Holy smokes! A new study from New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine has unraveled the mystery of why hair goes gray. And found – wait for it – the graying process may be reversible.

I was born with dark brown hair. I got my hair color from my mom, and my sisters did, too. The Welsh genes. And, like my mom and my sisters, I got my first gray hairs in high school. By college, I had a dashing stripe of silver straight through my bangs. By my 30s, my hair was “liberally salted” and by my 40s, it was silver.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at heather@heatherdmartin.com.

I don’t mind it. Or at least, I don’t hate it. Perhaps it is more accurate to say I have made my uneasy peace with it, which I pretend is not minding. OK, in truth, it bugs me. It makes me feel old and washed out and like my outside self doesn’t match my inside self. You know?

I’ve never dyed it, unless you count a short-lived stint where that stripe through my bangs was Superman blue. I enjoyed that, actually, but then all the kids started dying their hair crazy colors, too, and once a thing is popular, it loses all appeal for me.

I’ve never dyed it a normal color, though, or tried to restore it to the original shade. That’s partly because I’m too lazy to keep it up, and partly because I have weird messages in my brain that I don’t actually believe, but still have, about dying hair. At any rate, silver it turned, and silver it has remained. I embrace it as best I can and make the most of it.

That said, would I restore it through science?


Absolutely. I will be the first in line for the process. Mind you, I don’t know exactly what that process will be, or when it might be available.

The root of the graying process is that at some point as we age,  hair cells that carry pigment get sort of stoppered up before they can enter the hair, creating a blockage. With no pigment cells coming into new hair, the hair goes gray.

In theory, if the follicle can be unblocked, the pigment will once again flow and natural hair color will be fully restored. The scientists seem to think it is doable, and I am so excited.

Yeah, I know. There are all kinds of coded messages in there about how our culture treats aging. Aging women in particular. I am aware that there are plenty of not-so-subtle messages telling me that I am betraying the sisterhood by wanting my hair dark – just as there are plenty of messages telling me (as one real human being said in actual words out loud recently) that I have “given up” by allowing the gray in the first place.

Sigh. It is so hard being a human.

At the end of the day, I’m mostly OK with the realities of getting older and am particularly enjoying the new perspectives and patience gained. In fact, I suppose I would choose those over youth all around.

Nevertheless, science rules, and I’m about to do some more reading up on getting my brown back.

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