The 5-Minute Hair Care Routine That Can Prevent Grays (Hear Us Out)
Let me start by saying that graying hair is ultimately out of your control. Not only do genetics play a significant role, but over time, your hair just ages. It's natural! But those silver strands can certainly crop up earlier than you'd like, from external factors like pollution, oxidative stress, and UV exposure (yes, your hair can experience sun damage). Addressing these factors early on can help prevent premature graying—aka, gray hair before the age of 30.
That said, think of these prevention methods as ways to keep your hair healthier long term. Eventually, your hair will lose its pigment, but this routine can help you maintain vibrant locks until it's truly your time to go gray.
A routine to prevent grays.
Essentially, enough free radical damage can cause your pigment-producing cells (called melanocytes) to lose their intensity, resulting in silver strands. Growing research also shows a strong connection between oxidative stress triggered by free radicals and premature graying1. And how do we neutralize free radicals? You guessed it: antioxidants!
When you introduce those free-radical fighters into your routine—vitamin C, vitamin E, and the like—you strengthen the hair and scalp, and you brighten the strands. So look for hair care products loaded with antioxidant-rich botanicals, and opt for hair-enhancing vitamins (because oral antioxidants count, too).
For the purposes of this routine, grab an antioxidant-rich hair oil—like this one from Ceremonia—and saturate your strands from root to tip, paying extra attention to the scalp. Leave your hair coated for at least 30 minutes, or better yet, give yourself a tension-relieving scalp massage for an extra few: "Use your finger pads (not nails) to apply medium-firm pressure to your scalp, in a circular motion," board-certified dermatologist Raechele Cochran Gathers, M.D., founder of MDHairMixtress, previously told mbg. You can even use a scalp massager tool to work in the product and further stimulate circulation if you please. Repeat every wash day or any time your hair feels extra thirsty.
In addition to encouraging blood flow (which helps deliver oxygen and healthy nutrients to the follicles), that massage is also great for relieving stress. "In fact, a study of female office workers found that twice-weekly scalp massage had effects on stress hormones2, blood pressure, and heart rate," Cochran Gathers notes. The link between stress and gray hair is pretty limited, but if your stress is bordering on chronic, the theory is that long-term psychological stress can increase levels of oxidative stress3, which can then contribute to grays.
So that tension-relieving scalp massage plays double duty—and assuming you use an antioxidant-rich serum, it's a recipe for thriving, vibrant strands long term.
To level up your scalp care, check out one of our expert-chosen collagen supplement picks.
Gray hair is inevitable, but you can prevent early incomers by keeping your mane hydrated and healthy. That said, make this hair oiling routine a regular part of your hair-washing routine. Will this step reverse an already platinum mane? No, you're better off learning how to care for your new silver texture. But by protecting your hair with antioxidants and reducing scalp tension, chances are you'll secure softer, silkier strands for way longer.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.