Melanin is the natural pigment in the hair, usually dark brown or black. It is produced by the pigment cells called melanocytes, present at the base of hair roots or hair follicles. These tend to slow down and eventually stop the production of this chemical, resulting in the graying of hair and turning white by old age. These changes in hair color are not necessarily healthy nor give an appealing look to brag about; it is visual proof of being old. Due to this, various approaches are adopted to hide it, such as hair dye, medical treatments, or changing diets.
Types of Melanin Hair CareThe type and amount of Melanin determine one’s hair color. These types are distinguished by the intensity of the color they bring. Eumelanin gives darker hair colors like black or brown, and those with Pheomelanin tend to have lighter tones, popularly blond. A mixture of both types results in more unique colors like strawberry blond or red.
Benefits of Melanin Hair Care
- A higher concentration of Melanin protects hair from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiance and prevents it from decaying. It is specified for those having darker hair due to the superior photostability of eumelanin.
- Melanin also retains the vitality of hair, keeping them resilient; that does not dry out or go frail.
- Accumulation of ‘reactive oxygen species (ROS)’ in cells can cause several side effects and health concerns. Melanin protects the body from these ROS and boosts antioxidants in the body.
- Melanin may even reduce inflammation in the body and create a healthier immune system.
Causes of Melanin LossThe production of Melanin lessens with age naturally, causing hair to grow in its original color, white. While, when younger people have gray or white hair, i.e., premature aging, autoimmune or genetics are to blame. Following are some common causes of melanin loss;
- Exposure to UV rays, pollution, chemicals, and climate changes can damage or cause changes to the natural shade of one’s hair.
- Products containing harsh chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, parabens, alcohol, silicones, and artificial dye can kill the Melanin in the hair. Among these, hair bleaching is the most harmful to the functionality of the hydrogen peroxide that breaks down Melanin.
- An unhealthy diet is another leading cause of Melanin loss. Nutritional deficiencies caused by an unbalanced diet can lead to protein malnutrition and a lack of iron and copper.
- Most importantly, a lack of vitamin B12 causes loss of Melanin if the red blood cells provide oxygen to melanocytes.
- Similarly, other conditions that pertain to red blood cells dying are Vitiligo, Albinism, Melasma, Menopause, thyroid disorder, or fluctuation in hormone levels can lead to Melanin loss.
- Patients of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and those experiencing hear loss can also feel their hair color fade as a side effect.
- A lack of Melanin can also be observed among smokers. The toxins damage the individual’s hair follicles, and the congested blood vessels restrict oxygen supply to the cells responsible for creating Melanin.
- Chronic stress and anxiety affect stem cells in the hair follicles and can cause premature hair graying.
- We can use the following ingredients enriched with nutritional value to increase Melanin;
- Gooseberries (Amla)
- Black Tea
- Vitamin A, C, and B12
- Food: A healthy, well-balanced diet is the safest formula to delay hair graying for as long as possible.
- Minerals: Improve iron and copper intake such as;
- Antioxidants: dark chocolate, beans, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, blueberries, pecans, artichokes
- Vitamin A, C, and E: carrots, papaya, eggs, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, pistachios
- Vitamin B6 and B12: beetroot, broccoli, sprouts, eggs, fish, cheese, soy products, starchy vegetables
- Citrus fruits: oranges, grapes, pineapple, and melon
- Hair Products: Products containing Lutein, lycopene, astaxanthin, and probiotics are recommended to restore melanin levels in the hair.
Side Effects & PrecautionsUse of products or any treatment with caution for exceeding levels of melanin pigment can be harmful. Spots may start emerging on the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation. Thus, you must consult a doctor before adopting any diet or medication.