggest: opt for gentle and milder hair products instead. Avoid hair products laden with harmful chemicals and opt for ones free of SLS, sulfates, peroxides, and many more.


When properly diagnosed and treated, you can stop premature white hair in its tracks (unless it’s caused by genetics, of course!). But to determine the proper treatment for your hair, you need to identify what causes white hair in the first place.

We hope you can do that with the help of all the information we’ve shared with you. And if you have other suggestions regarding premature white hair treatments, please feel free to share them with us in the comments section!

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Janella is a freelance writer and certified pharmacist with a decade of expertise writing about beauty and fashion. She came to the realization that her actual interest was in everything that had to do with hair. She uses both her time and her writing ability to assist others in achieving the most beautiful hair possible. Janella conducts research on the latest hair care tools and products, as well as tests and reviews them, in order to provide her readers with insightful and helpful information and recommendations.